East Main Street

Buena Vista and East Main Street enjoy a quiet late winter day, a balance of sorts to the bright, sunny and busy days of summer.

Earlier this month, Elevation Outdoors magazine released the results of its annual Best of the Rockies reader poll – Buena Vista dominated a wide swath of categories including Best Mountain Town and kid-friendly outdoor destination.

“The result is a listing of the personalities and places that make the outdoors pump,” wrote Elevation’s Doug Schnitzpahn. “Read on to find out who took top honors and plan to advocate for your heroes and go-to spots next year.”

Buena Vista beat Eagle for the title of best mountain town in the poll “by a huge margin,” Schnitzpahn wrote, and Vail Adventure Ridge in the kid-friendly category.

“We think that’s because the welcoming town of 2,806 active souls situated on the banks of the Arkansas River has fully embraced the promise of outdoor recreation as the backbone of a thriving, sustainable mountain town economy. From the new Surf Hotel, built by former pro kayaker Jed Selby who oversaw the paddling-oriented development of the South Main neighborhood, to the inclusive vibes of gatherings like 14er Fest and CKS PaddleFest, this is a town where life revolves around fun,” he wrote.

BV-area businesses, events and people won 12 of the 59 categories, which honored businesses from Wyoming to New Mexico. The town also took four runner-up categories. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both the winner and runner-up in the best whitewater guide category went to northern Chaffee County outfitters.

Salida residents and businesses won in three categories and received runner-up mentions in two, including Salida’s new mayor P.T. Wood coming in second in the favorite politician category to Colorado’s new governor, Jared Polis.

Buena Vista received winning nods for:

• Best stand up paddleboard spot (for the third year in a row) at the river park,

• Best multi-sport festival with 14erFest,

• Best brewery for Eddyline,

• Best distillery for Deerhammer,

• Best outdoor retail store for the Trailhead,

• Best restaurant for House Rock Kitchen,

• Best whitewater guide for River Runners,

• Best bar for The Lariat,

• Best food truck for the Buena Viking and

• Best river ride for Brown’s Canyon.

And, although we probably can’t take full credit for this one since it does span the entire country north to south, it’s worth noting that the Continental Divide Trail was named best trail by the magazine.

Whitewater Attainment received runner-up mentions in the best whitewater guide category, Campout for the Cause got a second-place mention as best music festival after Telluride Blues & Brews, BV local Tommy Gram was named runner-up for best guide, and Vitamin B, newly legitimate, received runner-up for best mountain bike trail.

Down south, Vino Salida was named best winery, the Yoga Tonic was named best yoga studio, Colorado Mountain Club conservation director Julie Mach was named best advocate and FIBArk was named runner-up best paddling event.

Also named favorite dispensary was Tenderfoot Health Collective, which the magazine noted all its cannabis leaf, tinctures and edibles are grown pesticide free in Boulder County. "But the caring, engaged staff are the real difference-maker here."

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