About Buena Vista, Colorado

Buena Vista, Colorado is situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in the Upper Arkansas River Valley. With over 2,700 residents, our mountain town boasts of stunning views, thrilling outdoor adventures and an extremely tightknit community.

Buena Vista is renowned for its Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area, much of which lies within the San Isabel National Forest. This wilderness area holds a collection of Sawatch Range Mountains and is set in the Buena Vista valley. The Sawatch Range contains some of Colorado’s highest peaks and provides magnificent views that inspire both visitors and local residents every day. Many of these peaks are named after universities, such as Mount Princeton, Mount Harvard and Mount Yale, earning the title “Collegiate Peaks”.

Flowing through Buena Vista is the Arkansas River, Colorado’s #1 rafted river. Surrounding the Arkansas River is Browns Canyon with its beautiful granite walls that tower over the river. President Obama recently designated 21,586 acres of unspoiled canyons, rivers and backcountry forest in and around Buena Vista as the Browns Canyon National Monument. This designation by the President confirms the magnificence of Browns Canyon and the Arkansas River.

Buena Vista’s mountains, river and wilderness area make this town a perfect playground for a range of outdoor activities such as mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hunting, horseback riding and a host of other adventures.

While rafters and vacationers make special trips to Buena Vista in the summer, the winter months are also spectacular in the Arkansas River Valley. Buena Vista is located within 90 minutes of eight ski resorts, many of which are the only natural-snow slopes in Colorado. Around town you’ll find a variety of other winter activities such as backcountry skiing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling and more.

No matter the season or temperature outside, Buena Vista’s all-natural, odorless hot springs make this area a matchless destination. You can enjoy these hot springs right after whitewater rafting, downtown shopping, alpine skiing or any Buena Vista adventure.

Our local shops, restaurants and service providers know our community and all bring something unique to Buena Vista. They offer goods and services tailored to the heartbeat of our town. When you step into Buena Vista, you’ll meet smiling faces who are ready to assist you and want to get to know your story. 

We love beautiful Buena Vista. Whether you’re here for a summer vacation or winter getaway, these mountains are sure to evoke your love as well. But your adventure doesn’t have to stop at a visit; increasing numbers of people are relocating to this flourishing mountain town, and you can too! To learn more, contact us or request a relocation pack.

The History of Buena Vista


Buena Vista is the type of community most people only dream of. It was peacefully settled around 1864, contrary to the wild and woolly background of some of the nearby mining towns. Even the name (Spanish for Beautiful View) suggests serenity. The hard working and quiet type of people who have always resided in this area are a large part of what has made this community a great place in which to live and play.

By 1880 a vote was taken to have the county seat moved from Granite to Buena Vista. Granite was reluctant to release the records so a group of men confiscated a railroad flat car and engine and “drove” to Granite late one night. They emptied the courthouse in Granite of all the official records they could find. The next morning County employees and courthouse officials had to come to Buena Vista to continue their duties. In 1928, Salida out-populated and out-voted Buena Vista. The courthouse building then became a school until it was abandoned in 1968. Now it is a museum under the auspices of the Buena Vista Heritage Association; in September of 1979, the old courthouse and jail complex were added to the National Register of Historical Buildings.

The first church meeting was held in a harness shop in 1880; the first bank was incorporated in 1891. The fire department, known as the Buena Vista Bucket Brigade, was organized in 1880. They were kept busy for the first several years because, like many of the early settlements, Buena Vista suffered several major fires. The Chaffee County Times was the first newspaper; the first issue came off the presses in 1880, and the Chaffee County Times is still going strong. The Correctional Facility was built in 1889. It has played an important role in the economy of the town providing jobs and free labor for the public buildings and parks.

By 1894, Buena Vista had electricity, telephone service, arc street lights and several parcels of land which had been donated for use as parks, school buildings, and cemeteries. A town lake was built on a part of this land by building a dam to make the natural lake bigger.

Buena Vista has had its share of economic and population ups and downs, but the special people who live here have kept it alive instead of letting it become “just another Colorado ghost town.” Buena Vista is currently popular for white water rafting, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, animal watching, and just about any other outdoor activity that comes to mind.

Today the economy and the population are steady and healthy, as are those special people. The beautiful scenery, tree-lined streets, year-round mild climate, clean air, and clear sparkling water are just some of the things that make Buena Vista a truly great place to live.