Colorado Scenic Byways Map
Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway
Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway
The south central region of Colorado was originally settled as part of requirements for getting and keeping a Spanish or Mexican Grant which called for establishing centers of population and developing the land. However, when the United States obtained this land, San Luis was the first permanent town in Colorado and was founded in 1851. The Los Caminos Antiguos Byway goes through this first town, as well as Fort Garland, Antonito, Alamosa, and into Chama, New Mexico, following the trails of the Spanish Conquerors (see our San Luis Valley Area Map). The byway is 129 miles long and takes about three hours to travel.
As you're traveling the byway, be sure to visit the oldest church in Colorado, Our Lady of Guadelupe Parish church. Joseph Machebeuf (1812-1889), spread Roman Catholicism throughout Colorado. A French missionary, he said first Mass in Colorado in a crude adobe chapel in Conejos in 1858. It was later replaced by Our Lady of Guadeloupe Church, Colorado's oldest church. The church is located in Conejos, Colorado, just off US Highway 285.
Another interesting historical spot is the Jack Dempsey Museum. Jack Dempsey, born in Manassa, Colorado, June 24, 1895, went on to become the heavy-weight boxing champion of the World. At age 14, Jack began fighting at mining camps under the name "Kid Blackie." At age 24 Jack was the first superstar of the ring, and one of the most popular champions ever. Jack died in 1983. The Museum opened in the 1960s in a one-room log cabin near the spot where Jack grew up. Displayed are boxing mementos and pictures donated by locals and the Dempsey family. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Also in the path of the byway is Fort Garland, one of the first military posts in the region. The 100+ men who manned this fort protected the early settlers of the San Luis Valley.
The Smith Reservoir, The San Luis Lake State Park and Mountain Home Reservoir offer many water activities. Hiking is also available at Zapata Falls. The falls also offers spectacular views of the entire San Luis Valley, the San Juan Mountains, Mount Blanca, and the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rocky Mountains. These areas also boast fabulous wildlife viewing opportunities. Also along the byway is the Blanca Wetlands, a birder's paradise. Also in the area is the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This Park also provides many recreational activities.
Places to Stay & Fun Things to Do
An Inn with a touch of Old New Mexico in Chama: handmade furniture, family suites, gas-log fireplaces, jetted tub. Trails nearby: ATV, hike, snowmobile. ROMANCE PACKAGES: flowers and private label wine.
America's Highest and Longest Narrow Gauge Railroad; 64 miles of wild, scenic, and rugged National Forest. A 19th Century Railroad Operating in the 21st Century between Colorado and New Mexico.
On 7 acres of green lawns and shade trees: modern cabins, spacious camp sites: RV and Tent. Mogote Meadow Park is 5 miles west of Antonito in the Conejos Canyon with trout fishing. WI-FI! Pets Allowed.
Fish our Rio! In Chama, New Mexico along scenic Highway 17. Watch the TRAIN steam over the bridge by our RV Park. BIG RIG Friendly: 60 foot pull-thrus! Camp in shade along the Chama River. Free WI-FI!
5 miles West of Antonito and Cumbres/Toltec Train Depot in Mogote Village. Mountain cabins: small, medium, large at Twin Rivers. Close to Conejos River. Park meadow RV and tent sites. Family reunions!
More Activities & Information
Alamosa, Colorado includes: Blanca, Capulin, Center, Fort Garland, Hooper, Mosca, San Luis, Sanford
Antonito, Colorado includes: Conejos, Mogote