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salida overview

Visiting Salida, Colorado in the summer is the ultimate vacation! There are so many outdoor activities, festivals, shopping and restaurants – you’ll have something different to do every day! America’s most famous white water rafting river – the Arkansas – runs right through downtown. No Salida vacation is complete without experiencing a white water rafting trip in the Arkansas River. And you won’t find a better white water rafting outfitter than Wilderness Aware!

Many of our customers come back year after year to enjoy Salida and the beautiful Arkansas River Valley. With so many things to do, white water rafting is only one of the many activities you can experience.

Nearby Rivers

  • Arkansas River – the best white water in the U.S. only minutes from town – 22 miles away (map)
  • Gunnison River – raft the wild water of Gunnison Gorge near Hotchkiss – 145 miles away (map)
  • Colorado River – mild family float trips along the Upper Colorado near Kremmling – 130 miles away (map)
  • North Platte River – remote and scenic wilderness trips in May and June near Cowdrey – 200 miles away (map)
  • Dolores River – explore western Colorado high desert scenery in May and June near Gateway and Cortez – 222 miles away (map)
  • Salt River – exciting springtime rafting trips through Salt River Canyon in Arizona near Phoenix and Tucson – 540 miles away (map)

Recommended Rafting Trips near Salida:

Browns Canyon Full-Day Trip

When you book a Browns Canyon rafting trip you’ll experience Colorado’s most popular white water rafting trip! Raft the Arkansas River in Buena Vista, Colorado near Denver and Colorado Springs. Rafters of all skill levels and kids ages 7+ are welcome on this trip that runs between May 1st and Labor Day.

Adult price : $134


Browns Canyon Half-Day Trip

Join us for a half day of action-packed white water on the Arkansas River. Departing from Buena Vista, Colorado this adventure is close to Denver, Colorado Springs and major resorts. Rafters of all skill levels and kids ages 7+ are welcome on this trip that runs between May 1st and Labor Day.

Adult price : $84


Lower Browns Canyon Half Day Trip

Enjoy a gentle stretch of the Arkansas River on this mild and mellow half day adventure. This family-friendly trip departs from Buena Vista, Colorado – close to Denver and Colorado Springs. Young kids ages 4+ and rafters of all skill levels love this trip that runs between May 1st and Labor Day. Beautiful scenery and exceptional guides make this trip a guest favorite!

Adult price : $89


Inn to Inn 2, 3 or 4 Day Trip

Experience fantastic rafting and comfort all in one great Arkansas River trip. Customize white water rafting sections, comfortable lodging at bed and breakfasts and delicious dining choices at local restaurants. Departing from Buena Vista, Colorado – near Denver and Colorado Springs – raft anytime between May 15 and Labor Day. Suitable for all skill levels and kids ages 10+.

Adult price : $370/day


Arkansas River 2 Day Trip

Enjoy two full days of fantastic class III-IV white water rafting and isolated riverside camping within Browns Canyon National Monument on this popular Arkansas River trip. Suitable for all skill levels and kids ages 8+, this multi-day adventure departs from Buena Vista, Colorado, near Denver, Colorado Springs and major resorts. Trips are available from May 1st to Aug 25.

Adult price : $489


Arkansas River 3 Day Trip

Get away from the day-to-day on this, action-packed Arkansas River adventure. Enjoy fantastic whitewater during the day, including rafting Browns Canyon National Monument, and secluded camping at night. This trip departs from Buena Vista, Colorado – near Denver and Colorado Springs, and is suitable for all skill levels and kids ages 8+. Trips run from May 15 - Aug 15.

Adult price : $734


Arkansas River 5 Day Trip

Raft with us on nearly every section we offer, including Browns Canyon National Monument, on the Arkansas River – all in one unforgettable 5 Day trip! With departures between May 15 and Aug 15, rafters of all skill levels and kids ages 8+ are welcome on this adventure. Meet and depart in Buena Vista, Colorado – near Denver and Colorado Springs.

Adult price : $1129



Largest Historic District in Colorado

For centuries before the town of Salida came into existence, the area was inhabited by native cultures including the Ute, Arapahoe and Cheyenne. But it was in 1806 and 1807 when Zebulon Pike, Colorado’s most famous frontiersmen, came into the Upper Arkansas Valley area on an official mission to explore the headwaters of the Arkansas River, which at the time was thought to be the Red River. Pike’s account had a dramatic effect on the exploration of the southwest. Frontiersmen visited the area until the late 1850’s, when the first settlers entered the valley.

Most settlers came in search of gold and silver. In the early 1860’s, when the dream of fame and fortune did not become a reality, many discouraged miners vacated mining camps and began to establish farms and ranches on the Arkansas River near present day Salida. 1876, the same year of Colorado’s statehood, the mining boom in the small mining camp of Leadville took place and the wagon road traffic through the Upper Arkansas River Valley increased drastically. The settlement of Cleora was founded, south of town, and Chaffee County was formed – named after the states first senator.

In 1880 the Denver and Rio Grande railroad tracks arrived at South Arkansas, as Salida was first called, bypassing Cleora. A man named A.C. Hunt laid out the new 160-acre townsite, and in June of 1880 a post office was established. Hunt’s wife suggested the Spanish name Salida (‘exit’), for the new town. It then became a major division point on the railroad tracks, with a brand new stone depot where the tracks diverged. Many new buildings and projects were constructed in the coming years, displaying the success of the new town. These buildings and projects included the Alpine Tunnel, the D&RG Hospital, the Salida Light and Power Company (Steamplant) building and the smokestack in Smeltertown. Many of the buildings are still standing, creating Colorado’s largest historical district.

1949 saw the establishment of FIBArk, First in Boating on the Arkansas, an international river boat competition with a race from Salida to Cañon City. From 1958 through 1988, the Salida Steamplant was abandoned, only to be saved, restored and re-opened as a theater 2001. After the closure of the Climax mine near Leadville in the 1980’s and the discontinuation of the railroad in 1997, Chaffee County saw a dramatic decrease in population. Today, however, the town thrives on the outdoor tourism industry as well the unavoidable charm of old downtown. Salida is a place bursting with history and limitless outdoor recreation.

Chaffee County: An Active Colorado Vacation

Salida is a wonderful destination for your Colorado rafting vacation. Outdoor activities are endless – the availability of hiking, rafting and camping make Chaffee County the trip of lifetime. Take white water rafting trip through Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River, hike through Bighorn Sheep Canyon, or enjoy a horseback ride amidst the grand beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Don’t forget to visit many other vacation towns and destinations, including Buena Vista, Leadville, BreckenridgeKeystone, Aspen, Vail, Canon CityColorado SpringsDenver, and Gunnison.

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