Salida, Colorado — Ground Zero for Adventure

Descending off of the Monarch Crest on the Starvation Creek Trail. Rider: Nick Heil.

The small mountain town of Salida, Colorado lies on the banks of the rushing Arkansas River and in the shadows of towering 14,000-foot mountain peaks. Accessible directly from downtown, professionally-built singletrack trails run up into the mountains on both sides, providing easy access to stellar mountain biking and hiking routes.

In fact, the Arkansas Valley that envelopes Salida may just be one of the most diverse climate zones in the world. On the west side of the valley, the high mountain peaks soar thousands of feet above treeline into a high elevation alpine tundra. During the winter, the local ski resort — Monarch Mountain — receives over 350 inches of snow.

As the elevations drop, the forest transitions through many different zones, eventually culminating in a high desert environment filled with cacti and scrubby pinion pines.

This incredibly diverse climate means mountain bikers, trail runners, and hikers can hit the trails 12 months per year on the east side of the valley, while still skiing deep powder in the nearby mountains mid-winter. Add in whitewater kayaking and rafting, rock climbing, and many other mountain sports, and it’s clear that Salida is ground zero for adventuring in the mountains.

Here are three popular Salida-area trails guaranteed to whet your appetite for adventure:

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