This Small Colorado Town Is Big on Outdoor Adventure — With Hot Springs, River Rafting, and Mountain Views

The positively charming Colorado town of Buena Vista is an outdoor lover’s dream.

Buena Vista, Colorado more than lives up to its name. The positively tiny and utterly charming small town, located just over a two-hour drive south of Denver, is an outdoor lover’s dream. Its verdant valleys, mountain peaks, and flowing rivers make it an ideal spot to escape the grind in exchange for some time with Mother Nature. Here’s what you need to know to plan a trip to this delightful community that certainly has more than its fair share of good views. 

Related: 10 Best Colorado Towns for a Summer Vacation, According to a Local

Wide view of downtown Buena Vista, Colorado

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When to Visit Buena Vista, Colorado

As a semi-arid region in Colorado, the temperatures in Buena Vista can swing wildly throughout the year. According to WeatherSpark, its summer season lasts from early June to mid-September, when the average daily temperature hits about 70°F. Those looking to really feel the heat should visit in July when the daily average temperature hits 79°F. In contrast, Buena Vista’s winters can get downright bitter. The town’s cold season lasts from late November to March when the average high only hits 45°F. That said, the cold season can be a rather good time to visit for snow-filled adventures, including dog sledding, snowmobiling, and skiing at nearby mountains

An yellow river raft sits empty on the side of the Arkansas River in Buena Vista, Colorado.

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Things to Do in Buena Vista, Colorado

Relax in the hot springs.

Visitors to Buena Vista can unwind at Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa, both a lodging option and a public hot spring destination. The waters here hover between a warm 94°F to a toasty 110°F. The inn opens its various springs for soaking every day between 8 a.m. for the early birds to midnight for the night owls. Visitors can also make use of the inn’s dry saunas for the full experience. 

Take a hike.

Buena Vista has plenty of gorgeous outdoor places to explore, with miles of hiking trails all around. Those looking to experience the best can make their way up Huron Peak via North Huron Trail, the top-rated hike in the region according to AllTrails. The 6.5-mile out-and-back hike can be a challenging one, but those who take their time and get to the top will be rewarded with views of emerald green trees, glittering lakes, and rolling hills that disappear into the horizon. However, this is far from the only hiking option nearby. Those looking for shorter hikes or different views have plenty of options.  

Paddle the rapids.

The town sits along the Arkansas River, providing visitors with plenty of opportunities to get on the water for a little rafting fun. Everyone from first-timers to seasoned pros can go on a guided journey with outfitters like Kodi, which takes guests on everything from half-day trips to Browns Canyon National Monument to overnight trips to combine the best of rafting and camping. 

And in the winter, hit the mountains.

Those planning a visit to Buena Vista in the winter months can enjoy plenty of outdoor time by visiting one of the nearby mountains. Choose an equally charming spot like Monarch Mountain, which comes with 800 skiable acres across 59 trails located just a 40-minute drive outside of town. 

Snow covered Collegiate Peaks mountains near Buena Vista, Colorado

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Where to Stay in Buena Vista, Colorado

The Inn

Find yourself in the heart of town with a stay at The Inn, a 13-room boutique hotel housed inside a refurbished building from the 1800s. Each room has its own unique flare thanks to a mix of modern and antique decor, while its oak floors and 100-year-old brick walls remind you of its storied past. 

Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa

Can’t get enough of those hot springs? Book a few nights at the Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa. Guests can choose to book its private rooms or go no-frills by staying in its dorms. But again, the star of the show here is the hot springs, and by staying on-site, guests have easy access to their favorite soaking spot. 

Good View Campground

Buena Vista’s natural landscapes are just too inviting to want to leave. If you simply cannot part with the great outdoors, even for a moment, then book a few nights at the Good View Campground. The riverside spot has potable well water and port-o-potties available, and it's also a perfect spot to watch stunning sunrises and sunsets.  

Surf Hotel

Find another lovely boutique accommodation at the Surf Hotel. The high-design spot comes with chic rooms with fluffy white beds set off by rich, forest-green walls. The hotel also has an in-house restaurant, Wesley & Rose, serving everything from fresh salads to Colorado lamb pops.

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