Your Guide to the San Luis Valley of Colorado

somewhat mysterious and unnatural, the mysterious San Luis Valley is among the more peculiar and stunning elements of Colorado. With remarkable mountain peaks, rolling sand dunes, broad open spaces, exceptional occasions, rich background, and unlimited outdoor recreational opportunities, a visit to the valley must be on everybody’s Colorado bucket record.

Expand your mind and your soul and find that the San Luis Valley using our manual below.

San Luis Valley Colorado AlienHave aliens visiting the San Luis Valley?! Photo: Bryan Pocius

Background of the San Luis Valley

You can not help but believe that the heritage of people who brought life into the San Luis Valley. Steeped in tradition and history, combined with facets of today’s world, the Sea’s background is one which can not be refused and is immediately felt upon birth.

The background of this valley started with the habitation of the Ute Indians and other Indian tribes. Finally taken out of the shore, the Ute Indians abandoned from the 1850s, leaving the valley available for outdoor lands. Following the San Luis Valley was ceded to the USA from Mexico, the Hispanic settlers began to produce their way south.

Creating a house for themselves in the valley that they founded the city of San Luis at 1851. Afterwards, to guard the valley from hostile Indians, a fort was first set from the present-day Fort Garland, at 1852. And just like most Colorado cities, together with the discovery of silver and gold, some flood of fortune-seekers hunted out property from the valley whenever they mined to their prosperity, consequently establishing small communities across the valley.

National Scenic Byway

Among the greatest ways to find the foundation of the San Luis Valley will be to take a drive across the Los Caminos Antiguos. This federal scenic byway encircle the significant commerce route of the Old Spanish Trail and offers a special glimpse in the valley’s scene. The road will take you out of Alamosa to Antonito, CO, to the southern end of the San Luis Valley.

image of los caminos antiguos scenic bywayViews across the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway. Photo from Kat Hazleton Olance

In case you are coming from Denver into the north, then you’ll input in the valley through Poncha Pass in town of Villa Grove on Highway 285. It is possible to divide two ways here, keep on the main Highway 285 southwest, or just take CO-17 southwest. The former direct one to Monte Vista, the tiniest 20 minutes into the east that in Alamosa. Both drives require an hour to reduce upon the majority of the northern San Luis Valley, it is enormous.

The following alternative is to visit South Fork to the far west coast of the San Luis Valley. From here you can go north on Highway 149, aka the Silver Thread Byway to stop by Creede. This path continues beyond Lake City end just west of Gunnison. However, to go back to the puzzles of the San Luis Valley, it is Ideal to turn around at Creede and return back into South Fork. Both cities are just 30 minutes aside and Creede is well worth the detour!

Geography of the San Luis Valley

The Sea is usually believed dwelling to six counties which have Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache. We have contained Mineral County and its county seat Creede, although it remains tucked right into the forests just outside the true valley. The corresponding county chairs incorporate the cities : Alamosa, Conejos, the oldest city in Colorado-San Luis, Creede, Del Norte, and Saguache.

As one of the biggest high desert valleys from the Earth, that the San Luis Valley is located in its greatest elevation of 8,100 ft ) Constructed over 65 miles wide and 125 mph, there’s a lot to research and watch.

Situated in the south-central portion of Colorado, the valley drops its feet into northern New Mexico and crosses over 500,000 acres of public property. Inspired by the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east and the San Juan Mountains to the west, the valley is home to 14,000-foot twisted peaks, towering sand deserts, hot springs, waterfalls, and is also the headwaters into the Rio Grande River.

image of san luis valleyfound across the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at the San Luis Valley. Photo from Bryce Bradford

The Rio Grande River starts as a little creek from the San Juan Mountains and proceeds throughout the southern half of this valley to New Mexico. Due to its varied landscape, there are loads of outdoor recreation opportunities.

Outdoor Recreation from the San Luis Valley

Year around you can get a multitude of the most intriguing actions in the country. From nifty organic landmarks, to eccentric manmade creations, you are at a visual treat from the San Luis Valley. Sportsmen, both birdwatchers and photographers are going to be at home in several of state parks areas in the valley, such as San Luis State Wildlife Area, a former country park.

Alamosa is frequently touted as one of the most popular locations in Colorado through winter months, so anticipate freezing temperatures from the surrounding area. The peak summer months from June through August will be the most popular time to see the shore. It gets to the 80s °F at the summertime.

Read on the camping nearby Alamosa, Sand Dunes and the San Luis Valley.

