<p>Salida is the ultimate Rocky Mountain surf and turf—part river town, part ski town or, as locals like to say, a river town with a skiing problem. Salida sits smack in the middle of 80-plus miles of white water on the Arkansas River, where base-flow releases from upstream dams enable year-round paddling. Monarch Mountain—a low-key ski resort (read: uncrowded and affordable)—is just a 20-minute drive up Monarch Pass. Salida has a "Banana Belt" climate, which means the area has dry hiking and biking trails year-round. It can be dumping snow on Monarch Mountain, but in town, there's not even enough to warrant shoveling your driveway. "All that and it's [also] a 'real' Colorado mountain community that's relatively affordable and still pretty funky," says resident Mike Harvey.</p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Meet the expert: </b>Mike Harvey, 40, has lived in Salida full time for 17 years. He's co-owner of <a href="http://badfishsup.com">Badfish SUP</a> and a project manager and designer for <a href="http://boaterparks.com">Recreation Engineering and Planning</a>, a Colorado-based company that designs white-water parks all over North America (including the one in Salida and the neighboring town of Buena Vista).</p> <p><b>Hike:</b> Salida has more than a dozen 14,000-foot peaks, the largest concentration in the U.S., but for early morning dog walks or trail runs, locals head to the Salida Mountain Trail system at Tenderfoot Mountain (otherwise known as S Mountain). It may not be as mammoth, but the access is hard to beat. "You are literally on single-track 200 yards from downtown," says Harvey.</p> <p><b>Ride: </b>For road biking, Harvey recommends the 60-mile out-and-back route on scenic country roads up to the village of Nathrop, past Chalk Creek Canyon, and out to Cascade Falls. For mountain biking, locals laud the Monarch Crest Trail, but Harvey has another idea. "My favorite mountain biking is during the late fall or winter, when you can ride the North Backbone Trail to the Sand Dunes Trail—a local test piece located in a heat trap. It's a desert environment with slickrock and only a ten-minute spin from downtown."</p> <p><b>Climb: </b>Salida serves as base camp for peak baggers looking to conquer the town's numerous 14,000-foot mountains. For rock climbers, routes are scattered in Bighorn Sheep Canyon between Salida and Canon City and along the river road upstream of Buena Vista. Shelf Road and Penitente Canyon, two world-class climbing destinations, are about a 1.5-hour drive from Salida.</p> <p><b>Ski:</b> Monarch Mountain is one of Colorado's best kept secrets. The resort is "old school," with five lifts and no crowds, while consistently putting up some of the best snow totals in the state (an average of 350 inches annually). And Monarch Pass offers some of the most accessible backcountry skiing in the region. "You can make dawn patrol laps in the backcountry and be back to work by 9 a.m.," says Harvey.</p> <p><b>Paddle:</b> "Famous Class III-IV runs like the Numbers and Browns Canyon are close to town, and then there's the Salida Whitewater Park right downtown," says Harvey. "The park has two kayaking play holes and two standing waves designed for SUP surfing, plus a slalom course practice area that is great for year-round workouts."</p> <p><b>Locals' favorite adventure:</b> Every April, the <a href="http://3psalida.com">Salida Pole, Pedal, Paddle Race</a> follows the spring runoff, starting on Monarch Pass with a seven-mile backcountry ski. Racers then transition to their mountain bikes for a 20-mile ride to the Arkansas River, on which they'll paddle six miles to town, finishing at a riverside bar called the Boathouse Cantina. "The 3P encompasses what I love about Salida," says Harvey. "Where else in the mountains of Colorado can you ski, ride your mountain bike, and paddle on the same day?"</p> <p><b>Something visitors don't do but should:</b> Come to Salida to ride mountain bikes in the off-season. "It seems like no one realizes we have year-round riding," says Harvey. "People head out to Moab or Fruita in October or March to ride bikes when they could save over half the drive and ride the Salida Mountain Trail network almost all year."</p> <p><b>Where to eat:</b> Try the Fritz for tapas, Laughing Ladies for a dinner date, the Boathouse Cantina or Rivers Edge for outdoor seating along the Arkansas River, or Poco for authentic street tacos.</p> <p><b>Where to drink: </b>The Boathouse for summertime beers while watching tube, kayak, and SUP chaos in the Salida Whitewater Park</p> <p><b>Where to sleep (budget):</b> "Simple Lodge is kind of a new-school hostel right downtown," says Harvey. "Clean rooms, lots of people paddling, riding bikes, and skiing, so it's a good place to connect for local beta."</p> <p><b>Where to sleep (splurge):</b> The Palace Hotel is a restored historic hotel right in the heart of downtown, less than one block from the river and the Salida Mountain Trail system. Harvey also notes that there are tons of good vacation rentals on Pinonvacationrentals.com<i>.</i></p>

