Buena Vista is a fun mountain town, centrally located in the Rocky Mountains. It’s close enough to the Front Range for an easy weekend trip, and a convenient base for nearby activities. Whitewater rafting and hot springs are two of the biggest.
Since the 19th century, those who wanted to improve their health through the healing power of hot springs have headed to this Colorado town. Local hot springs were used as a regular location for family getaways as early as the 1880s.
Highlighting the magnificent landscape are the 14,000-foot Collegiate Peaks right outside town. It’s also just a short jaunt up Cottonwood Pass to be standing atop the Continental Divide. The mountains are big and beautiful here at 7,965 feet in Chaffee Co., or as BV’s motto says: “8,000 Feet Above Average.”
Cottonwood Hot Springs – Buena Vista’s very own hot springs resort features several different soaking pools nestled at the base of Cottonwood Pass. There is also lodging on-site, from motel rooms to cabin rentals, and even a site to pitch your tent. The other public hot springs resort is Mount Princeton, located just south, in Nathrop.
Cottonwood Pass – This seasonal route leads from Buena Vista to Almont on the west side of the continental divide. From Almont, you can be in either Gunnison, to the south, or Crested Butte, to the north, in twenty minutes. The paved road should be fine for all vehicles, weather pending. Take County Road 306 west out of downtown BV to reach.
Whitewater Rafting – Browns Canyon is a notorious section of whitewater to raft the Arkansas River. It’s also one the most popular and easily accessed from Denver. June through August is prime season.
Read about the top things to do in Buena Vista.
- San Isabel National Forest is located around Buena Vista. Free car camping exists 15 miles north of town on Highway 24. Take a left at Clear Creek Reservoir on County Road 390. There is a national forest campground just after the Clear Creek Reservoir. Dispersed camping exists up the county road. Watch for pull-over spots for your car and you can set up anywhere.There is some private property during the first few miles of road. 12 miles down County Road 390 is the ghost town of Winfield. The county road is suitable for most cars, but it is bumpy from heavy truck traffic.
- Read about the camping near Buena Vista and Nathrop.
- Great trout fishing can be found in the Arkansas River which runs past the town.
- Crystal Reservoir is a fifteen-minute drive north of town on Highway 24.
- The Collegiate Peaks are popular 14ers to summit come summertime.
- Read about the best hiking trails near Buena Vista.
Hotels and lodging:
- Read about the best hotels in Buena Vista.
- Read about the top bed and breakfasts in Buena Vista and Salida.
There are a good variety of restaurants in town too. Eddyline Brewery offers wood-fired cuisine and local craft beer, a short drive from downtown. K’s Dairy Delite is a locals’ favorite for Shakes and burgers, this local favorite, situated on Highway 24 in town. Pizza Works is another great pizza parlor.
Jun – Buena Vista Bike Fest – One grueling Saturday in early June head out to BV for some mountain biking. No matter what your skill level, you’ll find a route for you, with a number of difficulties and elevation gains to choose from. It ends with a party in the park with live music, beer, and food. It’s held in early June.
Jul – Battlemoor – Medieval festival held since 2009 in Colorado, centered around reenactments of historic battles and way of life, held in mid-July in Cottonwood Meadows Farm.
Read about the top events in Buena Vista.
Activities near Buena Vista
- Antero Reservoir (27mi)
- Arkansas River
- Browns Canyon National Monument
- Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area
- Clear Creek Reservoir (14mi)
- Collegiate Peaks Wilderness
- La Plata Peak
- Mount Antero
- Mount Belford (22mi)
- Mount Elbert
- Mount Harvard
- Mount Massive
- Pike National Forest
- Ptarmigan Lake (17mi)
- San Isabel National Forest
- Antero Hot Springs Cabins (private) (9mi)
- Cottonwood Hot Springs (5mi)
- Mount Princeton Hot Springs (12mi)
- Treehouse Hot Springs (private) (9mi)
- Collegiate Peaks Byway (<1mi)
- Cottonwood Pass (13mi)
- Independence Pass (42mi)
- Tincup Pass 4×4 (31mi)
- Breckenridge (60mi)
- Fairplay (37mi)
- Granite (16mi)
- Johnson Village (3mi)
- Leadville (34mi)
- Nathrop (8mi)
- Poncha Springs (24mi)
- Salida (24mi)
- Twin Lakes (25mi)
- Agnes Vaille Falls (16mi)
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