Family Fun and Adventure in Buena Vista, CO

There are few places as comparable Buena Vista, CO. We just spent the last two weeks here training for the World Championships in Argentina later this year.  We had an absolute blast on and off the river. Adventure in Buena Vista is as easy as walking out your door, and a ton of it is family friendly.

You know, there is something amazing and very special about a town that actually plans for and incorporates it’s youth in the planning.  BV is one of the family friendliest towns we’ve ever had the good pleasure to visit.

Adventure in Buena Vista, CO.
The kids played here until it got dark each night! Photo: Susie Kellogg

Buena Vista, CO, Spanish for “Good View”, is a picturesque town situated smack dab in the middle of the stunning Rocky Mountains, the snow packed Collegiate Peaks as its backdrop. Postcard Perfect would be a great way to describe the views.  

BV, as it’s commonly called, or Bewnie by locals, is the kind of place that people dream of, a great place to raise a family, and a particularly amazing place to visit.  I love it so much, I was looking at real estate in South Main via South Main Co. Apparently, according to some friends, the rental market is booming year round. Just got me thinking, because Buena Vista is really probably one of my absolute favorite places to go.

It has everything.  Due to to it’s ample nature infused playground, Buena Vista, is an ideal spot for fishing, biking, climbing and hiking.  In addition, Buena Vista is making a name for itself as a river town, drawing in thousands of whitewater enthusiasts yearly, which has a lot ot do with why we LOVE it.  Not to mention, Monarch Ski Resort is close enough…45 minutes. Ski Cooper is 50 minutes. And Breckenridge … 1 hr and 20 minutes!

BV literally has everything we do. And everything that everyone does! If you haven’t been, you need to put it on your agenda!!

Table of Contents

River Fun

Rivers are central to Adventure in Buena Vista!
BV is a great place for both beginner and advanced boaters. Photo: Dan Kellogg

Of course, we have to talk about the river first, because water in all forms is our life.  And, Buena Vista, CO is a whitewater paddlers dream.  From easy class II/III that is the Milk Run to Class V river runs that really get your adrenaline pumping, BV is a river paradise.

I know, for our family, the abundant whitewater opportunities are a major draw for us.  The river is a central part of BV and, as such, we make it a point to be in BV as often as possible in the summer months for maximum fun.  Whether it be freestyle kayaking, big water river runs, hiking the amazing Collegiate Peaks and more …  my family takes advantage of it all.

Not to mention the town of Buena Vista even has a world-class whitewater park, and every year CKS, the local paddle shop, sponsors CKS Paddlefest.  CKS Paddlefest offers clinics, competitions, races and more.  Those interested in learning more about kayaking can demo boats from various vendors and there are games for the youngest of kids as well.

Buena Vista is ranked so highly in the world of whitewater that this year, the US Freestyle Kayaking Team Trials were hosted by BV.  Thrilled to say that three of our kids, who have trained very hard, made the team and will be heading to Argentina to represent the USA in the World’s Competition in November!

Kids Fun

Family friendly Adventure In Buena Vista, CO!
Taking a break from riding hard. Photo: Susie Kellogg

We are a pretty committed outdoor family, we love the outdoors, we love nature, we love to take risks and we even love to get dirty, but we also love towns that remember families have kids and those kids can’t ALWAYS be on epic hikes or bike rides, or on the river.

Buena Vista, CO has so many outdoor areas for kids that even I am impressed.  And while they do have your typical parks with swings an all, that’s not what I’m talking about here. Every city and town throws up a park like that … BV has gone the extra mile.

In BV you will find, a pump track for dirt bikes, a skate park, and my favorite, two boulder gardens.  What is a boulder garden, you ask?  Well, it’s an area dedicated to climbing that has replicated boulders with fabricated climbing holds to practice all sorts of climbing moves.  

The routes range from easy to impossible and everything in between.  We spent countless hours here during our two week stay and the kids, who are monkeys at heart, had so much fun!

Coby and Elly played on the pump track for hours, bunny hopping and trying to get air. And, directly across the street is a pretty big skate park, where they played every afternoon after kayaking.


