There are so many different activities that this mountainous town called “Salida Colorado” has become famous for. As I am a traveller myself, I often pore over magazines trying to find the next “it” place. Salida, CO captured my attention because of its mild climate allowing for an abundance of activities.
Salida is a mountainous little town in the Rockies. Outside Magazine called it The Best Unsung Mountain Town in 2017. The Matador Network also named it America’s Coolest Town for Outdoor Adventure, which should tell you all you need to know.
I discovered both adventure and peace in this bustling little town, filled to the brim with fun and excitement. With the mountains on one side and the long Arkansas river flowing through it, Salida has plenty to do for the whole family.
Regardless of how you choose to spend your time, you’ll be amazed at everything on offer in this town. I myself enjoy sightseeing and adventure, which is right up Salida’s alley. However, families looking for a more peaceful day out will find plenty of options tailor-made for them as well.
There are so many things to do in Salida Co that you’ll be spoiled for choice when traveling to the heart of the Rockies, as Salida is known.
As everyone has their own idea of a good time, I have broken up the activities and attractions into categories. This should help you determine how you’d like to spend your time in Salida.
Top 10 Things to Do in Salida Co:
I have to kick off this list with the item that Salida is probably best known for – whitewater rafting. Adventure junkies flood Salida every year for rafting in the Arkansas River and surround. It is one of the most exciting activities that Salida offers and there are options available for all ages.
I was hesitant at first, but the Arkansas River is the most famous river for whitewater rafting in America. It flows right through Salida and therefore, no trip to Salida is complete without it. Of the things to do in Salida, Co in summer, whitewater rafting tops the list.
Although Colorado is landlocked, you’ll never guess it with the watersports available in Salida. There are trips of varying lengths and difficulties available, so even the kids can join in the fun! I found that it is best to book a trip with an experienced whitewater rafting guide. There are so many guides and tours available, that it really comes down to personal preference.
Guided tours are available almost daily and range from relaxed paddling to thrilling, high-speed adventures. Although I opted for a milder experience, my fellow travelers assured me that the advanced level rafting is well worth it.
Ziplining and an Aerial Course
If you’re not afraid of heights, the Salida Zipline is an exciting experience. Captain Zipline is one company that offers a high-flying adventure in the heart of Salida. Although it is highly popular in the summer, Ziplining is available year-round. It is one of the more fun things to do in winter in Salida, Colorado, as it is usually not as busy then.
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On my travels, safety is one of my highest priorities. The tours and activities offered by Captain Zipline are all insured and regulated by the State of Colorado. Their equipment also receives regular inspections from ACCT-certified inspectors. This means that you have nothing to worry about when embarking on this adventure.
Ziplining may look extreme, but it is easy enough to do and children from ages six and up are welcome.
Captain Zipline also offers a canyon aerial course. This incredible structure is made up of 120+ challenging element structures. These include cargo nets, tunnels, swinging bridges, and balance beams. The structures dangle high above the canyon and visitors are fitted with safety gear before attempting. Adults and children from ages 8 and up are welcome to try their hand at this.
Hike or Bike Spiral Drive
I visited Salida in the Spring and from the very start of my trip, I was fascinated by the Tenderfoot Mountain. This mountain sits on the edge of town and a large S, constructed of rocks, draws the eye. I was delighted to discover that a short dirt road leads all the way up the mountain. This road is known as Spiral Drive.
At the top of Spiral Drive sits a gazebo with an incredible view of the town and area. You can see the Arkansas River, mountain ranges, and the beautiful town nestled in the valley. Although it is possible to simply hop in a car up Spiral Drive, adventure-seekers enjoy running, biking, or walking to the top.
Mountain biking is a popular adventure sport in the Rocky Mountains. Spiral Drive is one way of enjoying mountain biking in the Rockies without putting too much strain on yourself.
Spiral Drive is 1.7 miles long and therefore relatively easy to hike or bike. Walking up Spiral Drive will allow you to see the town as never before. Dogs are welcome on the path, so this is truly a family-friendly activity.
