SALIDA, Colo. — Downtown Salida sits just below the slope of Tenderfoot Mountain. Throughout most of the year, it provides the perfect backdrop for the Salida National Historic District, the largest such district in the state. And once winter comes, it brings a transformation of the mountain.
“Christmas Mountain is a 750-foot outlined Christmas tree with 10,000 LED bulbs,” said Lori Roberts of the Salida Chamber of Commerce.
It is a literal mountain of Christmas lights, bringing the holiday spirit to everyone within sight of it — and that’s a lot of people who can see it.
It is also record-setting.
“It is the brightest and the largest that I know of in the United States,” Roberts said.
The tradition of putting lights on the mountain began in 1989, and a group of volunteers have carried it on ever since.
“The main focus is bright — to be the biggest and to be the center of our celebration in Salida,” said Roberts, who can see the lights from her home.
The executive director of the local chamber has also seen that giant lit tree from above.
“I have flown — had the privilege of flying — over Tenderfoot Mountain or Christmas Mountain in the month of December and the pilot has tipped his wings (so passengers could see),” she explained.
The construction or installation of Christmas Mountain takes weeks, as volunteers climb the steep slope. Then, on the day after Thanksgiving, a parade is held in town and Santa Claus flips the switch to light up the 750-foot tree.
“It’s for the children, it’s for everybody, it’s for the community,” Roberts said.