20 Best Things to Do in Salida, CO

Salida, CO skyline
Jacob Boomsma / iStock.com

Salida, Colorado, is a beautiful and colorful town brimming with excitement all year round.

It's not just the unique culture and atmosphere that make Salida popular, but also its hip restaurants, outdoor adventure galore, and fantastic art galleries.

It doesn't matter if you take a stroll or explore your inner daredevil because there's a lot of summer and winter activities in Salida.

The region's natural surroundings are fabulous for those looking to explore some breathtaking landscapes you won't find anywhere else!

Some things are even fun for kids and grownups alike!

However, before you proceed on your journey to such unforgettable shores, here's a list of things you have to do while in this majestic city!

Ride Tramway at Monarch Scenic Tram

The Monarch Crest Scenic Tramway and Gift Shop present a historic piece of Colorado's heritage along the Continental Divide.

Both opened in 1966 and currently maintain status as the oldest operating tramway and gift shop in Colorado.

The tramway has an elevation of 11,312 feet, and riders can ride up to the top of a mountain ridge that provides plenty of beautiful views and photo opportunities.

As one can imagine, there are many different types of activities that mountain folk enjoy doing when they're not at work.

We also love enjoying our time out in nature as much as possible; it's just so peaceful and relaxing.

Couple this with the wonderfully scenic views that the Rocky Mountains provide, and we've all got ourselves a real winner!  

Experience Spiral Drive

The Spiral Drive in Salida is an iconic place.

It provides a unique driving experience for those who explore its roads and paths.

Visiting this place for its natural beauty, such as the spectacular views of the mountain ranges, will amaze you as soon as you enter the area.

At its peak, you will find a path that leads to an open fire watch tower used by locals decades ago for overseeing various parts of the area and beyond.  

At any given moment, you can look out in every direction from this station around Salida, and see glistening mountain peaks all around you.

Some motorists from Salida and its surrounding area visit Spiral Drive.

The people behind the creation of this magnificent site were Curtis Killam, business owners, and local artists.

Explore Browns Canyon National Monument

Aerial view of Browns Canyon National Monument
Bureau of Land Management, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Browns Canyon National Monument is a lovely scenic tour locale, offering twenty-one-and-a-half thousand acres of preserved land in its pristine natural state.

And that's not the only thing that makes it an ideal place to enjoy the wonders of both nature and history!

Since its first discovery, the monument has already been a popular destination but officially became a national monument in 2015.

River in Browns Canyon National Monument
Bureau of Land Management, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Many things made this monument special over the years.

Mind you, this 21,500-acre land has a rich assortment of canyons, rivers, and forest terrain.

One can also enjoy various activities on these open lands, including hiking, camping, outdoor kayaking, and winter snowshoeing.

Furthermore, black bears and elk lurk in the area, along with colorful birds of prey such as falcons.

Rock formation at Browns Canyon National Monument
Bureau of Land Management, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Trip to Captain Zipline

Why not challenge yourself and soar in the air!

If you're feeling adventurous, take a trip to Captain Zipline, which offers Colorado's largest and most exciting aerial obstacle course zipline tours!

The fun begins when you meet experienced tour guides to get you fitted with a harness and helmet.

They will help you try out the equipment first before embarking on the tour.

Your tour includes exclusive routes that lead to places like zip lines and climbs, along with art galleries all over the area.

You can explore the majestic Rocky Mountains on Colorado's first World-Class Zipline Tour.

Or, you could test your courage on Colorado's largest aerial course!

Relax at Riverside Park

You'll find Riverside Park just off the charming Downtown Salida and the lovely Arkansas River.

The park offers visitors a place to sit back and relax alongside this beautiful waterway, where you get to experience some of the best that Chaffee County has to offer.

It has a wide range of amenities, such as open fields, a playground, trees, picnic tables, restrooms, benches, and - believe it or not - a bouldering wall!

However, what draws most people here is the location right along Salida's inviting river!

The Arkansas River flows through Salida and is a popular attraction for swimmers, boaters, and fishers.

In the summer, Salida locals and tourists alike like to flock to the Arkansas River.

You'll likely find kids splashing in the water and inner tubes floating down the river.

Soak in Hot Springs

Salida Hot Springs earned a reputation of service excellence by being one of the largest and privately operating hot springs in North America.

The spring utilizes naturally heated water from deep within Rocky Mountain foothills.

So it's using the soothing benefits of this pristine resource.

Not only will it give you the best experience, but it will also keep you away from stress.

There are several facilities here at the US Open for fans to enjoy.

The larger of the two pools is around 84 degrees all year-'round, and the smaller pool is at a comfortable 98 degrees.

Open pool hours are daily, and they usually take place in the afternoon during the week and on Saturdays.

Hot pools that accommodate two or three people are also available through private reservation requests, which we highly recommend if you've been hiking or biking all day!

Feed Beautiful Fish

One of the things to do in Salida, Colorado, is to visit Mt. Shavano's hatchery while you're there.