Salida, Colorado

Salida is the ultimate Rocky Mountain surf and turf—part river town, part ski town or, as locals like to say, a river town with a skiing problem. Salida sits smack in the middle of 80-plus miles of white water on the Arkansas River, where base-flow releases from upstream dams enable year-round paddling. Monarch Mountain—a low-key ski resort (read: uncrowded and affordable)—is just a 20-minute drive up Monarch Pass. Salida has a "Banana Belt" climate, which means the area has dry hiking and biking trails year-round. It can be dumping snow on Monarch Mountain, but in town, there's not even enough to warrant shoveling your driveway. "All that and it's [also] a 'real' Colorado mountain community that's relatively affordable and still pretty funky," says resident Mike Harvey.

 

Meet the expert: Mike Harvey, 40, has lived in Salida full time for 17 years. He's co-owner of Badfish SUP and a project manager and designer for Recreation Engineering and Planning, a Colorado-based company that designs white-water parks all over North America (including the one in Salida and the neighboring town of Buena Vista).

Hike: Salida has more than a dozen 14,000-foot peaks, the largest concentration in the U.S., but for early morning dog walks or trail runs, locals head to the Salida Mountain Trail system at Tenderfoot Mountain (otherwise known as S Mountain). It may not be as mammoth, but the access is hard to beat. "You are literally on single-track 200 yards from downtown," says Harvey.

Ride: For road biking, Harvey recommends the 60-mile out-and-back route on scenic country roads up to the village of Nathrop, past Chalk Creek Canyon, and out to Cascade Falls. For mountain biking, locals laud the Monarch Crest Trail, but Harvey has another idea. "My favorite mountain biking is during the late fall or winter, when you can ride the North Backbone Trail to the Sand Dunes Trail—a local test piece located in a heat trap. It's a desert environment with slickrock and only a ten-minute spin from downtown."

Climb: Salida serves as base camp for peak baggers looking to conquer the town's numerous 14,000-foot mountains. For rock climbers, routes are scattered in Bighorn Sheep Canyon between Salida and Canon City and along the river road upstream of Buena Vista. Shelf Road and Penitente Canyon, two world-class climbing destinations, are about a 1.5-hour drive from Salida.

Ski: Monarch Mountain is one of Colorado's best kept secrets. The resort is "old school," with five lifts and no crowds, while consistently putting up some of the best snow totals in the state (an average of 350 inches annually). And Monarch Pass offers some of the most accessible backcountry skiing in the region. "You can make dawn patrol laps in the backcountry and be back to work by 9 a.m.," says Harvey.

Paddle: "Famous Class III-IV runs like the Numbers and Browns Canyon are close to town, and then there's the Salida Whitewater Park right downtown," says Harvey. "The park has two kayaking play holes and two standing waves designed for SUP surfing, plus a slalom course practice area that is great for year-round workouts."

Locals' favorite adventure: Every April, the Salida Pole, Pedal, Paddle Race follows the spring runoff, starting on Monarch Pass with a seven-mile backcountry ski. Racers then transition to their mountain bikes for a 20-mile ride to the Arkansas River, on which they'll paddle six miles to town, finishing at a riverside bar called the Boathouse Cantina. "The 3P encompasses what I love about Salida," says Harvey. "Where else in the mountains of Colorado can you ski, ride your mountain bike, and paddle on the same day?"

Something visitors don't do but should: Come to Salida to ride mountain bikes in the off-season. "It seems like no one realizes we have year-round riding," says Harvey. "People head out to Moab or Fruita in October or March to ride bikes when they could save over half the drive and ride the Salida Mountain Trail network almost all year."

Where to eat: Try the Fritz for tapas, Laughing Ladies for a dinner date, the Boathouse Cantina or Rivers Edge for outdoor seating along the Arkansas River, or Poco for authentic street tacos.

Where to drink: The Boathouse for summertime beers while watching tube, kayak, and SUP chaos in the Salida Whitewater Park

Where to sleep (budget): "Simple Lodge is kind of a new-school hostel right downtown," says Harvey. "Clean rooms, lots of people paddling, riding bikes, and skiing, so it's a good place to connect for local beta."

Where to sleep (splurge): The Palace Hotel is a restored historic hotel right in the heart of downtown, less than one block from the river and the Salida Mountain Trail system. Harvey also notes that there are tons of good vacation rentals on Pinonvacationrentals.com.

Photograph by Greg Heil

39 Places to Have a Great Long Weekend

Master the three-day weekend getaway in one of these vibrant adventure towns across the United States. With the advice of a trusted local, discover the best spots to hike, bike, paddle, eat, drink, and sleep.

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