Plan your vacation to explore Colorado’s newest National Monument in Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado.
With the official designation of Browns Canyon National Monument on February 19, 2015, Chaffee County has become a unique mark on the Colorado map. By preserving and protecting the regions wild character, variety of wildlife and diverse ecosystem, Browns Canyon National Monument will be protected for generations to come.
Nestled along the Arkansas River in the center of Colorado, between Buena Vista and Salida, Browns Canyon National Monument offers solitude and primitive recreation, including rafting, kayaking, hunting, horseback riding, backpacking, fishing, and hiking. These outdoor pursuits are vital to year-round tourism in the area.
Hiking Browns Canyon National Monument offers incredible views of three distinct mountain ranges. Gaze at the lofty 14,000 foot peaks in the Sawatch Range to the west, the jagged Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the south, and the Mosquito Range to the north. Over 11 miles of developed singletrack hiking trails are present, with more planned.
While exploring Browns Canyon, observe the elevation gain from 7,300 to 10,000 feet and the unique mid-elevation transition zone of woodlands. Pinyon-junipers and mountain mahogany occupy the lower elevation landscape, making way for ponderosa pine, Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine and douglas fir higher up. An amazing wildflower display such as the scarlet gilia and larkspur bloom here during spring and summer.
Some of Colorado’s most symbolic animal species reside in Browns Canyon National Monument. Visiting the Monument you may encounter mountain lions, bighorn sheep, American black bear, mule deer, elk, red and gray fox, coyote, bobcat, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, American pine marten, kangaroo rat, and many more.
The Arkansas River in Browns Canyon National Monument offers family-friendly whitewater rafting opportunities. Several professional outfitters offer whitewater rafting trips through the Monument, from half-day, full-day and multi-day excursions.
Adjacent to the 22,000 acres of Browns Canyon National Monument is the 100,000 acre Fourmile Travel Management Area. This is a multi-use area consisting of motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities including mountain biking, dirt biking, atv-ing, hiking and off-road jeeping. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management manage this land in north-eastern Chaffee County.
North of Browns Canyon National Monument is the historic mountain river town of Buena Vista, Colorado. This quaint mountain town is a recreational mecca surrounded by public lands. The winters are mild in Buena Vista, Colorado offering the opportunity to bike and hike year-round. The historic downtown along the Arkansas River has many art galleries, a distillery and a brewery. After your outdoor adventures, be sure to soak in one of the natural geothermic hot springs in the area.
Salida, Colorado is to the South of Browns Canyon National Monument. Salida was named the first Creative District in Colorado and is also Colorado’s largest National Historic District. The unique architecture is home to many artists. Shop the galleries and enjoy many eating and drinking establishments in this historic down town along the Arkansas River. Be sure to check out the breweries, wineries and distilleries and soak in the hot springs.