The town is picky and rude and if they do not want you to stay there even if you pay the fees they will ask you to leave. I do not recommend staying here at all. Food sucks in town and there are no tourist attractions.
I was hoping to go here to see some people launching their white water rafting, however that was not the case when I was visiting. Despite being open year round there was not a lot of activity going on when I was there in late October during midweek. The surroundings were amazing, however I opted to not stay because a cold front was coming in to push through some snow, probably the reason why people where not rafting.
The sites for camping were nice, there were many campgrounds to choose from along the area and sites were large and spacious. Most importantly they were reasonably priced at only $18. Part of what makes these camps be able to not close their doors seasonally is their vault toilets, with no running water at camp they do not have to worry about pipes bursting or issues relating to this so camp can keep going.
Sites are equipped with traditional picnic table, fire ring and grill and there is a changing area at the campground too just to get out of the gusty winds and provide a bit of shelter for getting cleaned up each day.
The Salida campground does have a boat ramp and launch right beside camp and fully backs up to the river itself so you have amazing views from any campsite. You really can't lose with this place!!
Come prepared there is limited cell service here and no store on site so you will be needing to go to town if you forget anything.
Check weather conditions, though open year round you will want to prepare if cold fronts are passing through as this area is already a bit cooler being so close to the waters edge.
Clean, tidy and good amenities. A little far from the grocery store and the town’s internet was down so cash transactions only at many stores. Great little stores and creative culture.
Salida East is a 25 site campground run by Colorado Parks and Wildlife through an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management. Unfortunately, that means you pay $7/day for a "day use" pass (or purchase an annual pass for $70) in addition to the camping fee of $10 or $18. The price of a site is on the post at the site. A site with a picnic table, fire ring and tent pad (on pebbles) is $18. It's $10 if the site only has a fire ring.
I thought the sites were not reservable, but then I saw some upcoming reservation tickets on a few sites. This campground is part of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. Look for that area on the Colorado Parks and Wiildlife website to make a reservation
There are no hookups and no potable water at the campground, but there are vault toilets and a couple porta potties. There is no place to dispose of trash. Haven't had that happen before!
This is really just a camping spot. I'm not sure why a day use fee is necessary because there is nothing else to do there unless you have a boat. There's a boat ramp. There is nothing else to do in the campground.
Being next to the Arkansas River is nice and being able to look at mountains in the distance is nice, but the sites are on gravel/dirt. It's adequate for a one night stay close to Salida, but I wouldn't want to hang out here during the day. You can use the pool and shower at the aquatics center for $5.
One more thought - BLM has Colorado River campgrounds in Utah with beautiful views for $10/night. They turned this site on the Arkansas River over to Colorado, so it's $10/$18 plus $7 for "park" access. Kinda greedy in Colorado and not impressed with Colorado park sites. We'll try to stick with federal sites.