Thursday, May 26, 2016

Explore this area with these day trips


Upper Arkansas River Valley: Welcome to the Arkansas River Headwaters, one of the nation's premier recreation areas. It is a treasure trove of things to do. Stretching for 148 miles along the Arkansas River, the area offers abundant and outstanding opportunities for fishing, rafting, kayaking, picnicking, hiking, camping, mountain biking and off road adventures with ATV's or Jeeps. There is sightseeing among deep canyons, broad valleys and towering mountain peaks. The towns of Leadville, Buena Vista, Poncha Springs, Salida, Canon City, Florence and Pueblo along with Cripple Creek, and Florissant offer fine dining, lodging and lots of western atmosphere. There are many historical areas and fun activities to explore.

Literature is available in the office. More detailed information can be obtained at the Chamber of Commerce offices in the towns along the river.

  1. Hiking/biking: The Rainbow Trail, access at Hayden Creek. Originally built to give forest firefighters access to the Sangre de Cristo mountains, it contours along the east side of the range from just south of Music Pass, around the north end to US Hwy 285 just north of Poncha Springs and south past Westcliffe. There are a number of access points along the route. Hayden Creep is the closest to Cotopaxi KOA. Open to hiking, horses, mountain bikes. Some parts of the trail are open to 4 wheel drive vehicles and dirtbikes. Maps available in the office.
  2. Rafting:
Arkansas River Tours: Half, full and multi day trips can be scheduled on the Arkansas River and through the Royal Gorge according to your interest and skill level. Transportation available. 800-321-4352,    
Rock-n-Row: Trips near Cotopaxi, down through Sheep's Canyon and through the Royal Gorge. Can also combine rafting with rock climbing and horseback riding and overnight trips.  719-942-4125.
  1. Horseback Riding: Cottonwood Stables: (also Rock-n-Row) located in Coaldale of Hwy 50. Guided hourly, half day and evening steak horseback rides. Adventure combos.  719-942-4125.
  2. ATV tours: All Season Adventures: Ride on local ATV trails. Guided tours and rentals available. Located in Salida on Hwy 50. 719-530-0651.
  3. Jeep Rentals: Rocky Mountain Jeep Rentals: Located at Anderson Motors, Hwy 50 in Salida. 719-539-3088. cell: 719-221-0757.
  4. Riverside Park and Historic Downtown Salida: On the banks of the Arkansas River at the foot of F Street. Riverwalk, picnic areas, historic district with in a short walking distance.
  5. Salida Hot Springs: A year round indoor facility offers aquatic recreation and relaxation in a natural, hot mineral springs pool. Located in Centennial Park on Hwy 50. Hours and rates vary so call 719-539-6738 for more information,
  6. Monarch Crest Tram Ride: Ride a tram to the top of the Continental Divide at over 12,000 ft! Located at the top of Monarch Pass, 20 miles west of Salida. Open Daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, weather Permitting, May 15 - September 15. Gift shop and snack bar. 719-539-4091 for rates.

  1. St Elmo: Historic mining ghost town. All of the buildings are privately owned and some are still occupied. Take Hwy 285 north from Poncha Springs towards Nathrop, turn left onto CR 162. ATV and jeep rentals at the General Store,
  2. Mount Princeton Hot Springs : Located on the same road as St. Elmo (County Road 162) 719-395-2447, .
  3. Horseback Riding: Mt Princeton Stables:  Located on the same road as St. Elmo. 14582 CR 162.
  1. Browns Canyon Aerial Adventure Park and River Rafting: Also rock climbing and backpacking. Located north of Nathrop at 23910 US Hwy 285 south, 719-395-2158,  
  2. Cottonwood Hot Springs: Located just minutes west of Buena Vista. Take Hwy 285 north out from Salida to Buena Vista. Turn left onto Cottonwood Pass Road. Mineral hot springs in natural stone pools. 8 am – midnight, 365 days a year. Motel and spa. 719-395-6434,
  3. Leadville: Victorian mining town north of Buena Vista on Hwy 24 full of history and fun events,

  1. Bishop's Castle: Always open and always free (Donations accepted) Built entirely by one man with the support of God and a loving family. Construction began in 1969 and has been continuous process ever since. Situated on Hwy 165, about 50 miles south of the KOA. 719-485-3040 for information and directions,
  2. Great Sand Dunes National Park: America's tallest sand dunes rise 700 feet above the floor of the San Luis Valley, at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Located on State Hwy 150, 34 miles west of Alamosa in Mosca, CO, about 85 miles from the Cotopaxi KOA. Camping and hiking are available. 719-378-6300,
  3. Colorado Gators Reptile Park: A unique and amazing sanctuary for alligators and unwanted exotic pets. They have 5 Albino Alligators, Alligators, Tortoises, Geckos, Pythons and many more. Located in Mosca, CO near Great Sand Dunes National Park. 719-378-2612, for directions, hours and rates.

