Three Day Active Senior’s Itinerary
By Sue Bjorkman
This is the era of intentional travel. The intention not just to visit a place but to live it – and in the case of Chaffee County, love it. Delve deep into the local scene – the art, the history, the outdoorsy adventures, the fav foodie spots, the hopping happy hours. Then soar high into its unparalleled beauty—the impossibly high mountains and the effervescent Arkansas River. We’ve put together a plan for a trip that will challenge, enlighten, excite and delight. Intend to take it all in.
Day One: Salida
Feel part of the community at local breakfast favorite, Café Dawn. Then stroll on the River Walk. Cross the F Street Bridge, pausing to look west for a breathtaking view of the mountains framed perfectly over the river. Find the Arkansas Hill Trail System to the left of Tenderfoot Mountain (or ‘S’ Mountain) and choose one of the many hikes it offers. Summit the mountain (just 500 feet) via Spiral Road for a spectacular view of Salida and peaks galore.
For lunch, head to Season’s Café, for Colorado comfort food. This afternoon, go on an art appreciation walk through historic downtown Salida’s Creative Arts District (the first one officially designated in Colorado!) A few not-to-miss galleries and working artist studios are The Green Cat, The Bungled Jungle, and Gallery 150.
Then get some ice cream at the nostalgic Mama D’s, 140 N. F Street before satisfying your curiosity about the area’s origins from Native Americans to the gold rush to the railroad at the Salida History Museum. Founded in 1880, the downtown itself is on the National Historic Register.
Enjoy fine dining and creative craft cocktails at Shallot’s, 127 W. 1st St. Afterwards, wander through this wonderfully walkable town in search of music. The Steamplant Event Center, located in a renovated 1887 steam power plant, has a nice lineup of events and entertainment, as well as a beautiful outdoor plaza on the river. If it’s Thursday, catch a free concerts at Riverside Park. Saturday nights in July and early August treat yourself to a fine classical music concert with the Salida Aspen Concerts series.
Day Two: Buena Vista
Feel right at home with breakfast at Jan’s Family Restaurant, 304 US Hwy 24 in Buena Vista. Then it’s time to paddle together on a whitewater rafting adventure. There are too many outfitters to list, but here’s a few: River Runners, Wilderness Aware Rafting, ); Independent Whitewater River Rafting. From mellow scenic floats to scream-while-you-paddle advanced trips, you decide your level of thrill. Browns Canyon, (recently designated a National Monument) is the most popular run, promising intermediate rapids.
For lunch, go to the Eddyline Restaurant and try their local craft beers to pair with your day’s adventure, like the River Runners Pale Ale or the Boater Beer pilsner. Then explore the South Main neighborhood, a unique planned multi-use community revolving around the kayaking and outdoors lifestyle. All the independently-owned boutique shops and galleries, as well as the River Park will enthrall you for a good long while.
There’s still time to hit the links at the Collegiate Peaks golf course. It’s a nine-hole course with such stunning views of the Collegiate Peaks that it’s fair to blame them as a distraction for any missed shots. Cottonwood Creek provides some challenging water hazards, too.
Day Three: Out and About
Grab some goodies at Loback’s Bakery, 326 E. Main Street, then head west. The first stop on this scenic drive is the historic ghost town of St. Elmo. In the 1800s, it was a bustling gold and silver miner’s town; now most of its well-preserved buildings are “haunted” with history. Visit the St. Elmo School House, circa 1882, and the St. Elmo General Store.
Then it’s on to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort and Spa. Lunch at the Mt. Princeton Cabana Bar before a “Relaxation at Elevation” or other amazing spa treatment. Soak all afternoon in the natural, odorless, steamy pools and creek “hot pots.” Top it all off with fine dining at the Mt. Princeton Club.
Then head back to Buena Vista to Deerhammer Distillery Co. Everything at this small-batch distillery is made in-house using local ingredients. Sip the award-winning local artisan single malt whiskey and reflect on a trip well-lived. And loved.