Best Spots for Snowmobiling in Buena Vista & Salida

Buena Vista and Salida are known for being chock-full of outdoor adventure. And your options only get cooler when the snow starts falling: Winter means it’s time for thrilling snowmobile rides with stunning Collegiate Peaks views.

By: Buena Vista & Salida
Updated: February 19, 2024

Check out the best places for snowmobiling, whether you’re after groomed trails or deep-powdered technical terrain.

Snowmobiling Hot Spots

Marshall Pass

You’ll feel like you’re on top of the wintry world when zipping through Marshall Pass, which traverses the Continental Divide and reaches heights of 10,800 feet. The area offers nearly 70 miles of groomed trails — both wide and narrow — as well as a backcountry playground of powdery bowls and tree trails, perfect for riders of all ability levels. Trailhead: Shirley Site Trailhead 

North Fork of the Arkansas

Best for riders with experience, this route kicks off with 7 miles of groomed trails before opening up to some seriously steep hills and lots of fluffy powder. Keep an eye out for signs marking the site of Shavano — a short-lived silver-mining town — along with the hulking snow-cloaked shoulders of fourteeners like Tabeguache Peak and Mount Shavano. Trailhead: Angel of Shavano Campground

Cottonwood Pass

Rev your engine up to 12,126 feet above sea level as you whoosh through snow-flocked evergreens in the San Isabel and Gunnison national forests. Cottonwood Pass is great for all levels of expertise with miles of groomed trails leading to the Continental Divide and panoramic views of striking mountains drenched in white. Trailhead: Avalanche Trailhead or Denny Creek Trailhead (depending on snow conditions)

St. Elmo/Tin Cup Pass

For an advanced riding adventure like no other, crank your snowmobile and glide groomed trails through St. Elmo — Colorado’s most well-preserved ghost town. The rows of clapboard Wild West buildings make this journey extra Instagrammable. From there, climb 6 winding miles on Tin Cup Pass to top out at 12,100 feet, where the jaw-dropping vistas will make you feel like you’re in another world. Trailhead: St. Elmo

Note: Groomed trails don’t maintain themselves. Support the sport by joining the Snow Drifters Snowmobile Club Buena Vista or the Heart of the Rockies Snowmobile Club Salida.

Guided Snowmobile Tours

Booking a snowmobile tour just adds to the fun. Not only can local guides help you navigate the trails, they’re brimming with area history and know where to find the best spots for amazingly fun rides.

Rocky Mountain Adventure Rentals

Adventurers of all skill levels can cruise groomed trails or make powder fly on a half- or full-day excursion to Cottonwood Pass with Rocky Mountain Adventure Rentals. You have a choice of vehicle here: Opt for the traditional snowmobile or a Timbersled Snow Bike — essentially a dirt bike made for winter shredding. Advanced riders can book a private tour to Ptarmigan Lake for more technical terrain or an outing in the St. Elmo region.

Monarch Snowmobile Tours

Let the expert guides of Monarch Snowmobile Tours show you the best of the region on a variety of tours for all experience levels. Outings range from two-hour-long family-friendly rides to adrenaline-filled adventures with advanced trails and time for freeriding. Lengthier half-day tours weave through snow-hushed mining ruins or up to the Continental Divide and include lunch.

Burandt’s Backcountry Adventure

If you want a vacation filled with nothing but snowmobiling, Burandt’s Backcountry Adventure is the place to go. They recommend a minimum of three days to make the most of your experience, giving you plenty of time to explore in Cottonwood Pass and St. Elmo. Your guide stays out with you until you’re ready to call it a day, then it’s back to the lodge to warm up with a home-cooked meal.

All Season Adventures

Whether you want a laid-back, family-friendly experience on groomed trails or an exhilarating ride where you get to make the flakes fly in deep bowls, there’s a tour for you at All Season Adventures in Poncha Springs. Local guides lead you on a trek into the Rocky Mountain backcountry, where you’ll spend two to three hours exploring the winter-wonderland magic of Marshall Pass or Cottonwood Pass.

Want More? 

Take the Adventure By Nature Pledge

Explore the Buena Vista & Salida Visitor Guide

Warm up in hot springs after your snowmobile adventure

See all the things are to do in Salida & Buena Vista