Monarch Crest Scenic Tram
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Of all the things to do in Salida, Co, the Monarch Crest Scenic Tram is one of my favorites. It is not a very strenuous activity, but it is a lot of fun. There is also a gift shop with fantastic souvenirs, making this spot ideal for tourists and travelers.
The tram is located at the top of the Monarch Pass and is the oldest working tram in Colorado. If you explore the tramway for one reason, make it the view.
On a clear day, it is possible to see five mountain ranges and vistas of 150 miles around. The tram climbs to 11 312 feet altitudes on the Monarch Pass and to 12 012 feet at the Continental divide.
Families traveling to Salida will enjoy the tramway as it is open to all ages and leashed dogs are also welcome. If you’re interested in taking the tram, plan your trip carefully regarding their times. The tramway is open from mid-May to the fall and you’re still guaranteed to see some snow!
Trout Fishing in the Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is bound to catch your eye if you’re spending time in Salida. It flows through the downtown area and there are even makeshift beaches where you can spend lazy summer days.
Although fishing in itself can be a very relaxing activity, it can also be very exciting. Many people, myself included, enjoy quietly sitting by the water casting a line, and waiting for the excitement that comes from a strike.
Seasoned fishermen will know that good fishing is all about finding the perfect spot. Fortunately for fishermen, the entire Arkansas River in Salida is the perfect spot. The fish hatcheries in Salida ensure that the waters in and around Salida are stocked with 5000 trout per mile. The upper area of the river was granted Gold Metal status due to fish abundance, flow management, and water quality.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find better fishing conditions anywhere else. Fly fishing is prevalent here as you’re most likely to catch trout, and with 70 miles of fishing spots and many fly shops and fishing outfitters offering advice, you’re sure to walk away with the catch of the season.
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The hot water springs in Colorado are famous, and for good reason. Salida itself sports several hot springs where you can enjoy a good soak. This is especially enjoyable after partaking in strenuous activities such as whitewater rafting, hiking, or biking.
The Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center offers natural water from an underground hot water spring. It is the largest facility of its kind in America. There are two pools available, a very large one that is slightly cooler than the smaller, shallower one. The smaller one is perfect for leisurely soaks and has a waterfall feature.
There are also private soaking pools available where the temperature can be adjusted. These European-style pools are available for two to three people at a time and are a favorite among honeymooners or couples on vacation.
Tours and Tastings
Distillery Tour and Tastings
There are many exciting adventures and activities in Salida, Co but there are also fun and relaxed outings available. A distillery tour is an interesting and enriching way to spend an afternoon. If this is something you’re interested in, then Wood’s High Mountain Distillery should be your first stop.
The distillery specializes in whiskey, gin, liqueur, and vodka. It is possible to taste and purchase all of their products on-site. The tastings take place daily from noon to about ten, so it is the perfect choice for an afternoon outing.
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In the spirit of good fun, the distillery also offers live music events along with their tastings. This is the ideal activity for a lazy weekend afternoon or evening. Be sure to check out their latest event schedule to plan your trip.
Of course, you have to be over the age of 21 to partake in these types of activities. It may, therefore, not be as suitable for families, but it is definitely an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
It is also possible to do tours of the distillery, and those that are interested should book in advance.
Winery Tours and Tastings
If tasting spirits and liqueur is not your thing, then perhaps you’d be more interested in wine. I myself am a lover of red wine and I found that the winery tour and tasting proved highly enjoyable.
Vino Salida is the home of Colorado craft wine, and there is nothing better to do on the weekend. The winery offers tours and tastings of their craft wine and mead. If you’re interested in wine or simply enjoy having a glass or two, this is the activity for you.
The winemaker, Steve Flynn, has worked hard to forge long-lasting relationships with the grape and honey producers of Colorado. This has given him access to the finest Colorado produce for his products.
You can sit back and relax, learn all about Colorado viticulture and sample their finest mead and wines. It is a personal experience and you can enjoy it with some local antipasti.
The winery also hosts weddings and private events. It is the ideal location for a birthday party or anniversary. With 360° mountain views, the backdrop is ideal for any kind of celebration. You will also be able to sample some of their wines and they have beer and spirits on offer as well.
