City Profile & History


Located on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide in the Arkansas River Valley, the City of Salida was originally founded in 1880. Salida, also known as 'The Heart of the Rockies,' is located in Chaffee County and has held the county seat since 1928.

Originally prospering from increased rail traffic, Salida is now known for its creative and artistic culture, in addition to opportunities for locals and tourists to take advantage of the outdoors and various recreational activities through hiking, mountain biking, golfing, hunting, fishing, rafting and skiing.

The City of Salida maintains the water and sewer services in Salida, and the sewer service in Poncha Springs. The City also has a police force and firefighters to maintain public safety for citizens.

Enjoy Salida

City Profile

The City of Salida has many Points of Interest throughout the City limits including Tenderfoot 'S' Mountain, various trails, the SteamPlant Event Center, the Hot Springs Pool & Aquatic Center, and numerous parks. The map below displays the locations of these unique Salida treasures.

Salida Map


Established: 1880

Population (as of 2020 Census): 5,666

Median Gross Rent: $970

Number of Households: 2,507

Average Persons per Household: 2.89

County: Chaffee

Elevation: 7,083 feet

Land Area: 2.57 sq miles

Surrounding National Forests: Rio Grande, Pike and San Isabel

Male/Female: 48.8% / 51.2%

Number of Veterans: 358

High School: 90.0%

Bachelor's Degree or higher: 33.40%

Median Household Income: $46,875

Median Housing Value: $328,200

Trails in Salida: 57 miles

Sources: US Census Bureau (2019 ACS estimates, and 2020 Decennial Census ,,,

Salida Mountain Trails

Local Economy

As a destination for tourists and retirees, not surprisingly, the majority of employed citizens of Salida work in the retail industry. Being the home of the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center, many Salida citizens are also employed with the hospital.

Based on the most current data available, as of 2019, prior to COVID-19, Salida saw strong employment numbers, with only an estimated 2.8% unemployment rate - lower than the U.S. 2019 average unemployment rate of 3.5%.

Principal Employers

The census bureau quick facts reports that the City of Salida has a 2020 population of 5,666 with 54.9% being in the labor force. Principal employers and estimated number of employees are below:

Principal Taxpayers

Unlike the majority of Colorado municipalities, the City of Salida does not collect property taxes. The following is a list of major sales tax payers in rank order for 2020 and 2013. Together, these taxpayers represent 48.9% of the 2020 sales tax collections and 53.3% of the 2013 collections.

City History

Originally inhabited by the Ute Tribe, explorers, miners and ranchers began to settle the Salida area in the 1800s.

As gold and silver was discovered within the region in the 1870s, trails and dirt roads were built in the Salida area for miners to resupply and to provide transportation routes to the Front Range of Colorado.

As mining began to gain popularity throughout the Rocky Mountains, the Denver and Rio Grande railroad arrived in Salida and the Upper Arkansas River valley in 1880, resulting in rapid population growth.

With the Union Pacific Railroad, successor to the Denver and Rio Grande railroad, discontinuing rail service through Salida in 1997, the local love for the mountains and outdoor recreational activities lives on, resulting in Salida being the attractive tourist and retiree destination it is today.

Sources: Salida Museum,

Old Salida
Salida Street 2

The Community

There are many opportunities to enjoy Salida and the surrounding communities regardless of your interests. The City of Salida is home to the SteamPlant Event Center and the Rotary Scout Hut, where various events are held including concerts, meetings, weddings and more.

Also in Salida is the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center which features a leisure pool and lap pool filled with natural hot springs water. With the Arkansas River running through the heart of downtown, Salida has also been the home of the annual FIBArk (First in Boating the Arkansas) festival since 1949 and attracts whitewater lovers from around the globe.

Salida is also home to the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center, the Salida School District R32, and the Salida campus of Colorado Mountain College. Salida's historic downtown includes many restaurants and unique shops and art galleries.

To help accomodate citizens, there is a free Chaffee Shuttle providing shared rides and public transit services throughout Chaffee County.