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About the Area
The Salida Ranger District is part of the Pike-San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands near the towns of Salida, Buena Vista, and Poncha Springs. The district manages more than 440,000 acres in central Colorado. It's an outdoor recreation paradise with seven 14,000-foot peaks "fourteeners" (Harvard, Tabeguache, Yale, Columbia, Shavano, Princeton, Antero), three wilderness areas (Buffalo Peaks, Collegiate Peaks, Sangre De Cristo), and Browns Canyon National Monument.
The Forest Service manages most of the higher elevation areas, while the Arkansas River corridor is managed by Colorado State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management. The Arkansas River is one of the nation's most popular rivers for whitewater rafting and kayaking. It's also a designated "gold medal" trout fishing river. For fishing & hunting licenses or off-highway-vehicle (OHV) licenses, please contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The majority of the Salida Ranger District is located within Chaffee County. Nearly 80% of Chaffee County lands are public lands. (Small portions of the district are also located in Fremont, Saguache, and Park Counties.)
The northern Salida Ranger District boundary is just north of the town of Buena Vista. Trout Creek Pass on Highway 24 is an eastern boundary. Poncha Pass (9,015 feet) on Highway 285 is a southern boundary. Monarch Pass (11,386 feet) on Highway 50 marks a western boundary.
The area is sometimes referred to as the "banana belt of Colorado" because of the generally mild temperatures and sunny days. Springtime can be deceptive with sporadic spring snowstorms occurring from March to May; afternoon thundershowers are common during July and August, especially in the mountains; and the fall months are generally dry and sunny.
Salida weather information (click on the map for info about the surrounding higher elevation areas).