138 miles SW of Denver, 96 miles W. of Pueblo, 82 miles N. of Alamosa
With a strategic location on the upper Arkansas River, it was natural that Salida (elevation 7,080 ft.) should become an important farming, ranching, and transportation center in its early days, and a major river-rafting and kayaking center today. Zebulon Pike opened the area for Americans in the early 19th century; he was followed by trappers, then miners after the discovery of gold in 1859. When Leadville boomed on silver in the late 1870s, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad built a line up the Arkansas from Pueblo, and the town of Salida was founded at a key point on the line. The downtown core has kept its historic ambience alive, and now has a growing arts community while it serves as a base camp for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, namely river rats. About 25 miles north, Buena Vista is another rafting center on the Arkansas.