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Things to do

There is much to do and see in Fourteener Country. The avid outdoorsman will marvel at the abundance and quality of the areas outdoor recreational opportunities. Those wanting a special, relaxing mountain escape will be in awe of the beauty this area offers. One can take a leisurely drive through the mountains on one of the Scenic Byways; see old mines and sparkling reservoirs, peaceful roads lined with history and beauty to take your breath away. Historic districts and ghost towns dot the landscape by the fistful. There are museums, scenic trains, hot springs, wildlife viewing, shopping and more. Below you’ll find information and listings to help you design the perfect sight-seeing trip to the Central Colorado Mountains.

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The tale of Alpine is one of buried treasure worthy of the storybooks. Legend tells of a band of Spanish gold-seekers passing through the rough countryside when Native Americans still had possession o...  Details

Apple Fest in Buena Vista

Apple Fest is a festival celebrating the historic Turner Farm and its century-old apple orchard. The event offers a taste of an old-fashioned fair with activities designed for all ages.  Apple Fe...  Details

ATV'ing in Chaffee County Colorado

ATV Historical Color Tour

ATV Historical Color Tour is held in areas around Buena Vista each September.  Participants of this fall 4 x 4 all terrain vehicle rally and mountain festival will visit the area's old mining...  Details

The Autumn Color Run in Buena Vista, CO

Autumn Color Run in Buena Vista

The Autumn Color Run is held in Buena Vista each year on the 3rd Saturday in September. The ACR features one of the most beautiful and popular Half Marathon routes in Colorado. The Half Marathon begin...  Details

Location of Banker Mine, Colorado

Banker Mine

Many mines have come and gone and sometimes come again over the years. Some have led to firmly established towns, but others have left only dilapidated buildings in their wake. In the latter category ...  Details

Dawson Cabin, Beaver City CO

Beaver City, Vicksburg, Rockdale / Silverdale, Winfield

As one would expect from a mining area that has experienced boom and bust, many ghost towns remain in central Colorado to remind us of the dreams and joys, disappointments and devastations of many a p...  Details

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Buena Vista Bike Fest

Buena Vista Bike Fest is held in May and offers fun for all. The century route is the cornerstone of the Buena Vista Bike Fest.   Shorter rides of 35, 50 & 62 mile routes are also a...  Details

Buena Vista Depot & Transportation Museum

The Buena Vista Depot is the only surviving railroad depot in Chaffee County.  The Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad arrived in Buena Vista in 1880.  The South Park Line, as it was c...  Details

Buena Vista Heritage Museum

The Buena Vista Heritage Museum shares the history of Buena Vista and Chaffee County.  The building was the second Chaffee County courthouse, dedicated in 1882.  By 1932, Salida had out-vote...  Details

Arkansas River at the Buena Vista River Park

Buena Vista River Park

The river park in Buena Vista has become one of the premier whitewater play parks in the Rocky Mountains. Funded by the town of BV and a Great Outdoors Colorado grant, the whitewater park is much more...  Details

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Burro Days in Fairplay

Burro Days in Fairplay is held during the last weekend in July.    Part of the Triple Crown Burro Racing, Fairplay provides the launch location of the first leg. Thousands participate in t...  Details

Chalk Cliffs located near Nathrop, CO

Chalk Creek and St. Elmo Drive

This scenic drive is one where you will enjoy thorough mountain experience for the entire day. The 10.6 mile drive from Nathrop to St. Elmo in Chaffee County has hot springs, hiking trails, roadside a...  Details

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Clear Creek Canyon Drive

A popular year round drive is inside Clear Creek Canyon in far northern Chaffee County.  In the fall this drive offers spectacular aspen viewing. From Buena Vista, travel 15 miles north on H...  Details

Climax Mine

Since 1916 The Climax Molybdenum Mine has been a major factor in the economy of the Leadville area. Molybdenum is an alloy used to make steel stronger.  The demand for the alloy increased during ...  Details

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Collegiate Peaks Rodeo

The annual Collegiate Peaks Stampede Rodeo happens at the Chaffee County Rodeo Grounds in Buena Vista . (West at the traffic light in town at Highway 24 and Main Street; Turn left on County Road 321.)...  Details

