Snowmobiling - Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado Vacation

Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado


Hundreds of miles of backcountry trails near Salida and Buena Vista are groomed each year for snowmobilers to enjoy along with nearly limitless trails for those who wish to ride unmaintained routes.

Grooming trails are local clubs The SnowDrifters in Buena Vista and Heart of the Rockies Snowmobile Club in Salida. From the lower regions of the Upper Arkansas River Valley, trails wind upward, topping out at 12,000 feet-plus.

Snowmobile trails vary from maintained roads that open into high mountain basins to smaller meadows found among lower elevations. Some trails take riders in a loop while others head to specific destinations, like the Taylor Park Trading Post. Many trails traverse historic areas, including historic mining towns. Parking areas are routinely plowed and can accommodate from six to more than 60 vehicles.

Snowmobile Grooming Reports

Snowmobiling Chaffee County Colorado

Snowmobiling Buena Vista, Colorado

Snowmobiling Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado

Join A Snowmobile Club

There are two snowmobile clubs in Chaffee County that groom Cottonwood Pass, Marshall Pass and the Collegiate Peaks Campground for Nordic Skiing. These clubs are funded by snowmobile registrations and club memberships.

If you are a snowmobiler or snow sport enthusiast, please consider joining one of these clubs to support the continued maintenance of these groomed trails.

Buena Vista Snowmobile Club
PO Box 3133
Buena Vista, CO 81211

Heart of the Rockies Snowmobile Club
PO Box 241
Poncha Springs, CO 81242


Check The Avalanche Forecast

Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Be Prepared Snowmobiling

Register Your Snowmobile

Avalanche Safety With Dan Adams

Polaris Snowmobiles


Winter weather can be unexpected and change quickly
Avalanches can strike even the most prepared winter recreationist. Check conditions with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center online to determine local mountain weather and safety risks:


1. Navigation (map, compass, GPS, extra batteries)

2. Insulation (Weather protection; rain pants/jacket, extra clothes, hat, gloves, large plastic bag, no cotton )

3. Illumination (two) headlamp, flashlight, extra batteries)

4. Personal Protection – sunscreen, first aid, medications, clear/dark glasses, bug repellent

5. Fire (waterproof matches, fire starter, saw, knife,)

6. Signaling Devices – cell phone w backup battery charger, mirror, whistle

7. Repair kit and tools (specific to the adventure and season)

8. Nutrition (extra food for 24 hour, high calorie, won’t freeze or spoil)

9. Hydration (extra water, means to filter or purification tablets)

10. Emergency shelter (reflective waterproof tarp, bivy sack, extra large leaf bag, cord)

Current CAIC Forcast Map



Bring the proper safety gear for outdoor winter adventures. Make sure your vehicle includes winter emergency gear too, like snow tires or chains, flashlights, blankets, extra food, and water


An avalanche transceiver, snow shovel and avalanche probe. These items are available to rent at some local outdoor equipment stores. Know how to use the equipment properly before your trip and seek out professional training if you need assistance.


The Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) endeavors to map every trail in the state of Colorado in support of the Colorado the Beautiful Initiative. COTREX connects people, trails, and technology by coordinating the efforts of federal, state, county, and local agencies to create a comprehensive and authoritative repository of recreational trails for public use.

This project is led by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and Department of Natural Resources, but is only made possible through partnerships with organizations at every level statewide. COTREX represents a seamless network of trails managed by over 225 land managers.


Deep powder, long trails, crazy varied terrain… snowmobiling is the most exhilarating way to explore Chaffee County’s epic backcountry. Whether a novice, an expert or somewhere in between, discover it all at your own speed.  

Thanks to local groups such as The Buena Vista SnowDrifters and the Salida Heart of the Rockies Snowmobile Club, there are miles and miles of groomed trails. Have a blast on the vast unmaintained snowmobile routes, as well. You’ll run out of daylight before you run out of trails. 

For the ultimate experience, take a snowmobile tour with one of our excellent local guide companies. Go for just a few hours or even on multi-day trips in pristine and unknown areas. Professional guides double as historians as they share points of interest along the ride. Enjoy special access to rides on private lands, local terrain expertise, and safety in numbers.  Once you get going, you’ll never want to stop. Except to snap some stunning pics, of course.



