Camping Near Buena Vista

Camping is the quintessential way to get the full Rocky Mountain experience! Whether your idea of camping is in a picturesque and remote campsite, a site with all of the amenities, or in the comfort of an RV, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy camping near Buena Vista. And with plenty of outdoor adventure to be found in Buena Vista, there’s no better place to pitch a tent or park your camper! 

Dispersed Camping on BLM Land Near Buena Vista 

For those desiring an off-grid experience, dispersed camping on BLM land (meaning land owned by the Bureau of Land Management) could be the perfect option for you. With few amenities and more immersion in the great outdoors, dispersed camping is definitely more of a rustic experience. Still pack light, but make sure to bring plenty of warm layers, a sturdy tent, and ample water (including for washing up) for a trip to any of these dispersed campgrounds!

For dispersed camping near a mountain lake, head to Baldwin Lake, Hancock Lakes, or Pomeroy Lakes. With high-altitude lakes and stunning views, these campgrounds are perfect for those who want to bring a fishing rod along or take a very cold water dip. Make sure to find a place to pitch your tent at least 100 ft from the lakeshores to protect the pristine environment.

Browns Creek Trail also offers dispersed camping and has the added benefit of restrooms, which can be an important consideration. The Colorado Trail #1776 and Fourmile Travel Management Area also offer dispersed camping as well as space for activities like hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Explore the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness as you hike the North Cottonwood Trail. This trail extends for 4.3 miles and leads to Kroenke Lake. Campers can park along the road to North Cottonwood Trail which is perfect for camping to get an early start on this beautiful trail. 

Buena Vista Campgrounds with all the Bells and Whistles

If you desire amenities while you camp or plan to bring an RV along, you can check out these paid camping sites. Campsites allow the convenience of on-site showers, restrooms, and more as well as the relief of having a saved spot when you book your reservation in advance. There’s no wandering around in the woods looking for a site when you reserve a campsite! 

The Arkansas River Rim Campground & R.V. Park offers tent sites, recreational vehicle sites, and camper cabins for nightly and weekly rates. This campground features amenities including restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, on-site river access, WiFi, and even ice and firewood available for purchase. 

For creekfront camping, head to the Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park. With both tent sites and space for R.V.s, this campsite offers access to Chalk Creek, a playground, games, and an on-site store stocked with all campground necessities! For even more comfort, you can book a cabin that comes complete with a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen.

Book a tent site, R.V. site, cabin, or a yurt at Arrowhead Point Campground & Cabins. Amenities like a pavilion, playground, sand volleyball court, badminton court, horseshoe pits, restrooms, laundry facilities, and even an espresso bar will make sure that you never run out of fun and entertainment while camping! 

Things to Do

Between nights sleeping in your tent or in your RV, explore the stunning natural scenery that awaits in Buena Vista! From hiking, horseback riding, and of course white water rafting, you can’t beat an opportunity to get a true Rocky Mountain experience. 

For hikers who want to gain some serious altitude, the Collegiate Peaks can be found outside of Buena Vista and feature a handful of 14’ers named after Ivy League Universities like Mt. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Oxford. These trails are challenging, with serious elevation gains and varying conditions. Make sure you know the skill level and equipment you will need to have a safe day on these hiking trails.  

For a less strenuous hiking day, throw on your hikers and enjoy a trek along the 2.6-mile Lost Lake Trail which is an out-and-back style trail that is dog-friendly. Or, hike along Cottonwood Pass’s 3.1-mile trail that is also dog-friendly and offers plenty of stunning views. No matter what hiking trail you pick, exploring the natural scenery and keeping an eye out for wildlife and wildflowers! Just remember the Leave No Trace ethos and pack out what you pack in.

You can also hop into the saddle and enjoy the Rocky Mountains on horseback. Kodi features 2-hour horseback riding trips and a saddle-paddle experience that combines horseback riding with a white water rafting excursion. You don’t want to miss the experience to be in the Rockies like a true cowboy! And of course, you can’t experience a summer in the Rockies without a white water rafting trip! Take a full-day or half-day trip through Browns Canyon National Monument, navigate through the thrilling rapids on a Numbers trip, or, for the most advanced rafters, get on a full-day or half-day Pine Creek raft adventure including two class IV rapids like Triple Drop. With trips for all adventure levels and through stunning scenery, there’s really no better way to spend a day or overnight than on a Buena Vista river rafting trip!


