The Great Outdoors
Complete with the Rocky Mountains, Arkansas River, Colorado sunshine and mild winter climate, Buena Vista is the perfect outdoor playground all year long! Consider embarking on one of these adventures to explore Buena Vista:
Off-Roading and Jeep Tours
Experience Buena Vista’s backcountry on a half or full day off-roading excursion. With varying terrain open to ATV’s and 4×4’s and year-round accessibility, imagination will be your only boundary. Experts at Colorado Adventure Rentals, ATV Mountain Adventure Rentals, and BV Jeeps will help you select the best vehicle and route based on your prior experience.
One of our favorite times to embark on these adventures is during September when the leaves are full of golden colors. Consider taking part in the Annual OHV Color Tour the 4th week of September to see the beautiful fall foliage, visit historic sites and ride with other adventurers.
Aerial Parks & Zipline Tours
Arkansas Valley Adventures offers zip-line and aerial tours such as the Mountaintop Zipline Tour which has 7 zip-lines, totaling almost 4,000 feet of adventure. Top of the Rockies Zipline offers abundant thrills. The course has five separate zip lining sections, each with entirely different elements of speed, height and terrain, with cables up to 850 feet, some more than 300 feet off the ground. All zips have double lines for safety. On 4 sections of the course, guests can fly side by side on TWIN LINES with magical views of the snowy alpine tundra just under the lip of the great Continental Divide. The Browns Canyon Adventure Park also gives a thrill with their 4 challenge courses and 66 elements which include 7 zip-lines and 2 high adrenaline challenges. Bring the whole family to participate in these exhilarating adventures and relish the breathtaking views as you whiz through the air.
Buena Vista is a haven for mountain biking. From the family-friendly River Road to the superb singletracks of the Colorado Trail and the Barbara Whipple Trail System on Midland Hill, there is something for everyone. Road cycling is also popular in Buena Vista, especially with events such as the annual Buena Vista Bike Fest. The 22-mile Buena Vista to Mount Princeton/Nathrop loop is a popular ride amongst Buena Vista road cyclists.
Cross Country Skiing
You don’t have to be an expert to try Cross Country skiing (often called Nordic skiing). Guides at Buena Vista Mountain Adventures will provide instruction and direct your route as you glide through the forest in an unmatched winter landscape. You could also direct your own Colorado adventure by renting gear in downtown Buena Vista and obtaining route info at the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.
Buena Vista is nestled in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area, with San Isabel National Forest and the World-famous Arkansas River. It doesn’t get any better than this special place to camp! Our night skies are full of wonder and splendor. Here you can camp near town, along the Arkansas River or nearby streams, high on our mountain peaks or nestled in the valley. Each location is spectacular – you may have to try them all! For locally run campgrounds click here.
Nearly 80% of Chaffee County lands are managed by Federal and State agencies as “public lands.” The main river corridor is managed by Colorado State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management jointly through Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. AHRA map and information can be downloaded via this link http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea/Documents/Admin/Publications/ArkansasBrochure.pdf.
The Salida Ranger District is part of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests. The district encompasses over 440,000 acres of public lands and is located in the central part of Colorado near the towns of Salida, Buena Vista and Poncha Springs. Paid camping is noted via the listings below. Photos by Mountain Spirit Photography.
Camping in the Salida Ranger District Recreation Area
Angel of Shavano Campground
Angel of Shavano Group Area
Chalk Creek Canyon
Chalk Lake Campground
Collegiate Peaks Campground (closed 2018)
Cottonwood Lake Campground
Iron City Campground
Monarch Park Campground
Mount Princeton Campground
O’Haver Lake Campground
Camping in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea/Pages/Camping.aspx
Railroad Bridge Campground
Ruby Mountain Campground
Hecla Junction Campground
Camping in the Twin Lakes Recreation Area
Parry Peak Campground
Twin Peaks Campground
Nestled within the confines of the River Park, the Buena Vista Disc Golf Course is designed for all skill levels. Get outside, enjoy the Colorado sunshine and experience the fun. This frisbee golf course is located next to the Little League field, just to the west of the soccer field in the River Park.
