Hiking & Backpacking

In Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado


Rimmed by the mighty Sawatch, Mosquito and Sangre de Cristo mountains, Chaffee County is a breathtaking place to get outdoors. Like sentinels lining the horizon to the west, Sawatch peaks dominate the Upper Arkansas Valley. Running some 100 miles, from south of Salida to north of Leadville, 15 of Colorado’s 58 14,000-foot peaks rise in the Sawatch.

The range features four of the state’s five tallest peaks including Mount Elbert, at 14,440 feet the state’s highest and second only to California’s14,505-foot Mount Whitney in the lower 48. The Collegiate Peaks – five mountains named after colleges – are included in the Sawatch.

1.    Soak in a Colorado Hot Spring

Whether you are up for adventure or just a day at the spa, be sure to take advantage of one of the many Colorado hot springs in the area. Here the water bubbles out of the ground at over 140 degrees. These hot springs are unique because they are odorless. Salida Hot SpringsCottonwood Hot Springs and Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort are all open to the public.Salida Hot Spring

2.    Go Snowcat Skiing

Grab a seat on a snow cat tour to ski or snowboard some of the best un-tracked powder in Colorado at Monarch Mountain. Stay in Buena Vista or Salida, Colorado to get a good night sleep before this adventure.

3.    Raft Browns Canyon National Monument

Dedicated in 2015 Browns Canyon is Colorado’s newest National Monument. The Arkansas River is the most popular whitewater-rafting destination in Colorado, with more than 100 miles of river to raft. There are many different rafting trip options to suit all ages and abilities.

4.    Go Ziplining

Try an uplifting aerial park adventure tour or ride a zipline through a canyon. This year round activity is for all ages and abilities.

5.    Take A Dog Sledding Tour

dog sleddingPlay with the puppies then jump in the sled for a dog sled tour through the Rocky Mountains. You will enjoy incredible views and learn about the rich history of the area.

6.    Mountain Bike The Crest Trail

Monarch CrestBuena Vista & Salida, Colorado are ranked among the best Mountain Biking destinations in Colorado. With incredible views and miles of trails, the climate here allows you to enjoy mountain biking year round. The Monarch Crest Trail is ranked as one of the best mountain bike rides in the United States. Many outfitters offer shuttle rides to the top of Monarch Pass where you start your ride at an elevation of 11,298 feet above sea level. This ride offers over 30 miles of mostly single track trail and is mostly downhill all the way back to Poncha Springs, home of Elevation Brewery.

7.    Explore A Ghost Town by Snowmobile

Snowmobiling St Elmo


8.    Climb A 14,000 Foot Peak


9.    Catch A Wild Trout In Gold Medal Waters

Fishing ArkansasRecently designated Gold Medal waters by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, the Arkansas River offers unparalleled public access, as many as 4,000 trout per mile. Take a beginner walk / wade fishing trip or float fish the Arkansas River.

10.    Relax

SalidaCORelax and explore Colorado’s largest National Historic District in Salida, Colorado. Located just down stream from Buena Vista along the Arkansas River. This historic downtown is filled with shoppingart galleriesriverside diningbreweries, distilleries and wineries.

Continental Divide Trail

continental-divide-trail logo

The Continental Divide separates the rivers and streams that flow eastward into the Atlantic Ocean from those that flow westward to the Pacific.

The portion of the Continental Divide in the United States is about 3,000 miles long – from Glacier National Park in Montana, south through the Rocky Mountains, to the Mexico border in southwest New Mexico.

The Sawatch Range segment in Chaffee County follows the flanks of Colorado’s highest peaks, with nice stretches above timberline in portions of the Holy Cross, Mount Massive, and Collegiate Peaks wilderness areas.

Continental Divide Trail Coalition


American Discovery Trail

american-discovery-trail logo

The Colorado Trail stretches 486 miles from Denver to Durango. Trail users experience six wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges topping out at 13,271 feet, just below Coney Summit at 13,334 feet. The average elevation is over 10,000 feet and it rises and falls dramatically. Users traveling from Denver to Durango climb 89,354 feet. The Chaffee County section is popular with day and overnight hikers alike.

American Discovery Trail Society