Hiking the Collegiate Peaks in Buena Vista

The mountains of Colorado give way to some of the most impressive hiking trails in the United States. Getting outside on a trail and getting your body moving under the warm Colorado sun is so enjoyable! From shorter hikes with minimal elevation gain, to the more challenging and longer hikes that lead up to the tallest peaks in Colorado, there are amazing hiking options for every type of hiker. If you enjoy hiking and want a great challenge, we highly recommend hiking a 14er. Out here in Colorado, the accomplishment of hiking to the peak of a 14,000 ft mountain, or as us locals say “14er” is like obtaining a badge of honor. We arguably have a total of 54-14ers in Colorado and once you get a taste of summiting one of them, you’ll be hooked! There are quite a few people who try to complete hiking all of them, which is an incredible accomplishment. If your goal is to hike them all in your lifetime, or you just want to get the first one under your belt, there are loads of important things to keep in mind and ways to prepare for your hike to the summit.

The Sawatch mountain range in Buena Vista includes a group of 14,000 ft mountains called the Collegiate Peaks which are some of the tallest mountains in the Rocky Mountains. The Collegiate Peaks are named after Ivy League Universities and are among the highest concentration of 14,000 foot peaks in the United States. Mt. Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Yale, Oxford, and Belford are some of the most impressive and stunning peaks in the area and are sought out by avid hikers that crave to see the jaw-dropping views from the top. OK well, Belford isn’t a University, but it’s still part of the range!

When choosing which 14er you want to summit, it’s very important to plan and study your route. Having a strong understanding of what your chosen route looks like on a map helps prepare you for different parts of the trail. 14ers.com is a great site that has current information on trail conditions, elevation gain, length of each hike, printable maps, and even includes comments from hikers that have done each hike with their reviews. All Trails is a great app to use as well, but be sure to download the route and trail prior to getting started so there is no chance that you’ll lose the map because of lost cell service when you’re on the trail.

Always be prepared for changing weather. Depending on where you live, you are most likely going to experience a drastic change in elevation when coming to Colorado. A change in elevation means a definite change in temperature and weather. You could get lucky at the base of the trail with warm weather, but we can promise you the temps at the top are not nearly as warm. Make sure you are prepared with synthetic layers in your backpack to keep you dry. We highly recommend wearing something like a Melanzana to protect you from the weather. Check out some awesome layers that we recommend here.

Temperature fluctuation isn’t the only factor when considering weather- thunderstorms and lighting often occur in the summertime. It’s not uncommon for the day to start off with blue skies, but in a matter of minutes, that blue sky can turn very dark and ominous. Be mindful that if a thunderstorm comes along when you are hiking above treeline, you will be sticking out like a literal lightning rod. Keep an eye on the sky during your summit – be smart and head back to the trail head if the sky looks threatening. The mountain will be there for your ascent another day.

Wear appropriate clothing. Close toed shoes with ankle support is the best kind of shoe you can wear. Merrell and Columbia have great hiking boot options that will provide support and comfort as you make your trek to the mountain top. Although not required, it’s helpful to hike with trekking poles to maintain balance and they provide that extra push when climbing up steep terrain and are helpful when navigating across rubble and loose rocks, or even snow fields. Black Diamond makes durable trekking poles that we recommend.

Once you start hiking above treeline, you lose all shade to protect you from the sun’s intense rays. We recommend wearing a hat with a wide brim to protect your face, and definitely wear sunscreen even if there are clouds. Remember, you are gaining elevation, and essentially getting closer to the sun with very little atmosphere to filter those rays.

Bring a first aid kit. It’s always good to be prepared! Summiting a 14,000 ft mountain is challenging, and you wouldn’t want to be in a bad situation without any sort of aid. From blisters to a headache to a twisted ankle, you want to be prepared for anything. 

Start early! When we say early, we mean start before the sun even comes up. You don’t want to be on the summit after noon, as that is when weather often changes quickly and it’s essential to be off a high summit at that time. If you’re planning on hiking a 14er that’s far from where you are staying, think about camping at the trailhead so you can be sure to get up and get started before the sun rises. Make sure to check trail rules about this as each trail is different and may or may not allow camping at the base. This is where planning ahead comes into play!