Topping out at 12,126 feet, the Cottonwood Pass road, also known as county road 306, is paved on the east side from Buena Vista and graded gravel on the west. During the summer months this route can provide an alternative way to Crested Butte. During the winter it is closed to cars and trucks and becomes a multi use playground. 360 degree views from the top of the pass include several mountain ranges full of thirteen and fourteen thousand foot peaks.

The snowmobile trail head is either Avalanche Trail Head or Denny Creek Trail Head, depending on the snow conditions. These are large parking lots that are poplar in the summer for hiking the surrounding 14,000 foot peaks.

On the way back to Buena Vista, stop by Cottonwood Hot Springs for a soak in the mineral pools.

Buena Vista SnowDrifters Trail Report |

|  Cottonwood Pass Trail Map |


Tin Cup & Hancock Pass

Snowmobiling from the Colorado Ghost Town of St Elmo, one can feel like an explorer from back in old Colorado mining times, despite the fact that you are on a very modern snow machine.

Narrow groomed snowmobile trails wind you six miles from the base at St Elmo to the top of Tin Cup Pass at 12,100ft, taking you to another dimension. The groomed snowmobile trail is courtesy of the Buena Vista Snow Drifters Colorado snowmobile club, based in nearby Buena Vista, Colorado, who provides nearly 130 miles of groomed snowmobile access on various trails over the Continental Divide.

From St Elmo to Tin Cup Pass, the groomed access can get narrow at times, but side by side riding is available in many places. The trail is well marked with orange trail marking posts in areas prone to wind. To access the top of Tin Cup Pass at 12,100ft, there is a steep straightforward section that requires a little acceleration, but the views at the top will not disappoint.

On the way back to Buena Vista, stop by Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort for a soak in the mineral pools.

Buena Vista SnowDrifters Trail Report |

St. Elmo Map |


Marshall Pass

If you’re into exploring the Colorado outdoors this winter, consider a snowmobile tour up Marshall Pass to the Continental Divide. Topping off at 10,800 feet, Marshall Pass offers amazing views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range. Accessing Marshall Pass is via groomed trails provided by the Heart of the Rockies Snowmobile Club.

There is also a more wooded, single track trail that accesses Marshall Pass and the Hutchinson Barnett Cabin, a great emergency shelter and point of reference when traveling over Marshall Pass.

Go South on 285 out of Poncha Springs approximately 5 miles up Poncha Pass. Turn south on County Road 200 approximately 2 miles and park at Shirley Site Trail Head — plenty of room for parking trailers. Restrooms available at trail head. Open for Novice to Extreme riders. 30 Miles of wide groomed trails. 36 Miles of narrow groomed trails. Plenty of powder bowls and open parks for novice and extreme riders to enjoy. Tree trails available. Cabin available for public use first come first served – have lunch, warm up, even stay overnight. Fireplace available but no electricity or running water. Restroom facilities within 200 yards of cabin — please bring wood to restock for the next group if at all possible! Averaging over 350″ of snow each year at the cabin this is a great place to meet friends and enjoy the best that the Salida area has to offer.

Salida Heart of the Rockies Snowmobile Club Trail Report |

|  Marshall Pass Map |


North Fork Of The Arkansas River

If you’re into exploring the Colorado outdoors this winter, consider a snowmobile tour up Marshall Pass to the Continental Divide. Topping off at 10,800 feet, Marshall Pass offers amazing views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range. Accessing Marshall Pass is via groomed trails provided by the Heart of the Rockies Snowmobile Club.

Parking is at Shavano camp ground at the end of pavement on County Road 220. To get to 220 head West out of Salida on HWY 50 approximately 12 miles then Right on 220. There is plenty of room for trailer parking. This trail system is best for riders with at least some experience and experts will find plenty of fun too! This area has 7 miles of groomed trails leading to extreme steep hills and lots of powder. Once you get off the trails you can go to the Continental Divide and tons of scenery.

Salida Heart of the Rockies Snowmobile Club Trail Report |

|  North Fork Of The Arkansas River |

Visitor Photos


Get Inspired


Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce
111 E Main St
Buena Vista, CO 81211

Salida Chamber of Commerce
406 W Rainbow Blvd.
Salida, CO 81201

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