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As many regular readers are probably aware, my wife and I recently relocated to the small mountain town of Salida, Colorado. While at first new moves are an exciting prospect filled with grand plans for the future, usually after I’ve lived in a place for a while I start having regrets… mover’s remorse, if you will.

View of Salida from the nearby Arkansas Hills Trail System.

So on that note, I give you the top 10 reasons that you should NOT move to Salida.

1. Not enough people.

With a population of only a little over 5,000, there just aren’t enough people in the town of Salida. If you enjoy sitting in gridlocked city traffic, fighting your way through crowded shopping malls, or standing in long lines at the grocery store, then Salida is NOT for you. Ever since moving here, I have sorely missed spending hours creeping through 5 lanes of exhaust-filled traffic just to get to the other side of town.

I mean, what kind of town doesn’t have a rush hour?! Instead, Salida has a beautiful historic downtown district that you can easily walk to, and is a quiet, safe community where kids ride their bikes to school and to the park. Where’s the fun in that?

Rush hour in Salida. Photo: chaffeecounty.net

2. Too many bike shops to choose from.

Despite not having enough people in town, there are too many bike shops to choose from. I mean, seriously: how do you choose which bike shop to go to if there are three (count ’em) awesome bike shops run by great people within two blocks of each other? I don’t want options: force me to only go to one shop because there isn’t another one within 50 miles, please.

3. Too many trails to choose from.

Whenever I get out the map and look at the massive network of trails in the greater Salida region as I decide where to ride on the weekend, I start to get overwhelmed and panicky. You see, I have this thing, where when I can’t make a decision I start hyperventilating and get all light-headed and dizzy. Not only that, but I get horrible gas and start farting constantly. I get that way when I look at the trail map, because there are just too many trails to choose from. I guess I just won’t be able to make a decision, otherwise I might have a nervous breakdown: I’ll just have to ride the 20-mile singletrack trail system that starts a half-mile from my back door.

Big mountains.

4. Too much snow in the winter.

The high-alpine trails that Salida is most known for get buried every winter under an average of 350 inches of the white stuff. If you want to go up in the mountains during the middle of winter, you’re going to have to resign yourself to breaking out the downhill skis and arcing waist-deep (or deeper) turns in Colorado’s champagne powder all winter long.

That said, if it’s going to snow… I want to shovel some snow, dangit! I just love having to unbury my truck before driving to get groceries, and I just love spending all evening shoveling my side walk, just so I can walk to the mailbox. But unfortunately, it only rarely snows in town. So despite the fact the alpine trails get buried, I don’t even get to spend time shoveling! Blasphemy!

Skiing powder at Monarch Mountain. Photo: Monarch Mountain Facebook Page.

5. Trails too hot in the summer.

The in-town trails just get too dang hot in the summer, thanks to the high-desert environment and lack of shade. Riding during the middle of the day on the lower trails can just be scalding. Unfortunately, if you move here, you’ll have to either get up before noon, resign yourself to cooling down on the world-class high-elevation trails, or just wait until the middle of winter to ride in-town… because remember, we don’t get to freaking shovel snow here.

Riding the Monarch Crest Trail above Salida, at 12,000ft.

6. Your car will collect dust.

Not only is there no traffic to sit in in Salida, but the stores, restaurants, and parks are all so close to the residential community that you might not even get to drive your car. Since it takes more time to start your car, go around the block, and find a parking spot than it does to just walk or bike, your car might start gathering dust. Add to that the dozens of different ride combinations that are accessible right from town, and your vehicle will start to feel neglected. Poor car 🙁

7. You’ll need to buy another bike… or 2 or 3.

Since your car will collect dust, you’ll just have to buy a townie bike for cruising to the post office and the bank. Oh, and some of the trails are so gnarly that you’ll just have to buy an all-mountain bike, but of course you’ll have to keep your cross country bike for the flowier trails and all the gravel road riding. And while you’re at it, you might as well pick up a road bike so that you can ride some of the passes, too.

8. Too many tourists.

While of course you just love sitting in traffic and you would miss it so terribly much in Salida, if there’s one thing I’m sure you can’t stand, it’s tourists. Salida just has too dang many of them… make them go away! Never mind the fact that Salida receives just a fraction of the tourists that places like Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Aspen, and just about every other town in Colorado receive. Also, never mind the fact that even though Salida doesn’t get as many tourists as these other places, the tourists that do come in help support a wide variety of restaurants and lodging establishments that a town of 5,000 would not otherwise have.

Look at all the people on these trails.