Eat a nutritious breakfast. You will be expending a lot of energy on this hike. This is a perfect time to consume complex carbs along with protein and fats to give your body as many nutrients as you can. Stop along the way to refuel and indulge in snacks. Bringing snacks on the hike up is a key element that will ensure that the energy you are exerting is being restored by nutrition. Ensuring that the group you’re hiking with is feeling good, staying hydrated, and refueling with snacks is a great way to ensure your whole group is in good shape to finish the hike. Here are some of our favorite snack options

Stay well hydrated. Try to drink a liter of water before even starting your hike. As a rule of thumb, you should be drinking 1 liter for every 2 hours of hiking. If this is your first attempt at bagging a 14er, it will probably take you 3-6 hours to complete your hike. We recommend bringing 2-3 liters in a bladder such as a Camelback. Don’t expect to re-fill your water bottle along the route, there are parasites in the streams that will make you sick if you don’t treat it before drinking. You can bring water filtration along (a good idea in any case) but don’t count on it as some routes can be dry.

The last thing we suggest when hiking a 14er, is to push past your mental limitations!. We’ll admit it – the first part of the hike is going to be challenging. It’s going to be steep and your mind might focus on the larger goal. Take it one step at a time, you CAN do it, and it will get easier if you push yourself. Encourage your hiking buddies when they’re feeling defeated, and you’ll feel inspired to keep trekking as well. Choosing your hiking partners wisely is also important – those that are rational, prepared, experienced, and upbeat are the best!

Enjoy reaching the summit- you’re on top of the world! Give yourself some time to enjoy the views, and take lots of photos. Locals sometimes like to bring a sign that has the name of the 14er on it with it’s elevation so you can snap a photo at the top with a proud smile showing which mountain you successfully summited – just be sure to pack it out with you, as you do with everything you take on the mountain. Leave no trace is the motto. 

We hope this guide to hiking a 14er helps get you prepared for a fun, exciting, and tremendous achievement. If you’re planning on visiting Buena Vista and have a knack for hiking, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to summit one of the beautiful Collegiate Peaks. The views will last a lifetime. Happy hiking!


The Ultimate Bachelorette or Bachelor Party in Buena Vista, CO

Congratulations- you’re getting married! The venue’s been reserved, the cake’s been tasted, and the photographer’s been booked. But what are you planning on doing for your final fling before the ring? Let us answer that for you. You’re going to gather your besties and plan a bachelorette or bachelor adventure in Buena Vista, Colorado!

Whether your bridesmaids or groomsmen have known each other forever, or they’re just coming together to celebrate your nuptials for the first time, nothing creates memories quite like a unique, fun, and exciting adventure! Located a beautiful drive 70 minutes south of Breckenridge on the Arkansas River, and among the Collegiate Peaks, Buena Vista will cover all your dream trip experiences. There is so much to offer in Buena Vista – from exciting outdoor adventures, to relaxing natural hot springs, having your bachelorette or bachelor party in Buena Vista will be a unique and memorable getaway that will be sure to last a lifetime! Here are a few ways you can celebrate the transition to becoming Mr. or Ms. Right:

Whitewater Rafting

From calm floats to extreme expert trips, Kodi Rafting has something thrilling for everyone. We love hosting Bachelor and Bachelorette parties for a fun day on the water, as our group trips are in high demand. Our most popular trip, Browns Canyon, starts from Buena Vista and is a class III adventure. A couple-hour rafting trip is a great way for your wedding party to bond, and getting photos of your wedding party going through the rapids will be a memory that will bring smiles to everyone’s face and tales of that one groomsman who took a swim. Let us know ahead of time you’re celebrating your bachelorette or bachelor party, and we’ll be sure to make it memorable. Once you’ve decided on which trip is best for your group, make sure to read our other blog post about what to wear when white water rafting to get your wedding party prepared for a great day on the water.

Horseback Riding

Seeing the mountains from the seat of a saddle with the people in your life that mean the most, is bound to be a beautiful experience. A trip like The Saddle Paddle sets you up for double the fun pairing a morning whitewater rafting trip with an afternoon of horseback riding in the Rockies. This trip is the perfect way to optimize an adventurous bachelor or bachelorette party while also crossing off two unforgettable experiences in one day. Whether your friends have prior experience riding a horse or not, we have multiple horses to saddle up on, and the horse wranglers help you choose the right horse.

