Best Biking Spots in Buena Vista & Salida
Put your full-suspension setup to good use on one (or all) of these sweet MTB trails.
- Experience peak-and-pine grandeur as you traverse the 35-mile Monarch Crest Trail. This epic point-to-point backcountry ride features mostly singletrack and doubletrack. Rated challenging due to its length and elevation gain, the bike adventure begins with a shuttle to the Monarch Pass trailhead, and then it’ll end in Poncha Springs — possibly for a beer at Elevation Beer Company. Pro tip: This trail is one to prepare for with a pack filled with food and water, a map and clothing layers for weather changes.
- Salida Mountain Trails offer a heavenly initiation to the town’s high-desert beauty, like blooming prickly pear cactus in spring. You’ll love the short intermediate- and difficult-rated singletrack rides for their strenuous climbs and whirly descents. Pro tip: Due to the Arkansas Hills Trail System’s close proximity to downtown Salida, you’ll want to watch for hikers and dogs.
- Pick Buena Vista’s Fourmile Travel Management Area for gorgeous beginner-friendly rides, like Midland Hill and Davis Meadow. Want to give back? Set aside time for meaningful volunteer trail work with Buena Vista Single Track Coalition. Pro tip: The Four Mile recreation area is expansive and has numerous access points, so map your ride out before you go.
- Ride a portion of the Colorado Trail from Nathrop’s Mount Princeton Hot Springs to Buena Vista’s Cottonwood Hot Springs for singletrack sandwiched between two steamy destinations. You’ll self-propel through wildflower-speckled meadows and dense forestland while admiring the mountainous views. Pro tip: This 11-mile, point-to-point ride is rated intermediate/difficult and requires a shuttle back.
Race two wheels along these winding roadways for the ultimate scenic reward.
- Put your hammies to work on rolling county roads between Buena Vista and Salida — or vice versa — with a frothy coffee back in town or smooth-sippin’ beer as your reward. Pro tip: This is a 24-mile, point-to-point route so plan for a shuttle, or do it roundtrip for a half-century challenge.
- Pedal Poncha Pass Summit from downtown Salida for spectacular Sangre de Cristo Mountain panoramas from the top. This 25-mile out-and-back will take you past Poncha Creek’s rushing waters hugged by pinyon pines. Pro tip: Summertime temperatures can get hot! Get going early to miss the midday heat.
- Journey from Salida toward Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort on a lollipop route (an out-and-back/loop combo that looks like the candy). This 39-miler delivers grand ranchland vistas overshadowed by rugged peaks. Pro tip: Detour to the hot springs for a leg-soothing soak that’ll leave you so relaxed you’ll want a friend to chauffeur you home.
- Grind up Cottonwood Pass Summit from Buena Vista for high-elevation Sawatch Range scenery (including La Plata Peak, a fourteener). This nearly 40-mile out-and-back trek promises lots of lung-busting ups and a swift, whoop-worthy descent. Pro tip: The pass closes to vehicles for winter and is groomed for recreational use (see more info directly below).
Try out a fat bike, whose wheels are like monster-truck tires, to get up gravel, snow, ice, dirt … the list goes on. Here are places to test your bike’s (and your own) mettle.
- Cottonwood Pass Road closes seasonally to through traffic, generally November through May. This means it’s open to multiuse recreation in winter, like fat biking, snowmobiling and Nordic skiing. You’ll climb through the trees for peak and Ptarmigan Creek views. Pro tip: Snowmobile traffic not your thing? Bike midweek for more tranquility.
- Ride the nearly 27-mile-long dirt road from St. Elmo to Tin Cup, accessed 16 miles from Salida by car. This old Jeep road, rated intermediate due to rocks and loose gravel, connects two historical mining ghost towns. Pro tip: Organize a pickup from Tin Cup, which can be accessed from Cottonwood Pass.
- Take a beginner-friendly fat-bike tour from St. Elmo to the Alpine Tunnel. You’ll rumble up 18 miles of dirt road and doubletrack that follow retired railroad tracks from the ghost town to the collapsed Alpine Tunnel. Pro tip: Watch for interpretive signs that explain the area’s colorful history.
Guided Bike Tours
Rather go with a guide? Hook up with outfitters like Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center, Dvorak Expeditions, Absolute Bikes Adventures or High Valley Bike Shuttle for expert guidance and support on your bike adventure.
Where To Rent a Bike
- Absolute Bikes, Salida
- Black Burro Bikes, Buena Vista
- BV eBikes, Buena Vista
- Inspired Electric Motorsports, Salida
- SubCulture Cyclery, Salida