It is one of the more unique places to visit in Salida because you'll find some of the giant trout ever caught in Colorado.

And many are still alive today!

Located at 7725 County Road 154, the hatchery provides guided tours every day between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

In the summer, you can go on a guided tour of the hatchery every day from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

There is also a self-guided tour available if you find your way to the informational resources.

One of the most entertaining parts you'll find in this facility is feeding beautiful fish!

Go Whitewater Rafting

Arkansas river in the Salida, Colorado
JosephRouse / shuttlestock.com

If you find yourself in Salida, a great way to get some exciting activities is by booking a whitewater rafting trip on the Arkansas River with its premier local rafting company: Independent Whitewater.

The company specializes in rafting expeditions for rafters of any professional skill level or experience.

They offer an easy beginner trip called Scenic Float trip.

The trip takes you in the glories of nature without feeling too much strain, such as crossing large cataracts or cascades.

Whitewater Rafting on Arkansas River
Travis J. Camp / Shutterstock.com

If a more active challenge is what you have in mind, you should capture the excitement of rafting on the route through Browns Canyon.

It offers class III rapids not only for beginners but also for intermediate rafters that are looking to take their skill level to greater heights.

However, if you're not satisfied with these levels of difficulty, check out other journeys that require even more skill.

Aerial view of people Whitewater Rafting
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com

Ski at Monarch Mountain

Monarch Mountain is a family-friendly ski destination.

Some visitors love trying out the latest stylish snowboard boots, while others prefer to go off the beaten path and explore the deep powder (yet it seems they all enjoy this mountain equally).

This resort has something for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.

You'll find challenging runs for expert skiers as well as beginner slopes.

Perhaps the best aspect of Monarch Mountain is that they offer accommodations for those who don't enjoy skiing or snowboarding.

So there's an option to take a relaxing ride down the mountain on a tube.

There's also plenty of other activities one can engage in aside from skiing and snowboarding, such as on-mountain dining places and shops.

There's more than just skiing at this place.

Create your Art Piece at the Maverick Potter

The Maverick Potter is a working clay family-owned studio located in Salida.

It's an interactive gallery where customers can learn techniques from their favorite artists while browsing work from nationally acclaimed potters and designers.

Mark Rittmann's functional art pieces are not just home décors but are also works of art in their own right.

The Maverick Potter represents well over 30 artists from around Colorado who make items ranging from flower pots to tiled mainstays for your kitchen countertops.

The store has several individually crafted pots, lino-cuts, and paintings that make for great souvenirs or gifts!

And not only will they teach you how to work with clay, but they will also provide you countless opportunities to come up with your ceramic masterpieces.

They offer lessons and workshops about the art of throwing pots and painting ceramics for children and adults alike.

Drink Wine at Vino Salida Wine Cellars

Vino Salida Wine Cellars is a luxury wine tasting room in Colorado.

Its head winemaker, Steve Flynn, takes pride in his work and offers people many choices representing different types of wine.

Throughout the year, Vino Salida presents new flavors centered on seasonal ingredients like peaches and berries.

The tasting room provides an ambiance that helps guests enjoy every flavor.

Wine tasters can enjoy the breathtaking views of mountains and feel that they're drinking a locally sourced product.

Each year, Vino Salida hosts an autumn equinox foot-stomping event to create new wines and celebrate the season.

So if you're visiting the area, come by to drink some unique blends or enjoy pairings previously unavailable anywhere else!

Go Horseback Riding

Wide view of Sangre De Cristo Mountains
OryPhotography / shutterstock.com

Granite Mountain Outfitters specializes in taking people camping and horseback riding to some of the most beautiful locations in Salida and Buena Vista.

With twenty years of experience, they specialize in enriching people's lives from coast to coast through western adventure and ranch fun with the guidance of their team of experts.

Using their impressive fleet of steeds and various vessels, the company takes people to places that provide stunning panoramic views of Lone Star State towns, landmarks, rivers, lakes, and plains.

Expert wranglers fully capable of comfortably handling their stock will accompany you.

They offer day passes for point-to-point rides into the Sangre de Cristos mountains.

Those who book a trip at Granite Mountain Outfitters describe their experience as magical.

So whether you want either a short, medium, long, or even extra long ride appointment, your trip through the desert will guarantee you an unforgettable adventure!

Go Rock Climbing

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is the perfect place to get away from it all.

It's a park with various natural wildlife features.

The reason for its establishment in 1998 is to preserve the local land.

The park encompasses almost 10 square miles of natural beauty.

It is no surprise why the Arkansas River is known as one of America's all-time favorite outdoor adventure destinations.

The river allows visitors to partake in multiple adventure activities at once, such as kayaking and whitewater rafting, hiking, camping, wildlife watching, and mountain biking.

It's also a popular activity destination for rock climbers due to the unique challenges located nearby.

The recreation area opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m., but the weekend hours may vary according to seasonality.  