Colorado & Southern Railroad

The Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad is a tourist train that runs north from Leadville toward Fremont Pass.  It uses the track and 1884 depot built by the Denver, South Park & Paci...  Details

Map of historic mining towns in Colorado

Columbia City

Just over six miles west of Granite, the remains of Columbia City are worth getting to for the spectacular views the area affords. When Walter Cameron first hit pay dirt in 1893, the Josephine Lode, a...  Details

Como Railroad Station

When the Denver South Park & Pacific Railroad first reached Buena Vista, they had an agreement with the Denver and Rio Grande to share track to Gunnison and Leadville.  Soon, changes in manag...  Details

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Contin-Tail Gem & Mineral Show

Contin-Tail Gem & Mineral Show This annual event brings merchants and collectors from far and near. Buy, sell, swap and showing are all highlighted at this large event.  Held annually, t...  Details

Cottonwood Lake & Pass Fall Drive

One of the closest place to enjoy the fall foliage is directly west of Buena Vista. At the traffic light, travel on West Main Street, which becomes Chaffee County Road 306. Head into the mountains. At...  Details

Denver & Rio Grande Railroad

In 1870, General William Jackson Palmer incorporated the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad to serve Colorado and the West.  The D&RG built from Denver south to Pueblo then turned west along the ...  Details

Fall Aspen Viewing Drive

Not many places in the country have such large amounts of aspen trees as Colorado does, arguably the most admired leaf-bearing tree in the state. When the sunlight reflects just right on yellow aspen ...  Details

Kayaking in Chaffee County Colorado

FIBArk in Salida

Every June since 1949, Salida celebrates First in Boating the Arkansas, the nation's oldest festival dedicated to whitewater racing. Besides the main distance race, FIBArk has water events such as...  Details

Mine tailings at the Fortune Mine in Colorado

Fortune Mine

Less than seven miles beyond Winfield in the Clear Creek area lies the Fortune Mine. Although access to the mine itself is closed due to extreme danger, as you travel up CR 390, you can see the scars ...  Details

Ghost town in Central Colorado

Fourteener Country Ghost Towns

Central Colorado is not only home to many mountain peaks over 14,000 feet, called "Fourteeners," but also to a good number of abandoned mines and towns. During the latter part of the 1800...  Details

Ghost town of Hancock, CO

Ghost Town - Hancock

The road to Hancock is slow, but beautiful. There's very little left of the town, but the lovely meadow and views make the trek worthwhile. The once-expansive Hancock had thrived as a railroad tow...  Details

Main Street in St. Elmo, Colorado

Ghost Town - St. Elmo

Of all the ghost towns in Colorado, St. Elmo is one of the best preserved. This is because it has never been completely abandoned and its die-hard residents have jealously protected it over the years....  Details

Vicksburg Colorado historic Main St

Ghost Town - Vicksburg

Once a bustling mining town, Vicksburg enjoyed a general store, a post office, a school, two hotels, two billiard halls, several saloons, a livery stable, a blacksmith, and an assay office. Located ne...  Details

Information sign at Winfield, CO

Ghost Town - Winfield

Boom and bust are recurring themes in the central Colorado mine fields. The town of Winfield, first called Florence and then Lucknow, reached a population of around 1,500 in 1890 after being founded o...  Details

Historic photo of Romley, Colorado

Ghost Towns - Romley

Some old mining towns don't even have enough left for ghosts to haunt. One such is Romley, on the road to Hancock. During its heyday, between 400 and 1000 people lived and worked there, with multi...  Details

Burro Race at Gold Rush Days, Buena Vista, CO

Gold Rush Days Festivities in Buena Vista

Celebrating Buena Vista's Old West and mining heritage, Gold Rush Days has been a town signature event since 1950. Live music, blacksmith demonstrations, the rubber ducky race, kids train, and a v...  Details

Ghost town of Hamilton, CO


One of the most remote mining areas in Clear Creek Canon, the mining camp of Hamilton consisted of a mere four to five buildings. The Hamilton Mining and Tunnel Company operated here until 1905. &nbs...  Details

