5 Amazing Free Buena Vista Adventures in the Sawatch Range of Colorado

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Buena Vista Adventures begin with the scenic beauty of Colorado.

Buena Vista is Spanish for “good view,” and this is perhaps one of the most aptly named towns in all of Colorado. Find this picturesque Colorado town smack dab in the middle of the breathtaking Rocky Mountains with the snow packed Collegiate Peaks as its backdrop. “Postcard Perfect” would be a great way to describe the views. Here are the top 5 amazing (and free) Buena Vista adventures.

Buena Vista is the kind of place that we all dream of — small mountain town, outdoor focus, quiet, peaceful, a great place to raise a family and an equally amazing family adventure destination. BV, as it’s commonly called, or Bewnie by locals, is tailor made for anyone who craves a little wild during their travels. BV delivers adventure and it’s just a 2 1/2 hour drive southwest of Denver.

5 Amazing Free Buena Vista Adventures

BV is one of my family’s favorite Colorado destinations. We flock to Buena Vista every spring. BV is an adventure traveler’s hidden gem. For those who don’t know, adventure travel is a type of tourism that involves traveling outside the typical tourist destinations, like Denver and Colorado Springs, and finding more remote locations in order to pursue challenging physical activities.

Due to its ample nature infused playground, Buena Vista is an ideal spot for adventure travel. BV offers mountain biking, climbing and hiking. In addition, Buena Vista has been making a name for itself as a river town. BV draws thousands of whitewater enthusiasts yearly.

Whether it be freestyle kayaking, big water river runs, hiking the amazing Collegiate Peaks, mountain biking, climbing and more …  my family takes advantage of all possible Buena Vista adventures!

1. Buena Vista: Epic River Fun

Colorado's Buena Vista adventures start and end in the river!
Buena Vista is renowned for its river features! Photo credit: Susie Kellogg

Of course, we have to talk about the river first, because water, in all forms, is our life. And, Buena Vista, CO is a whitewater paddlers dream. From easy class II/III that is the Milk Run to Class V river runs, think Pine Creek, BV is a whitewater paradise. In fact, Buena Vista adventures include rafting’s most famous stretch of river in the West, Brown’s Canyon.

Not to mention the town of Buena Vista even has a world-class whitewater park, that has made our list of the best whitewater parks in the USA every year! Every May the town of BV hosts CKS Paddlefest. CKS Paddlefest offers clinics, competitions, races and more for paddlers of all ages and skill levels.

Buena Vista is ranked so highly in the world of whitewater that it has played host to the US Freestyle Kayaking Team Trials. Not bad for a small mountain town smack dab in the middle of the Rocky Mountains!

2. Buena Vista Adventures include Outdoor Areas for Kids Fun 

Buena Vista Adventures even come into play in their parks in Colorado!
Buena Vista, Colorado, has two bouldering parks!! So fun. Photo credit: Susie Kellogg

We are a pretty committed outdoor family. We love the outdoors, we love nature, we love to take risks. And we even love to get dirty. However, we also love towns that remember families often travel with kids and try to cater to the tiniest of visitors.

BV is that kind of town. Buena Vista, Colorado, has so many outdoor areas for kids that even I am impressed. And while they do have parks, I’m not talking about your run of the mill park. I’m talking parks that that take free play to the next level.

In BV, you will discover a pump track for dirt bikes, a skate park, and my favorite, two boulder gardens. What is a boulder garden, you ask? A boulder garden is an area dedicated to climbing. It has replicated boulders with fabricated climbing holds to practice all sorts of climbing moves.

The routes range from easy to impossible and everything in between. We spent countless hours here during our two-week stay and the kids, who are monkeys at heart, had so much fun! And, it’s all free.

3. Mountain Biking

Buena Vista Adventure, of course, includes mountain biking!
Mid trail photo!! We, of course, stopped at one of the bouldering parks to play! Photo credit: Susie Kellogg

This year, for the first time in quite a while, many of us are traveling with our mountain bikes. This means we added to our yearly Buena Vista adventures by biking a wide array of the endless miles of trails in BV. We certainly upped our adventure in Buena Vista by choosing some of the most difficult trails.

Our first outing, we hit the Barbara Whipple Figure 8 Trail. Holy cow, I did not make the entire trail. It is indeed, not for the average cyclist, but rather, an advanced, incredibly fit, Olympic-type cyclist, or at least that’s what I told myself when I went home to our RV.

After this failed attempt, I opted for the more family friendly, River Road trail. This was definitely more my speed. It is a flat, easy trail with amazing scenery. The scenery is part and parcel of all outdoor activities in BV. We biked along the old Midland Railroad and were able to pass through some railroad tunnels which the kids thought was cool. We saw some climbers as we biked, and took a mental note to check out the routes on our way back!

4. Buena Vista Adventures in Climbing

Buena Vista Adventure is not complete without some climbing fun.
Family fun for our family includes finding epic places to climb!! Photo credit: Susie Kellogg

Buena Vista fun continues with a number of different crags ranging from 40 to 500’! For those that don’t know, a crag is a steep or rugged cliff or rock face that is ideal for climbing due to its natural hand and foot holds.

The views are absolutely breathtaking, most topping out at 100′, with the exception of Davis Face, a large cliff a few miles outside of town. Davis Face stands at about 500 feet!

All these routes, in my opinion, require the appropriate equipment, which we rarely carry, and never can outfit everyone adequately. As a result, we do a lot more bouldering than we do climbing. Bouldering is bare bones climbing. Many people who enjoy bouldering carry a mat to help offset a possible difficult fall.

And, of course, our Buena Vista adventures wouldn’t be complete without some great bouldering in BV. On the west side of Rainbow Rock, find some amazing bouldering areas. The difficulty ranges somewhere in the 5’s and really doesn’t require a lot of skill, so we let the kids loose with nary a worry.

5. Buena Vista Adventures in Hiking

Buena Vista Adventure includes epic hikes!
Rarely do we ever go anywhere that doesn’t involve a hike. It’s fun, great exercise and the kids love to explore! Photo credit: Susie Kellogg

What would a Buena Vista Adventure be without hiking?  I can’t imagine a place more conducive to hiking and camping than the Rocky Mountains. Gorgeous blue skies, fresh clean air and magnificent views that inspire every day!

And Buena Vista is at the top of the list of Colorado hiking destinations. BV is home to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area which primarily lies within the San Isabel National Forest. And within the San Isabel National Forest, there showcases a collection of the Sawatch Range Mountains!

The impressive thing about the Sawatch Range is that it contains some of Colorado’s highest peaks, the Collegiate Peaks! These peaks are named after colleges, like Mount Princeton, Mount Harvard, etc, hence the name the Collegiate Peaks! You will hear locals call them fourteeners as they have an elevation of at least 14,000 feet. We’ve summited 4 of these 14ers!

Many people enjoy a wide range of Buena Vista adventures. BV is a super popular area for mountaineering as the highest number of 14’ers in any country lie within Chaffee County! In fact, all the 15 Sawatch fourteeners are an easy and short drive from Buena Vista!

4 responses


  1. This helps so much! Thank you for the info. ?

  2. Your confidence and enthusiasm is contagious, and I especially appreciate your honesty—as in which mountain bike trail fits best.

  3. 4.5

  4. 5

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