Meet some furry friends and adventure through the San Isabel National Forest on a dog-sled adventure with Monarch Dog Sled Rides. You’ll meet the huskies, learn about the sport of mushing, discover how to harness the dogs and take a 30-40 minute dogsled ride through the forest. This exhilarating activity is a fun option for the whole family.
Drive In Theater
With the mountains as a backdrop and beautiful stars overhead, the Comanche Drive In is situated in a perfect location for an outdoor movie. This theater is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Before the movie, swing by the concession stand for some popcorn and snacks; you’ll create a night full of laughter and fun for the whole family to remember.
Buena Vista is a celebrated fishing destination, especially since there are numerous angling opportunities within an easy distance from town. The Arkansas River is particularly renowned because of its Gold Medal Water status. Trip options include wade and float fishing on the Arkansas River, hike-in wade trips to local alpine lakes, and float-tube/powerboat trips to some of the local reservoirs. For a true outdoor experience, consider a fishing trip with experienced guides from ArkAnglers Fly Shop and Dvorak Expeditions. Whether you’re a novice or experienced fly fisherman, guides will help you select an excursion that fits your needs and expectations. For new flyfishers, ArkAnglers offers Never-Ever instructional trip packages to help get you started.
Fat Tire Biking
Ever biked through snow? If not, this is an adventure you won’t soon forget. Fat biking is gaining traction throughout Colorado; it’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s all available right in Buena Vista. Head downtown, rent your bike and then hit the trails on Midland Hill, located at the end of East Main Street, or head to the Four Mile Trail System which offers miles of beautiful scenery and views of the Collegiate Peaks.
The Collegiate Peaks Golf Course is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful golf courses in Colorado. Nestled in the upper Arkansas Valley, the golf course features dramatic views of the Collegiate Peaks Mountain Range. Their 9 hole golf course offers two sets of tee boxes that provide golfers of all abilities a chance to maximize their enjoyment and appreciation of the course.
For an authentic western experience, consider enjoying Colorado’s breathtaking views and scenic trails on horseback. The skilled guides at Harvard City Riding Stables and Granite Moutain Outiftters will match a horse to your ability and direct the details of your trip – all you’ll have to do is drink in the sunshine and grandiose views. Buckle up your bootstraps!
While Gold Medal fishing holds our hearts all summer long, during fall we turn to the hills where world class big game hunting can be found. Colorado’s hunting traditions and wildlife conservation are a part of our history, and is carefully maintained in the Arkansas River Valley. Hunting seasons start near the end of August, and finish in January, and you can hunt elk, deer, antelope, turkey,
For complete details of hunting seasons, regulations and licenses visit wildlife.state.co.us, call the Colorado Division of Wildlife Salida Service Center at 719-530-5520 or stop by any retailer that sells hunting and fishing licenses.
Hiking and Backpacking
Fresh air, blue skies and a true Colorado experience awaits you in our Rocky Mountains. Buena Vista is renowned for its Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area, much of which lies within the San Isabel National Forest. This wilderness area holds a collection of Sawatch Range Mountains and is set in the Buena Vista valley. Sometimes you’ll hear the Collegiate Peaks called “fourteeners” which is a reference to the mountains that have an elevation of at least 14,000 feet. Buena Vista is a popular area for mountaineering, especially since Chaffee County the highest concentration of fourteeners in Colorado.
If advanced mountaineering isn’t your aim, numerous beginner and intermediate hikes are available in the Buena Vista area and serve as great family options. These hikes offer stunning views of the Collegiate Peaks. The many lakes near Buena Vista also offer beautiful hiking destinations, such as Ptarmigan Lake or Hartenstein Lake. You can even hike the trails at the end of East Main Street in downtown Buena Vista, such as the Arkansas River Trail or the Midland Trail. READ MORE
The 100% natural, bubbling hot springs offers a relaxing experience that will revitalize you. Buena Vista’s hot springs are completely odorless, allowing you to enjoy your soaking experience. Cottonwood Hot Springs, Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort and Treehouse Hot Springs are all in a prime location, as you can enjoy these hot springs right after whitewater rafting, downtown shopping, skiing or any Buena Vista adventure. READ MORE
Ducky or inflatable kayak trips are a thrilling way to enjoy the sun and water in Buena Vista. These excursions allow you to take charge of your own trip as you navigate through the Arkansas River, and no previous experience is necessary for guided trips. Many whitewater rafting companies in Buena Vista offer ducky trips, and guests can choose from beginner to advanced options. Rent a kayak and equipment from The Buena Vista Adventure Hub or CKS .
