Five Day Romantic Itinerary
Couples with a passion for paradise will find it in every ‘mountain rustic’ romantic corner of Chaffee County. Just being together in such an adventurous place amidst majestic mountains, rapid rivers, bluebird skies and starry nights is exciting. Now add outdoorsy fun from hiking to hot springs to whitewater rafting and this just became your new favorite get-away destination. And did we mention breweries, distilleries and wineries too? It’s all here. All yours. You’re welcome.
Day One: Salida
Rise and shine at Little Red Hen Bakery then go “supping” on the river. Rent a Stand Up Paddle board from Surf Salida then test your balance on Frantz Lake or just go for it on the Arkansas River. Have lunch at The Fritz, on their outdoor patio laughing about the morning’s exploits.
Work off their famous fries by hiking the Arkansas Hills Trail System that winds all around Tenderfoot (‘S’) Mountain or venture further to Methodist Mountain Trail System. So many trails, so little time…
Dine-so-fine tonight at Currents, Steaks and Seafood. Afterwards, take a romantic stroll downtown to the eclectically cozy Wood’s High Mountain Distillery tasting room. Ingredients are local, owners are local, and you’ll feel local too after sipping their homemade whiskey and gin cocktails.
Day Two: Explore
Enjoy the specialties of the Hungry Trailer food truck, at the corner of Highways 50 and 285 in Poncha Springs. Then get all “river-runs-through-it” by fly-fishing on the gold medal waters of the Arkansas River. Sure, you can go it alone but if you actually want to catch-and-release (rather than just fish…) get a guide from fly-fishing outfitters, ArkAnglers or Arkansas River Tours.
For lunch, go to Thai Mini Café, 11150 W. HWY 50. Eat all your noodles; you’ll need the carbs for your hike to Browns Creek Falls. This five-mile round-trip hike fills the senses with its “Rocky Mountain High” views of the Sawatch Range. From Salida, go north on Hwy 285, turn left on CR 270 then turn on CR 272 and follow signs for Browns Creek Trailhead.
Relax at Vino Salida’s happy hour, sampling local wines and maybe playing a little cornhole on the patio. Catch their free concert series on Saturdays at 5 p.m. Later have dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant. Eat outside or by the open windows to appreciate the free show below – kayakers flipping through the challenges of the “play holes.” Linger here into the evening for live music and local camaraderie.
Day Three: Salida and Beyond
Return for lunch at Sweetie’s Sandwich Shop, an aptly-named place for happy partners. Then go on a vintage treasure hunt in Salida’s fun and funky shops like Ruby Blue’s, 102 F St.; Antiques on 1st; and Free the Monkey.
Tonight cruise out to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) on CR 140 (going towards Monarch Pass) to stake out a serene spot for some star gazing, far away from city lights. Be amazed. Be very amazed.
Day Four: Buena Vista
Begin at Brown Dog Coffee Company then browse the Main Street stores, like CKS (Colorado Kayak Supply) for outdoorsy gear before your full-day whitewater rafting trip. You can’t come to the iconic Arkansas River Valley and not get in a raft, so paddle through the rapids with Performance Tours Rafting, or DVORAK Expeditions. Full-day trips include lunch and double the thrills through Browns Canyon, now designated a National Monument.
Later discover Deerhammer Distillery Co. Taste their home-grown award-winning artisan single malt whiskey straight or in creative cocktails made with microbatches of special spirits infused with chocolate, coffee and even ghost peppers.
Day Five: Out There
Eat breakfast at the unpretentious Jan’s Family Restaurant, 304 US Hwy 24, then embark on a Rock Hounding expedition. Semiprecious and precious gems and minerals are all playing hide-and-seek in this area. Take an excursion with the Columbine Gem and Mineral Society or go to the Rock Doc for rockhounding or gold prospecting equipment and head to Ruby Mountain or the Sedalia Copper Mine. Eureka!
Have lunch at Biggie’s Subs then take an agritour at the local Jumping Good Goat Farm. The tours are free, the goats are adorable and you’ll learn about sustainable farming as well as cheese making. Browse the country store there too for all kinds of locally-made products.
Have a fiesta (and perhaps the best margarita in town) at Los Girasoles Family Mexican Restaurant, 708 N. US24 in BV, then just relax at Cottonwood Hot Springs. Soaking in these pools in the dark, with just the stars and the moon and the gleam in your eye for illumination, puts the “R” in romance.