Salida, Colorado is becoming another one of those popular destinations that was a well-kept secret until several years ago; and no surprise, as it has everything you could want in a mountain town:  Nearby skiing, hunting, fishing, swimming, rafting, and a vibe akin to that of Old Town Fort Collins, with a population of 5,300 people.

The Fibark Whitewater Festival, America's oldest, is June 14th-17th there, right in the heart of the Arkansas River Valley, and the rafting is only a part of it.  Here's what else:

  • A golf tournament
  • A parade
  • Mountain bike races
  • Running races

So how many things can possibly happen in the water?  This many:

  • The Downriver Race - 26 miles of paddling in rough river territory - perhaps the most difficult race in North America.
  • The Hooligan Race, where anything that floats goes.
  • The Freestyle Kayak - we're looking for the best tricks on this one.
  • The Raft Rodeo - which is kind of what whitewater rafting is in the first place, isn't it?
  • The Stand Up Paddleboard
  • The Crazy River Dog, where your buddy retrieves things from the river (like, perhaps the beer that fell out of my boat during the Hooligan Race?)
  • Plus more.

Live music plays throughout, and there's tons of camping, too.

Whether it's something like this, or just a casual visit, Salida is one of my very favorite places to visit.  A real escape.