Best Daytrip From Summit County: Buena Vista
Summit County residents may often feel like they live in paradise. World-class ski resorts, delectable dishes and well-trafficked trails are all over the place, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth expanding one’s horizons to leave the area every now and then. Colorado’s iconic recreation and restaurants aren’t limited to Summit County’s borders. For a daytrip out of the county, Best of Summit voters recommend heading south to Buena Vista for an escape that’s familiar yet refreshingly different.
There are plenty of trails for hiking and biking in the summer that become perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter, when rugged roads for all-terrain vehicles can be swapped for snowmobiles. Residents who are homesick for a 14er or the Blue River will find comfort in the Collegiate Peaks and excellent rafting on the Arkansas River.
It’s hard to beat refueling at K’s Dairy Delite with a burger and shake after all of that exercise. Award-winning craft beer to quench your thirst can be found at Eddyline Brewery. Are spirits more your thing? Then Deerhammer Distillery has just the bottle for you.
East Main Street has a variety of unique coffee shops, restaurants, stores and more. Check out the Buena Viking food truck in the summer or the House Rock Kitchen. Follow the road east all the way to the idyllic Riverside Trail and watch kayakers paddle through the rapids. Then cap off your day with a soak in one of the local hot springs.
Guests should plan for Buena Vista to be busy as the town’s charm is no longer a secret. Though an oft-overlooked option is to spend the day golfing.
“We have a nine-hole golf course that I think has some stunning views of all the courses I’ve played in Colorado,” said Melissa Traynham, executive director of the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce. “That’s something that I don’t think people think of when they come out for the summer.”
Buena Vista is also a great winter destination with Monarch Mountain nearby. Being inside Colorado’s banana belt, a large geographic area that gets warmer weather compared to the region as a whole, Summit County locals might want to use their daytrip as an escape from the cold.
“We get mild winter days where you can get a warm, sunny day where the snow might melt, and you can get on a mountain bike or something, too,” Traynham said.
“The elevation gain is so drastic here with the mountains rising 7,000 feet from the valley floor; we have the best of both worlds,” said Scott Peterson, marketing director for the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau. “World-class snow for skiing and snowmobiling and hiking, biking and fishing year-round on the valley floor.”
In Buena Vista, there’s something for everyone.
To get to Buena Vista from Summit County, head south on Colorado Highway 9 to Fairplay, take U.S. Highway 285 south to Johnson Village and head north on U.S. Highway 24. The 60-mile drive takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. For fresh scenery on the way home, head north on Highway 24 to Leadville, and take Colorado Highway 91 back to Interstate 70. The return route adds about 15 minutes to the drive.
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