Looking for a guide to Buena Vista, Colorado? Nestled at the base of the Sawatch Range, Buena Vista is a highly underrated, true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts of all sorts! Whether you’re looking for a family vacation, hikes in the area, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping, white-water rafting the Arkansas River or a mixture of them all, there are so many adventurous options in Buena Vista. With it being under a three hour drive from Denver, you could visit the area as a day trip or one-nighter. However, if you want to get the most out of this amazing mountain town, I’d recommend three to five days for the perfect getaway. If you are planning a trip during the warmer months, you’re going to want some direction on the absolute must-do and must-see options which is where I come in - let’s get started!
WHERE TO STAY
First things first, let’s go over the numerous options for accommodations. If you feel like a woodsy getaway, there are great options for free camping around Buena Vista. With much of the surrounding area being public land, you can essentially pick a spot of your choosing at a first-come, first-serve basis. I use apps such as FreeRoam and IOverlander to discover dispersed camping areas. For a more established campground (reservation/payment required), I recommend Turtle Rock CamPground, Cottonwood Lake Campground, Arkansas River Rim Campground, Chalk Creek Campground, and Ruby Mountain Campground. Please remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles. For a more luxurious stay, be sure to check out the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. If you are looking for a more private option, check out this Charming Buena Vista Home w/ Hot Tub + Deck!
WHERE TO DINE
Before and after your adventures you’re going to want to fuel and re-fuel yourself with some good eats and, if it’s your vibe, some good brews! Some of the town favorites are Simple Eatery & Spoon It Up, House Rock Kitchen, Eddyline Brewery and Taproom, and for a unique location experience - check out Browns Canyon Riverside Grill.
WHERE TO HIKE
So now that we’ve covered accommodations and food, let’s get you set up with the best adventure options! Of course it wouldn’t be a Ponytail On A Trail blog without some hiking, and let me tell you, Buena Vista is the perfect hiking launchpad. If you want to take on a 14’er you have options ranging from “easy” (no 14’er is necessarily easy) to more technical and hard. If you are a first timer, I’d recommend Huron Peak which is a beautiful hike the entire way. For a challenge and the accomplishment of hiking the tallest peak in Colorado, you’re going to want to take on Mount Elbert. Hiking a 14’er is an amazing accomplishment no matter which one you choose. If you are new to bagging tall peaks, be sure to dive into my podcast episode on How To Prep For A Big Summit as there are specific things to keep in mind for safety on taller peaks. For more mild hikes in the area, check out Brown Creek Waterfall Trail, Narrow Gauge Trail 1432, Cottonwood South, Harvard Lakes, and Twin Lakes. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to get fit for the trails, check out my Free Week Of Workouts that are tailored to getting you trail ready!
It wouldn’t be a trip to Buena Vista without acknowledging the amazing rafting opportunities.If you want to cool off and have some fun in the Arkansas River this is your place to do it. Buena Vista’s Brown Canyon National Monument is famous for some of the best whitewater rafting in the entire world with options for people of all skill levels. To book a guided trip, check out Browns Canyon Rafting
Another great adventure option in the area is mountain biking! There are countless trails, quite literally out the back door. For a map and information on the trails in Buena Vista visit the MTB Project. If you are in need of a bike rental, look no further than Black Burro Bikes.
If you want to see the area on horseback, I’ve got you covered there too. The Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Stables offers trail rides of all sorts. This can be a really great way to take in the scenery of the area at a slower and more casual pace!
Whatever adventures you choose in Buena Vista, you are sure to have a memorable trip filled with gorgeous views. This area is a Colorado must-see for a reason and you really can’t go wrong with how you map out your experience. With so many options, there is bound to be something for every adventure-seeker!
Happy + Healthy Trails,