I think you'd have a hard time finding anyone who doesn't like Salida, Colorado. This small town of about 5,500 people is tucked into the middle of Colorado, amongst dozens of mountain peaks (many of them are "fourteeners"). If someday I decide to run off to the mountains, and I can't afford a place to live in Crested Butte, Salida may very well be my next choice.
Downtown Salida is a few blocks north of US 50, and I imagine many people drive by without taking a moment to explore the town. Make sure you're not one of them.
Salida's business district centers around 1st Street (Colorado Highway 291) and F Street. Let the big "S" on the hill guide you to the right place. (We'll talk more about that hill on the next page.)
Downtown Salida offers plenty of small stores, some of which have found ways to draw you in, like this sunflower mural on a health food store...
... or the sculpted animals outside Spirit Mountain Antler & Log.
I spent a moment walking around inside the store, dreaming about how I'd decorate my mountain cabin. Spirit Mountain is loaded with furniture made from tree trunks and antlers.
Back on the street, I headed toward the center of town, admiring Salida's old buildings...
... and a few impressive ghost signs. This one used to advertise Coca Cola, and a few other things.
Salida's downtown is located alongside the still-small Arkansas River. A small park serves as a centerpiece to the town, as well as a place to enjoy the river as it begins its 1,400 mile journey to the Mississippi.
Salida provides a good place to stay, if you're interested in whitewater rafting. There are plenty of outfitters in the Salida area, as well as further east along US 50. There's also skiing nearby, as well, near Monarch Pass, west of town.
Salida's downtown is the largest historical downtown district in Colorado. The town was founded in 1880, as a stop along the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.
Before leaving Salida and continuing east on US 50, there's one more place you must see -- okay, technically you would have already seen it, but you need to see the view from it: the big "S" on the hill, and the Spiral Drive that takes you there.
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