Salida, Colorado is an amazing winter destination. Not only are you sure to be dazzled by the endless vistas of picture-perfect scenery, but you’ll have a great variety of winter activities from which you can choose. There are things to do for visitors of all ages so there’s no need to worry that anyone in your group will have to miss out on any fun. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite winter activities in Salida, so you can start planning your vacation accordingly. While you’ll be hard-pressed to tackle everything on our list, it’s a great starting point for enjoying all that the area has to offer during the colder months.
Skiing and Snowboarding at Monarch Mountain
Unlike the major ski resorts in Colorado, Monarch Mountain doesn’t engage in any snowmaking and instead relies solely on natural snow for the slopes. Depending on Mother Nature can mean that, from time to time, Opening and Closing Days don’t happen exactly as planned. Typically, though, the resort opens around Thanksgiving and closes in early April. The resort receives an average of 350 inches of snow every year and it has 800 skiable acres with 64 runs. There’s a good mix of runs for every level of skier or rider as about half of them are rated either advanced or expert and the other half as beginner to intermediate.
One of the biggest draws of Monarch Mountain is its relaxed atmosphere. Most of the time, lift lines are extremely short and the slopes don’t get too crowded. You can park your car and be at the lifts in just minutes. Even better, lift tickets are more affordable than the major resorts.
If you’re looking for an experience that’s off the beaten path, consider taking a Cat Skiing excursion at Monarch. With over 1,600 acres of expert terrain, you’re sure to enjoy an unforgettable experience. This special season begins at the end of December and continues until late April. If you opt to take a Cat Skiing trip, you’ll start the day at the Cat Skiing Yurt for orientation and then head up the top on the Breezeway Lift where you’ll meet your Snowcat. Then you can explore as many glades, bowls, and chutes that you’d like. Your day in the backcountry also includes lunch and a beer at the end of the day.
Another great option for exploring the backcountry around Salida is to take a snowmobile tour. With a snowmobile tour, you’ll have the opportunity to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time. Monarch Snowmobile Tours offers five tour options, which range in length from two to five hours. We love the Local’s Favorite Tour which takes you to three of the area’s historic gold and silver mines and two quarries. You’ll get to enjoy some stunning views from over 11,000 feet in elevation and you’ll get lunch, too! All Season Rentals is another great option if you’re interested in taking a guided snowmobile tour. Their tours last from two to three hours and take you along the Continental Divide for some incredible scenery and a heart-pounding ride.
Dog Sled Rides
Most visitors to the Salida area don’t realize that there’s even the possibility of taking a dog sled ride while they’re here, but dog sled tours are available! With Monarch Dog Sled Rides, you can take daytime or nighttime tours with your own team of dogs. Both of these tours last a little over an hour and give you the opportunity to meet all the dogs, learn how to harness them, and discover more about the sport of mushing. We highly recommend the Moonlight/Starlight Tour, which is typically available from December through April. It gives you a great chance to experience the forest at night, which is both an exhilarating yet serene experience.
For a more personal, peaceful experience in the backcountry, head out on snowshoes. There are a lot of great trails in the area and you can read more about a few of our favorites in our Best Snowshoe Trails article. We love snowshoeing because it provides an intimate look at the area’s natural beauty. When you’re snowshoeing, you get to see a different side of the forest and the mountains. So even if you’ve hiked a trail a hundred times, it’s going to provide a brand new experience if you choose to tackle it with snowshoes. You can find snowshoes for rent at Salida Mountain Sports and Mt. Shavano Ski and Snowboard Shop.
You’ll find about a dozen cross-country skiing trails throughout the valley. Cross-country skiing provides another awesome opportunity to immerse yourself in the backcountry and get an amazing workout, too. One of our favorite areas for cross-country skiing is Old Monarch Pass Road. It’s only a short drive from Creekside Chalets and Cabins, plus it’s incredibly scenic. If you’re looking for more trail options, any of the seasoned pros at local rental shops can point you toward a trail that will be perfect for you.
A trip to the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center is sure to be rejuvenating especially if you’ve spent the day conquering the backcountry. The center has two pools and it’s also the largest indoor hot springs in the country. Pool temperatures range from 84 to 86 degrees for the lap pool and 97 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the smaller leisure pool. European-style private soaking pools are available as well and reservations are recommended. All of the water in these pools is piped in eight miles from high in the mountains. Unlike many hot springs pools, the water in these pools is odorless.
Fat Bike Guided Ride
Just because there’s snow on the ground it doesn’t mean that bicycle riding is off the itinerary. At Absolute Bikes Adventures, you’ll have your choice of several guided rides through the high country using their fat tire mountain bikes. Depending on whether you opt for one of their tours or customize your own, your fat biking riding experience can last from one to five hours and cover up to 30 miles. They’re best suited for intermediate to advanced riders and there’s a two-person minimum.
Book Your Winter Lodging Today
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what you’ll be doing during your Salida winter vacation, it’s the perfect time to book your lodging! Creekside Chalets and Cabins has one- to three-bedroom cabins, each of which has its own private outdoor hot tub. You can check out all of our properties, look at availability, and book online. Or, if you have any questions about our properties or other great winter activities in the area, feel free to give us a call at (719) 539-6953. We look forward to speaking with you!