Lake Kayaking & Boat Tours
Lake kayaking is a great option for those who want an active yet relaxing day in the Colorado sun and water. Both Cottonwood Lake and Twin Lakes are stunning areas to kayak and are located less than thirty minutes from downtown Buena Vista. Don’t have the strength to propel a kayak? Let Twin Lakes Interlaken Boat Tours take you on a tour of Twin Lakes.
The grandiose western mountain range will draw your eyes, but you’ll find a climber’s paradise as you look east. The Upper Arkansas Valley hosts a range of climbing options and offers beautiful granite cliffs to traverse. Some popular climbing areas include Bob’s Rock, Davis Face, Almost a Tunnel, Transmitter Tower, Elephant Rock, Turtle Rock and the man-made Buena Vista Boulder Garden.
The rise of the mountain ranges, scouring of the landscape by glaciers and erosion allow us to see the building blocks of earth itself – minerals – by the scores. Buena Vista is known to have an abundance of minerals and a surprisingly great number of them are exposed. All of this leads to yet another fun hobby to experience here – rock hounding. The Roc Doc can get you headed in the right direction.
Skate Park & Pump Track
For an active day in town, explore the Buena Vista Skate Park which offers 9,000 square feet of outdoor space to board. You’ll enjoy gorgeous views of Mount Princeton and soak in the rays of sunshine as you glide across the concrete surface. Or head to the Buena Vista Pump Track at the end of East Main Street to test out your biking skills. The BV Pump Track is designed for both children and adults of all skill levels and is a good place to test your abilities before hitting Colorado biking trails.
Situated within 90 minutes of eight ski resorts, Buena Vista is in the heart of skiing and snowboarding country. Beat the traffic and lodge in the beautiful town of Buena Vista, and you’ll have access to a wide variety of terrain. If you want to enjoy the Colorado mountains without the crowd, consider exploring Buena Vista through backcountry skiing.
If you’re ready for some action, consider speeding through powder on a snowmobiling adventure in the Colorado Rockies. Numerous groomed backcountry trails are accessible so you can explore the mountains for hours. Consider snowmobiling at Cottonwood Pass, Mineral Basin, Tincup Pass, or Hancock Pass. Contact Buena Vista Mountain Adventures, Colorado Adventure Rentals or White Mountain Snowmobile Tours for rentals and more route information.
Enjoy a winter hike as you traverse through the Colorado Rockies and BV trails with snowshoes. The mild winter weather coupled with the tranquil views and quiet snow will evoke your love for wintertime in Buena Vista. Bring your own snowshoes or rent them in downtown Buena Vista, and make sure to swing by the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center for a hiking guide before you hit the trails.
SUP – Stand Up Paddleboarding
SUP is a growing water sport and can be enjoyed on either whitewater or still water. Buena Vista offers a variety of SUP options for both first time paddle boarders and veterans. If you’re new to SUP, you can give it a whirl at the pond at McPhelemy Park near downtown Buena Vista. You could also have some laid-back fun and enjoy the beautiful Colorado scenery at Cottonwood Lake, located less than thirty minutes from downtown Buena Vista. For those looking for more action, the play holes and rapids at the Buena Vista Whitewater Park, also known as the Buena Vista Play Park, located at the end of East Main Street are sure to give you a thrill.
Buena Vista is a central location for kayakers. No matter the section of the Arkansas River you choose, you’ll enjoy hours of invigorating whitewater. Designed with five whitewater structures, the celebrated Buena Vista Whitewater Park, located at the end of East Main Street, is another terrific spot to make a splash. The five features are designed for kayakers of any skill level and incorporate everything from beginner friendly waves to play holes designed for maximum air time.
Buena Vista, home of Browns Canyon National Monument, is the center to some of the world’s best whitewater rafting. As a premier boating location, Buena Vista is proud to offer a variety of rafting options on the Arkansas River, Colorado’s #1 rafted river. No matter if you’re a beginner or seasoned rafter, you’ll be sure to find a trip that fits your expectations. Get ready to buckle up that PFD and embark on a Colorado rafting excursion that you won’t forget! READ MORE