Last Trip Over the Pass: Buena Vista
Drive over Independence Pass for one last weekend getaway before the road closes for winter.
A mere 62.5 miles from Aspen over Independence Pass, there are people who are willing to bike to Buena Vista. But for those of us who aren’t quite so hardcore, Buena Vista (pronounced “Boona” Vista” by locals, or just BV) is a great weekend destination for people wanting a change of scenery that’s still incredibly scenic. Sandwiched between the mighty Arkansas River and the shadow cast by the Collegiate Range, a stack of 14,000-foot peaks that dominate the horizon of this wide, high desert valley, the setting is awe inspiring.
This tiny riverside town has been reinvented in recent years with the completion of the new South Main neighborhood. That’s mostly due to the vision of Jed Selby, the young mind behind the town’s storybook riverfront development. It took 10 years, and a lot of guts and grit, but he pulled it off: a sustainable, walkable, urbanized neighborhood in the Colorado Rockies complete with restaurants, hotels, and a world-class water park. A former pro kayaker, Selby purchased the 41.5-acre property, which was essentially a town dump when he first found it. Inspired by the urbanism movement, he wanted to create a “walkable” village like something you’d find in western Europe but with modern construction and design.
The real crown jewel of South Main is the Surf Hotel, which has somehow achieved a perfect balance of rustic sophistication and modern elegance and the first modern luxury hotel this remote part of Colorado has ever seen. Its restaurant, Wesley & Rose serves farm-to-table inspired dishes on the patio overlooking the Arkansas river or in the dining room, where reclaimed barnwood plank flooring is juxtaposed by white paneled walls and a series of tall, narrow multi-paned windows that are reminiscent of an east coast boarding school. Parisian café tables with white and black wicker chairs evoke an old-world charm.
After dinner, venture down the impeccably manicured river trail and meander around the neighborhood, ending with lavender and honey gelato at The Midland Stop, a small corner café that, like the rest of the neighborhood, does a little bit like a façade or a movie set. It’s impossible to avoid the juxtaposition of new and old. Eventually it will all start to blend in, especially as the town continues to grow and become even more hip as it attracts young families who love the outdoors but still want gourmet food and decent espresso.
BUENA VISTA: DON’T MISS LIST
The Buena Viking
One a handful of food trucks taking up residence along Main Street, the burgers and tater tots are heaven on a plate, at least for anyone still eating gluten. @thebuenaviking.
House Rock Kitchen
If you ask anyone where to eat in BV, this is the place everyone recommends. That’s because almost everything is made from scratch and locally sourced.
Deerhammer Distilling Company
Handcrafted cocktails made with whiskey distilled on the premises. www.deerhammer.com
The Surf Hotel
Without a doubt, Buena Vista’s finest riverfront hotel. www.surfhotel.com
Because a good microbrew and the river are the perfect pairing. Also a restaurant serving lunch and dinner. www.eddylinerestaurant.com.