Salida Christmas Mountain
Salida is home to Christmas Mountain. Most of the year, Tenderfoot Mountain is adorned with a giant lighted “S” for Salida, and a large red heart, a nod to the town’s nickname “Heart of the Rockies.” Come Christmastime, however, those symbols share the hillside with thousands of festive lights in the shape of what locals call the world’s largest Christmas tree.
The holiday tradition began in 1989 when electric contractor enlisted his crew to decorate the mountain with 220 colored floodlights powered by 22,000 watts of electricity. However, the effect-which looked fabulous from overhead but like a bunch of big light bulbs from the town-wasn’t quite what he’d hoped for.
The next year, surveyors sketched a mountain-size tree, and volunteers strung extension cords and Christmas lights in accordance with their specifications. When the lights came on, Christmas Mountain was a shining success-and a tradition that townspeople have embraced ever since.
On the Friday evening after Thanksgiving Day, a crowd of spectators gathers in downtown Salida to watch the city’s annual Christmas parade, capped off by a visit from Santa Claus and the illumination of Tenderfoot Mountain for the holidays.
Christmas Mountain glows with red, orange and white lights outlining a 750-foot-tall Christmas tree above the town. Complete with illuminated ornaments, garlands and a treetop star, Tenderfoot Mountain is transformed into Christmas Mountain U.S.A. while local firefighters launch fireworks that explode in the sky.
Holiday Park, Salida’s heartwarming annual display of trees along the walkways of Riverside Park . This enchanting walk is filled with trees decorated by locals to promote a business or special cause, a loved one to memorialize or celebrate, or simply want to decorate a tree.
There is nothing like a small town holiday. Salida has created a tradition that visitors long to return to year after year.