DescriptionThe thoroughfare provided by the Arkansas River and several passes cutting through the nearby mountain ranges insured that a settlement would develop in this region. Aided by the arrival of the railroad in 1880, Salida (sa-LYE-da)—meaning “exit”—served as an outlet for mines in the Leadville area.
Because of the cool, comfortable summers and relatively mild winters, Salida has been called the “banana belt” of Colorado. It is a fine area for rockhounds; aquamarine, garnet, sapphire, turquoise, topaz and Native American arrowheads can be found in the vicinity. Salida's historic downtown, with its array of galleries, studios and antique shops, draws art lovers and antique collectors.
In spring the melting snow on the flank of 14,239-foot Mount Shavano, about 14 miles northwest, assumes a shape called the “Angel of Shavano.” It is said that the angel appeared when the Ute chief Shavano prayed for his dying friend George Beckwith. Tenderfoot Mountain, at the east edge of town off SR 291, offers a good view of the angel as well as the valley and nearby mountains, including 12 peaks over 14,000 feet tall.
The diminishing snows of spring create another Salida hallmark. As the Arkansas River swells from the snowmelt, a variety of rafting and kayaking races are held throughout summer, including the FIBArk Whitewater Festival in mid-June. During the rest of summer, Browns Canyon offers some of the state's best rafting.
Less turbulent are the waters at Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center piped from Poncha Hot Springs, 5 miles southwest; phone (719) 539-6739.
Visitor InfoSalida Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center 406 US 50W SALIDA, CO 81201. Phone:(719)539-2068 or (877)772-5432
Things to SeeMount Shavano State Fish Hatchery