Zip-lining

Check out our dual whitewater rafting and zipping trip to experience the mountains in a variety of ways. This whitewater classic offers unbelievable Rocky Mountain scenery, class III rapids, and calm water perfect for a relaxing float after your thrilling day. After your rafting experience, the shuttle will bring you back to the Arkansas River Outpost – a beautiful drive in view of several towering 14,000-foot peaks.

Breweries & Distilleries

Nothing says “bachelorette” or “bachelor” party like a stop at a brewery or distillery for celebratory toasts! In Buena Vista, Eddyline Brewery was founded to heighten life’s adventures by providing amazing wood-fired cuisine, the most drinkable craft beers, and warm and inviting atmospheres where you can celebrate, reflect on, and plan your next life adventure. With delicious brews, tasty appetizers, and mouth-watering BBQ, we highly recommend taking your party here for a bite to eat for lunch or dinner. If your party enjoys whiskey, you absolutely need to check out Deerhammer Distillery. From their cornerstone single malt to new 4-grain bourbon and limited run single barrel spirits, they’ve redefined the flavor of American whiskey. And they mix up craft cocktails using their spirits that are delicious and memorable. Buena Vista has other great options for food around town, so you can definitely fill your day tasting and sipping the best, local dishes, and cocktails in town.

Drive-In Movie

Opening back up in Spring ’21, Comanche drive-in is nestled at the head of the Arkansas Valley, at an elevation of 8000 ft, surrounded by magnificent peaks. Take your friends here for a 4K digital clarity movie one night while you’re in town and pack a picnic (and some classy champagne in flutes!) with cheese and crackers for a night under the stars. Get there early enough to enjoy the sunset while surrounded by some monumental mountains.

Hot Springs

Whether the focus of your bachelorette or bachelor party is pampering the bride-to-be or having one last wild night on the town, be sure to check out the hot springs that are in or around Buena Vista. Cottonwood Hot Springs are restorative and relaxing with soaking pools, fed by natural artesian hot springs while being a little more hippie-esque. Mount Princeton Hot Springs is another nearby oasis, with the option of booking two days of hot springs included with an overnight stay in one of their cabins or lodge rooms – such a great idea for a wedding party! Last but certainly not least, The Merrifield Homestead Cabins & Hot Springs combine both tranquility of nature and rustic handcrafted luxury. All of these hot springs will bring you relaxation and rejuvenation leading up to your big day.


Classifications of Rapids for Whitewater Rafting in Colorado

Our whitewater rafting guests often ask us questions about river water depth, the kind of rapids they’ll be rafting through, and what the whole class system means as they prepare for their first or even 50th rafting adventure with us.  So we thought we’d bring some clarity to the question and give you an overview of rapids classifications for whitewater river rafting … and provide some expertise on the topic.

Factors in Rapids Classifications

Rapids and the classifications of whitewater vary due to different circumstances: water levels can be high or low depending on the amount of snowmelt and vary as weather conditions change. Our beautiful snowcapped Rocky Mountain peaks melt and flow into Colorado streams, rivers, and reservoirs starting in earnest in May, which is the start of the spring runoff. The start of rafting season usually kicks off in the middle of May as the weather warms up, and tends to max out the highest water flow throughout Colorado depending on altitude and distance from the deepest snow pack. In general, spring snowmelt brings higher water and higher levels of difficulty while running our rivers primarily because the water runs fast and furious, forcing quick decisions as river features change. Water levels fluctuate dramatically throughout the summer and our guides can even see differing conditions between a morning run and an afternoon trip when water levels are in a high state of flux.

What are Rapids Classifications?

Rapids themselves are graded on a class system starting at 1 and progressing to 6.  The higher up the scale they go, the more difficult and the more consequential the stretch of water will be. As an example, there are many variables that can change, either upgrading or downgrading the classification of a rapid. Rapid variables include water levels, objects, under

cut rocks, and strainers (like a log jam). Certain features within a river naturally are more difficult and make it more challenging to navigate. For example, Brown’s Canyon is less difficult to navigate than the Numbers section of the Arkansas River. This is why it’s so great to have an experienced raft guide to help you experience Colorado’s most beautiful areas safely. This, as well as having a great day of fun on the water, is what you experience when rafting with Kodi Rafting. Let’s explore the difference between each classification of whitewater in even more detail than is outlined on our website’s rapids classification page.

