20 Things To Do in Salida

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Surrounded by mountains on all sides, Salida, Colorado, is an underrated gem ideal for anyone wanting to escape the busy urban hustle and hide away in the quiet of nature. Far from large cities or airports, it may seem intimidatingly remote and tricky to get to for some, but it’s well worth it for the stunning landscapes and laid-back atmosphere you’ll be rewarded with.

Set right at the heart of the Rocky Mountains and in easy reach of several national parks and forests, there are plenty of things to do in Salida, a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore by hiking, biking or taking to the river, and look out for a diverse array of wildlife that call the area home. Despite having just 6,000 residents, downtown is surprisingly lively, with restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries. The preserved Victorian architecture then lends a charming atmosphere to a historic town.

Whether you prefer conquering the mountain peaks and hiking trails or diving into the local history, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. Here are the best things to do in Salida, Colorado. 

Salida, Colorado

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20 Things To Do in Salida

1- Browse Salida Museum

For a fantastic introduction to the town’s rich history, head to Salida Museum.

With a wealth of exhibits detailing the town’s rail and mining heritage and growing agriculture and tourism industries, you’ll learn how Salida grew into the vibrant modern community it is today.

You’ll easily be able to recognise the museum by the vintage steam engine sitting outside the entrance.

It’s typically only open on the weekends, but they also host relatively frequent events, so check in to see what’s going on during your visit.

Head to 406 1/2 W Rainbow Blvd, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

2- Appreciate The History of Smokestack

As you head north of Salida, you should notice a red brick chimney towering 365 feet (112m) over the surrounding ranchland.

This chimney is the tallest and last smokestack from the town’s once-thriving smelting industry from the early twentieth century.

While visitors aren’t currently permitted to enter the smokestack itself, a series of fact boards around its base provides information on the history and architecture of the structure.

Spot it at 9098-7656, Co Rd 152, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

3- Admire The Heritage Of The Historic Hutchinson Homestead

This lovingly restored 1800s homestead provides a stunning look at the daily lives of the community that founded Salida.

Visitors can take guided tours of the living museum to learn about the historic buildings and the traditional tools and skills needed to survive here during the 19th century.

You’ll be able to explore all the areas of the ranch, from the calving barn to the blacksmithing workshop, while your expert guides provide you with fascinating insights.

There’s no better way to get to grips with the town’s agricultural heritage.

Wander over to 8913 US-50, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

4- Plan An Adventure At Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

Arkansas River In Colorado aerial view
Rafting on the Arkansas River is one of the things nto do near Salida in Colorado.

With the Arkansas River running through the town, many visitors come to Salida to take on the turbulent waters.

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is one of the best areas for white-water rafting and kayaking, with plenty of twists and turns and even man-made obstacles to conquer.

It’s also great for fishing and even gold-panning if you want to step back into the Salida gold rush era founding days.

Alternatively, enjoy the scenic hiking trails that follow along the riverbanks.

Go to 307 W Sackett Ave, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

5- Conquer The Water With Salida River Adventures

Professional Rafting Team
Going white water rafting is another thing to do near Salida, Colorado.

Book a rafting adventure if you’re new to water-based adventuring or want more guidance.

Their experienced guides can take anyone from beginners to more experienced rafters out on thrilling white-water rafting experiences along the Arkansas River.

If rafting isn’t your thing, rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak and head out on the water yourself.

Or take a guided fly-fishing trip if you’re after something a little more laid-back.

Head over to 7330 US-50, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

6- Kick Back At The Drift In

Located right up against the Arkansas River to the north of Salida, the aptly named Drift In is a quirky little bar and grill where you can literally drift up on your kayak or paddleboard.

No worries if you prefer to stay dry, as there is also parking for more traditional vehicles.

Open from late spring to early fall, a super chill atmosphere, great food, a selection of craft beers and specialty cocktails, and occasional live music make this a great place to unwind during the summer.

Ride along to 10832 Co Rd 165, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

7- Soak Up The Benefits of Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Centre

The towns around this area of the Rocky Mountains are renowned for their abundance of hot springs and Salida is no different.

The Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Centre features two hot-spring pools, including one of the biggest in the country.

Enjoy a range of watery fitness classes along with the health benefits of mineral-rich water.

From aqua aerobics and yoga to kayak skills, the centre has tons for you to do.

There are also some smaller, private soaking pools for those who’d rather relax away from the splashers.

Go to 410 W Rainbow Blvd, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

8- Seek Some Thrills At Captain Zipline

If you want to take in some stunning views of the landscape around Salida, and get some thrills at the same time, head out to Captain Zipline.

Captain Zipline offers a range of high-flying activities in the valleys just south of the town.

Along with the zipline tours, which take you soaring over the treetops, mountains, and rivers, there are exciting highline assault courses and guided quad bike excursions to enjoy.

With activities tailored to all experience levels, Captain Zipline has safe and exciting thrills for everyone. Find out more here.

Zip along to 520 Co Rd 54, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

9- Relax and Unwind At Riverside Park

When you want somewhere to rest from all the outdoor adventuring and historical sightseeing, head to Riverside Park.

As the name suggests, Riverside Park is a leafy recreation ground set right against the Arkansas River, and, right at the heart of Downtown Salida, it is super convenient to get to.

The park allows you to enjoy the natural tranquillity of the river without having to venture out of town.

With picnic tables, play areas, and a boat launch, it’s the perfect location for a lazy afternoon.

During the warmer months, concerts and events are often held at the park’s amphitheatre.

