Salida, Colorado, considers itself “The Heart of the Rockies,” but is Salida worth visiting?
Hints of Spring had us itching to get out and do a bit of traveling. April is prime “mud season” here in Colorado. The good skiing is all but done, though the mountains have not warmed up enough to get out in the alpine heights. Salida, Colorado, is a town known for mountain biking year-round, so we thought we’d take a little road trip and see what Salida has to offer.
We arrived in the early afternoon, headed straight for Salida’s downtown area, and quickly found ourselves in the “Creative District.” Which is basically a state designation administered by the City of Salida’s Arts and Culture Department. This designation certifies that Salida contributes to Colorado’s economy through creativity, culture, and the arts. This means that there are many great galleries and shops for the visitor to enjoy and public art sprinkled throughout the downtown area.
Downtown is also a place to discover the Salida River Trail. A roughly 2-mile trail along the Arkansas River. It is an easy, pretty flat trail that is perfect for mixing in a bit of nature with the city.
Mountain biking is the main activity that we headed to Salida for. Joyce read about a gravel ride to a small mountain town called Turret, and we rented a pair of electric mountain bikes to experience it for ourselves. E-bikes were a new experience for us, and though we like to do active things, it was nice to have the assistance of a powered bike. The guy at the bike shop referred to it as the “hand of God.” It was a pleasant ride up a mountain road with very little traffic and amazing views as we got above the treeline. And it was an absolute blast coasting back down into Salida on our return trip.
We crafted a video about that ride alone that you can watch here.
The Mount Shavano Trout Hatchery was not on our radar until we saw the sign for it in town, so we thought we check it out, and we are so glad we did. The hatchery is one of the largest trout units in Colorado and produces approximately 500,000 catchable (10-inch) trout and about 2 million sub-catchable fish (2−5 inches) per year. Species such as rainbow, Snake River cutthroat, cutthroat-rainbow crosses, and kokanee salmon are raised at Mount Shavano.
But the fun part is getting to feed all those hungry little fish. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a very friendly ranger who offered us each our own bucket of fish food. We spent the next hour or so exploring the hatchery and tossing food into the pools, creating little feeding frenzies that never got old. We can only imagine how enjoyable this would be for kids.
During a visit to Salida, it is impossible to miss the large “S” on the side of the nearby hill. That is Tenderfoot Hill, and it is full of trails and beautiful views of the surrounding area. If you are not up for a hike, simply drive up Spriral Drive, which will get you almost to the top. It seems they’ve closed the final leg of the road and built a sizeable parking lot just short of the peak.
There is no shortage of activities and things to do in Salida, even during Colorado’s mud season. Because of this, we would say that Salida, Colorado is worth visiting. Check out our video where we highlight seven things to do in Salida.