Class I is flat, easy moving current. Minimal moves, minimal difficulty. The most difficulty you experience on this level of river is navigating around bends and avoiding shallows, perhaps pulling into eddies. Think of this as a leisurely float down a river. Class I is about staying with the current and literally going with the flow.

Class II is moving current with slightly more difficulty and has specific moves that your raft guide needs to make in order to navigate the river efficiently. The difference between class I and II is the necessity to maneuver around objects or shallow sections. Class II is a moderate river trip and great for families. A bit more adventure and splashing without high anxiety. Join Kodi for class II trips on the Upper Colorado, Blue River, or Clear Creek for 1/2 day or full day trips.

Class III is a moderately difficult section of river, with slightly higher consequences, and with more difficult moves to be made by your raft guide. There is typically faster moving current than class I and class II, and there can be objects and things to avoid along your path. Some of these potential objects could impede your raft, or even flip you over if not navigated around properly. Class II, & III trips are your typical family trips with somewhat older or more adventurous family members. If you’d like to experience a higher level of family excitement, book our Arkansas 1/2 day or full day trip with Kodi at our Buena Vista location, or the Clear Creek Canyon trip departing from Idaho Springs to enjoy class III rapids.

Class IV is a difficult stretch of river. A class IV section has fun, fast and technical rapids. Standing waves, big rocks, turbulent water, and difficult features are all things you will find on Class IV river runs. These rapids are active: multiple objects, multiple variables and multiple moves involved in order to navigate safely. The Numbers of the Arkansas River, and Clear Creek are examples of exciting options Kodi offers to raft this kind of trip, for a high level of excitement and challenge.

Class V is for experts only. This is the most challenging level for a commercially rafted trip. Class V includes lots of maneuvering, with fast consequential moves. Teamwork, communication, coordination, and strong paddling are needed to safely navigate Class V sections of whitewater. These rapids can have large drops, violent currents, and extremely steep gradients – and loads of excitement!

Class VI is extraordinarily difficult or non-runnable sections of river. Rafters face extreme imminent danger. Think cliff drops, big rocks, and scary aspects of challenge. Class VI level rapids are never run commercially, and are often walked around by rafters to avoid them.

So whatever level of challenge, splashes, and excitement you desire, Kodi Rafting can deliver. From calm float trips to expert runs to go big, give us a call to book the rafting adventure that suits your family, group, or yourself!

Call to book your whitewater adventure with us today at 877-747-RAFT or book online here. See you on the river! 


KODI'S SAFETY RESPONSE TO COVID-19

We Focus on Safety for Your Raft Trip

We have added new procedures for our daily operations to put you at ease and make sure that we are doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of you, our guests and staff:

  • When booking, please let us know if you would like to reserve your own boat, keeping your group to just your travel companions. We understand that you may prefer to maintain additional social distancing measures and we will accommodate to the best of our ability so long as it does not compromise your safety on the river.
  • Please be prepared to cover your face on the bus or van ride. Face coverings will be available for a nominal fee. You are welcome to bring your own. Your guide will not be able to hold onto it for you while you are on the river.
  • Implementation of a digital waiver system so you can sign pre-trip documents before you arrive. Don't worry, if you forget we will also have tablets available for you as well and the option for you to use your own mobile device. A link to your waiver is found in your confirmation email.
  • Installation of new hand sanitizing stations throughout all of our facilities as well on buses and vans. We want you to feel like you can freshen up on the go.
  • Disinfect and clean KODI transportation. We have enough buses and vans to rotate them out of service each day to make sure your ride is fresh and clean before it is put back into service between trips. You will also be offered sanitizer before getting into a KODI vehicle.
  • Wiping down restrooms, door handles and booking counters between trip departures in addition to regular scheduled cleaning and maintenance.
  • As always, we continue to sanitize all of our gear after use including wet suits, helmets, PFD's (lifejackets!), splash jackets and river booties. Remember you are always welcome to wear your own rain jacket or shoes on the river as long as they lace or strap around the ankle (no crocs or flip flops).
  • Also, know that your raft and paddles have been properly cleaned before you use them on your trip!