Visit the Sand Dunes National Park

image of sand dunes national parkDistant views of the Sand Dunes National Park. Photo from Visit Alamosa Facebook

Colorado is home to four national parks, among which resides in the San Luis Valley. The Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, the Star. Coupled with its towering seas, the park is also home to the Medano Creek and shore (seasonally), a varied landscape of grasslands, wetlands, green woods, and freshwater lakes.

Hiking, biking, swimming, and sandboarding are only some of the favorite outdoor pursuits available at the playground. Because of the remote location, it is designated as a International Dark Sky Park and it is a popular for stargazers and designers alike.

Hike a 14er

image of mount blancaView of Mount Blanca in Alamosa. Photo from 32Groove

The Sea is home to 10 14,000-foot mountain peaks: Mt. Lindsey, Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle, Ellington and Challenger Point, San Luis Peaks, Little Bear, Kit Carson, Humboldt, and Blanca. They vary in hard and length, so select your summit carefully.

Visit Colorado’s first National Monument

image of wheeler geologic areaWheeler Geologic Area. Photo from Brian W. Schaller

Wheeler Geologic Area is now Colorado’s first prestigious national monument and can be among the most distant destinations in Colorado, which makes it one of the most difficult places to achieve. This organic phenomenon is made up of large outcropping of layers of volcanic ash, and that was a consequence of the eruption of La Garita Caldera, over 25 million decades back. It had been also designated a national monument in 1908 and dropped its own designation in 1950 because of absence of traffic, given its geographic site.

accessibility the region with a 7-mile increase or through a treacherous 14-mile four-wheel-drive street. A couple dispersed campsites are offered at the conclusion of Wheeler Road, because there isn’t any camping permitted inside the formations.

Rock scale at Penitente Canyon

image of pentitente canyonInterior Penitente Canyon. Photo from BLM

If you seek higher ground due to their experiences, rock climbing in Penitente Canyon is essential. What was formerly a sanctuary and refuge for all Native Indians from the region, now it functions as a rock-climbing mecca. It’s mostly a sport-climbing place with over 300 bolted paths and chances for bouldering. Keep your head out for stone paintings from individuals who made the canyon house. While from the Penitente Canyon place you might also have a push back into the Natural Arch, also gaze in its celestial glory from underneath (or atop).

Hike to Zapata Falls

image of zapata fallsWinter in Zapata Falls. Photo from Geoff Llerena

Get from the opinions of a cascading waterfall, the more expansive valley ground, and the Sand Dunes National Park using a Brief rise to Zapata Falls. Situated at the bottom of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the approximately two-mile round-trip lift brings people up close to some 30-foot waterfall. Enjoy in winter if the drops become a gorgeous ice sculpture or at the spring and summertime when the drops turn into a cascade of water.

Specific Things To Do in the San Luis Valley

In addition to all of the standard Colorado diversion, like swimming, hiking, and rock climbing, the San Luis Valley boasts excellent chances to simply stop and unwind. Go holiday, sooth your body and mind, loosen up character. It is the ideal place to let your brain go, even though your entire body remains still.

Visit the alligator farm

image of albino gatorAlbino gator in Colorado Gator Farm. Photo from Colorado Gator Farm Facebook

Yes, There’s an alligator and reptile farm in the Center of Colorado. Stop by the Colorado Gators Reptile Park to find a group of exotic reptiles, alligators, tortoises, and snakes. As a result of farm’s organic geothermal waters, over a hundred alligators live and thrive, even through Colorado’s brutal winters.

be sure to stop by the albino alligator along with the renowned gator from Happy Gilmore to get a memorable experience. This roadside attraction can be found close to the city of Hooper, along Highway 17.

View for aliens

image of UFO watchtowerUFO Watchtower and campground

Using its cryptic lure and soul, it is no surprise that the valley is home to some exceptional vortex of electricity. Located near Center, the UFO Watchtower is just another exceptional roadside attraction which retains people interested and sailors constantly looking to the skies. The region is believed to possess a strong magnetic pull inside converging vortexes, that has resulted in a lot of extraterrestrial sightings. Stand beneath the watchtower and determine everything you could see, if nothing else like a gorgeous view of the valley!

Have a dip in a hot springs

image of joyful journey hot springsHappy Journey Hot Springs Photo with Joyful Journey Hot Springs Facebook

Have a dip in one of those many hot springs which predict that the San Luis Valley house.

