Salida residents don’t only have the mountains as their playground; they also have the Arkansas River, which runs through downtown Salida. The river is dam-controlled, and can run as high as 6,000 cfs.
Salida is a small town that sits in the geographic middle of Colorado. Surrounded by more than a dozen fourteeners (peaks higher than 14,000 feet in elevation), it has a wealth of recreational riches and enviable weather. In fact, Coloradans know the Salida area is in what’s called the “banana belt,” with mild winter weather made possible by the tall peaks that shield the area from deep snows and frigid temperatures.
What Makes It Great
Salida residents don’t only have the mountains as their playground; they also have the Arkansas River, which runs through downtown Salida. Two waves/holes are the highlight of the Salida Playpark. The river is dam-controlled, and can run as high as 6,000 cfs. When the flow is low to medium, the lower hole of the playpark is perfect for beginners to experts and a sand beach appears. When the water is running at 1,500 or higher, the lower hole washes out and the upper hole becomes a challenge that will appeal to even advanced boaters. The course is ¼ mile long, and water flows highest in May through July.
The Salida Playpark project started in 2000, and now features not only the play waves that hosted national championships in 2008 and ’08, but also a slalom course, trails, a community theater and conference center, outdoor amphitheater and rock climbing wall.
Salida is a great destination and has a variety of outdoor activities that can be paired with a day at the water playpark. Captain Zipline Aerial Adventure Park is a network of 120 combinations of bridges, catwalks, ladders, platforms, nets, rope and cable swings, as well as ziplines and Via Ferrata courses which give novice climbers the chance to experience the thrills of mountain climbing. Salida is also a bike-friendly town; its Tenderfoot Trail system features a ride from downtown to the top of S Mountain, with a climb of 610 feet (and a round-trip distance of nine miles).
Who is Going to Love It
This is the perfect place to work on your skills, and after a few dips in the chilled waters of the Arkansas, you can head to the Salida Hot Springs Pool, the largest indoor facility of its kind in the country. The facility features a large pool that stays at a constant temperature of 84-86 degrees. A smaller pool has a temperature range of 97-100 degrees.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Colorado Springs, take Colorado Highway 115 south to U.S. Highway 50. Drive west on 50 for about 70 miles to the town of Salida. For an alternate route from Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to U.S. 285 south. Turn left onto Colorado Highway 291 and drive 7.8 miles to Salida. For the play park, park in town (and don’t park on the bridge that spans the course). Both routes take about the same time – a little over two hours.