Off Roading - ATV and 4WD Adventures
The Mountains around Salida and Buena Vista have a rich history in mining. In the late 1800’s, Maysville, west of Salida, was actually one of the largest towns in the county because of all the mines in the area. While the mining activity is long over, the mountains have been left with a network of old roads, that in most cases are still available for use today. Often the drive to a trailhead is just as much fun as the hikes we go on, and on many occasions we just drive the roads to see the country side, spot wildlife, or to take on the challenge “do you think we can get our truck up that?”. You can find the most information at this site - ATV Trails
You can rent ATVs and/or Jeeps from these outfitters
Anderson Jeep Rentals 888-539-2101; 719-539-3088 Salida
All Season Adventures Inc. 888-530-0651; 719-530-0651 Salida
ATV/Jeep Mountain Adventure Rentals 719-395-4418; 719-207-1873 Buena Vista
St Elmo General Store 719 395-2117
SALIDA AREA - Maysville (11 miles west of Salida) is a great starting point for these adventures. There are dozens of forest roads that literally head up into the mountains in every direction. Get yourself a copy of the San Isabel National Forest map, or the Latitude 40 map for Salida and Buena Vista trails, and you are set to go (we always carry copies of both of these maps). Some favorites have been forest road 240, which starts just on the other side of highway 50, and follows the North Fork of the South Arkansas River up to a stunning basin at 12,000 feet. The first four miles are paved, but once you pass the Angel of Shavano Campground it quickly becomes steeper and more interesting. There is a great waterfall just past the campground as well. Once you have crossed over the river, there is a big switchback, and as you turn back towards where the river should be, look for a pullout on the right. You will need to hike about 100 yards, but it is well worth it! Another favorite, forest road 221 (and offshoot 222), which starts as the Greens Creek Road two miles east of Maysville is alsoa great one to explore. After a few miles of flat easy travel, these roads (to use the term loosely) take you up the ridges and higher valleys to the south of Maysville into some very wild country that is very much worth checking out. If you like those routes, forest road 210 starts another mile east of 221, and takes you up into another complex of routes that is also great to explore. Further to the South is Marshall Pass, with another great complex of routes, and well we could go on all day. If playing on rough backcountry roads sounds like your kind of fun, there is no end of places to go.
If you are staying in the Chalk Creek area of Nathrop you can get to the Chalk Creek drainage in a less than 10 minutes, and spend the next week exploring the various jeep trails up the many valleys behind Mount Antero. As seen on the TV show “Prospectors”, you can actually wind your way up the back side of the mountain, to just under 14,000 feet. There is a large network of jeep trails in this area offering spectacular, above treeline terrain, and it is maintained by The High Rocky Riders OHV Club, and you can follow that link for more information on the areas they like to travel. While you are in the Chalk Creek area, you need to stop by the old mining town of St. Elmo. Its a cool little piece of history, and while you can get to St. Elmo in the family car, there are four major 4WD routes that leave out of the town, and that’s not counting the road up towards Mt Antero, which leaves the main road just a short distance before you get there. More info here.
No discussion of off road riding would be complete without mentioning the Fourmile Travel Management Area, which is east of Buena Vista, and about a short drive from either Buena Vista or Nathrop. Its over 100,000 acres of forest service and BLM land managed exclusively for recreation, with a high emphasis on ATV recreation. This is more of a desert/canyon country landscape, and it is just covered with trails that are anywhere from flat almost simple roads, to steep, terrifying hints of a trail that will challenge (and sometimes break) the toughest of OHV’s. Check out the official link Here for more information, and even some good maps. More Four Mile info here.