Find it at Salida, CO 81201, United States.

10- Take In The View From Tenderfoot Hill

If you want to take in some stunning views without having to head all the way up a local mountain, consider heading up Tenderfoot Hill instead.

Also known as S Mountain, it has a spiral trail that leads up to the top and a large metal ‘S’ marks the summit.

Tenderfoot Hill provides sweeping panoramic views across Salida and the surrounding landscape.

The gentle trail to the top is just a few miles there and back and is suitable for all skill levels. It’s also popular with mountain bikers and horse riders.

Head up to Salida, CO 81201, United States.

11- Hike The Backbone Trail

Professional Cyclist Riding Bike
Going mountain biking is one of the things to do in Salida.

Just behind Tenderfoot Hill, the Backbone Trail heads deeper into the mountains and forests east of Salida.

Stretching for around thirteen miles across diverse and often rocky terrain, it is a more challenging route, attracting intermediate hikers and mountain bikers.

Start the trek at Co Rd 173, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

12- Throw Down At Heart of the Rockies Disc Golf Course

Sign showing that this is a disc golf area.
Playing disc golf is one of the fun things to do in Salida.

Combining the timeless fun of frisbees and the classic challenge of golf, disc golf is a novel way to spend an afternoon in the fresh air.

Salida’s 18-hole course is free to play on with various terrain and challenges to beat.

If you don’t have a frisbee to bring, you can rent discs from some local shops.

Head to Salida, CO 81201, United States.

13- Make Some Fluffy Friends At Hallmark Ranch Alpacas

four alpacas Eating Ruzi Grass
Making friends with alpacas is one of the things to do in Salida with kids.

While the area around Salida is home to an impressive array of wildlife, there are even more friendly faces to meet in town.

Hallmark Ranch Alpacas is home to a herd of adorable, super fluffy alpacas guests are welcome to pet and offer treats.

A gift shop sells products made from the alpacas’ soft wool.

You can buy hats, gloves, scarves made from alpaca fleece, and a range of craft items.

Alternatively, purchase a skein yarn to make your own crafts at home.

Journey out to 9518 CO-291, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

14- Sample Local Product At Wood’s High Mountain Distillery

With a range of expertly crafted gin, whiskey, and vodka, all distilled from local ingredients, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery is the perfect place to stop by when you want to get a taste of the town.

Stop by the rustic tasting room for perfectly mixed cocktails or pick up some bottles to take home.

The shop also offers a range of gifts and merchandise that make excellent souvenirs.

Visitors can also book distillery tours to learn about the distilling process.

Find it at 144 W 1st St, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

15- Have A Pint At Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub

If you’re not into hard liquor but still want to taste some Salida spirit, perhaps sampling the craft beer selection of Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub would be more to your liking.

They offer a wide selection from hoppy pilsners to fruity sour ales and rich porters, all brewed on-site.

You can get your drinks to go and enjoy them elsewhere or kick back in the restaurant and enjoy some of their celebrated wood-fired pizzas.

Head to 242 F St, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

16- Enjoy A Drink And A Show At Soulcraft Brewing

Glass of beer on a table in a bar on blurred bokeh background
Enjoying craft beer is one of the things to do in Salida CO.

Soulcraft is another of Salida’s excellent microbreweries, with various beers brewed from unique ingredients, from green serrano chiles to coconut milk.

You can enjoy drinks alongside a range of tasty bar snacks.

They also host regular live music and trivia nights; food trucks often park outside.

Go to 248 W Rainbow Blvd, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

17- Enjoy A Show At Salida Steam Plant Theatre

Built in 1887 as a steam power plant, the historic building was restored and converted into Salida’s principal performing arts theatre.

Hosting a variety of events from concerts and plays to gallery exhibitions, there’s always something worth seeing at the Salida Steam Plant Theatre.

Head to 220 W Sackett Ave, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

18- Mingle With The Wildlife Of Sands Lake SWA

Pelicans Resting By A Lake
Relaxing by a lake is one of the things to do in Salida.

Sands Lake State Wildlife Area is located just north of Downtown Salida, offering the chance to relax and enjoy the diversity of the local wildlife without having to venture too far out of town.

The area is particularly abundant in bird species, with home ospreys, eagles, and blue herons, to name just a few.

The birds are likely drawn to the wealth of fish in the lake.

A popular fishing spot, Sands Lake is kept stocked with various trout species.

Wander along to 8720 Co Rd 175, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

19- Take A Break In Alpine Park

Right at the heart of downtown Salida, Alpine Park offers somewhere to enjoy a quick break in between exploring the town.

Tree-lined lawns and picnic tables surround a central basketball court, providing plenty of space for everyone to relax and have fun.

It’s also a popular place to host craft fairs and farmer’s markets during the summer, so it’s worth checking to see if there will be any events during your stay.

Stop by Salida, CO 81201, USA.

20- Spot Some Critters At Mount Ouray State Wildlife Area

Covering a wide range of diverse habitats from meadows to forests, the Mount Ouray State Wildlife Area is the perfect place to go if wildlife spotting is your goal.

As you hike along the various trails, you may be lucky enough to spot elk, deer, and even bears hiding amongst the trees.

Head out to 8825 Co Rd 160, Salida, CO 81201, United States.

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Steve Burden is an avid traveller and experienced writer. As a former pro wrestler, Steve used to travel frequently for work throughout the USA and Europe. Having spent the last decade travelling all over the world in search of new sights and experiences, he has turned his love for travel into a new career helping others decide on the best places to visit, as well as what to see when they get there.