1. Lifestyle – You know how they say “location, location, location” for real estate purchases? Well, the top reason for living in the Salida area is “Lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle.” No more tense high-powered job, 60 hour work weeks, days made shorter by a lengthy commute, or spending a fortune on fancy clothes for work and nights out. Here you can dress casual, wear comfortable shoes, walk to work, visit your dog during your break, see your family at lunch … and that’s just the working lifestyle! Even more important is the play lifestyle that permeates life here – you may soon be arranging your work week to allow play time in the middle of the work day. And … you won’t be the only one out on the trails.
2. Town size – 7,000 residents, which is just plain perfect. Big enough to have a real economy and a hospital, small enough that you encounter friends all the time.
3. Weather – They call this the Banana Belt for a reason! 300+ days of sunshine make it easy to plan your day. Summer rainstorms are short and always a good thing in this dry area. Winter snowstorms drop little snow in town and it usually melts within a day. It is easy to get to real snow all around town for skiing, we just don’t have to live in it. Cool enough that most folks don’t have an air-conditioner, warm enough that you can survive without trauma if the furnace goes out.
4. Social Scene – Salida’s charming historic downtown area has a number of favorite places for locals to meet. Bongo Billy’s Cafe has super coffee and baked goods for the early birds, and a steady stream of great musicians and evening beverages to go with them – you’ll love their balmy deck on the shore of the river. The Boathouse Catina offers a uniquely European experience in summer – open windows overhanging the river that encourage avian visitors while you dine. Benson’s Pub is a warm favorite in winter, and a place to hang out in the side garden in summer. The historic Steam Plant has an impressive and continuous offering of music, shows and presentations. We’ll let you discover the other fun locales and activities on your own. And – until you’ve experienced the joys of walking or biking to and from your evening social events, you haven’t lived. Who needs a stinking car?!
5. F Street Bridge – This bridge across the river in the middle of downtown Salida symbolizes much that is great about life here. Running club meets there for runs – – people lean over the gracious old walls to watch the play-boaters in the river below – – dogs walking their owners know that the other side of the bridge spells freedom – – the view of fall colors up-river is stupendous – – mountain bikers know that it is barely a spin of the pedals from the bridge to the excellent trails beyond – – following the path under the bridge can be fun and exciting during spring high water. It is within walking or bicycling distance for almost all of the town residents. Most of the festivals happen in Riverside park next to the bridge and some events take place ON or UNDER the bridge. Watching one of the humor-crafts in FIBARK’s hooligan race pile into the bridge support is something you won’t soon forget!
6. Art Galleries – Salida is known throughout the west as a great art town. It is fortunate to have attracted unique and skilled artists, many nationally acclaimed, who create artworks in many forms, including hand-thrown pottery, art glass, mixed media sculpture, paintings from miniatures to mural size and in a variety of mediums, wood art, textile art, jewelry and more. We especially love the Monster Shop (Bungled Jungle)! The Monsters are best met in person, as are the charming shop owners, but until you can get here to do so … visit them long distance at www.bungledjungle.com.
7. Arkansas River – This is the centerpiece of our little town, and is the site of much activity. It has excellent whitewater rafting, a boating play area set up right downtown, and is a superb trout stream. Every year it is the site of the FIBArk festival (First in Boating on the Arkansas) which draws top-level competitors from around the country. Slower sections are fun for family boating, wading, swimming, and all the local water dogs.
8. Salida Mountain Trail system – For the locals, this is the real GEM of Salida. This extensive trail system is located right across the river, an easy jog or bike from most homes. The trail system consists of many miles of great single track dirt trails (easy to hard) to mountain bike, run, hike, or walk your dog. The best part of this trail system is that it is the result of many hours of volunteer labor put in by the very townfolk using it, a local-built trail. Once you’ve rolled rocks, swung a pick, and wielded a rake with a group of your friends, the trail becomes a source of pride.
9. Bikes – Salida is small enough that you can ride a bike from your home to virtually anywhere in town in 10 minutes. Our group of friends makes it a practice to bike to work, on errands, and to almost every social event. The sidewalks downtown always have an impressive parked-array of humorously customized town bikes. Can you imagine using your car ONLY on weekends?! Salida also has a vibrant recreational bicycling community of which Shawn Gillis and his shop, Absolute Bikes, are the keystones. From Salida, there is easy access to hundreds of miles of mountain biking routes, some good road bicycling, and lots of races and fun events such as the Cruiser Criterium.
10. Mountains – Salida is virtually surrounded by mountains. The view is great in all directions! Our local Sawatch Mountain range has 15 peaks over 14,000′ (out of Colorado’s 52 14ers), and there are more 14ers not much farther away. Town is at 7,000′ and the mountains to the west reach well above 14,000′ – this tremendous difference in elevation makes for gorgeous alpenglow in the winter, and feeds the local habit of checking the mountains for fresh snow – all 12 months of the year. The continental divide is an easy 20 minute drive away. In the hills and mountains around Salida there are nearly endless opportunities for climbing, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, skiing and more. The mountains also host such diverse activities as the Leadville 100 running race, the Vapor Trail mountain bike race, Burro races, Ski-joring and many other oddities.
11. Professional Opportunity – A small town may not seem to be a hotbed of professional opportunity, but Salida sure has been just that for a number of enterprising folks. The need to be creative to have an income here means many have started their own business. This wonderful happenstance gives Salida locals a marvelous array of shops and services, most of them run by someone who has devoted their heart and creative energies to the enterprise. For example, the Mixing Bowl is a just plain superb cookware store and also serves as an employment opportunity for the developmentally-challenged persons in the community.
12. History – Downtown Salida is a designated Historic District. This means that the downtown buildings are full of charm, character, and historic detailing. We all love the multi-colored Victorian paint jobs! Lots of the homes throughout town are also lovely old structures, even the cute little “shotgun shacks” in what used to be the wrong side of town. All around town, near and far, are signs of the ranching and mining heritage that still shapes the area today. The Salida Smokestack towers 365 feet over the western edge of town and is now a protected landmark. The “ghost” town of Turret is just above Salida to the north. Many other ghost towns, mining camps, old cemeteries, mines, and other locales crowd the mountains and hills around town.