page contents

Why Buena Vista, Colorado rocks

This post may contain affiliate links.

Best small town in Colorado

So. Much. To. Do. in this wonderful little mountain town known as Buena Vista, Colorado.

Nestled in the Collegiate Peaks, play in the Arkansas River, take a hike, shop the rejuvenated Main Street, eat delicious food at every corner, try new libations, sleep in fresh mountain air - and we've only just scratched the surface. 

Read below to see why your family should make Buena Vista your next adventurous family vacation destination.


White water rafting on the Arkansas River

My preferred way to play along the Arkansas River is white water rafting with Noah's Ark Whitewater Rafting and Adventure Company. Noah's Ark offers rafting adventures for newbies and thrill seekers. 

One of Colorado’s largest and most experienced whitewater rafting and adventure companies, they also offer rock climbing, backpacking trips, and an aerial adventure park. We've had multiple fantastic experiences with Noah's Ark.



The Arkansas River runs right through the heart of Buena Vista. We happened upon the awesome, daring Kellogg family from the Kellogg Show! They were practicing their kayaking skills in Buena Vista's Whitewater Park. So cool.

The Buena Vista Whitewater Park near South Main Street consists of 5 main whitewater structures and various eddy and trail improvements.  This whitewater park is running towards the top of the list when it comes to premier whitewater parks in Colorado. 

Rent kayaks and SUPs from CKS Main Street in Buena Vista.



Slip on your hiking boots and head out on any of the designated trails in the Browns Canyon Wilderness Study Area. You can download a map here.  

Wanna go for a fourteener? Mt. Princeton and Mt. Elbert are here for your taking.  If you've never hiked a fourteener before, download these 14 Tips for 14er fun from the Chaffee County Search and Rescue. Check out more hikes in the surrounding area on a mobile app like the Hiking Project.


Biking in and around Buena Vista looks good for all ages and all ability levels. Bike around town with your little tykes or hop on a mountain bike with the big kids.

Cruiser rides, road rides, mountain bike rides, and fat tire bike rides are all possibilities in this area.  Each day, you could ride a different bike on a different trail.

Visit Boneshaker Cycles, where they offer a full range of bicycles and their down-to-earth staff will help you find the right bike for the right ride.

The MTB Project is a helpful mobile app that offers a detailed look at all kinds of rides.


With names like Bob's Rock, Turtle Rock, Chicken Runner, and the Chocolate Tower, climbing options abound, all within a few miles of town.  From beginners to expert climbers, there is enough granite to cling to for everyone, plus gorgeous views to boot.

Need advice? Start by talking with the guys and gals at The Trailhead.  

Buena Vista, Colorado rocks for family vacations! Adventurous things to do in this lively, rejuvenated mountain town. Play, eat, drink, shop and stay along the Arkansas River. Whitewater thrills, hiking, biking, fishing, climbing, and more await you in this sweet area of the Rocky Mountains.


Some of the best fishing in all of Colorado is found here along the Arkansas River.  Fly-fishing enthusiasts come here from all over.  Here's an interactive map of numerous fishing options all around Buena Vista.

Visit Ark Anglers in Buena Vista for Fly Fishing 101.




Skiing & Snowboarding at Monarch Ski Resort

Our favorite family friendly ski resort that won't drain your wallet dry is Monarch Ski Resort. An easy 40 minute drive from Buena Vista, this ski park  offers lots of ski runs for all abilities, yet it's quaint enough to not lose each other for the entire day should you get separated on a run. 

Looking for rentals? Check out long time favorite Mount Shavano Ski Rental, just a few minutes before Monarch.  These guys will set you up right.

Take a scenic drive up to Independence Pass

Looking for fantastic views? Drive up to Independence Pass. A breath-taking drive through the fun little mountain town of Twin Lakes and on the way to Aspen, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at 12,095 feet atop the Continental Divide.

Take the pass all the way to Aspen for heart-stopping turns and gorgeous views, followed by an ice cream treat in town. Independence Pass is only open Memorial Day until November 1. Know before you go about closures, trailer restrictions, and road conditions by going here. 



The Trailhead

With #GoThereStartHere as there motto, this locally owned and run outdoor gear store is right on Main Street. The Trailhead's knowledgeable, experienced staff will help you find the gear you need and offer tips for local rock climbing, hiking, camping, running, skiing, and snowshoeing. 

Rock Paper Scissors  

This sweet little artisan boutique offers beautiful notecards, jewelry, ceramics, antiques, and more. Sits across the road from the Trailhead on Main Street.

The Village

A super fun, colorful shop that sells fair trade, hand-made, eco-friendly home decor. Peek in the windows once, and you'll have to go in.  Amazing gifts for friends, family or yourself.

Local Farmer's Market

Every Friday 3-7 p.m. June to October, discover fresh local food, arts and crafts, live music, and fun for the whole family in the South Main Town Square. 

Sundance & Friends

We actually met the artistic patriarch of The Moore Family Folk Art in Aspen, but his pop bottle cap art is found all over Colorado and beyond.  Check out his masterpieces and more at Sundance & Friends on South Main in Buena Vista.


Eat, drink, and be merry

The Lariat

A favorite music venue, bar, and restaurant in a historic 1885 building on Main Street, the Lariat boasts "Great eats, libations, and mountain made music." 

Louie's Ice Cream Shoppe

With my favorite flavor "Sleepless" (expresso), this joint has a family friendly outdoor space to boot.  Five star ice cream to the right of the Village on Main Street.

The Bearded Lady Food Truck

A local told us this green truck offers the best empanadas and burritos around.  Open seasonally, they serve up breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Eddyline Brewery

Along South Main, this family-friendly brew pub makes delicious wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and grilled entrees.  Throw in award top ales and lagers, plus a full wine list, and your evening is made.

K's Dairy Delight

Along Highway 24, this walk up burger and ice cream shack is a hit with the kids.  

Loback's Bakery

Satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade cookies, cheap by the dozen and the "best donuts this side of the eclipse."

Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar

Found in the historic 1880s jailhouse in Buena Vista, this little place showcases 10 rotating taps of craft beers from across Colorado, the United States, and abroad, plus bottles, cans, and wine. Stop here for a warm-up.

Brown Dog Coffee

We always stop at this little coffee shop along Highway 24 when we pop into town coming from Colorado Springs. Specialty roasted coffees, smoothies, brownies, pastries, and more.



We actually loved camping nearby just above Twin Lakes in a campground called Twin Peaks. But it's only open Memorial Weekend through Labor Day weekend. 

Below are some other lodging options you may want to check out, plus the Chamber of Commerce has a full list here:

Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort

A Riverhouse Lodge

Vacation home rentals

Trail West - a Young Life family camp

Looking for an all-inclusive, completely planned, adventure-filled week in Colorado? Read why we loved it here: Trail West - a Young Life family camp.

Note: Located just 20 minutes up from Buena Vista's Main Street, sometimes Trail West has a chalet or two available for vacation rental


Our favorite little mountain town in all of Colorado

Buena Vista. Go there once and chances are, you'll be back.  Winter, spring, summer, and fall, Buena Vista offers something for everyone.

Visit Buena Vista's Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center for more ways to play and stay in this rockin' Colorado mountain town! They provide a free visitor and relocation guide.  See why they claim Buena Vista is "8,000 feet above average."

Buena Vista PIN why BV rocks.jpg