Scenic Highway View Near Poncha Springs
There is a particularly scenic spot on Highway 285 just north of Poncha Springs. You'll come up and over a large hill and you'll have a beautiful view of the Mt. Shavano and Mt. Antero range, Mt. Princeton (above) and pinion-dotted hills and mesas. I will admit the photo above is not the greatest and was taken about two weeks ago; Perhaps I will head back and replace the photo with a better shot at some point! ;)
Chaffee County is definitely a very diverse area geologically. Along the Arkansas River valley, pinions grow all over on hills and mesas, with Buena Vista in the north having plenty of cottonwoods and grassy plains. The mighty Sawatch mountain range runs north to south as the western boundary and is part of the Continental Divide. The east side of the county has comparatively smaller mountains with a more rugged, desert-like terrain with interesting rock outcroppings, but the Buffalo Peaks stand pretty darn tall at 13,000+ feet, situated on the northeast of the county. Poncha Pass, Mt. Ouray and the Sangre De Cristo Mountains make up the southern boundary of Chaffee County, and the small town of Granite sits near the northern border. With all these mountains, there is a reason the Chaffee County tourism motto for awhile was: "Now This Is Colorado!" ;)
River rafting, kayaking, hiking 14ers, rock climbing, skiing, horseback riding, hot springs, scenic mountain drives ... You name it, Chaffee County probably has it! See, should I be working for the local tourism board?
-Steve (July 26, 2006)