  1. ATV TOURS: Play Dirty: just 5 miles east on Hwy 50 at Texas Creek. Guided tours for all ages. Open year round, weather permitting. Transportation from here available. 719-275-7373,
  2. Rafting:
Journeyquest: just 5 miles east on Hwy 50 at Texas Creek. Raft trips through Big Horn Sheep Canyon and the Royal Gorge, inflatible kayak trips, overnight trips and combo adventures. 888-623-7939,
Echo Canyon River Expeditions: Located on Hwy 50, east of the Royal Gorge. 888-755-3246,
  1. Royal Gorge: YOU WON'T BELIEVE YOUR EYES! Rebuilt and re-imagined after the devastating wildfire in 2013, its better than ever. It is the home of the world's highest suspension bridge. Admission price includes everything except the Skycoaster and Zip Rider. On Hwy 50, 20 miles east of Cotopaxi. 719-275-7507, .  
  2. Royal Gorge Heli Tours:One of the most spectacular helicopter rides in the US. Walk-in hours 10am-6pm. Reservations available outside of walk-in hours. 719-276-9038,
  3. Horseback riding: Royal Gorge Stables. Trail rides as well as a sunset ride. 719-275-1799, .
  4. Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience: Dinasaur museum, animatronic exploration park, adult and childrens ropes course. M-F 10-6, Sat 9-6, Sun 12-6. 800-209-0062
  5. Segway Tours: iLean Ride Co. Located next to the visitor center/cafe on the way to the Royal Gorge on CR 3A. 719-315-4044,  

  1. Gold Belt Byway Tour: The National Back Country Byway leads the adventurous traveler through some of the most scenic and historically significant features in Colorado. The tour retraces three historic travel routes that connect Canon City and Florence to the mountain mining communities of Cripple Creek and Victor.
  2. Cripple Creek: Visit this historic mining district complete with casinos, historic buildings, a jail museum, a house of ill repute museum, train rides and mine tours,
  3. Cripple creek Heritage Center: Interactive and interpretive center where you can explore the past and today. 719-689-3315,
  4. Molly Kathleen Gold Mine: Located in Cripple Creek. 719-689-2465,
  5. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument: A volcanic eruption 34 million years ago, transformed everything in its path into 60,000 fossilized specimens. Located north of Cripple Creek,15807 Teller County Road 1. 719-748-3253,  

  1. Museum of Colorado Prisons: Catch a glimpse of prison life gone by. 32 cells on the MP3 audio tour,  filled with exhibits and life sized models, each with a story to tell.  Located at 201 N 1st St. 719-269-3015,
  2. Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center : Reading room, firearms exhibit, dinosaur collection, art gallery and 1860 log cabin tour. Call 719-269-9036 for hours and information,
  3. RiverWalk: Easy walking along the Arkansas River, up to 6 miles, through forests and wetlands. There are trailheads at Sell Av just off 9th St to the west and off Ash Street to the east.
  4. Skyline Drive: A one way loop drive to an overview of the city and countryside. Dinosaur tracks exposed on the ridge. Pull-offs with short walks. North off of Hwy 50, west of Canon City
  5. Historic Royal Gorge Railroad: The best way to see the Gorge. The train takes you along the Arkansas River, 1000 feet below the rim of the Royal Gorge. Call 719-276-4000, or visit for rates, times and information.  
  6. Historic Downtown district: Historic buildings and unique shops
  7. The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey: Located on the grounds of the historic Holy Cross Abbey on Hwy 50. Tasting room and gift shop.  719-276-5191,


  1. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: Unforgettable scenery at the only mountainside zoo in the US with over 500 animals. 719-475-9555,
  2. Seven Falls: Cascades down 181 feet with breathtaking views. West of Colorado Springs. 719-632-0765,
  3. Garden of the Gods: A free city park with world famous 300 million year old red sandstone formations. 719-634-6666,
  4. Pikes Peak: Drive the highway to the top of Pikes Peak, 14,115 feet. Call 719-385-7325 for hours and prices,
  5. Pikes Peak Cog Railway: Ride the train to the top of Pikes Peak. Reservations required. Call 719-685-5401, 515 Ruxton Av.,  Manitou Springs
  6. Santa's Workshop North Pole:  Family theme park . Meet Santa and his Elves. 719-684-9342,
  7. Manitou Cliff Dwellings: Get a glimpse into the past. See more than 40 rooms including a ceremonial kiva and lookout tower. 719-685-5242,
  8. Cave of the Winds:  Tour this unique and amazing underground cave. There are also rides and activities. 719-685-5444,

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