*We are learning each day. Our efforts are self-implemented and like many of you, we are charting new territory. We will do our very best to make sure we are working to stay on top of new health and safety regulations as they apply to our operations in the coming weeks.

 


collegiate peaks scenic overlook

Your Perfect Weekend Exploring Buena Vista, Colorado

Just a couple hours’ drive from Denver, but a world away, lies one of our favorite little towns of Buena Vista, Colorado. The whitewater rafting capital of Colorado (BV as it’s known by locals), boasts three sections of the Arkansas River we love to raft including Big Bend, Browns Canyon, and the Numbers. Browns Canyon is one of our nation’s newest national monuments, designated by President Obama in February of 2015.

Read more river history in our 2-part series about Brown’s Canyon.
Part I  |  Part II  |  Brown's Canyon Official Website

Rafting and Adventures

First, make your reservation for your rafting adventure with Kodi Rafting. You’ll want to lock down your reservation for a half-day, full-day, or half-day rafting with ziplining, horseback riding or cycling adventure so you can fill in your other perfect weekend activities around the best activity in the valley. We especially like the zip and raft … zipline through the trees in the morning and raft the Arkansas during the warmest part of the afternoon. Want more insight? Call our specialists to pinpoint what will work best for your group at 877-747-RAFT (7238).

 

Camping and Lodging

Now that rafting is booked, where to stay? We love camping, and Buena Vista offers numerous campgrounds from a KOA to dispersed camping and everything in between. Camping Information

Not into sleeping outdoors? One of our favorite rustic lodges is right on the banks of the Arkansas River on 23 tree-covered acres, just one mile from downtown Buena Vista. The highly-rated Buena Vista Riverside Lodge at 30000 County Road 371 offers just 5 rustic-chic rooms, some with whirlpool tubs, which are great after a day on the river. This is the definition of local modern rustic Colorado with a communal game area, a fireplace with amazing views, and a complimentary house-made full breakfast daily from 8-9 AM.

 

Family friendly lodging in the Buena Vista valley with wildlife
Elk wanter through the valley. Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Riverside Lodge.

Sightseeing

Since the views in the BV valley at 8,000 feet are epic and surrounded by 14’ers (14,000+ foot peaks), we love to stop at the collegiate peaks scenic overlook. It’s a landmark pull over on Highway 24, ideal to take some great pictures, and marvel at the majesty of Mt. Princeton and the whole mountain range.

Another fun drive is along the Arkansas River, turning at the put-in for the Numbers section of the river. Cross over the river and drive south along the narrow road. You are very likely to see wildlife, and the stone tunnels will remind you of Road Runner and Wile E Coyote. This is classic Colorado, we hope they never “improve” this road.

 

Quenching Your Hunger and Thirst

We have our favorites and although small, Buena Vista has some fun little places to get a drink and fill the belly! One of our favorites is the Deerhammer Distillery at 321 E Main Street. The cocktails are handcrafted and delicious. Deerhammer is known for the best Sloe Gin Fizz ever, and they distill single malts, bourbon, rye, limited run single barrel spirits including a clear whitewater whiskey that is infinitely drinkable. Get a cocktail, take the tour with said cocktail in hand, mingle with the raft guides and other colorful residents that frequent this local institution. And of course, take home a bottle with a couple of recipes to relive the experience at home after you enjoy their funky little patio.

Another local business focuses on craft brews and layers in the colorful tavern with food and draft beer at its two BV locations. Eddyline Brewery brews and cans their beer right on-site at the taproom location at 102 Linderman Avenue in the center of town. Their second location restaurant is at 926 South Main Street right along the Arkansas River and across from the Buena Vista Whitewater Park – which is an awesome place to watch some of the best kayakers practicing their skills in the new South Main Neighborhood development. Great eats include wood-fired pizzas, burgers, wild game sausage, and delicious salads.

great dining and beer in the Buena Vista valley
Colorful dining room, local art and the best brews in the valley. Photo courtesy of Eddyline Brewery.

 

In the mood for a marg? Try dinner at Casa Sanchez 3 at 314 Charles Street. Their guacamole is terrific, and pair perfectly with the natural margaritas mixed with actual lime juice. The pork dish is perfect to share and the shrimp tacos are a delicious, healthy alternative.

