Providing tidbits of information about towns that are gateways to outdoor adventure does provide insight for those who are making travel plans. Gateway communities are usually located next to primary outdoor destinations, like a National Park, Lake or National Forest, so the local businesses provide goods and services along the lines of the activities that visitors want to experience. For example, if the gateway town is next to a mountain, you can usually expect to see hiking, mountain biking and winter sports shops all over town. If the gateway town is located on a Federal Highway, you can usually expect to see RV parks and camper rentals. If a lake destination is nearby, marinas and watercraft rental businesses will likely be found in town. The primary mission of a gateway to outdoor adventure town is to serve the needs of visitors and this is usually done on a seasonal basis.
In the Colorado Rockies, most of the gateway to outdoor adventure towns are two season businesses that cater to the fun in the sun summer crowd and winter sports enthusiasts. Colorado gateway towns located next vast wilderness areas are often three season towns, because they also cater to autumn season hunters. For this reason, taking a look at the location of a gateway community can provide clues as to what to expect upon arrival.
The gateway town of Salida, Colorado is located on U.S. Highway 50 in the central Rocky Mountains. The Arkansas River runs through town and two vast National Forests are right next door. Royal Gorge is nearby and the Arkansas River Recreation Area is on the edge of town. There are three National Parks in this region, but they all are at least two hours away from Salida, so this gateway town does not primarily cater to the National Park crowd. The crowd that Salida does cater to are people that prefer a more natural setting than what the National Parks offer. No paved hiking trails and hardly any facilities of any kind is what the naturalists, hikers and hunters tend to prefer and this is the clientele base that Salida attracts!
The location of Salida says it all, when it comes to imagining what kinds of goods and services can be found in this place! RV parks, RV repair shops and campgrounds are located on Highway 50 through town. Western style cabin lodges and Route 66 era motels are all around this old town. White water rafting excursion companies and watercraft rentals can be found along the Arkansas River. Tackle shops and fly fishing guides are found along the river too. The local outdoor outfitter shops cater to campers, rock climbers and back country hikers, so plenty of high quality light weight equipment is stocked. There are gun shops, archery shops and plenty of hunting guides in this town, so Salida truly is an outdoor sportsman’s dream come true!
Cannabis tourism is legal in Colorado and the town of Salida has certainly entered this arena. Colorado promotes an association of cannabis with healthy outdoor living, so the legal weed shops in Salida do fit in with the scene. Many of the Colorado sativa hybrids are designed to have an active uplifting effect that can make a daytime outdoor adventure more fun, while the indica and CBD strains definitely help to get over the sore muscles at the end of the day. Weed is definitely has become integral to the tourism game in Colorado and the gateway towns definitely cater to this new source of income.
The town of Salida was established in the late 1800s, so the old historic district downtown does have some stories to tell. Basically, Salida was a place where two big river canyons met, so it always has been a crossing point area for everybody from Spanish explorers and mountain men to gold prospectors and hunters. The Arkansas River headwaters are just north of Salida in the canyon, so those who navigated this river were familiar with Salida too, because this is the spot where the Arkansas River heads east.
If you are into great outdoor adventures in the deep National Forests of the central Colorado Rocky Mountains, then Salida is a good gateway community to become familiar with. No matter whether you need to stock up on camping supplies or you just want to learn how to tie a nymph fly fishing lure, the town of Salida has got your request covered!