What to do in Buena Vista Colorado?
Buena Vista is Spanish for “good view,” and it’s not hard to see how this charming town got its name. Nestled right at the base of the Continental Divide, Buena Vista boasts stunning views of the Rocky Mountains, including a number of peaks that soar more than 14,000 feet above sea level. Many people consider the town to be the American capital of whitewater rafting, but there are also plenty of opportunities to go hiking, mountain biking, and fishing. Visitors rarely leave this beautiful place feeling disappointed, but here are the absolute best things to see and do during your time here.
1.Browns Canyon National Monument
Encompassing more than 21,500 acres of canyons, rivers, and woodland, the Browns Canyon National Monument was established in 2015 by President Obama. The canyon itself was carved out by the Arkansas River; it can be explored on foot or on horseback during the summer, and winter visitors can snowshoe or cross-country ski. Visitors can also experience the beauty of the canyon by taking one of the many whitewater rafting trips on offer. There are six campsites along the riverbank, including one with a small outdoor amphitheater and another with an observation deck over the water.
2. Buena Vista Heritage Museum
Located inside the old Chaffee County courthouse, the Buena Vista Heritage Museum is run by a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the area’s rich history. The family-friendly exhibits include an interactive classroom with slate boards and manual typewriters, a display of old wedding gowns donated by locals, a Golden eagle mounted in 1912, and a working model railroad that depicts 130 miles of the Arkansas River Valley. The museum is open from Memorial Day weekend through September, and during the summer season it often hosts special events like wine tastings, cemetery tours, and historical theater productions.
3. Buena Vista Whitewater Park
The Arkansas River is one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in the United States, and the Buena Vista Whitewater Park is a convenient way to enjoy the water no matter what your skill level. The park runs right along the river in downtown Buena Vista, and its five whitewater structures include everything from easy play waves to an advanced freestyle hole perfect for experts who want to hone their skills. Gear can be rented from nearby Colorado Kayak Sports; most visitors choose to use a tiny play boat, but kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are also welcome.
4. Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway
Constructed to connect Salida to Granite, the Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway stretches for 57 miles through the Collegiate Peaks wilderness area. Mountains such as Mount Princeton and Mount Yale soar more than 14,000 feet above sea level, and the road passes by plenty of fascinating historical sites like the Old Nathrop Schoolhouse and the Hutchinson Ranch. Visitors can also go fishing on the Arkansas River, stop for a hike, or relax at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort in Nathrop. Despite the road’s relatively short length, visitors are advised to allow for at least two hours of driving time.
5. Cottonwood Hot Springs
Only 5.5 miles west of Buena Vista, Cottonwood Hot Springs boasts geothermally heated gravity-fed pools of therapeutic mineral water. Temperatures in the pools range from 94°F to 110°F, and there is also a dry sauna for guests to use. The hot springs are open to visitors 365 days a year, and no advance reservations are required. Anyone staying on-site is given complimentary access to the thermal pools; accommodation options include hotel rooms, creek-side cabins, and a campsite. Children under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult, and towels can be rented for an additional fee.