We also love the Simple Eatery at 402 E Main Street. They offer fresh ingredients, locally prepared and earned a coveted #1 restaurant rating on Trip Advisor. Try the beef stroganoff or chicken club sandwich or the bison ravioli with the sage cream sauce. Save room for the carrot-coconut cake! This is an “order at the counter” scene but don’t let that put you off, it gives the staff more time to prepare fresh food to order. Simple Eatery is co-located with spoon it up frozen yogurt and artisan bakery, so you know these folks are into food! They also have a patio for those nice days when you want to be outside.

Kick-Back Experiences

In the summer, we adore the funky little drive-in movie theater in the shadows of Mt. Princeton. The Comanche Drive-In plays first-run films in the middle of a field making for a great throwback experience. Just 3 miles west of BV on Highway 306, they are one of only 8 drive-in theaters remaining in Colorado (and one of only about 300 in the US), and notably at the highest elevation. Thinking back to those grainy films of the ’70s? Not the Comanche – they upgraded to new digital projection in August of 2018 and offer 4k digital clarity along with sound piped in through your car radio or your own portable through FM radio. Of course, popcorn and concessions are for sale – they take cash only, so be prepared! Get up to date film information on their Facebook page.

Our last recommendation for the truly perfect weekend in Buena Vista is to soak in our local hot springs for a soothing, healing, and massively relaxing experience. We love the Mt Princeton Hot Springs with their odorless hot springs bubbling out of the ground at 140F degrees. Open year-round, there are numerous choices spread around the manicured grounds of the resort. For a $25 day pass to the hot springs, you can choose from the relaxation pool, cascading hot springs, or the truly unique chalk creek hot springs where you dig down into the rocks to encourage the hot bubbles of healing to reach your body. Their full spa offers massage, facials, body treatments, and more pampering than you may have enjoyed in years. The resort also has 5 different lodges for accommodations … and is a favorite destination for everything from family reunions to weddings and bachelorette weekends.

Chalk Creek Hot Springs at the base of Mt Princeton
Chalk Creek Hot Springs, image courtesy of Mt Princeton Hot Springs Resort

Buena Vista adventures, experiences, and views are things movies, stories, and memories are made of. I was lucky enough to attend camp at the base of Mt Princeton when I was a kid and my experiences whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and hiking were memories I’ll never forget. It’s what brings visitors back time and again to this very special little Colorado valley.


Hiking the Colorado Trail? Take a Break in Buena Vista

There are many ways to enjoy The Colorado Trail, from a day hike or bike ride to a multi-day trip or end-to-end excursion beginning in either Denver or Durango.

With so many access points along the Colorado Trail, it can be hard to decide where to start, where to stop, or where to take a break.

At KODI Rafting, we think Buena Vista is a great place for all three! Roughly in the middle of the trail, Buena Vista offers an excellent basecamp, break, or exit because there's so much to do here. From soaking in one of several hot springs to grabbing a bite to eat at any of the town's top-rated restaurants, Buena Vista has it all.

Some really neat things to do in Buena Vista include but are not limited to:

  • Rafting the Arkansas River through Browns Canyon National Monument
  • Soaking in hot springs
  • Hiking and mountain biking
  • Seeing live music at one of several world-class venues
  • Eating along Main Street at a delicious food truck
  • Shopping stores filled with locally crafted goods
  • Zip lining
  • Horseback riding
  • Enjoying a weekend festival like the Rapids & Grass Beer Festival or Gold Rush Days

What better way to begin your Buena Vista adventure than with KODI Rafting? Sure, we can hook you up with a stellar raft trip, but we can also arrange your mountain bike ride, your hot spring soak, or your zip line adventure.

Whether you're starting your Colorado Trail hike, ending it, or just taking a break, KODI Rafting is your source for Buena Vista adventure.


A River Rafting Road Trip

Want to create the ultimate rafting experience? How about a rafting road trip? Hit multiple rivers, all offering unique rafting experiences in the following rafting loop.

It all starts in Denver, where you’ll head 30 miles west on I-70 and stop in the historic mining town of Idaho Springs.

Idaho Springs

In Idaho Springs, you'll raft Clear Creek either on a beginner, intermediate, or advanced raft trip. You’ll hit any range of rapids from class II to class IV. You’ll flow through a rugged, spectacular mountain canyon filled with granite boulders and towering pine trees and finish up with a float through historic Idaho Springs.

