The Arkansas River

Buena Vista & Saldia, Colorado

Flowing through the center of Chaffee County, the Arkansas River is one of the four major drainages that flow out of Colorado. It’s also one of the most popular. The river, fed by snowmelt, runs a bit later than other rivers, but provides a longer season of recreating. It is responsible for an economic boost during the summer months.

Fishing is extremely popular and very productive. Fishing usually picks up in March and last until mid May when the snowpack starts to melt. Once high water is over and the majority of snow in the high country melts, the fishing picks back up. The Arkansas was recently bestowed a Gold Medal fishery designation. Fishing from the bank, wading, or from a raft are all great ways to enjoy this hobby.

Three distinct sections of the river provide thrills for the thousands of guests each season on commercially guided trips. The Numbers section above Buena Vista is a continuous class four for maximum thrills. Browns Canyon, between Buena Vista and Salida, is a mostly class three section within the newly appointed National Monument. Downstream from Salida is the Royal Gorge with towering walls and challenging rapids.

Kurt Glaser with Riverboat Works says it best, “We are pretty fortunate to have the Arkansas River here in the valley.”

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.

THREE MOUNTAIN RANGES

Surrounding The Arkansas River Valley

sawatch-mountain-range-colorado

Sawatch Mountain Range

Running from north of Leadville to southwest of Salida, the Sawatch Range consists of 15 peaks of 14,000 feet or more including Mt. Elbert, at 14,440 feet the highest in Colorado and second highest in the lower 48 states. The Collegiate Peaks, named after five famous universities, are a part of the range.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

Running south from Poncha Springs to Santa Fe, New Mexico. This portion of the Rocky Mountains is the southernmost subrange.
A wilderness area and multiple 14,000-foot peaks are located here, as well as the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Mosquito Mountains

Mosquito Mountain Range

Alpine tundra, adjoining forests and rare plant species are found in this area northeast of Buena Vista. The Mosquito Range features five fourteeers: Lincoln, Bross, Democrat, Cameron and Sherman. It is also home to the highest vehicle route in the country, Mosquito Pass, cresting at 13,185 feet.

SAWATCH RANGE FOURTEENERS

(Peaks over 14,000 feet or 5,000 Meters in elevation)

    • Mt. Elbert 14,433
    • Mt. Massive 14,421
    • Mt. Harvard 14,420
    • La Plata Peak 14,336
    • Mt. Antero 14,269
    • Mt. Shavano 14,229
    • Mt. Princeton 14,197
    • Mt. Belford 14,197
    • Mt. Yale 14,196
    • Mt. Tabeguache 14,155
    • Mt. Oxford 14,153
    • Mt. Columbia 14,073
    • Missouri Mountain 14,067
    • Mt. Huron 14,005
    • Mountain of the Holy Cross 14,005

SAWATCH RANGE THIRTEENERS

(Peaks over 13,000 feet or 4,000 Meters in elevation)

National Trail Systems

Colorado Trail

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.

The Colorado Trail Foundation

Colroado Trail

Biking Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado

Continental Divide Trail

Continental Divide Trail

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

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

American Discovery Trail