By Beth Buehler
Chaffee County is home to the Arkansas River Headwaters Recreation Area, a dozen 14,000-foot peaks, a mild year-round climate, and a variety of meeting and event facilities in Buena Vista and Salida. While people of all ages flock to the county to enjoy outdoor recreation, soak in the hot springs and stroll quaint downtowns, the towns are building growing reputations as great places to connect at ranches, outdoor spaces, ballrooms, riverside parks and historic venues.
One of the best-known and most conducive places to gather for meetings or events is Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort near Buena Vista.
As the name indicates, there is blissful soaking to enjoy between meetings, meals and receptions that can take place in a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces like the pavilion, conference center and conference cabin. New on the scene is a relaxation pool introduced in tandem with the resort’s 140th anniversary in 2019 and featuring an infinity-edge design, built-in seating and a sunbathing deck. The pool and adjacent beer garden are available for private parties and events.
The SteamPlant Event Center, located in the heart of Salida, is another prime venue hosting more than 500 events each year from weddings, conferences and fund-raisers to community meetings, concerts and more. Originally built in 1887 to house Salida Edison Electric Light Company, the building was purchased exactly a century later and transformed by the City of Salida to include a theater, ballroom, outdoor sculpture garden, riverside plaza, conference rooms and art galleries. In 2018, the SteamPlant also began offering the Salida Rotary Scout Hut in Riverside Park for rent, featuring a main floor, lower-level conference rooms, lawn and deck.
Also with a nice dose of community history and available to groups are the Chaffee County Fairgrounds in Salida and Historic Chaffee County Courthouse in Buena Vista. Eddyline Brewery’s taproom, beer garden and restaurant along with Surf Hotel and Surf Chateau provide a more modern and hip twist in Buena Vista, and the wellness center INTEGRATE in Salida does the same. For meeting and event planners looking for indoor and outdoor spaces on the outskirts of the communities, 100 Elk Outdoor Center and Hutchinson Ranch have a variety of options. Or mingle with the goats and learn how to make cheese at Mountain Goat Lodge.
Looking for something completely different paired with stellar outdoor recreation like hiking, biking, rafting and skiing? Planning your meeting or retreat in Buena Vista and Salida might just be the answer!
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.