Photo by Anna Toll
Buena Vista offers a range of cycling routes for those of every skill level. You’ll find miles upon miles of mountain biking trails as you explore Buena Vista’s Fourmile Recreation Area and Barbara Whipple Trail System. While there aren’t as many road biking rides as mountain biking, the Buena Vista road cycling routes are second to none and offer breathtaking views. Buena Vista also has several family-friendly biking options for those with young ones or for those who want an easy, flat cycling route.
Buena Vista houses a wide variety of hiking terrain. Mountain climbers can reach any one of the 15 Sawatch Range Fourteeners, some of Colorado’s highest peaks, within an easy distance from downtown Buena Vista.
If intense mountaineering doesn’t grab your interest, countless beginner and intermediate hikes are available in Buena Vista. These hikes are great family options and offer amazing views of the Rocky Mountains. Many of these routes lead you to alpine lakes near Buena Vista which offer stunning views, such as Lost Lake or Hartenstein Lake.
You can even hike the trails at the end of East Main Street in downtown Buena Vista, such as the Arkansas River Trail or routes on the Barbara Whipple Trail System; both are good options for families and those who don’t want to travel out of town.
Buena Vista’s all-natural hot springs are the perfect way to end a day adventuring in Rocky Mountains. Soak in the warm, bubbling springs after your whitewater rafting, skiing or hiking excursion. Check out Cottonwood Hot Springs or Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort for more info.
While mountain climbers head west to summit high peaks, rock climbers look east in Buena Vista to find their playground. The Upper Arkansas Valley is home to numerous climbing options and offers beautiful granite cliffs to challenge climbers.
As you head north out of downtown Buena Vista and travel along North Colorado Avenue which turns into County Road 371, you’ll find incredible climbing in the Fourmile Recreation Area. Almost a Tunnel and Transmitter Tower are great moderate climbing options, and Bob’s Rock features long routes. Most routes at Bob’s Rock can be toproped, but some climbs can be started from ground-up, even though it’s hard to find bolts under 15 feet.
Davis Face is a quality, multi-pitch rock climbing area with plenty of routes for every skill level. While this area has many climbing options, the most popular area is a five pitch trad route right up the center of the granite face. Other good climbing areas include Elephant Rock and Turtle Rock, both located in Fourmile region.
Midland Hill, located at the end of East Main Street in Buena Vista, offers many bouldering options. This area, often called Sleeping Indian, is within easy walking distance from downtown. You can also test out your skills at the man-made boulders at the Buena Vista Boulder Garden, located in the South Main section of town.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a growing water sport that can be enjoyed either on whitewater or flat water. Buena Vista offers a variety of SUP options for both first time paddle boarders and veterans. If you’re a beginner, you can try SUPing at the pond at McPhelemy Park or Cottonwood Lake. For those looking for more action, check out the Buena Vista Whitewater Park for a thrill.
Lake kayaking is a great option for those who want an active yet relaxing day in the Colorado sun and water. Both Cottonwood Lake and Twin Lakes are a stunning areas and are both located less than thirty minutes from downtown Buena Vista.
You can rent kayaks, SUP boards, and a whole lot more from CKS Main Street in downtown Buena Vista.
Buena Vista is home to some of the world’s finest whitewater rafting. As an unmatched rafting location, Buena Vista is proud to offer a variety of rafting options on the Arkansas River, Colorado’s #1 rafted river. With so many sections of river available, both seasoned and beginner rafters will find whitewater that exceeds expectations. President Obama recently declared Buena Vista’s Browns Canyon as a National Monument due to its grandiose views, unspoiled landscape and pristine waters.
Family Floats – Class I-III
You’ll enjoy fun waves and splashes while rafting through small rapids on Family Float sections. Many rafting companies offer a trip down the “Milk Run”, which is an ideal choice for those with small children. First-time rafters often take Family Float trips in order to gain some experience before paddling through bigger water. Along these scenic routes, you’ll get fantastic views of the Collegiate Peaks and may even see some wildlife.
Browns Canyon - Class III-IV
Browns Canyon, one of the most rafted sections on Colorado’s Arkansas River, offers excitement for families and those looking for an intermediate rafting experience. As you travel through Browns Canyon, you’ll view large granite walls and beautiful rock formations, and you may even spot bighorn sheep, raptors or mule deer. Choose a half day trip to navigate through about 10 miles of Colorado whitewater or opt for the full day trip that includes a stop for lunch and around 16 miles on the river.
Numbers - Class IV-V
Rafting the Numbers is for adrenaline junkies who want to paddle a technical section of Colorado whitewater. This portion of the Arkansas River is very steep and action-packed, with new rapids around every corner. Since it requires intense paddling during most of the trip, the Numbers is only recommended for those who have good physical stamina. On full day trips, you’ll travel about 19 miles.
Pine Creek - Class IV – V
If you want an intense, class V rafting trip, then rafting the 11-mile Pine Creek section is the option for you. One of the most difficult rapids on the Arkansas River is located in Pine Creek; you’ll navigate through intense whitewater during a class V rapid that lasts for 1.5 miles and drops 200 feet with every mile. This portion of the Arkansas River usually takes about 6 hours to complete.