Chalk Creek/Nathrop Info & Activities
The Chalk Creek Valley between Salida and Buena Vista is one of the most beautiful areas in Colorado. From the pools at Mt Princeton Hot Springs to the ghost town of St Elmo to Colorado Trail, there is so much to do! To stay in or near this area, check out our Chalk Creek/Nathrop vacation rentals.
Natural hot springs are a big draw in our area, and the most popular is the Mt Princeton Hot Springs, in the Chalk Creek Valley of Nathrop. This historic location offers multiple pools, a spa, massage, restaurant and bar, general store and much more. In some seasons there are also small hot springs pools directly in the Chalk Creek (depends on snow melt). The main pools are family friendly, while the new spa & club is an adult oasis with separate pools and spa services (no one under 16 allowed) Both sides are open to the public with day passes.
The Mt Princeton Riding Stables is a wonderful place to go for every type of horseback riding trip.. They are just a few miles east of the Mt Princeton Hot Springs, and have a variety of rides from hour long to whole day, that go along Chalk Creek or up into the nearby mountains. One of their all day rides takes you up Browns Creek all the way to Browns Lake. Its one of our favorite trails, and the scenery as you approach the lake is amazing.
There is a great area for family friendly mountain biking along forest roads. CR 272 goes up to the Browns Creek Trailhead, and you can drive all the way up to the trailhead parking lot, or you can park as soon as you cross onto the Forest Service land (boundary is well marked). From there, the road gently winds up along a shelf below Mt Antero, and while there are some hills, for the most part they aren’t that bad. You can ride North or South, and there are miles of dirt road to explore.
The best known ghost town in the area is St Elmo, about 13 miles west of the Mt Princeton Hot Springs. This ghost town has many buildings and houses still standing, and a handful of people still live here. The St Elmo General Store has everything from antiques to souvenirs to snacks. Make sure to bring or buy snacks for the chipmunks who love to visit with tourists.
For off-roading fun, you can get to the Chalk Creek drainage in a less than 10 minutes, and spend the next week exploring the various jeep trails up the many valleys behind Mount Antero. As seen on the TV show “Prospectors”, you can actually wind your way up the back side of the mountain, to just under 14,000 feet. There is a large network of jeep trails in this area offering spectacular, above treeline terrain, and it is maintained by The High Rocky Riders OHV Club, and you can follow that link for more information on the areas they like to travel. While you are in the Chalk Creek area, you need to stop by the old mining town of St. Elmo. Its a cool little piece of history, and while you can get to St. Elmo in the family car, there are four major 4WD routes that leave out of the town, and that’s not counting the road up towards Mt Antero, which leaves the main road just a short distance before you get there. More info here.
In the winter, there are great snowshoe, cross-country ski and snowmobiling opportunities in the Chalk Creek area. Brown's Creek, St Elmo and the road to Hancock (a few miles before you get to St Elmo) all have great trails.