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Leadville isn’t just a mining town — at one time it was the most famous mining town in the United States.

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The monstrous San Isabel National Forest is made up of big mountains and forests challenged by little bugs.

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After a full day of hiking, biking or ATVing in the mountains or doing some late-season boating on the Arkansas River, a dip in the hot springs is a great way to end the day.

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In the spirit of the prospectors who first found riches in the Colorado mountains, rock hounding and gold panning are activities the whole family can enjoy.

Come along for a mountain bike ride from the shore of Twin Lakes to the shoulder of Mt. Elbert and back. The route follows the Colorado Trail and forest roads from the shoreline to the groves of aspen along the flank of Mt. Elbert, then descends back along the Colorado Trail to the start poi…

When the leaves start changing in fall, it doesn’t mean that fishing, camping and dirt biking seasons are over. In fact, fall might be the best time to enjoy some of those activities, especially in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.

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The gin-clear waters of the Arkansas River and the tall granite rock formations that line the river in Browns Canyon create an enticing venue for outdoor recreation in Chaffee County.

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While Chaffee County offers plenty of things to do, from the mountains to the river to numerous festivals in both Salida and Buena Vista, the area is known as the Crossroads of the Rockies for a reason.

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea), a Colorado state park, is responsible for camping along the river, both in designated campsites and nondesignated sites.

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Pickleball has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and the Peak to Peak Pickleball Club (P2P) has helped accelerate that growth in Chaffee County.

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The stretch of the Arkansas River near Salida might be best known as a whitewater rafting destination, but the fishing is also some of the best around.

Fishing

When the leaves start changing in fall, it doesn’t mean that fishing, camping and dirt biking seasons are over. In fact, fall might be the best time to enjoy some of those activities, especially in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea), a Colorado state park, is responsible for camping along the river, both in designated campsites and nondesignated sites.

Water Sports

When the leaves start changing in fall, it doesn’t mean that fishing, camping and dirt biking seasons are over. In fact, fall might be the best time to enjoy some of those activities, especially in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.

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The gin-clear waters of the Arkansas River and the tall granite rock formations that line the river in Browns Canyon create an enticing venue for outdoor recreation in Chaffee County.

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea), a Colorado state park, is responsible for camping along the river, both in designated campsites and nondesignated sites.

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As one of the biggest weekends in Buena Vista, the Memorial Day holiday is host to the town’s ultimate river festival: Paddlefest.

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Buena Vista outfitter Wilderness Aware Rafting co-owner Joe Greiner’s email address says it all:

The Arkansas River is a mighty and magnificent watercourse — no question about it. The nation’s sixth-longest river at 1,469 miles, the Arkansas travels from Colorado through Kansas and Oklahoma before ending its journey in Arkansas, where it empties into the Mississippi. But I like it best …

Commercially guiding for 18 seasons now, I trained with Adventure Specialist Whitewater and Tim McDonald, who may be intense at times, but has impeccable river skills. He laid the foundation of my river guiding. Then I went to work for KODI and have been there ever since. As a prodigy of Cam…

In 1949, with the Arkansas River raging from above-average runoff, 23 whitewater boaters prepared to race 57 miles from Salida through Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Royal Gorge to Cañon City. “An invitation to death” claimed the boaters as they looked over the course.

Hiking

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While it doesn’t cross 10,842-foot Marshall Pass, the American Discovery Trail does wind through parts of Chaffee and Lake counties.

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In the Upper Arkansas Valley one man has made it his life’s work to build trails where many Coloradans play each day.

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Located in the center of the Colorado Rockies along the route of both the Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail and bordered by several mountain ranges, Chaffee County has a wealth of hiking options.

One of the many benefits of living in Buena Vista is the system of excellent trails traversing the Mosquito Range to the east, used by mountain bikers, equestrians and pedestrians alike, beginning right at the two bridges that cross the Arkansas River.

More summer activities

featured
  • Updated

Leadville isn’t just a mining town — at one time it was the most famous mining town in the United States.

featured
  • Updated

The monstrous San Isabel National Forest is made up of big mountains and forests challenged by little bugs.

  • Updated

After a full day of hiking, biking or ATVing in the mountains or doing some late-season boating on the Arkansas River, a dip in the hot springs is a great way to end the day.

  • Updated

In the spirit of the prospectors who first found riches in the Colorado mountains, rock hounding and gold panning are activities the whole family can enjoy.

Come along for a mountain bike ride from the shore of Twin Lakes to the shoulder of Mt. Elbert and back. The route follows the Colorado Trail and forest roads from the shoreline to the groves of aspen along the flank of Mt. Elbert, then descends back along the Colorado Trail to the start poi…

When the leaves start changing in fall, it doesn’t mean that fishing, camping and dirt biking seasons are over. In fact, fall might be the best time to enjoy some of those activities, especially in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.

featured

The gin-clear waters of the Arkansas River and the tall granite rock formations that line the river in Browns Canyon create an enticing venue for outdoor recreation in Chaffee County.

featured
  • Updated

While Chaffee County offers plenty of things to do, from the mountains to the river to numerous festivals in both Salida and Buena Vista, the area is known as the Crossroads of the Rockies for a reason.

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea), a Colorado state park, is responsible for camping along the river, both in designated campsites and nondesignated sites.

featured

Pickleball has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and the Peak to Peak Pickleball Club (P2P) has helped accelerate that growth in Chaffee County.

featured
  • Updated

The stretch of the Arkansas River near Salida might be best known as a whitewater rafting destination, but the fishing is also some of the best around.

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Whether you’re looking for a pretty cruise around town or an epic downhill romp, Salida has bike rides suitable for all skill levels.

Even as Colorado’s summer heritage sport of burro racing continues to enjoy more popularity with growing events and competitors, the Western Pack Burro Racing Ass-ociation’s Triple Crown is still decided in Buena Vista.

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As one of the biggest weekends in Buena Vista, the Memorial Day holiday is host to the town’s ultimate river festival: Paddlefest.