Ultimate Guide: Things To Do In Salida CO

Things to Do In Salida CO

Discovering amusement in small towns can feel akin to solving a mystery. You might find yourself pondering where to begin or what hidden gems these quaint locales offer. We’ve experienced that same curiosity, searching for those special spots not listed in every travel brochure.

Interestingly, we stumbled upon Salida, Colorado – a town with a rich history and a lively arts scene nestled within the breathtaking Chaffee County.

Through our exploration, we’ve unearthed a treasure trove of activities and sights in Salida—from basking in hot springs, wandering through historic districts, to setting out on outdoor adventures along the Arkansas River or atop Monarch Mountain.

This guide is your ticket to both relaxation and thrills, promising an experience that caters to all tastes. Prepare for adventure! Keep reading!

Key Takeaways

  • Salida, CO, is a town rich in history and outdoor activities with a population growth from 5,000 during the Great Depression to a vibrant community now. It offers year-round adventures with its diverse weather patterns and beautiful landscapes.
  • The Chaffee Shuttle provides free transportation around Salida and Buena Vista, making it easy to explore without driving. This service runs Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., supporting the community vibe.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts have plenty of options including soaking in hot springs like Mount Princeton, hiking trails such as Waterdog Lakes Trail, whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River, ziplining at Captain Zipline Aerial Adventure Park, skiing and snowboarding at Monarch Mountain.
  • Colorado is home to several ghost towns near Salida worth visiting for those interested in history; Hancock and Turret being examples where visitors can step back in time.
  • Dining experiences in Salida cater to various tastes with establishments like Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub offering handcrafted brews and pizzas. For overnight stays or longer trips, there are dispersed camping areas like Mt Shavano Trailhead Area as well as hotels and hostels providing comfortable accommodations.

Overview of Salida, CO

Things to Do In Salida CO - A vibrant hot air balloon floats over the scenic landscape of Salida, CO.

Salida, CO, nestled in the heart of Colorado, boasts a rich history and diverse weather patterns. This charming town offers exceptional outdoor activities and nearby small towns worth exploring.

History and weather

Salida, CO, has a rich past that dates back to before it became the small town we love today. The Tabeguache band of Nuche, better known as the Ute people, were the first residents here.

As time went on, Salida grew rapidly in the late 19th century. Unfortunately, two big fires in 1886 and 1888 destroyed many early buildings. Despite these challenges, Salida’s community pushed forward.

They developed a granite industry in the early 20th century which helped shape its economy.

As for weather in this area—it’s quite diverse! Sitting high up near mountain peaks like Mt. Princeton and surrounded by natural beauty including rivers and national forests, Salida experiences all four seasons vividly.

During winters, snow blankets our landscapes making them perfect for skiing and snowboarding events at nearby slopes. Summers bring warm days ideal for exploring our outdoor activities like hiking or joining festivals downtown or at the state event center.

With around 5,000 residents during the Great Depression era now growing into a vibrant community focused on recreation and relaxation—including soaking in hot springs—Salida offers year-round adventures influenced by its ever-changing climate.


We often choose the Chaffee Shuttle for getting around Salida and Buena Vista. It’s a shared ride service, making travel easy and wallet-friendly. You can hop on for free—yes, free! Though they welcome donations with open arms.

Whether you’re off to medical appointments, heading out for some shopping, joining social activities, or simply exploring, this shuttle has got you covered Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Getting around doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. This service is our go-to not just because it’s practical but also because it supports our community vibe—friendly faces helping each other out.

So next time you’re thinking of exploring downtown Salida or heading towards Buena Vista without the hassle of driving, keep in mind this handy local shuttle service awaits your call!

Exploring the Charm of Small Towns

Things to Do In Salida CO - A charming small town main street with colorful storefronts and a backdrop of rolling hills.

Discover the allure of small towns with their unique charm and laid-back atmosphere. Immerse yourself in the quaint lifestyle and friendly community spirit of Salida, CO, as well as nearby small towns that are worth exploring.

Salida as one of the Best Small Towns in Colorado

We love Salida because it shines as one of Colorado’s best small towns. Its downtown, full of history, lands on the National Register of Historic Places. This town isn’t just about looking back; it’s alive with art, culture, and year-round festivals.

Think wineries where you can taste local wines, breweries pouring craft beer that warms your heart, and distilleries crafting spirits to lift your spirits.

Salida stands proud with the largest national historic district in Colorado. Walking its streets feels like a journey through time—with a modern twist. Here, you find buildings that tell tales of the past and vibrant spots offering delicious meals and aromatic brews from local pubs and bakeries.

Outdoor enthusiasts get their fill too—mountain views frame this charming town, inviting adventurers to explore further.