From Idaho Springs, continue heading west for 40 miles on I-70 until you hit Frisco, your next rafting stop.

Frisco

Frisco offers some very special rafting trips, including the Blue River Half Day Raft Trip and the Ten Mile Creek Half Day Raft trip. Each offers excellent white water, although Blue River is an early season run as it's dependent on snowpack.

From Frisco, head into the Arkansas River Valley and hit up Buena Vista. A beautiful 60 miles south of Frisco, Buena Vista offers some of the country’s best whitewater.

Buena Vista

From Buena Vista, there are several awesome raft trips to choose from, including KODI’s most popular raft trips through Browns Canyon National Monument. By this time, you might be ready to truly test your skills. If this is the case, you might want to consider KODI’s Numbers Raft Trips. These trips take you down the Numbers, a series of rapids so intense, they were numbered instead of named.

Now that your road trip is done, you can make the easy and scenic drive back to Denver along Hwy 285. However, if you’re not ready to call it quits there’s always KODI’s Kremmling office, where you can jump on the Upper Colorado River for a scenic float and gorgeous views.


The History of Browns Canyon National Monument: Part II

Friends of Browns Canyon, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, officially formed in 2003, with volunteers spending hundreds upon hundreds of hours in the field mapping and getting to know the area. Later that year, the 5th Congressional District’s Republican Rep. Joel Hefley had 10 areas in the district and could pick one to push forward as a wilderness.

With a Republican congressman as an ally, the Friends of Browns Canyon thought their wilderness proposal for Browns Canyon was all but passed. But the legislative process in Washington would prove to be more complicated.

The bill was drafted, introduced to Congress in November 2005, and was passed favorably to the House Committee on Natural Resources. However, this is where the bill died because the NRA opposed the closure of the Turret Trail, which maintains access for hunters.

The Friends of Browns Canyon created a board of directors for the first time in 2012 and hired their first executive director. That year, Senator Udall proposed taking a different approach by pursuing a national monument for Browns Canyon. It would designate 22,000 acres for the national monument, 10,500 of which would be wilderness.

At the end of 2013, Udall introduced the Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act of 2013 in the Senate. In mid-2014, the U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee held a hearing on the bill. But the bill went no further in the Senate.

Along with Sen. Michael Bennet, who co-sponsored Udall’s bill, Udall urged President Barack Obama to consider using the Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon a national monument, sidestepping the congressional route that had failed for the last decade to bring the project full circle.

White House officials reported Feb. 18 that the president would use the Antiquities Act to declare Browns Canyon a National Monument. And sure enough, the next day


The History of Browns Canyon National Monument: Part I

Browns Canyon National Monument provides ample year-round recreation opportunities for sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts.

The most popular stretch of whitewater river in the country runs through Browns Canyon, where commercial rafting companies offer a variety of float trips. The monument also protects important habitat for bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer and many other wildlife species. The monument’s multi-use trail system accommodates hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers, while the Arkansas River in Browns Canyon is part of a 102-mile Gold Medal trout fishery.

While many of us in the Arkansas River Valley can’t imagine not having Browns Canyon National Monument outside our back door, it was a designation that was hard fought and almost didn’t happen at all.

In 1976, Congress instituted the Federal Land Management Policy Act (FLPMA), an act that directed the Bureau of Land Management to review its land for best management practices and gave the BLM direction to manage resources. FLPMA was the first initiative that said the area in the heart of Browns Canyon, which wasn’t a wilderness study area yet, had wilderness characteristics.

From the late 1970s into the 1980s, Browns Canyon was further inventoried for wilderness characteristics, and in 1980, the BLM reached the decision that 6,614 acres of Browns Canyon did qualify as a wilderness study area and purchased nearly 150 additional acres to add to the original recommendation after an intensive inventory of the area. Inventorying of Browns Canyon continued through the ’80s. A 1991 BLM Wilderness Study Report officially recommended the Browns Canyon WSA for wilderness designation.

Around this time, a handful of advocates began the hard work of turning Browns Canyon into a dedicated wilderness. These were non-paid volunteers who, for the first 10 years, operated on less than $1,000 a year. Their goal was to create a wilderness area east of the Arkansas River with the Browns Canyon Wilderness Study Area at its heart.

Continued in Part II…