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They say that people come to Colorado for the winter and stay for the summer. This saying is especially true of the town of Buena Vista, Colorado. Situated at the base of the Collegiate Peaks and along the banks of the Arkansas River, Buena Vista is one of Colorado’s most picturesque mountain towns. From hiking to rafting, mountain biking to climbing, there are truly endless ways to enjoy the outdoors and explore the surrounding alpine landscape in summer. One of the highlights of the summer season is BV’s 4th of July celebration. The day is filled with pancake breakfasts, running races, a parade, and of course, fireworks. We’ve put together an awesome itinerary for you so that you can make the most out of your 4th of July holiday in Buena Vista, one of Colorado’s most beautiful mountain towns.

Day One — BV is the place to BE… Come early, stay late!

Kids Games - 4th of July - Buena Vista Colorado - courtesy of Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce
McPhelemy Park

So, you and your family arrived in Buena Vista last night, got a good night’s sleep at your campsite, hotel, or B & B, and you wake up ready for some 4th of July fun. Luckily, Buena Vista’s 4th of July celebration is legendary, so your day will be packed with music, good food, art, and of course, fireworks.

Buena Vista offers an awesome set of activities for your 4th of July morning. Start off with a Pancake Breakfast in Columbine Park from 7-9:30 am, run the Freedom 5K (sign-up is at 7:15 am for an 8:30 am race time), and/or head to the Grace Church for a patriotic concert from 9-10 a.m. But don’t dawdle too long because the 4th of July Parade starts on Main Street at 10 a.m. Look out for floats and celebratory performances, and don’t forget to bring a chair, water, and bags for the kids to collect the candy that gets thrown out from the parade!

4th of July Parade - Buena Vista Colorado - courtesy of Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce
4th of July Parade in Buena Vista, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce.

An afternoon of an ‘Art in the Park’ arts and crafts festival (which runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), free kid’s games (with prizes), a Rotary Cookout, and free live music by Mountain Mantra at Art in the Park makes for an awesome day spent outside celebrating with the whole town. Don’t miss the famous pie sale at Art in the Park – the pies don’t last long, so be sure to stop by for some delicious local treats.

Your afternoon could also include a visit to the Heritage Museum and the Depot located in the Old Chaffee County Courthouse, a museum devoted to the history of the town and its residents. The Museum is only charging a $1.00 admission on the 4th!

Part of what makes 4th of July so special is the fireworks show. In Buena Vista, the American Legion puts on an amazing evening show starting at 9 p.m. But the town of Buena Vista is also conscious of conserving and protecting the surrounding land, so if there’s a fire ban or high fire danger, they may forgo the fireworks. Decisions are made closer to the date.

4th of July main st crowd - Buena Vista COlorado - courtesy of Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce
The whole town comes out to celebrate and visitors flock to Buena Vista’s 4th of July celebration. Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce.

For more information about Buena Vista’s 4th of July celebration, visit

Day 2 — Hiking, Whitewater Rafting, and Live Music

ArkansasRiver-mtn-spirit-photo - Courtesy of Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce
The mighty Arkansas River runs through Buena Vista, Colorado. Photo Credit: Mtn Spirit Photo, courtesy of Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce.

There’s so much to explore in the outdoors surrounding Buena Vista, it’s hard to know where to begin. Spend your morning hiking one of the 12 14,000-foot peaks that surround Buena Vista or Browns Canyon National Monument. One of the local favorite fourteeners is Mount Harvard, a Class 2, 14-mile roundtrip climb to the summit at 14,420 feet above sea level. From Buena Vista, turn left onto west onto County Road 350 (Crossman Ave.). Continue on CR 350 for two miles and then turn right onto CR 361. You’ll find the trailhead after just over five miles at the end of the road.

If you’re looking for a more mellow hike, head to Browns Canyon National Monument, Colorado’s newest national monument. From the Hecla Junction Recreation Site, follow the Turret Trail 6045 to the Arkansas River at Little Cottonwood Creek for a short, but steep, two-mile roundtrip hike with amazing views of the surrounding landscape.

After a morning of hiking, you’ll be ready for some lunch, so head back to town for a relaxed lunchtime at one of Buena Vista’s restaurants. From BBQ to pizza to coffee shop fare, you’re sure to find something that’ll please the whole family. The downtown area also features great local shops to browse and peruse while you’re enjoying a beautiful summer day.

You may have spent the morning hiking through Browns Canyon National Monument, and now it’s time to explore it from the water. The Arkansas River that runs through Buena Vista is known as one of the most incredible places to whitewater raft in the country. In fact, Buena Vista has been dubbed the Whitewater Capital of the United States for that reason. The river features 152 rafting miles, with more than 80 miles named Class II to Class V whitewater, meaning there’s water for all experience levels. Visit to find a guide for your afternoon on the water!

You’re in for a treat for your evening activity: Buena Vista hosts live music at their weekly Concerts in the Park event. From 6-8 p.m., join the Buena Vista community on July 5th for an evening of live music and beautiful views at this local favorite summer event series.

You spent an amazing 4th of July holiday in Buena Vista, one of Colorado’s most beautiful mountain towns, and it’s time to head home. For more information about Buena Vista and to plan your next trip to the Arkansas River Valley, visit

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