Salida, in the upper Arkansas River Valley, is an outdoors lover’s paradise. Rafting, mountain biking, skiing, fishing, mountain climbing all can be enjoyed here. And thanks to a mild climate, many of these activities can be enjoyed year-round.
The main attraction for visitors is the river. The upper Arkansas is one of the most-rafted rivers in the country, and hundreds of thousands come here each year for a thrilling blast down “The Numbers” rapids or the tamer Browns Canyon runs. Most of the put-ins, campgrounds, and riverside attractions are part of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. Few experiences in Colorado can rival plunging through massive rapids in the shadow of the mighty Collegiate Peaks. Anglers also come here in droves to fish the Gold Medal trout fishery.
Speaking of the mountains, the Sawatch Range near Salida features some of the most popular 14,000-foot peaks to climb, including Mount Shavano and Mount Antero. All can be done without technical climbing gear – at least in summer. For mountain bikers, the Monarch Crest Trail offers a superb system of singletrack, much of it high above timberline. This range is largely inaccessible in winter, save for areas along U.S. Highway 50 at Monarch Pass. Lucky for skiers, Monarch Mountain Resort, one of the finest medium-sized ski areas in the state, is at the top of the pass.