Nearby Small Towns Worth Visiting

Salida’s charm extends to nearby small towns offering diverse experiences. Here’s a list of quaint and adventurous neighboring towns waiting to be explored:

  1. Buena Vista, CO: A picturesque town near the Collegiate Peaks, offering hot springs, hiking, and stunning views of the Sawatch Range.
  2. Leadville: Rich in mining history, it boasts the highest incorporated city in the U.S., providing access to hiking trails and beautiful Lake County.
  3. Canon City: Known for its Royal Gorge Bridge and Park offering adrenaline-pumping experiences like zip-lining and scenic train rides through the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.
  4. Sand Dunes Pool: Located in Sand Dunes Hot Springs, this town offers therapeutic geothermal waters surrounded by a mountainous landscape.

These towns provide an array of opportunities for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Top Outdoor Activities

Experience Salida’s natural wonders with invigorating hot springs, exhilarating hiking and mountain biking trails, thrilling whitewater rafting, ziplining adventures amidst breathtaking scenery, and memorable wildlife viewing opportunities.

Feel the rush of skiing and snowboarding in the winter months or indulge in a peaceful escape in the midst of nature’s beauty.

Hot springs

Hot springs are a must-visit when exploring Salida. We’ll find the relaxing Rio Grande Railroad and Mount Princeton hot springs, each offering unique amenities such as spring-fed pools, lazy rivers, and water slides.

At temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, these hot springs provide year-round relaxation for couples, families, and individuals alike. Whether we’re unwinding in gravity-fed ponds at Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa or soaking in the therapeutic waters piped from eight miles away at Salida Hot Springs – these natural wonders promise a rejuvenating experience.

Situated in an idyllic setting amongst the Sangre de Cristo Mountains…attending one of Aromas’ wine tasting events can be truly memorable…and nothing beats enjoying pizzas fresh from Cheyenne Mountain’s wood-fired oven… There are camping options like Barr Campground providing a great basecamp for hikers…The misty mornings where skiers hit the slopes are breathtaking – what more could we ask for?

Hiking and mountain biking

When visiting Salida, CO, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Here’s what you can enjoy:

  1. Explore the scenic trails, including Mount Shavano, Waterdog Lakes Trail, and Salida River Trail.
  2. Engage in 27 hiking trails and 12 running trails for a refreshing experience amidst nature.
  3. Experience the thrill of 11 mountain biking trails against breathtaking backdrops.
  4. Take advantage of the wildlife viewing, river walks, camping, and bird watching opportunities available.

Whitewater rafting and ziplining

If you’re eager for adventure, here’s what to expect when you embark on whitewater rafting and ziplining in Salida, CO:

  1. Experience the thrill of riding Class III whitewater rapids such as Pinball, Zoom Flume, and Raft Ripper with Independent Whitewater since 1979.
  2. Enjoy scenic floats suitable for families with discounts available for groups of over 12 rafters at this renowned establishment.
  3. Immerse yourself in the adrenaline rush of Captain Zipline Aerial Adventure Park while traversing captivating ziplining adventures amidst stunning natural landscapes.

Skiing and snowboarding

When skiing and snowboarding in Salida, Colorado, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Monarch Mountain offers family-friendly spring skiing with tubing and naturalist ski tours.
  2. Enjoy season pass and lodging specials for a budget-friendly experience.
  3. Dress in breathable layers and use warm weather wax for a comfortable time on the slopes.
  4. To avoid weekend crowds, plan your ski or snowboard trip from Monday to Friday.

Unwind by exploring quieter and smaller towns with us!

Wildlife viewing

When exploring Salida, CO, don’t miss the chance to witness its diverse wildlife. The Arkansas River Valley is home to an impressive 960 species of wildlife. In fact, Colorado offers 110 watchable wildlife viewing areas, with 25 located on the BLM lands.

In Chaffee County alone, elk, Bighorn sheep, and mountain goats are visible in winter. Keep your eyes peeled for rare sightings of bobcats, mountain lions, and various bird species as you immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

Adventure in the Remnants of the Past

Explore the ghost towns scattered across Colorado. Discover the remnants of a bygone era, each with its own unique history and atmosphere.

Ghost Towns in Colorado

Colorado boasts several intriguing ghost towns that offer a glimpse into the state’s rich history. These eerie and abandoned towns provide an opportunity to step back in time and explore remnants of the past. Here are some notable ones worth visiting:

  1. Hancock: Once home to five stores, several hotels, and many saloons, this town provides a fascinating look at the hustle and bustle of its heyday.
  2. Iron City Cemetery: This solemn site holds the remains of those who succumbed to disease, mining accidents, or murder, offering a somber yet compelling historical perspective.
  3. Turret: Despite recent developments and some demolished remnants, Turret still retains traces of its former existence that are sure to captivate visitors.
  4. Vicksburg: With over 40 buildings and several original structures remaining, Vicksburg serves as a poignant testament to times long gone.

Must-See Attractions and Day Trips

Discover Salida’s historic downtown, the captivating Salida History Museum, and nearby national parks for an unforgettable adventure. Read on to explore more!