Take Dog Sled Tours

Most people who come to Salida usually have no idea that dog sled tours are available, but Monarch Dog Sled Rides makes it possible.

If you're here in winter and want to step off the beaten path, a dog sled ride is an exhilarating way to explore if you've never done it before.

Daytime or nighttime riding options will determine which experience is right for you.

But regardless of your time preference, these tours provide stunning views that you won't soon forget!

Monarch Dog Sled Rides offers two dog sledding tours, which take about 1 hour.

You'll be meeting all their dogs, learning to control them, and discovering more about this exciting sport.

Their Moonlight/Starlight Tour allows you to appreciate how tranquil yet exhilarating it can be to go on a night tour in the forest.

Eat Sandwiches at Sweetie's

When you're strolling down Main Street in the town of Salida, one of the best places to grab a bite and enjoy gourmet delights is the Sweetie's Sandwich Shop.

They have over 60 extraordinary sandwiches to choose from, along with a variety of salads!

Sweetie's has been a favorite lunch stop for residents in the area since 2012.

A husband and wife team founded the store and two other spouses who helped run day-to-day operations.

Aside from sandwiches and pastries, Sweetie's also offers tasty salads and soups throughout the seasons.

That garnered them plenty of local recognition, such as awards for Best Dessert, Best Lunch, Friendliest Staff, and more.

When you make it to Salida, be sure to stop at the Sweetie's for some delightful treats!

Grab a Snack and Drink Beer at Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub

Featuring 16 house brews on tap, Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub offers a laid-back atmosphere for lunch, dinner, or beverages.

They serve freshly prepared pizza, sandwiches, fresh salads, and snacks.

Seasonal access is available to the sizable terrace of Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub.

The Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub's brewery has a 7-barrel brewing setup.

They normally feature 13 beers on tap, varying from German lagers and traditional English ales to American pale ales with many hops.

Pack your refillable beer container, or they may provide one for you.

Join a Tour of the Hutchinson Homestead & Learning Center

Your first stop when visiting the property is the visitor center at the Hutchinson Homestead and Learning Center.

Walking in the footsteps of historical figures is made possible through guided tours, informative panels, and instructional displays that tell the tales of the early settlers and pioneers, the Hutchinson family, the site's preservation, and other topics.

Younger tourists and families are entertained with hands-on programs, including a trunk full of cowboy and cowgirl outfits for young people to try.

Enjoy a tour of the visitor center and the distinctive 150-year-old historic farmhouse site.

Enjoy the views as they educate visitors about the Hutchinson Homestead's informative displays, historic structures, and ranch history.

Book a Room in Silver Ridge Lodge

Built in the middle of the 1960s, Silver Ridge Lodge is a fantastic reminder of when groups of friends and family would get into automobiles and travel around this stunning nation.

The structure transports you backward in time, yet the tastefully refurbished rooms and contemporary conveniences make you feel at home and allow you the chance to unwind in this lovely mountain village.

Located just off Highway 50, Silver Ridge Lodge allows you to quietly take in the stunning mountain vistas everywhere around you.

Clean, spacious rooms, including refrigerators, microwaves, coffee machines, hair dryers, 32" HDTVs, and complimentary high-speed wireless internet, are included in the amenities.

Enjoy the high sundeck with sights of the stunning mountains, the outdoor hot tub, and the garden seating spaces.

Taste Fine Wine at Mountain Spirit Winery

Mountain Spirit Winery is a family-run boutique winery that opened in 1995.

It is tucked away in the Upper Arkansas River Valley's steep terrain.

Andrew Ritchie, the winemaker of Mountain Spirit, and proprietors Terry and Michael Barkett have clinical medicine, computer programming, lab technology, and culinary arts backgrounds.

They make fine wines on five acres of agricultural land with apple orchards and an ancient homestead encircled by 14,000-foot mountain panoramas.

Free wine samples are offered while you tour the Mountain Spirit Winery's grounds.

Dine at the Fritz

The Fritz was introduced more than 12 years ago and is named after a little spotted dog who loves the mountains and lives close to the lake.

In that time, it has developed and expanded to offer unique twists on contemporary cuisine and tried-and-true comfort dishes that everybody enjoys.

The Fritz is located on the riverbank of the Arkansas River at the base of the stunning Sawatch Mountains.

The Fritz menu focuses on small meals inspired by the chefs' travels worldwide and features a variety of international cuisines.

They combine the traditional with the novel and the anticipated with dishes like upgraded burgers and modest pate.

Cocktails are classic drinks with modern tweaks.

Final Thoughts

Salida, Colorado, is the kind of town that makes you want to put your car into the park and unpack your bags.

I don't blame you!

With unparalleled activities and a heritage that builds a person's energy just by being present there, Salida is the kind of destination that immediately packs a vacation with countless memorable moments.

From the mountainous views hard against your hotel window to the warm hospitality of its local citizens, Salida really has it all.

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