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Salida, Colorado Travel Guide
Last Updated: Jul-14-2011, Hits: 3,079, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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Salida, Colorado Travel Guide Restaurants (22)
Hotels and Lodging (20)
Bars and Nightlife (6)
Attractions (11)
Services (3)
Links (6)
Colorado Travel Forum (2)
Location: North America
Geography: Mountains, Forest
Vacation Type: Family, Adventure
Popularity: Off-the-Beaten Path, Moderate Tourism
Costs: Budget
Attractions: Skiing, Historical Sites, Scenery, Camping, Festivals, Fishing, Hiking, Rafting

Facts and Stats:
City Population: 5,433
Land Area: 2.2 sq mi
Government: Constitution-based federal republic
Country Dialing Code: +1
Area Code: 719
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: United States Dollar
Time Zone: MST (UTC-7)
Current Time:

Salida is a charming mountain town that boasts the largest historic downtown district in Colorado. Surrounding the town is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts offering fishing, rafting, kayaking, hiking, camping, skiing, and hunting.

Salida is located on the Arkansas River which originates near Leadville to the north and flows 1,469 miles before emptying into the Mississippi River in Arkansas. Salida is located at an elevation of 7,083 feet and is the Chaffee County seat. The town is flanked by 3 mountain ranges - the Sangre de Cristo to the South, the Mosquito range to the north, and the Sawatch range to the northwest. In these ranges are 15 peaks over 14,000 feet high which led to the area aquiring the moniker of the "Fourteener" region.

Brief History:
Before the inception of Salida, the area was inhabited by the Ute Indians. In 1863, the Indians ceded their lands and were pressured to move west. In 1880, The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) chose Salida as the location for their station instead of the settlement of Cleora. Residents of Cleora moved to the newly founded city.

The city experienced large fires in 1886 and 1888, but Salida was rebuilt. Many of those buildings from the late 1800's still stand today.

In addition to railroading, agriculture and mining gained a foothold and Salida grew quickly. It continued to do so for decades. After WWII, the railroad scaled back operations which finally ceased in 1971, leaving residents to focus on farming or finding work elsewhere.

Today, Salida's main industry is tourism.

In 1995 Salida made news when Tim Edwards stepped out of his restaurant and recorded a compelling video of a UFO that has been deemed "authentic".

People & Culture:
As briefly mentioned in the introduction, Salida is known for year-round outdoor recreation. In the summer months, tourists and locals engage in camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and rafting. Not only are kayaking and rafting popular, Salida is home to FIBArk - the largest & oldest whitewater festival in North America. The festival began in 1949 when 2 boaters set up a competition to see who could complete a 56 mile paddle to Canon City the fastest. Neither of them finished, but the festival was born, and today it includes races, freestyle competitions, a parade, and many other events. If you want to check it out, the festival occurs every June.

In the winter months, recreation shifts to skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and ice fishing. There are a number of ski resorts in the general area, however, the closest is Monarch Mountain to the west of town.

In addition to the outdoor recreation, Salida is also considered somewhat of an artists community and has several galleries in town. But don't worry, Salida prides itself on being unpretentious and laid-back.

Food & Nightlife:
While Salida has a number of restaurants, it doesn't have a very wide selection of cuisines as most of the restaurants seem to fall under the umbrellas of American, Mexican, or Italian/Pizza. Don't mistake that fact to mean that they don't have good food. Most of the restaurants are located within walking distance of each other in the downtown district, however, there are a number of them located along Rainbow Blvd (Hwy 50) as well.

As for the nightlife, Salida does have several bars and a couple of them stay open late. For its size, there is a decent selection of beer and wine available. Check out the Bars & Nightlife section of this guide for specifics.

Money & Costs:
Salida is a fairly affordable destination. There are no 5 star hotels here and the majority hotel/motel rooms are under $100/night. If you are looking for a more rustic pace, there are several bed and breakfasts in the area. Check out the Hotels & Lodging section of this guide for more information about lodging.

Food in Salida is also less expensive than you would find in Denver or other major cities. As is the case everywhere in the USA, standard tipping in restaurants is 15%.

Getting There & Around:
You can get to Salida via a charter flight to Harriet Alexander Field, otherwise, the closest commercial airport is 65 miles west in Gunnison.

It takes about 2.5 hours to drive to Salida from Denver via Hwy 285 over Poncha Pass. During the winter it is a good idea to have chains and snow tires.

Once you arrive in Salida, the town is very walkable. We were unable to locate a taxi company based here, so on the colder days you may find yourself driving around town.

Salida is described as being located in a "banana belt", but keep in mind that this is relative to the surrounding areas. The winter weather is still downright cold and often snowy, averaging 42 inches per year. On the other hand, the summer days are very nice with cool evenings. Below are the current conditions and forecast for Salida.

Below are the monthly temperature and precipitation averages for Salida:

Month Avg High Avg Low Average Rainfall
January 42 12 0.14"
February 45 15 0.22"
March 51 21 0.61"
April 58 27 0.71"
May 68 36 1.04"
June 78 43 0.80"
July 83 48 1.26"
August 81 47 1.55"
September 74 40 0.86"
October 63 28 0.85"
November 49 20 0.33"
December 42 13 0.28"

Police/Fire/Emergency - 911
Sheriff's Office - (719) 539-2596
Road Conditions - (719) 539-6688

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