Salida’s Ghost and Murder Tour
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Salida has a dark and bloody history, which true-crime fanatics will go crazy over. There are several ghost and murder tours to be taken to explore Salida’s gruesome past. These tours are very popular and definitely very thrilling. The tours are done by costumed guides with a knack for storytelling.
The tours will generally take visitors along the historic parts of Salida. A knowledgeable guide will tell you all about the Salida serial killer, the dead madam that still haunts her brothel, and the ghost train.
Many travelers have seen ghosts at haunted sites and photographed inexplicable shadows or lights. This thrilling tour should be on your bucket list if it is not already. The ghost and murder tours are well-received by travelers and tourists. I immensely enjoyed the one I took part in as well and can highly recommend it.
Those that are interested in taking a ghost and murder tour should remember their camera and sense of humor!
Sightseeing and Other Things to Do in Salida Co
Visit the National Monuments and Parks
The final item on my list involves taking a trip to the Browns Canyon National Monument and visiting Riverside Park for some sightseeing. Of course, travelers and tourists alike delight in sightseeing activities. It is one of the many reasons we travel – to see and experience new and exciting things.
The Browns Canyon National Monument is one of the most impressive things to do in Salida, Colorado. It sports impressive rock formations, an abundance of wildlife, high-rising canyon walls, and parts of the Arkansas River.
Although it is possible to simply visit the monument to see how impressive the landscape is, there is still plenty to do. Visitors enjoy hiking, whitewater rafting, and fishing, all in the Monument area. This area spans 21 500 acres, so there is enough space to do whatever you feel like.
Riverside Park is another sightseeing-must. It is in downtown Salida and, as the name suggests, is on the Arkansas Riverbank. This is a perfect place to visit with children. There are restaurants and eateries in the area where you can have a meal. Afterward, you can take a relaxed stroll in the park and children can enjoy the playground and the bouldering wall.
Riverside Park is best in the summer when they host a free concert series. Local and national musicians come to entertain guests as they spend a leisurely evening in the beautiful park.
Although there are so many things to do in Salida Co itself, you should not feel limited by the town border. This area of Colorado is beautiful and boasts impressive surroundings with activities to keep the entire family entertained year-round.
Things to Do Near Salida Co:
I found that Salida, being a hub of activity, offered so much to do that my itinerary was jam-packed. However, it is worth noting that the surrounding area also offers many exciting things. You’ll want to plan a trip lasting at least two weeks to take it all in.
Snow lovers rejoice! Although Salida has a surprisingly mild climate, playing in the snow is possible at the nearby Monarch Mountain. You can go snowshoeing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling – fun for the whole family!
The San Luis Valley draws UFO enthusiasts from the world over. It is located in Center, Colorado, and offers a UFO watchtower where there are said to be two vortexes signaling parallel universes.
Great Sand Dunes National Park: More Fun Things To Do In Salida Co!
There are many National Parks in the USA and all of them are worth a visit. The Great Sand Dunes National Park is about one and a half to two hours’ drive from Salida. It is open 24/7 and boasts an impressive landscape. The landscape consists of the tallest dunes in North America situated among grasslands, forests, wetlands, tundra, and alpine lakes.
There are such exciting things to do in Salida Co that it is no wonder that this little town has become a hubbub of energy and activity year-round. It is on the bucket list of many a traveler, and I am happy to say that I have finally crossed it off mine.
Regardless of how you like to spend your time, Salida offers something for everyone. The more adventurous types will find their thrills in rafting or sky-high aerial activities. Others still will enjoy the guided trips and tours that take you all along this beautiful part of Colorado.
With its mild climate and hub of activity, be sure to make Salida, Colorado your next holiday stop!
So there you have it, some exciting things to do in Salida Co all year round. For such a small place there is so much to see and discover.
Now, it’s your turn, comment below and let us know have you been to Salida Co? What did you enjoy most about your trip? If not what are you looking forward to the most when you finally do visit!
Thank you for reading!