Tourism in Buena Vista, CO
What we are…
- A small town (our population is less than half our elevation) in the middle of an arid, semi-agricultural valley surrounded by the biggest mountains on the lower 48.
- You’ll see more Justin’s than Gucci’s.
- More cattle than cars.
- And Semi-Formal attire is defined as “Your Newest Jeans”.
- Friendly people who wave with all their fingers, and appreciate visitors. Without you, our little hamlet would not exist.
- We’re all about outdoor folks who like nature more than trendy shops, and would rather look at a beautiful mountain than a Frank Lloyd Wright building.
What we are not…
- Sport coats (the last guy to wear a tie to dinner was hung with it)
- The nearest Mercedes Benz dealer?…You can’t get there from here.
- Factory Stores
- Trendy Bars
- Aspen (close by car, light-years by culture)
If you are looking for discos, Starbucks, movie stars, or a place to show off your diamonds and furs, this isn’t your place. Try www.imadork.com for an appropriate destination.
SUMMER, FALL AND LATE SPRING, SO MUCH TO DO, SO LITTLE TIME!
RAFTING AND KAYAKING
Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River is the most popular rafting trip in the world and goes through one of the country’s newest National Monuments, of the same name. It has the perfect mix of thrills, scenery, and just floating time. For a little different experience try a “Duckie,” an inflatable kayak. The best floating time is late May through mid-August with the maximum thrills in early June and no thrills after Labor Day.
The Arkansas River has now been recognized as the longest stretch of Gold Medal water in the state. The Caddis hatch on the Arkansas is world-renowned and a top-water fly man’s dream. Prime fishing starts in mid-April and ends right here at the lodge in mid-May and with our third of a mile of virtually exclusive frontage it’s the perfect spot for a great catch. The river can be a little high and wild from mid-May through the Fourth of July but starts settling down after the holiday. By mid-August, the fishing is exceptional all the way through Mid-October.
Guided trips are available through the lodge all season but spring is the best time as there’s even a Caddis Festival in early May put on by Trout Unlimited.
Local lakes open up in May and are well-stocked all summer and you can fish the lakes well into October. Bait is allowed but some fishers prefer lures and flies.
Nearby reservoirs (seven less than an hour away) open up in April or May. These seem to reach their peak when the rivers are too high for most of us, June and early July, but they fish well all season. Troll, toss lures, or use your fly rod to catch Rainbows, Cutthroats, Browns, Kokanee Salmon, Pike, or Monster Mackinaw. Guided trips are available through the lodge all season.
High mountain lakes open up in July and are good through September and sometimes into October. Most involve hiking, but some are reachable by 4×4 or ATV. Here Cutthroats abound and flies and lures are best.
Hiking and 14’er Bagging
The Valley is blessed with eleven mountains over 14,000 ft. tall. You can hike (no climbing skills necessary) up them all. For us lazy folks, you can drive to 12,000 ft. on Mt. Princeton and 13,700 ft. on Mt. Antero where a short hike gets you to the top (H/C 4×4 or ATV required). Some 14ers are in the abundant Wilderness Areas and require a long but scenic hike.
Well-known hiking trails are the Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail, and there are many others worth hiking in the area.
ATV’s, 4×4’s & Dirt Bikes
Never been on an ATV? Try it and you’ll be hooked for life. On the west side of the Valley, ride to ghost towns, old mine sites, cross the Continental Divide in several places (over 12,000 ft. in elevation), and ride on a multitude of other passes. The high mountain 4×4 passes do not usually open up until early July, but remain open well into October. Off the showroom SUVs can tackle most passes with ground clearance and low range being very important.
The east side of the Valley is lower and a lot drier. You can ride almost all year here. The routes are a lot less rocky than the west side (they don’t call these the “Smooth Mountains,” you know) and the views are amazing. Rentals and tours are available, or bring your own (re-jetting of Off Highway Vehicles may be necessary).
Family Car Trips
You can take the family car to several ghost towns including St. Elmo, Tin Cup, Winfield, and Vicksburg. Venture over Cottonwood Pass (closed in winter) to Taylor Park and Taylor Reservoir.
Day trips within two hours may include Royal Gorge, Black Canyon National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Leadville.
Many trails await your bike and there is even a shuttle that will take you to the top of world where you can ride back to your vehicle. Try the Midland Bike Trail. Many trails are open all year.
Winter and Spring in the Valley
Skiing is a real treat here unless you just love crowds and traffic. Monarch to the southwest has some of the best snow in the state and Ski Cooper to the north is the neatest little area in the state (and the least expensive). Be sure to check our website for Ski & Stay Packages with discounted lift tickets and affordable lodging to ski the best of both areas. Monarch is only about 45 minutes from the lodge and Ski Cooper is a 50-minute drive, both are easy, scenic drives with very little traffic.
Snowmobiling here is absolutely awesome with over 200 miles of groomed trails and several passes over the Continental Divide. The scenery is spectacular and the powder is waist deep in some places with miles of wide open riding above the Timberline. Did we mention the breathtaking scenery? Rentals and tours are available and our Sled & Sleep Specials are always on.
Snowshoeing is a very fast growing outdoor activity and we have the snow and trails to make it a treat. The learning curve is immediate as if you can hike, you can snowshoe, and rentals are available in town.
Fishing goes on all year both in the river and on the ice-covered lakes. The river up here at the lodge can be difficult in December and January (and after later cold snaps), but lower downstream is good practically all year. Ice fishing on Twin Lakes, Clear Creek Res., Cottonwood Lake, and Taylor Res. is often very productive.
Art Galleries and Antiquing
Buena Vista and Salida have many very original art galleries and the antique dealers offer things you won’t find many other places.
There are two hot springs in the Buena Vista area, neither with that sulfur smell that you get at so many other hot springs. They are open year-round as a hot retreat from the cool weather. We often have discounted passes to at least one of them.
There are a couple short hikes near the lodge that are rarely snow-covered. Try the Whipple Trail that originates at a footbridge at the end of town and continues up to the old Colorado Midland RR grade. There are interpretive kiosks along the way and the scenery is spectacular.