Sunday, January 26, 2020

Salida, Colorado




In my last blog post--click here--I showed the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs that are located in Nathrop, Colorado, located between the towns of Buena Vista and Salida, Colorado. My husband and I visited this area in October to celebrate our anniversary.  We've driven through this part of Colorado on other trips to South East Colorado to see the Sand Dunes National Park--click here--to see that post--and to South West Colorado to visit Telluride--click here--to read that post, and now we wanted to finally take the time to explore this beautiful part of Central Colorado more closely.  

The beautiful Sawatch Mountain Range is located in Central Colorado, which includes the Collegiate Peaks. The Collegiate Peaks include some of the highest mountains in the Rockies. The section is so named because several of the mountains are named for prominent universities.


Nine of the mountain peaks are over 14,000 feet high!


The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness includes much of the Sawatch Range and is an important watershed for three rivers on both sides of the Continental Divide: the upper Arkansas River, the Gunnison River, and the Roaring Fork River.  Both the Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail cross the area. The Continental Divide Trail follows the course of the Continental Divide itself with several side spurs. The Colorado Trail passes through the lower eastern portion of the area and crosses Pine Creek, Frenchman Creek and Three Elk Creek all of which drain into the Arkansas River north of Buena Vista



The small and charming town of Salida, Colorado, is known as the “Heart of the Rockies,” and has long been a hub of tourism, transportation, and industry in the region. The city sits at an elevation of 7,000 feet.  

Salida was first named South Arkansas. It was one of many mining towns in the region as gold, silver, copper, and iron was discovered in Chaffee County. In May 1880, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad bypassed an existing settlement just to the south, called Cleora, and arrived in the town, which was then renamed Salida, which means "exit," as it was at the gateway to the Arkansas River Canyon.



Many of Salida’s first residents worked on farms or ranches, for the railroads, in mines or for smelting companies that popped up around town. In 1901, the New Monarch Mining Company located in Leadville contacted businessmen in Salida about building a smelter in the town. Construction on the plant began in 1902 and it began operation later that same year. However, due to the fumes the smelter stack produced, the original 150-foot stack was replaced by a massive 365-foot one in 1916. The plant closed in 1920 but the Salida Smokestack still stands as a landmark to those driving into town. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 1976. The stack is taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa (179 feet)!



The town is very walkable and the Salida Downtown Historic District includes about 130 brick buildings from the turn of the century, the largest National Historic District in the state, according to the Salida Chamber of Commerce website.



On the East end of the town is Tenderfoot Mountain, marked by a large “S.” At the top of the mountain is a small observation house, which can be reached by a winding dirt road. This mountain is transformed during the Christmas season into "Christmas Mountain," with approximately 10,000 brightly-colored LED bulbs strung from Tenderfoot Mountain’s summit to base--a tradition since 1989. They shine over Salida throughout the whole holiday season, from late November into mid-January.  Locals say it is the world's largest Christmas Tree at 750 feet!





The Youtube video above shows what the mountain looks like lit up for Christmas.  




Salida's building walls are full of colorful murals...


...and vintage commercial ads.



It is quite a colorful town with a creative district full of art galleries, interesting shops, antiques, restaurants. cafes, and friendly people.



I was quite impressed with the Rocky Mountain Guitar Company, which crafts handmade guitars, mandolins, and banjos.


We had a delicious lunch in the Currents Restaurant.  We shared the fried calamari appetizer, and we also tried a small cup of their fabulous green chili. I had a grilled chicken breast sandwich and my husband had the fish and chips.




After such a hearty lunch we took a hike by the nearby Arkansas River.


There are many rafting companies in the area that offer easy float trips for beginners, half-day adventures in class IV rapids, multi-day raft trips and everything in between. There are also outfitters that will rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards and offer lessons on using them in whitewater conditions.  The stretch of Arkansas River in and around Salida has up to 5000 trout per mile! Local fly shops and fishing outfitters are more than happy to update visitors on current conditions, directions to public access and provide full-service guided trips. 




The Browns Canyon National Monument, about ten miles outside of Salida, was designated in 2015 as Colorado’s newest National Monument. 



It offers visitors miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as public fishing in the gold medal waters of the river.



We really enjoyed visiting Salida and hope to return for a longer visit sometime in the future.  The next day we visited a historic and well preserved "ghost town" in the mountains--come back next post to see more.


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39 comments:

diane b said...

It looks an interesting place to visit. Love the lit up mountain. You sure have huge mountains in Colorado.

Jill Harrison said...

certainly looks like an amazing place to visit. Lots to see in the town and amazing vistas of the mountains. Thank you for taking us there today. Happy travels, have a great week, and thank you for stopping by my blog today.

Shiju Sugunan said...

Gorgeous pics!

eileeninmd said...