Healy House and Dexter Cabin

Healy House and Dexter Cabin is a pair of house museums owned by History Colorado, the Colorado state historical society.  The house sits on top of the hill at 912 Harrison Avenue, Leadville.&nbs...  Details

Historic Alpine Tunnel

The Alpine Tunnel was the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad’s method of crossing the Continental Divide.  The expected six month construction period expanded to nearly two years due t...  Details

Historic Turner Farm

Turner Farm is a typical farm headquarters from the early 1900s.  It is in Buena Vista at 829 West Main (County Road 306).  Turner Farm started as the Walker homestead in 1891.  The...  Details

Inter-Laken Resort

Inter-Laken Resort was established in 1879 by James V. Dexter to be one of the grandest resorts of the time, and it was.   The wealthy guest from all over the US and even Europe would arrive...  Details

Iron City Cemetery

Iron City Cemetery Every town had its "Boot Hill". Here at the Iron City Cemetery, there is a roster of those who lie buried here, from the 1800's all the way up into the early 1900...  Details

Jefferson Depot

The Jefferson Depot is right beside Highway 285 on the north end of South Park.  The building is currently painted baby blue and serves as an office.  The “Jefferson” sign hangs ...  Details

Kenosha Pass Railroad Display

The Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad, also known as the South Park Kenosha Pass Railroad Display Line, was a narrow-gauge railroad company that ran from Denver, up the South Platte River to B...  Details

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Lake Ann

Lake Ann is located in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness and part of the Continental Divide Trail.  Trail sign post are found periodically along the trail.  At 11,800 feet this clear high moun...  Details

Latchaw mine in Chaffee County

Latchaw Mine

Not all mines in central Colorado are from the 1880's. Although the second half of the nineteenth century did enjoy the Pike's Peak Gold Rush, the Latchaw Mine wasn't begun until 1901. Loc...  Details

Leadville Boom Days

A  town may be small, but its fun doesn't have to be, as Leadville's Boom Days amply demonstrate. During the first full weekend of August, history comes alive in celebration of Leadville&...  Details

Leadville Cemeteries

So much history can be gleamed from Leadville’s two cemeteries.  The towns original cemetery sat at the top of the hill where the high school football field is now located.  Most of th...  Details

Leadville Heritage Museum and Gallery

The Heritage Museum and Gallery was built in 1902 as a Carnegie Public Library.  Today it is home to the Heritage Museum.  Leadville's history is shown through the many displays.  I...  Details

The Mary Murphy Mine in Colorado

Mary Murphy Mine

One of the most famous mines in central Colorado is the Mary Murphy. Different stories are told as to its discovery and naming. One version is that John Royal and Dr. Abner Wright found it in 1875. &...  Details

The Arkansas River in Buena Vista

PaddleFest in Buena Vista

When the snow starts to melt and the river rises look for PaddleFest to mark the official kickoff to summer in the Arkansas Valley. Thousands of river enthusiasts from around the region and the world ...  Details

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Railroad Enthusiast Adventure

Railroads have played a key role in the history of Colorado, and this is especially true in Fourteener Country. The influence of the railroad expansionists has dwindled over the years, but their ...  Details

Salida Historic District

The Salida Downtown Historic District, roughly centered on the stoplight at 1st and F Street, is the largest historical district in Colorado.  It was added to the National Register in 1984. ...  Details

Salida Museum

The Salida Museum is located at 406 ½ West Highway 50, behind the Salida Chamber of Commerce building on I Street.  It’s open most days in the summer and occasionally in the winter. ...  Details

Ski Joring and Crystal Carnival

Held in March in Leadville Ski Joring is a fan favorite. Ski joring, the activity of a horse and rider pulling a skier from behind on snow-covered roads over snow jumps, is a wild winter sport an...  Details

Smeltertown Smokestack

When entering Salida from the west, a giant 385-foot smokestack rises from the pastures.  It’s a remnant from the heydays of mining in the Upper Arkansas Valley.  The Smokestack belong...  Details

South Park City

You can see pieces of that history come alive at South Park City in Fairplay, a multi-structure museum open during the summer months. Lovingly restored, South Park City consists of edifices ...  Details

