Buena Vista's the BEACH Is the Most Scenic Colorado Venue You've Never Heard Of
It's a well-known fact that in order to be a true Coloradan, a yearly prescription of outdoor adventure must be filled. This weekend, I went to Buena Vista to do just that: kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc. But when I loaded the car and set off on the three-hour drive from Denver, the last two things I expected to discover when I got there were a thriving music scene and a beach.
Buena Vista has both. Every Saturday night in July and August, a makeshift venue called the BEACH -- aptly named because of the sand, the surf shack and the view of the river surfers yards away -- puts on a free show. During the day, the BEACH's stage is simply a wooden platform used for yoga, and the nearby tables are filled with diners stopping by the crepe stand that serves breakfast every morning. At night, though, the space absolutely transforms into one of the best outdoor performance spaces I'd been to in a long time.
Although the BEACH's sand emulates an oceanside venue, it is impossible to forget that it is actually in the heart of the Rockies. The Collegiate peaks of "purple mountains majesty" fame tower to the right, the river valley with its lush pines and racing water sits to the left, and as the sun dips low, the chill of a summer night in the mountains sets in. But it's difficult to be cold in the kind of crowd that shows up to watch the music. Much of the town comes to dance, drink and sit around the fire pit, close enough to the stage that musicians might sweat on them and close enough to the river that sparks from the file waft almost to the water.
Dinner can be purchased both from the creperie and from local restaurants that bring selections down just for the night. Almost exclusively local alcohol is for sale at the surf shack -- beer on tap from Elevation Beer Company brewed twenty miles outside of town, liquor distilled right in Buena Vista at Deerhammer Distilling Company, and wine from Vino Salida Wine Cellars in Salida.
Outside the surf shack, under twinkling ropes of lights, children play in the sand, dogs wander through the crowd or nap under tables, and friendly greetings are exchanged between locals and vacationers alike.The audience isn't just there for the music -- they are there for the community, for the people they know and the people they might meet, for a relaxing evening after a long day on the river or the trails. It is a Colorado crowd in a Colorado space, from the pastel sunset to the scruffy beards.