The closest grocery stores are in Salida. There is a Safeway downtown on 3rd Street between G and H. The Walmart on Highway 50 (on the west side of town) has a full grocery department.
Unfortunately, we discovered in the summer of 2016 that the Ploughboy bakery and green grocery has closed. However, there's another good bakery in town, the Little Red Hen at 3rd and G Street. Call them at (719) 539-2401 for hours and what bread's baking.
We also recommend Scanga's Meat Market, which is on County Road 156, near the smokestack. If you travel east out of downtown on CR 291 (which is one block north of 1st Street) you will see a sign showing you where to turn. Their bacon is wonderful, and they also sell delicious frozen pasta, as well as almost any kind of meat you might want.
The nearest place to get something to eat, while not exactly a restaurant, is the Monarch Crest gift shop at the top of Monarch Pass. They serve items suchs as burgers and hot dogs, as well as ice cream and really delicious homemade fudge. Note that they are NOT open in winter, but only from early spring to late fall. Call (719) 539-4091 for information.
Salida has a wide variety of excellent eating establishments, more than you'd expect for such a small town! Here are some of our favorites:
If you are headed towards some of the establishments on Highway 50, it's best to just stay on that road as you cross the intersection with US 285 in Poncha Springs. Note that to stay on Highway 50 you'll need to take a left turn in Poncha. It's well-marked.
We've found, if you want to go to downtown Salida, that it's better to turn off of 50 onto County Road 120 and follow that. It turns into 3rd street in downtown Salida. Watch for speed limits along this road! The intersection of CR 120 and Highway 50 is in Poncha Springs, just before the signs that tell you to turn left to follow 50 into Salida.
Here is a map with both of these routes to town outlined, and some important landmarks noted:
Unfortunately not. The homes were built pre-ADA and have not been remodeled to accommodate wheelchair access.
Our homes are at approximately 9600 feet above sea level. We recommend that you take it easy, activity-wise, for a day or so after arriving. Keep well-hydrated, and you need to realize that alchohol will affect you differently than at home. Drink lots of water and not too much alcohol! Also, it is much easier to get a sunburn at this altitude, so you'll want to be careful about using sun protection.
The altitude also affects some methods of cooking. Water boils at a much lower temperature than 212° due to the reduced atmospheric pressure, so stove-top cooking times will vary from what you may be used to. We have also found that charcoal fires for grilling do not burn as hot as they do at sea level; allow more time for food preparation.
When you open bottles of lotion or sunscreen, or sealed food cartons (even when purchased in Salida) the contents might spurt out due to the reduced pressure (and when you get home you'll find those bottles punched in!).
The Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center is in Salida, about 20 miles (less than a 30-minute drive) away. It's on County Road 291, on the west side of town. Signs on Highway 50 will direct you. If you get hurt while skiing, you're in good hands; the ski patrol and medical staff at Monarch Mountain are top-notch.
Cell phone service is spotty and generally poor. You may, from time to time, as the signal fluctuates, and depending upon your carrier, be able to send and receive texts. Usually the signal isn't ever strong enough for voice communication. You can get service a few miles west on Hwy. 50 as you climb toward Monarch Pass.
All of the Amen Mountain Homes have landlines that allow free local calls. This includes calls to Buena Vista as well as Salida. Bring a phone card for long distance calls and you'll be able to stay in touch with folks back home.
The Monarch Mountain Lodge, just up the hill from the Amen Mt. Homes, generously offers free wifi in their lobby. Ask at the desk for the password. Phone: 719-539-2581.
In Salida, several coffeeshops (like Sacred Ground, 719-539-7500) and restaurants (like River's Edge, 719-207-4267) offer free wifi. The McDonalds also provides wifi. One of our favorite places to catch up on email, etc., is the Salida Regional Library, on 4th Street between D and E. They have a nice computer room with public computers you can sign up for, as well as spaces for laptops, with plenty of plugs. You can even access their internet from the street outside the building when they are closed.
We have had good luck with data service by going up Hwy. 50 towards Monarch Pass. You can begin to get a better cell phone signal and 2G reception pretty reliably a few miles up the road. Reception does not become reliable heading east on Highway 50 until you are close to Poncha Springs, which is at the intersection of US 50 with US 285. But over the last few miles before Poncha, a 4G signal has been available.