9. The trail system isn’t complete.

If you’re going to move somewhere, you want to move somewhere where the trail system is complete, don’t you? Well, don’t move to Salida then. These people don’t know when to call it quits: they keep adding new trails to the existing trail systems, and they keep working on connecting all the different long-distance trails and in-town trail systems together into one big network. Don’t you know when it’s time to call it a finished product, people?

10. You won’t want to travel anymore.

Speaking on a personal note, one of my favorite things about mountain biking is traveling to ride new places. Perhaps you feel the same way, too. One of the worst things about Salida is that the mountain bike trails are just so good and the mountains are just so gorgeous here, that I just don’t want to travel to anywhere else anymore. Everywhere I go, it just doesn’t measure up to Salida, and I’m left feeling disappointed. I guess I’m just going to have to stay home, then.

14ers off in the distance.

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# Comments

  • rsb201

    Man……….How do you do it??!!!!. I feel sorry for you. Just live out of your suitcase until you find something better.

  • KleinGuy

    I’ll trade with you, haha. Where I am (Guyton, GA), its normally miserably hot and humid. Everything (Grocery etc.) is at least 20 minutes away. We have 1 trail that stays under water for a month if it rains. My closest bike shop is 40 miles away. I wear out my MTB tires on pavement more than dirt. And i refuse to become a roadie, haha.

  • Greg Heil

    So, as this most recent storm system showed us, it turns out that sometimes you DO get to shovel snow in town. I’m glad we do, because I really missed the futile pushing and scooping, only to have the sidewalks get recovered again.

    Of course, this week is looking dry with highs in the upper 40s, so it looks like all of our beautiful in-town snow is going away 🙁 Don’t worry, there’s still a 35″ mid-mountain base up at Monarch…. one of the best opening weekends at the resort in years!

    • maddslacker

      There’s a saying here: “You never see dirty snow”

  • bravesdave

    Salida really is a cool area with The Collegiates and The Sangres coming in from opposite sides basically. Plus there are the San Juans within easy access. The CT. The Arkansas River. Great skiing nearby. Tons of rock climbing. The beauty of creation abounding. I think you will only be bored when you choose to be.

  • skibum

    Hope you’re already in good with all the locals . . . they may not take a shine to you denigrating their home!

    Great article; I enjoyed all ten but found #9 particularly amusing.

    • Greg Heil

      Haha yeah, I’ll have to keep this on the DL 🙂

    • joe_dirte

      I guess you don’t plan to stay here long? Otherwise who in their right mind would put up a billboard and directions to a hidden treasure and expect no one to show up. By posting this you are doing nothing but speed up destruction of everyone of the 10 things you listed. You didn’t mention the crazy housing market, I assume you are renting?? Please do us all a favor including yourself if you truly want to make this your home and delete this post. So we can try to preserve this little mountain town for as long as possible. I’m going to show this write up to the bike shops downtown and see if they feel the same way that I do. Again man, please take this down, you know its not helping things. There are too many people on the trails the way it is.

    • delphinide

      Sounds like someone boarded up the welcome wagon…@ joe_dirte below. I don’t think Salida is in danger of being metropologized…Salida is an awesome area to ride bikes, ski, and camp but few people actually want to live there except a few cool people like Greg who are brave enough to leave a bustling urban scene like Atlanta and give up Starbucks, Best Buys, philharmonic orchestras, playhouses, a wide variety of shopping, and access to things like airports. It is made of up 88% white residents, 51% women mostly in the their early 40s, with a median income of $36,000 with a high real estate median in the mid $250,000s. That is not an inviting demographic for most people…so rest assured that the town will probably stay the way it is in your lifetime, friend. If anything, Greg’s article brings in more tourism, which as he pointed out, pumps up local businesses to weather seasonal shortfalls in revenue. But one question: too many riders on the trails? There are hundreds of miles of trails out there…and I have hardly seen anyone when I have ridden them even in peak summer?? More riders=better bike shops=better trail advocacy and more trail building.

    • woundedknee

      Yeahhhh move to Salida and shred it up, most noble cause, MERICA!

  • delphinide

    I’ll make sure when we ride together to be upwind when you are looking at the trail map. haha…

  • ranchero7

    Welcome Greg! It’s a tough place to have to call home, but we all have our crosses to bear, don’t we?

    • Greg Heil

      That we do 😀

      Thanks for the welcome! Drop me a line if you ever want to ride.

  • CraigCreekRider

    I am trying to feel your pain. Really. Looks like you have found a great place to live, despite all of its faults.:)

  • MTI

    Clever Gregg! With the Rastafari their power is in their locks. Your wisdom is in your chin hair! So glad you are happy out there! Best of luck man.

    • delphinide

      Don’t encourage the fuzz-man-choo. They named a trail after that thing: Uncle Nazty.

