Salida Ranger District


The Salida Ranger District is part of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests. The district encompasses over 440,000 acres of public lands and is located in the central part of Colorado near the towns of Salida, Buena Vista and Poncha Springs. Visitors can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, 4-wheeling and camping surrounded by towering peaks that rise above the valley floor. The Arkansas River flows through the valley and is one of Colorado's premiere whitewater rafting areas.


Elevations in the Upper Arkansas River valley vary from 7,000 to over 14,000 feet. Temperatures vary throughout the year from the low teens in the winter to the 80's during the summer months. The valley is known locally 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. During the summer months, days are warm with cool nights. Afternoon thundershowers are common during July and August. The fall months are are generally dry and sunny with cooler morning temperatures.

District boundaries encompass a portion of the Sangre de Cristo mountains west to the Continental Divide and Monarch Pass ( 11,386 feet) and south to Poncha Pass (9,015 feet). The northern boundary stops north of Buena Vista and splits the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area between the Salida and Leadville Ranger Districts. The eastern boundary of the District is situated northeast of Salida and meanders north towards Trout Creek Pass.

Our new office is located at 5575 Cleora Road in Salida and is open Mon-Fri, 8-4:30. Our phone number is 719-539-3591.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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Camping & Cabins

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Cabin Rentals

Areas for Cabin Rentals at Salida Ranger District

Dispersed Camping

 Camping is not permitted trailheads.

  • Camp in an existing dispersed campsite, do not create new roads or campsites. Use one way in and out to reduce disturbance of soil and vegetation. DO NOT CAUSE RESOURCE DAMAGE

  • Limit parking to bare and compacted areas. Keep motorized vehicles within one vehicle length from a designated system road or trail. Make no new tracks in campsites.

  • Camp 150 feet away from lakes, streams and trails. Dispose of wash water 100 feet away from any water source. Bury human waste in a hole 6 inches deep and 200 feet away from any water source, trail, or campsite. A portable toilet system is highly recommended. Pack out toilet paper, tampons, and leftover food.  LEAVE NO TRACE.  For more information on Leave No Trace guidelines, visit:

Do not damage live trees and plants by cutting them with axes or hatchets. Don’t dig up plants, leave wildflowers for others to enjoy – don’t pick them

  • Please stay on the trails. Cutting switchbacks and avoiding wet and muddy sections can cause severe erosion and multiple paths. Alpine tundra is very susceptible to damage. Walk on durable routes of rock or talus. In the spring, travel on snow and rocks, or plan your trip during drier conditions.

Be a responsible pet owner, dogs must be leashed (36 CFR 261.8 d) and cleanup after your pet!

  • Secure pack animals 200 feet away from lakes, streams, and trails. A picket line is less damaging to trees than direct tying. Move stock often when picketing to prevent resource damage. You must follow Weed-Free forage guidelines for National Forests Grasslands in the Rocky Mountain Region.

If you choose to have a campfire, consider the following:

  • Keep it small in size and limit it to evening and early morning hours when the heat is most needed.

  • Build your fire in an existing fire ring that is at least 100 feet from water. Do not build new fire rings.

  • Avoid having fires above tree-line. Removing dead wood from Krummholz (dwarf trees near timberline) affects their survival.

  • Collection of dead and down wood for immediate campfire use is allowed except for posted sites.

Remember to put out your campfire DEAD-OUT!!

Pour water on the fire to drown ALL embers until hissing stops. Stir ashes with a shovel and scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers. Continue adding water and stirring until all material is cold to the touch.       

Areas for Dispersed Camping at Salida Ranger District

Group Camping

Areas for Group Camping at Salida Ranger District

RV Camping

Areas for RV Camping at Salida Ranger District

Campground Camping

The Salida Ranger District offers 14 semi-primitive campgrounds with picnic tables, fire pits, vault toilets and tent pads (in selected sites). There are no electric or water hookups available for RV's or trailers and no shower or bathing facilities are provided. These facilities are operated and maintained by the concessionaire Rocky Mountain Recreation Company ( under a special uses permit from the United States Forest Service.

Reservations can be made at some facilities, while other facilities are first come first served only. For more information on making campsite reservations visit the National Recreation Reservations System at .Or call 1-877-444-6777.

Reservations CANNOT be made at the Salida Ranger District office. The campgrounds and campground hosts cannot be contacted directly.

 For other camping options check out the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau’s website at  to locate privately operated campgrounds and RV Parks in the area.

Areas for Campground Camping at Salida Ranger District


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Horse Riding & Camping

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Nature Viewing

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OHV Riding & Camping

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Other Activities

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Outdoor Learning

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Rocks & Minerals

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Winter Sports

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