Historic downtown area

Downtown Salida stands as Colorado’s largest National Historic District, boasting 136 preserved buildings hailing from the Wild West era. The Victorian-era architecture adds an air of timeless charm to this area listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The historic downtown area is bustling with life and culture, offering a glimpse into Colorado’s rich past through its well-preserved buildings. As you stroll through the streets, take in the sight of these exquisite Victorian structures that stand as testaments to days gone by.

Salida History Museum

The Salida History Museum is a treasure trove of relics and artifacts dating back to 1880, offering a firsthand look at the town’s rich past. With an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 from 28 reviews, it boasts enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff who present special exhibitions on local Ute Prayer Trees.

Visitors can delve into the historical context through meticulously curated displays and presentations, enhancing their understanding of Salida’s heritage. This museum provides a tailored experience that will enhance your exploration of this quieter and smaller town.

Nearby national parks and attractions

Salida is surrounded by stunning natural attractions and national parks. Here are some nearby places you shouldn’t miss:

  1. Browns Canyon National Monument – Ideal for outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing in a beautiful river canyon setting.
  2. Arkansas River – Renowned for its Gold Medal waters, offering exceptional fly-fishing opportunities against the backdrop of picturesque landscapes.
  3. Salida Hot Springs Pool – Relax in the largest indoor hot springs facility in the country, perfect for unwinding after a day of exploration.
  4. Garden of the Gods – Witness dramatic rock formations and take scenic hikes amidst this geological marvel near Colorado Springs.
  5. Pikes Peak – Embark on an unforgettable drive or train ride to the summit of this iconic mountain, boasting breathtaking panoramic views.
  6. Royal Gorge Bridge and Park – Experience a thrilling suspension bridge and enjoy various adrenaline-pumping activities in one of Colorado’s most scenic areas.

These attractions provide diverse experiences that cater to nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

Dining and Accommodation Options

Looking for a variety of dining options in Salida? Numerous restaurants dot the historic downtown, offering an array of cuisines and experiences. When it’s time to rest, opt for a stay at cozy campsites, quaint lodges, or rustic campgrounds.

Best restaurants and breweries

When exploring Salida, CO, the vibrant dining and brewery scene is a must-visit experience. Here are our top picks for restaurants and breweries:

  1. Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub: Indulge in delicious pizza paired with a wide selection of handcrafted brews at this local favorite.
  2. Rivers Edge Bar & Restaurant: Enjoy a diverse menu featuring American and Mexican cuisine, perfect for satisfying various tastes.
  3. The Fritz: Delight in delectable bar food options and an impressive array of stouts in a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
  4. Amicas: Savor freshly baked bread and delightful sandwiches, complemented by a range of beer selections.

These dining establishments offer appealing options catering to different preferences and budgets, ensuring an enjoyable culinary journey during your visit to Salida.

Recommended lodging options

Here are the recommended lodging options in Salida, CO:

  1. Salida Inn and Hostel: Offers a variety of accommodation options from hostel beds to motel rooms for budget-friendly stays.
  2. Dispersed camping areas: Explore Mt Shavano Trailhead Area or Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area for a campfire experience and digital detox.
  3. Developed campgrounds: Consider O’Haver Lake Campground and Salida/Mt Shavano KOA Campground for a tranquil night’s stay under the starry skies.
  4. Lodging choices: Choose from charming hotels, vacation rentals, or cozy bed & breakfasts that reflect the town’s quaint charm, ensuring a peaceful stay amidst nature’s beauty.

Camping and dispersed camping suggestions

When planning your camping adventure in Salida, consider these options:

  1. Buena Vista offers cabins to tent sites with pet-friendly accommodations.
  2. Experience the best of nature at campgrounds like Buena Vista KOA Journey and Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park.
  3. Dive into the backcountry camping experience at Pike-San Isabel National Forests and Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.

Things to Do In Salida CO Conclusion

Salida, CO offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for those seeking a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle. From exploring ghost towns to enjoying hot springs and venturing into the great outdoors, there’s something for everyone.

Whether it’s taking in the breathtaking scenery or delving into local history, Salida has plenty to offer. So go ahead, plan your trip, explore this charming town, and create unforgettable memories.

Things to Do In Salida CO FAQs

1. What’s a must-visit place in Salida, Colorado?

Well, if you’re heading to Salida, the Aquatic Center is a spot you shouldn’t miss. It’s great for cooling off on those warm days or just having fun with family and friends.

2. Where can we stay when visiting Salida?

You might want to check out the Motor Lodge in Salida. It offers cozy accommodations that are perfect after a day of exploring what this charming town has to offer.

3. Are there any tips for promoting our visit to Salida online?

Yes! When sharing your adventures in Salida on social media or your blog, using some basic digital marketing tricks can help your posts reach more people. Think about catchy hashtags related to #SalidaColorado or tagging locations you visited.

4. Can we learn something historical during our visit?

Absolutely! While enjoying all the modern activities and natural beauty, don’t forget that this town has rich stories from the past. Exploring downtown will give you glimpses into its history – it’s like stepping back in time while still having one foot in the present.

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