Death Defying Adventure in Buena Vista, CO is popular too.
Kill me now! Photo: Brody Kellogg

This year, for the first time in quite a while, many of us are traveling with our mountain bikes.  This means we could bike any of the endless miles of trails in Buena Vista.  We certainly upped our Adventure in Buena Vista by choosing some of the most difficult trails.

Our first outing we hit the Barbara Whipple Figure 8 Trail.  Holy cow, I did not make the entire trail.  It is indeed, not for the average cyclist, but rather, an advanced, incredibly fit, Olympic type cyclist.  I am not that cyclist.

After this failed attempt, I opted for the more family friendly, River Road trail.  This was definitely more my speed.  It is a flat, easy trail with amazing scenery. Coby and Elly both did great on it.  So, basically, we are the same level. I can bike what a 4 & 6 year old can bike.  I’m not ok with that, really.

However, I’ll tell ya, the scenery is a reason to do this trail.  Scenery is part and parcel of all outdoor activities in BV.  We biked along the old Midland Railroad and were able to pass through some railroad tunnels which the kids thought was cool.  We saw some climbers as we biked, and took a mental note to check out the routes on our way back!  


Adventure in Buena Vista, CO includes climbing and bouldering.
Climbing fun in and around Buena Vista. Photo: Susie Kellogg

Adventure in Buena Vista continues with a number of different crags ranging from 40 to 500’!  For those that don’t know, a crag is a steep or rugged cliff or rock face that is ideal for climbing due to it’s natural hand and foot holds.  

The views are absolutely breathtaking, most topping out at 100’, with the exception of Davis Face, a large cliff a few miles outside of town.  Davis Face stands at about 500’!  

All these routes, in my opinion require the appropriate equipment, which we rarely carry, and never can quite outfit everyone adequately. As a result we do a lot more bouldering than we do climbing.  Bouldering is bare bones climbing. It’s like gangsta climbing, climbing for those of us who can’t afford the more elite climbing. Many people, not us, of course, have bouldering mats in case of a fall.  We have just learned how to fall well.  No lie.

Now, Buena Vista does have some great legit bouldering, on the west side of Rainbow Rock.  The difficulty ranges somewhere in the 5’s and really doesn’t require a lot of skill. It’s a great place to start for sure!!


Adventure in Buena Vista high up on Mt Princeton.
Storm is rolling in high on Mt Princeton. Photo: Susie Kellogg

What would Adventure in Buena Vista be without hiking?  I can’t imagine a place more conducive to hiking and camping than the Rocky Mountains. Gorgeous blue skies, fresh clean air, and magnificent views that inspire every day!

Buena Vista, CO is home to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area which primarily lies within the San Isabel National Forest. And within the San Isabel National Forest showcases a collection of the Sawatch Range Mountains!

The impressive thing about the Sawatch Range is that it contains some of Colorado’s highest peaks, the Collegiate Peaks!  These peaks are named after colleges, like Mount Princeton, Mount Harvard, etc, hence the name the Collegiate Peaks!  You will hear locals call them fourteeners as they have an elevation of at least 14,000 feet.

Many people come the Adventure in Buena Vista as it is a super popular area for mountaineering as the highest number of 14’ers in any country lie within Chaffee County!  In fact, all the 15 Sawatch fourteeners are an easy and short drive from Buena Vista!

Kady is always seeking activities that push her outside her comfort zone. This time she and her friend, Hanica, attempted Mt Yale. Unfortunately, the goof balls woke up late, then went to breakfast and didn’t get to the parking lot until around 10 – way to late to hike Mt Yale.  

To make matters worse, they parked in the lower lot, which means it’s about a 28 mile hike … they didn’t know to continue driving up the 4 wheel drive road to the upper lot which cuts the hike in half.  Luckily, they figured it out and hitched a ride, but still got caught in a storm about ¾’s of the way up and had to turn around.

Buena Vista is a must visit town in Colorado.  It’s beautiful, the coffee is amazing … visit Cool Beans … and the Adventure is out of this world!

Adventure in Buena Vista, CO!




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