ALL ABOUT CHALK CREEK CANYON AND THE LOVE RANCH
Chaffee County, Colorado is located in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Nearly in the center of the state, the county is also known as the Arkansas River Valley. The Arkansas River flows through the county offering world class white water rafting and coveted gold medal fishing. This scenic county includes the towns of Buena Vista, Nathrop, and Salida. Chaffee County has 1,015 square miles of public land, that’s 77% of the county land mass. Public lands include the Browns Canyon National Monument and the Pike and San Isabel National Forests.
Often referred to as the “Fourteener” region the county has the largest concentration of 14’ mountains in Colorado with 12 majestic peaks. There abundant opportunities for mountain and rock climbing for people of all skill levels. There are numerous hiking trails, from easy river walks to challenging 14’ers.
There are creeks, lakes, and the Arkansas River for all your fishing and water fun!
Chalk Creek Canyon is a unique, special canyon located about half way between Buena Vista and Salida. From Hwy 285, you turn onto CR 162 at Nathrop. The area was named for the stunning white kaolinite cliffs which welcome you to the canyon. It is flanked by two 14’ers: Mt. Princeton and Mt. Antero. There are many hikes offered in the area including a trail head for the Colorado Trail. The lovely Chalk Creek flowing through the canyon offers a quiet, peaceful piece of Colorado. Chalk Creek has natural geothermal properties and many hot springs are found along the creek. Taking advantage of the amazing location and natural hot springs, Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort offers numerous pools and a water slide.
This is one of Colorado premier areas for outdoor adventure. Off-road adventure in jeeps and ATV are abundant. The ghost towns and old mining areas in Chalk Creek Canyon are a favorite for off-roaders.
In the late 1800’s the prospect of gold and silver in the area brought many to the area and mining towns sprung up. The railroad was built through the canyon to haul ore. Like so many boom and bust towns of the gold and silver rush, by World War 1 most mining operations had closed and the population of the towns dwindled. The area has many “ghost towns” to explore, but while still occupied St. Elmo is the best known at the top of Chalk Creek Canyon. One can feel the history as they walk the streets in this former mining town. Several building have been restored and there is small general store. Hummingbirds flutter about and children of all ages delight in feeding the famous chipmunks of St. Elmo.
The welcoming communities of Buena Vista and Salida offer many dining and shopping options for all palates and budgets. Both towns have awesome water parks, areas along the Arkansas River where one can take a walk or relax, have a picnic and enjoy watching the kayaks, SUP’s and rafters as they enjoy the river. Or better yet you can join them!
Eight miles up the canyon from Hwy 285 on CR 162 is Love’s Ranch. Filled with beauty and history Love’s Ranch is one of Colorado’s most beautiful areas with green mountain meadows, wildflowers, a creek and wildlife viewing. The majority of Chalk Creek Canyon Cabin and Vacation Rentals are located on Love’s Ranch.
Chalk Creek Canyon entered the 1900’s as a destination for those seeking the solitude, geothermal waters, history and beauty of area. In 1926, a young couple Mark and Jo Love founded the Love Ranch as a guest ranch. Tragically in 1932 Mark Love died after falling of his horse. In true pioneer fashion and out of her love for the area and her family, Jo Love persevered, expanding and improving the ranch and adding additional cabins. For 50 years, until her death, Jo Love was host to many pleased guest including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, author Alex Haley and Buffalo Bill. It is said that the historic Love Ranch cabins we offer for rent today were once their favorite accommodations at the ranch.