Renting an ATV and driving the off road trails in Colorado's back country is one of the top things to do right outside of the beautiful Buena Vista.
Buena Vista is one of those Colorado towns that people outside the state rarely hear about—but Denverites love camping, rafting, and fishing in this low-key mountain town.
Since we've rafted there dozens of times before, a couple of weekends ago, we tried another slightly more adventurous activity: driving ATVs on the off road trails in Colorado back country.
Chafee County has hundreds of off road trails that wind past historic mining sites, dilapidated cabins, and old railroad beds. The mountain views are some of the best I've seen in Colorado—and the changing flora and fauna made every hour feel like you were exploring a new place.
The first half hour I was admittedly a bit apprehensive... I occasionally get motion sickness in cars, and these roads were rough. We bounced over huge rocks and climbed up steep inclines. But the views were truly spectacular.
Eventually, I figured I should probably try it by the day's end, so I gave it a go (on slightly less rocky terrain). Super fun! Supposedly, folks regularly spot big horn sheep, elk, deer, and moose on these trails. I saw only cows... and this little guy:
Lunch was a quick stop in the little town of Tincup. There wasn't a whole lot going on in town, but next to the Silver Plume general store, a little orange shack was selling burgers and BLT sandwiches. I'd dutifully carried around a can of rose all day, so it was the perfect stop to reward myself with a cold one.
The St. Elmo ATV trail area is beautiful and only about 20-30 minutes away from Buena Vista. ATVing is definitely one for the Colorado bucket list—and would be so gorgeous during aspen season!
Where to Rent ATVs in Buena Vista, Colorado
We reserved side-by-side ATVs in town at BV Jeeps in Buena Vista a few days in advance. They had several vehicles available for rent, plus trailers to tow your ATVs up. They staff there can also share maps and help you determine the best route you should take based on what kind of terrain you want to ride and scenery you want to see.
Price : $300 for a full day (8h) or $250 for a half day (4h) They also sell reasonably priced goggles and bandanas on-site, which I highly recommend—lots of dust kicks up in your face when you're driving.
What to bring : You'll want lots of water (ideally in a thermos so you can keep it icy—it gets hot out there!) We didn't encounter many places to grab a bite along the way outside of Tincup, so I'd definitely recommend bringing plenty of snacks and/or possibly even packing lunch. Sunscreen is a must!
What NOT to bring : The side-by-side ATVs have zip-up pocket compartments on the roof of the vehicle where you can store some smaller items, like a jacket. However, I wouldn't bring anything you would mind getting dusty or dirty, since mud does splash up into the vehicle. I didn't bring my camera—these photos were taking on my phone, which probably still has dust in its cracks.
What to wear : Wear comfy athletic clothes that you don't mind getting dirty, since you will be covered in a layer of dust and grime by the end of the day. I'd also bring a couple of layers, since Colorado thunderstorms can hit at anytime—we had a few bouts of rain. If you have protective eyewear and a bandana, I'd bring them or buy some at BV Jeeps. Sunglasses worked reasonably well for the others, but I'd just lost my sunglasses rafting and bought some goggles instead. They are not cute, and neither is being splattered with mud, which is why this post features zero photos of me!