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Chaffee County in the southcentral part of the state is pure Colorado with beautiful mountains, clear rivers, blissful hot springs, vibrant downtowns, and a terrific selection of activities and distinct places for groups to gather. San Isabel National Forest just south of Salida contains 19 of the state’s 54 mountains that are 14,000 feet or above in elevation, and the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area has some of the nation’s best whitewater rafting and kayaking as well as amazing fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and more.

Salida is the county seat and Chaffee County’s largest city with a population of approximately 5,300 full-time residents that make the arts and outdoors a priority. The community is nestled between the Sangre de Cristo and Sawatch mountain ranges and has the largest historic district in the state in the form of an energetic downtown that sits along the Arkansas River. It’s a vibrant place to shop, dine, stroll the art galleries, host an outdoor gathering, and book a meeting.

Like Salida, Buena Vista has a year-round mild climate and is considered a hidden gem among Colorado natives, making it an ideal meeting location any time of year. Spanish for “beautiful view,” Buena Vista has a population of about 3,000 residents, is situated between the Collegiate Peaks and the Arkansas River, and is known for its laidback, mountain-town vibe. Buena Vista also has a charming downtown and is especially well-known for its hot springs, trails, rafting, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits.

There is a nice selection of memorable places to stay and gather in Buena Vista and Salida, which are only 23 miles apart, making it easy to utilize the best of both communities on meeting agendas and incentive trip itineraries. Both towns also offer easy access to skiing and snowboarding with Monarch Mountain nearby, a place known for plentiful snow and reasonable prices.

photos by R. Brian Phillips