  • jyarmark

    Sounds good until you have lived there all your life and all those good things drive you crazy. It is too small of a town and hard to make a living, there are too many crunchy bikers, the nearby skiing needs more vertical and exposure (great high altitude skiing and off the pass as well as down south in Silverton), and sure is damn hard to get to an airport. Nice place to visit but wouldn’t want to live there.

  • campire

    So I am visiting Colorado Springs from Australia. Reckon Salida will be part of the next visit.

  • radavis3

    Yeah, life sucks for you. 🙂
    I’ll bet you are shoveling some snow today. We are up to 4″ in Castle Rock so far.
    Hoping to get down your way to check out some of your trails next summer.

    • Greg Heil

      Haha thanks for the reminder, I probably need to go out and shovel the sidewalks quick.

  • grantdoug

    Hi Greg, Reading this article makes me proud to have put up with almost two years living in Salida! 😀

    • Greg Heil

      Yep, it’s a hard-knock life man 😉

  • bill@dogsonicdesign.com

    Greg, I once lived in Jackson Hole. When I lived there the stats were worse than Salida, but it was MUCH colder, and less sunny. There was no place to eat after 9pm, it offered few jobs, a lower average income than Salida and it was MUCH farther away from any urban areas. But, inexplicably, my wife and I watched it morph into something very different in large part because of people promoting only the virtues as you have done (albeit cleverly, if not subtly). Consider also, Jackson Hole and other places were ruined before telecommuting was viable. So, again, I love your love for Salida, the place we’ve raised our kids, but your naivety about how quickly a community can be changed by unfettered promotion is as glaring as your lack of serious attention on school funding and affordable housing. I have given this much thought, and resolved at promoting “community” over an “idyllic landscape.” Stay tuned on that social experiment. If you love Salida, and are still here in 15 years, you will be well served by attracting people who are community minded, versus those looking simply for blue bird powder and great riding—Breck and other places are investing in that demographic. I worked in an advertising agency while in Jackson, and saw a lot of PR like yours. Consider, Jackson’s transition to becoming “unaffordable” took roughly 24 months. In positivity, Bill D

    • Jeff Barber

      You make some really valid points! The question is, did you initially move to Salida (or Jackson Hole) because it was (is) an amazing community or because of your love of the outdoor amenities? I’m guessing for a lot of people in a place like Salida, the latter is the primary consideration and the community sorta follows (like-minded folks will tend to end up in the same places). Obviously places change over time (for better or worse) and it’s sorta futile to say “close the barn doors now, keep things the way they are… now that I’m here.” Heck, that even sounds a little selfish.

    • bill@dogsonicdesign.com

      You are addressing the primary issue “why do people move to Salida.” I believe the idea that “community sorta follows” is a mindset worth trying to change, don’t you? If the idea that “community sorta follows” continues, then Salida is toast, like most resort towns. I helped push through our new schools, and have been a founding member of our local trails group, SMT, and these things certainly attract people to the area. So, regarding “close the barn doors now, keep things the way they are… now that I’m here.” this not what I am suggesting. I am simply proposing more thoughtful messaging choices to sustain our community because we have all have seen the failures in Jackson and other areas. I agree, closing the door is unrealistic, and does sound selfish. So, the question is what values you wish to perpetuate in a place you love, since, to your point, change is inevitable? I’ve attended the Colorado Governor’s conference on Tourism and worked in promotions for Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana among many other things “advertising,” and was recently hired to create a promotional film for the area. So, this is an important topic for me, and I appreciate the dialogue. Selling “affordable, pristine outdoor perfection and no crowds” is not just proven to ruin an area, it should intuitively resonate with most people as a failed strategy. Unfortunately, many people make money directly, or indirectly by promoting [Salida etc], and they are not thinking about strategy or long term sustainability. In the Rockies, this is often done by people from urban areas. In the third world, it is done by people from first world countries. I’m doing what I can to make COMMUNITY the baseline message here, and my film is admittedly an experiment in sustainable tourism promotion. The idea that tourists stay and buy homes is a basic idea, but complicates a communications strategy in a tourism based economy: Dig it, let me know how I did: https://vimeo.com/97351887.

      PS We moved to Salida for community first (we had babies, and didn’t have any money, and wanted to build a house etc). But, your point is well taken about Salida in 2014. regardless, I’m thankful I am not living in many places in the world today.