To get a more relaxing and relaxing adventure, see Joyful Journey Hot Springs or Valley View Hot Springs. Happy Journey is situated at Moffat and provides three distinct pools in varying temperatures, also a few different sleeping accommodation, such as tipis, yurts, along with a resort. Even the clothing-optional Valley View Hot Springs would be the most ordinary of their hot springs and can be run by the Orient Land Trust. They supply camping and rustic lodging for people staying the evening.

Yet another hot springs alternative, is your Sand Dunes Pool. This tranquil retreat supplies a large saltwater pool, plus a 25-person spa, restaurants, along with also the adult-only Greenhouse with swimming pools, saunas, plus a onsite pub. Situated in Hooper, along country road 63.

Bring the children to the pools in Splashland Hot Springs at Alamosa. A geothermal outdoor swimming pool that’s open seasonally.

See thousands of people

image of bats at orient land trustBats fly at the Orient Land Trust. Photo from Orient Land Trust Facebook

Should You Go to Valley View Hot Springs, aim to emerge through summer time Once the migration of this Mexican Free-tail bats Occurs. More than 250,000 nerves make their home in the historical Orient Mine each summer, beginning as far south as South America. The best times for viewing will be early afternoon or early evening if they feed.

Sandhill crane migration

image of sandhill cranesDancing Sandhill Cranes at Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. Picture by Arrow Myers through Monte Vista Crane Festival Facebook

One other wildlife occurrence which happens in the valley will be that the Sandhill Crane migration. Each spring the Sandhill Cranes create their way through the town of Monte Vista in the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. This is the place where they make the most of this open area and water to nourish and occupy. Monte Vista hosts the Crane Festival each March in honour of the function. They observe with a craft tours, also learning and photography workshops.

Stay in the Best Western Movie Manor

image of best western movie manorSunset at Greatest Western Movie Manor. Photo from JLH at Design

If seeing Monte Vista, reserve your stay at the Best Western Movie Manor (affiliate link). Guests may take pleasure in the conveniences of the hotel room whilst viewing the film feature playing in the classic Star Drive-in. The rooms have been designed with oversize windows for lots of viewing distance and in-room speakers which allow for private audio control.

Visit Colorado’s earliest church

image of our lady guadalupe parishOur Lady Guadalupe Parish. Photo from Smithat88

Regardless of your spiritual designation, a trip to Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish is essential. Since the earliest church in Colorado, it had been created in 1856 and still stands tall now, providing routine services for sailors and visitors alike.   The church is found in the little city of Conejos, just north west of Antonito. Search for signs along Highway 285.

Add on for your excursion and see Cano’s Castle, a castle made from beer cans and other recycled materials found in the city of Antonito.

Walk through the earliest still-standing fort

image of fort garland museumWithin the barracks of the Fort Garland Museum. Photo from Fort Garland Museum Facebook

Found in 1858, Fort Garland is your earliest still-standing fort in Colorado. It served to guard the oldest settlers in the valley. Nowadays, visitors could walk through the community and see different first adobe buildings. Get a feel for what life was like in the fort with all the re-creation of their commander’s quarters. The excursion is part of the Fort Garland Museum, situated in the city.

Have a train ride

image of cumbers and toltec railroadThe Cumbers & Toltec Railroad. Photo from Cumbers & Toltec Scenic Railroad Facebook

Traveling by Means of train aboard the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad and also the Cumbers & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad departs from Alamosa and winds across the hills, rising upward La Veta Pass. The Cumbres & Toltec departs from Antonito, CO or Chama, New Mexico, also provides epic mountain views over 10,000 feet in altitude.

Visit the birthplace of Jack Dempsey

image of jack dempsey signJack Dempsey Museum signal in Manassa, CO.. Photo from Larry Lamsa

Jack Dempsey, known as the”Manassa Mauler,” was a mythical heavyweight boxing champion that has been first born and raised in the little city of Manassa. Go to his previous house, which is currently at the middle of city, and stands as the Jack Dempsey Museum. It is just retains regular open hours through June, July and August. Additional jealousy is available by appointment only.

Walk into the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross

image of shrine of the stations of the crossShrine in the forefront of the Cross, picture: Jessica Hughes

Visit Colorado’s oldest city, San Luis, also take a Brief hike up into the towering Shrine of the Stations of the Cross. Even the shrine rests high over the city and stands out as a sign of soul and civilization. Upon reaching the surface, people can see within the shrine and wander through the whole world landscape, and take views of the city below.

Whether you’re searching for an epic outdoor experience or to soak up a little Colorado history, the Mystic San Luis Valley is the place to see!