Salida, Colorado, is a dreamy little mountain town nestled in Southern Colorado along the Sawatch range of the Rockies. The town is known for its river adventures like rafting and tubing as the waterway goes right through the city. Additionally, the area has a thriving downtown, full of locally-owned shops, restaurants, and more. Plus, as is often the case in a Colorado town, there are enough craft beer options to go around.
10. Monarch Mountain Activities
Ski areas like Monarch Mountain, just outside of Salida, offer year-round fun—not just winter sports. In the warmer months, hit the single-track mountain bike trails, including the epic Monarch Crest trail, or enjoy some high-altitude hiking.
During the snowy months, Monarch is not only an uncrowded and far more affordable ski and snowboard area than its northern neighbors, but it also offers lessons for skiers of all ages and levels, a tubing park, and a fantastic cafe and ski shop.
9. Take a Soak
(image via Mount Princeton Hot Springs)
There’s no better combo in Colorado’s wintry months than skiing or snowboarding followed by a dip in the hot springs. Also located a short drive outside of Salida, Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort is situated atop a natural hot spring with waters bubbling out of the ground at 140°F.
It’s cooled, of course, by the time they reach the surface for the perfectly heated dip. Mount Princeton is a historic resort that offers day passes, overnight stays, and a full range of spa services. Kids are welcome, too!
8. Enjoy the FIBArk Festival
(image via FIBArk Whitewater Festival)
The gorgeous rapids of the Arkansas River run right along the edge of downtown Salida, and for a weekend in late June, it’s the most wonderful time of the year as the FIBArk Whitewater Festival comes to town. Short for “First in Boating on the Arkansas,” FIBArk is a historic event that originated as a whitewater rafting race.
It has now expanded to include all sorts of water races and land-based events such as a 5K. The town is also flowing over with entertainment, booths from local businesses, and fun street food. If you can find yourself in Salida during the weekend, you will not want to miss it.
7. Scale Salida’s S Mountain
(image via City of Salida, Colorado)
Sitting along the edge of Salida’s downtown is an iconic, seemingly stand-alone mountain with a large “S” laid out at its peak. S Mountain (or more officially “Tenderfoot Mountain”) is a favorite hike-and-bike spot for locals, as it requires no driving from town—simply walk over to the trailhead straight from your brunch spot.
Its long, winding trail means that the climb to the top is not very steep, making it accessible for most levels of walkers and hikers to enjoy the peak. S Mountain’s main trails are also the entrance to hundreds of miles of trail systems in the surrounding areas that can have hikers and bikers enjoying the views for days on end.
6. Salida Spirits From Woods High Mountain Distillery
(image via Wood's High Mountain Distillery)
This classic distillery owned by two brothers—one of whom is currently the mayor of Salida—offers gin, multiple styles of whiskey, vodka, and liqueurs with a tasting room that offers not only flights of their spirits but craft cocktails, too.
Located right in downtown Salida, the founding of Woods High Mountain Distillery was inspired by the brothers’ time rafting on the river and enjoying whiskey with friends along the way.
5. Sip and Savor Colorado Wine
(images via Vino Salida Wine Bar)
Surrounded by gorgeous mountain views, Vino Salida should be the beverage lover’s next stop. It has a full menu of handcrafted Colorado wines (20+ varietals), local beers, spirits, and an antipasti menu that will please the most dedicated foodie.
Vino Salida also has live music every Friday and Saturday evening, patio games, and ample offerings for private events and celebrations. It’s also family-friendly, with space for the kids to play while the adults enjoy the best Colorado wines.
4. Craft Beer Utopia
(image via Soul Craft Brewing)
In keeping with the drinking theme that seems ever-present around the state, the next offering from Salida is, of course, beer! Grab a burger and a green chile ale at Soulcraft Brewing. If you’d like to pair your pint with a pizza, check out Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub.
Both places have beautiful and spacious patios for outdoor dining in Salida’s perfect climate. Right along the river, enjoy Tres Litros Brewing which has a bring-your-own-food policy, mountain views, and more ample patio space.
3. Feast on the Fabulous Food
(image via Sweetie's Sandwich Shop)
No need to search online for great restaurants in Salida—just walking the downtown streets will reveal its options to you, and you’ll have a hard time deciding! Definitely grab a sandwich at Sweetie’s Sandwich Shop (get it to-go and sit by the river!) which offers a massive menu of hot and cold sandwiches from traditional to vegan to weird ingredients, plus an awesome bakery and pastry selection.
More pizza can be found at Amicas right along the main strip, and the riverfront views at Boathouse Cantina offer top-notch Tex Mex. Enjoy burritos or nachos at Mo Burrito or healthier fare at Bunny & Clyde’s for grab-and-go dining. After you’ve eaten, pep up with a coffee while getting your shopping started at Howl Mercantile & Coffee.
2. Get the Gear, Shop for Souvenirs
(images via Drift & Amble)
Salida’s downtown is packed with some of the best Colorado-style businesses that offer everything from antiques to toys to crystals and handmade jewelry. Don’t miss Howl for a beautiful variety of handmade and quirky goods, with a focus on supporting Black and Asian entrepreneurs. Grab some high-quality used outdoor gear at Ruby Blues, a fantastically curated used and vintage clothing store.
Customize your kitchen with some beautiful souvenirs from The Mixing Bowl, a home and kitchenware shop. Don’t miss locally made soaps, skincare from Vital Living Herbs & Nutrition, and more fun Colorado-style gifts at Drift & Amble. With plenty more shops along the way, Salida’s downtown offers a wonderfully vibrant shopping scene with souvenirs for everyone.
1. Ride the Rapids
(image via Independent Whitewater Rafting)
Sightings of rafters, tubers, and floaters on the Arkansas River are a dime a dozen. They’re as common as walkers or bikers because it’s that easy—and fun—to get on the river from downtown Salida. Major gear is not needed, as many swimmers simply rent or borrow lifejackets from the many outfitters right along the river, jump in, and just float down the gentle rapids until they’re ready to hop out and do it again.
Life jackets are often available for no charge, and visitors can also rent rafts and tubes to run the rapids, which are friendly to swimmers of all levels. The water is cold, so visit during the warmest months, but enjoying the river in Salida’s downtown is the ultimate vacation adventure. Major outfitters include Riverboat Works, Salida River Adventures, and Independent Whitewater.
As you can see, Chattanooga has a lot to offer everyone. If you are looking to do more in the surrounding area, check out other weekend trips from nearby Salida, Colorado.
These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.