    • Jeff Barber

      I hear what you’re saying but just because you think Jackson is “ruined,” doesn’t mean others agree. By one pretty simple measure–tax receipts–I’m sure Jackson is doing much better today than 10 years ago. And with those proceeds they’re able to build better schools, improve parks, etc. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s not full of pricks now compared to then but then again, everyone’s definition of a prick is different. 🙂

  • bill@dogsonicdesign.com

    You are addressing the primary issue “why do people move to Salida.” I believe the idea that “community sorta follows” is a mindset worth trying to change, don’t you? If the idea that “community sorta follows” continues, then Salida is toast, like most resort towns. I helped push through our new schools, and have been a founding member of our local trails group, SMT, and these things certainly attract people to the area. So, regarding “close the barn doors now, keep things the way they are… now that I’m here.” this not what I am suggesting. I am simply proposing more thoughtful messaging choices to sustain our community because we have all have seen the failures in Jackson and other areas. I agree, closing the door is unrealistic, and does sound selfish. So, the question is what values you wish to perpetuate in a place you love, since, to your point, change is inevitable? I’ve attended the Colorado Governor’s conference on Tourism and worked in promotions for Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana among many other things “advertising,” and was recently hired to create a promotional film for the area. So, this is an important topic for me, and I appreciate the dialogue. Selling “affordable, pristine outdoor perfection and no crowds” is not just proven to ruin an area, it should intuitively resonate with most people as a failed strategy. Unfortunately, many people make money directly, or indirectly by promoting [Salida etc], and they are not thinking about strategy or long term sustainability. In the Rockies, this is often done by people from urban areas. In the third world, it is done by people from first world countries. I’m doing what I can to make COMMUNITY the baseline message here, and my film is admittedly an experiment in sustainable tourism promotion. The idea that tourists stay and buy homes is a basic idea, but complicates a communications strategy in a tourism based economy: Dig it, let me know how I did: https://vimeo.com/97351887.

    PS We moved to Salida for community first (we had babies, and didn’t have any money, and wanted to build a house etc). But, your point is well taken about Salida in 2014. regardless, I’m thankful I am not living in many places in the world today.

  • bill@dogsonicdesign.com

    …Fair enough Jeff, “Ruined” to me means young families can no longer live there, but rich (often young) pricks can, and do, by the thousands. To me, community is synonymous with soul. But, yes, if having more money (tax receipts) is the gauge for success than you will love Jackson these days. Also, Santa Cruz, CA might be deemed better than 20 years ago as well. It’s not rocket science, I’m simply suggesting we try something different and, all things being equal, pitch Salida based on a deeper fabric of assets than being the next rad ski town.

    • Greg Heil

      While I think this is a great discussion, I honestly think you’re reading way more into this article than was originally intended. I don’t have any agenda in that I want to attract people to live in Salida or keep people from moving to Salida. Simply put, I had an interesting idea for an article, so I chose to write it. We share information about all sorts of cities and towns all across North America here on Singletracks, so spending a little bit of time talking about Salida’s merits–a place I also happen to call home–seemed warranted. And, while I agree that the community here in Salida is fantastic–and, by the way, one of the main reasons we chose to move here–the truth is that Salida’s primary industry is tourism. And the truth also is that most people CANNOT move to Salida for a variety of factors, even if they wanted to, the best they can usually do is visit–hence the tourism.

      Consequently, I think the assertion that “your naivety about how quickly a community can be changed by unfettered promotion is as glaring as your lack of serious attention on school funding and affordable housing,” is entirely unwarranted. Not only am I not trying to create any change in Salida through the writing of this article, but due to its very nature, discussions of more serious topics, such as school funding and affordable housing, really don’t come to bear. I’ll leave those topics for the editorial column of the Mountain Mail 🙂

    • bill@dogsonicdesign.com

      I understand the motivations, and again, I applaud the enthusiasm. But, unfortunately, the intent is not independent of the results. I would argue 90% of those who have moved here recently, were turned on to Salida as tourists. I shared my experiences because I am interested from a social science perspective. We probably can’t stop Sunset Magazine from making us a Top Mountain Town, but hopefully, we can get good local writers to understand they are in sales —like it or not. Words matter. Truly, I’m not stressed on it Greg, I’m just trying to bring you up to speed on the discussions taking place locally regarding a tourism promotion platform, hopefully, taking hold. This was probably not the proper forum. My apologies. Let’s continue the conversation over a ride and a beer.
      In positivity, bd

    • Greg Heil

      Hi Bill, would definitely love to meet up for a ride and a beer sometime.

      Cheers!

      -Greg

  • EAL

    Greg-
    Now that you have lived in Salida for a while I am sure that you have realized that no matter the time of day, or the day of the week you still almost always get stuck waiting in line at Safeway.

    • Greg Heil

      THIS is a legitimate reason to stay away!

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