Mt. Princeton with Sunflowers

Buena Vista, Colorado is known for its amazing hikes, white-water adventures, and a growing arts community. Some-days, you want to get out of town for a while and a drive can be what you need.

Salida to Buena Vista

Luckily, we’re home to the scenic Collegiate Peaks Byway, a 57-mile stretch of the Highways 50, 285, and 24 that run through Chaffee County. Along this entire route you’ll have amazing views of the Collegiate Peaks mountain range. Chaffee County has the greatest number of 14ers in Colorado, and this drive displays them all.

Starting in Salida, you’ll be on Highway 50. From here you’ll have an amazing view of Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak. You’ll head west until you get to Highway 285, where you’ll turn north. Driving north you’ll see an amazing assortment of views, including our amazing farmlands, and glimpses of the Arkansas River. You can also look to the east where Mt. Antero is on full display. As you proceed north to Nathrop, Mt. Princeton will take over the skyline to the west, at its base is the beautiful Chalk Creek area, with natural hot springs and ghost towns. You’ll continue to drive north to Johnson Village, where Highway 285 turns to the east.

Buena Vista to Granite

When Highway 285 turns east in Johnson Village, you’ll keep heading north onto Highway 24.

From this point, Highway 24 will take you between the Collegiate Peaks to the west, and the Buffalo Peaks to the east. The Arkansas River will still be your companion as you head further north towards its headwaters.

The Byway officially ends at Granite, however from here you can turn onto Highway 82 and explore Independence Pass (summer only) or you can head north on 24 through Leadville, and drive by the headwaters of the Arkansas. The scenery is amazing whichever route you choose.

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