Historic building in St. Elmo Colorado

St. Elmo

Due to private ownership, St. Elmo, in the Sawatch Mountains 20 miles to the southwest of Buena Vista, is the best preserved ghost town in the area. In fact, if there are actual ghosts, they share the...  Details

St. Elmo School House

The St. Elmo School House was built in 1882 during the height of the mining boom in Grizzly Gulch.  The one-room building also functioned as a community gathering place and church.  The sing...  Details

St. Elmo Town Hall

The original Town Hall was built in 1880 when the town population was nearing 2,000 people.  The current year-round population is 4.    St. Elmo has been a ghost town since 1958.St. E...  Details

Entrance to Swiss Boy Mine in Colorado

Swiss Boy Mine

One of the first mines in the area, the Swiss Boy produced mostly copper ore and silver. Although not much is known about it, there are records that until 1893, a number of prospectors worked it under...  Details

Tasmania Mine near Winfield, CO

Tasmania Mine

Heading west from Winfield via the right hand fork, CR290 2A, will take you to what's left of the Tasmania Mine. It had been incorporated in 1899 by the Tasmania Mining and Milling Company out of ...  Details

The Arkansas River

The beautiful Arkansas River flows from the historic town of Leadville, through the Sawatch mountain range and through the towns of Buena Vista, Salida and Canon City before continuing south.  Al...  Details

The Collegiate Peaks Streams and Lakes

Fishing information is provided below for Buena Vista, the Arkansas River, and the high lakes region in the Collegiate Peaks to the west. Altitudes are included in the guide below for use in planning ...  Details

The Colorado Midland Railway Company

The Colorado Midland Railway Company was incorporated in 1883 with a plan to build a standard-gauge railroad from Colorado Springs through Leadville and Aspen and on to Salt Lake City.  Train ser...  Details

The Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad

The Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad followed the Platte River from Denver to Kenosha Pass, crossed South Park, and reached Buena Vista in 1880.  The narrow-gauge railroad then tackled C...  Details

The King Boletus Mushroom Festival

The King Boletus Mushroom Festival is a two-day seminar on hunting wild mushrooms.  The event takes place in mid-August in Buena Vista.  The workshop begins with a half-day lecture on locati...  Details

Map of mines in Chaffee County

The Little Annie Mine

Charles Thompson, J. K. Casteel and Annie Casteel laid claim to a valuable lode of ore in 1894. When filing with the Four Mile/Swift Water Mining District, they gave their mine the name Little Annie. ...  Details

Matchless Mine & Baby Doe's Cabin

The Matchless Mine and Baby Doe’s Cabin

The Matchless Mine is one of the most famous mines in Leadville. Horace Tabor purchased the mine in 1879 and as a result of it became one of the richest men in Leadville and all of Colorado.  The...  Details

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, nick-named the “Smithsonian of the Rockies”, takes visitors on an interesting journey from mineral extraction to the finished products.  E...  Details

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The Riverside Cemetery

The Riverside Cemetery, also called the Mayol Cemetery, is situated about ten miles north of Buena Vista and east of Highway 24, along the Arkansas River. (Sec. 12, T13S, R79W, 6th P.M.) There are si...  Details

Summit of Independence Pass in Colorado

Top of the Rockies National Scenic Highway & Historic Byway

Top of the Rockies Byway National Scenic Highway and Historic Byway.   In 1999 this 115-mile stretch was designated as one of only 53 roads in the United States as a National Scenic Byway. &nbs...  Details

Twin Lakes Historic District

Twin Lakes is located on Highway 82 at the base of Independence Pass.  La Plata Peak and Mt Elbert tower over the valley which contains two of Colorado’s largest glacier-carved lakes. ...  Details

Independence Pass, Colorado

Twin Lakes to Independence Pass Drive

Probably one of the most beautiful places to enjoy the fall colors is via Highway 82 from Twin Lakes to Independence Pass. (From Buena Vista, travel north on Highway 24 for 22 miles and turn west at t...  Details

Wildlife Viewing Areas

Wildlife viewing is a terrific family activity. Photography opportunities are abundant with the numerous mountain ranges and stunning scenery of our region. As if the whole area isn’t great enou...  Details

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