Hello,

Beautiful views of the town and mountains. The river scene is lovely too. Love the Salida mural and signs on the buildings. My hubby used to be guide for white water rafting, he loves this sport. I would like a calm float trip. The shops looks fun and the food sounds delicious. Wonderful trip and photos. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Salida looks like a wonderful town to visit. I love the idea of lighting up the mountain at Christmas!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It really does look like the perfect old town at Christmas time! WOW! I kept the Durango live cam open at Christmas to see the streets and lights. It was beautiful too! Hugs!

A Bit of the Blarney said...

Memories of our visit to Salida this last summer! We had such a grand time at Great Sand Dunes and then to spend time there after was just the icing on the cake!! Thank you! Have a wonderful week!

Jeanie said...

My cousin used to own a car dealership in Salida and lived there but we never visited. It looks like a delightful spot. Rick would fall apart at that guitar store!

NCSue said...

Great shots! Looks like a great place to visit!
Thank you for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2020/01/saints-among-us.html

Michelle said...

Love those old paintings/adverts!

Dawn said...

Such a beautiful place, thank you for sharing with us.
Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

Lady Fi said...

The scenery is beautiful!

Linda W. said...

Thanks for the tour of this cute town!

Ruth Hiebert said...

This looks like a beautiful place to visit at any time of year. I would love to see it at Christmas .Thanks for allowing me to experience another area of the world from the comforts of my home.

Hootin' Anni said...

I grew up & raised my family for 50+ years on Colorado before retiring to the Gulf coast. I know the Rockies like the back of my hand. Your linked post for Our World was like going home for me.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Great photos - it looks like the perfect place to visit.

Barb said...

Love seeing your photos of Salida where I often visit. One of my best friends lives close to there in Nathrop, and we usually go either to Salida or Buena Vista for lunch.

Lowcarb team member said...

What a great post.
The scenery is wonderful, great selection of photographs from your trip.

All the best Jan

Photo Cache said...

Never heard of it before, but now that's in my radar, who knows right?

Worth a Thousand Words

Angie said...

Pat - another spectacular Colorado town, so well displayed by you and your photographs. As you know, I have spent a lot of time in Colorado, but this inspires me to return and to see more! Thanks so much for linking to Mosaic Monday!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

We used to go through Salida when I was a kid and it always struck me as a nice town. I like the way it has evolved.

Those smelters used to be all over the place and boy did they pollute things.
My only job offer in New Mexico when I graduated there was from a copper smelter in Silver City. They were so proud that they had cut fatalities down to one per year. I thought the place was a death trap.

Mother of 3 said...

These photos are so beautiful!!

Meditations in Motion said...

What a beautiful part of Colorado. I have never been to Salida. When we visit Colorado we almost always go to Steamboat Springs in the northwestern part of the state. We need to branch out!

betty-NZ said...

What a great place to visit! It's quirky and gorgeous. The mountain sure makes a fabulous tree!

Thanks for making 'My Corner of the World' a success this week!

My Corner of the World

Suzy said...

What an interesting place to visit! I'm a big fan of street art ...loved it!

Nancy Chan said...

Beautiful blue mountain, beautiful scenery and pretty town.

ellen b. said...

Love the look of this town. Your photos show off this area very well. Beautiful shots!

~ Dixie said...

My, what a gorgeous post.
It would be lovely to live in the town with the mountains as a backdrop.
I miss those days.

Create With Cynthia said...

Thanks for linking up at the Happiness is Homemade Link Party. I hope you join us next week.

Jeanna said...

Salida sounds like a great place, I remember being frustrated when I visited Manitou Springs because there wasn't much water and I'm used to always being near a lake. Wish I would have been able to do more traveling but we did hit a dune area I think in or close to New Mexico.

Michelle said...

Thanks for linking up!

Amy Johnson said...

Oh I love Colorado! Such a beautiful state and so much to see! This place looks incredible.

Sharon Wagner said...

Beautiful scenery. I love the contrast photo of the yellow grass and blue mountains. I saw creative use of a kayak in Belize: They made a shrine in front of a church with Mary inside the opening.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I love your Colorado exploring! It’s a great town obviously....and another part of the State we haven’t visited. (Another one for my ‘to be visited’ list!). Wonderful “ghost signs”... I used to kind of collect these (in photos of course) on our travels ...I missed a real treasure trove here.....maybe someday!

Ann said...

Beautiful area - thank you for the tour and for sharing at Party In Your PJ's!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

My goodness. There is no dearth of places to visit near you. And I thought New York and Brooklyn had a lot to offer. You always seem to search out interesting sites to have fun.

Janice said...

Oh, that looks like so many small towns that have found new life. Colorado is a beautiful state.

handmade by amalia said...

Those lucky cows, what a gorgeous place to graze.
Amalia
xo

William Kendall said...

Beautiful landscapes!