Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area
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-- San Luis Valley Southern Colorado's Paradise --
A National Heritage Area in The Sangre de Cristo Mountains
The San Luis Valley is Southern Colorado's Vacation Paradise! Your family can explore the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or the Rio Grande National Forest; fish in the Gold Ribbon waters of the Conejos and Rio Grande rivers, be inspired by the Stations of The Cross, the Sacred Circle - Mission Churches, view the migrant bird populations at three National Wildlife Refuges, or soak in the thermal waters of our underground hot springs.
The San Luis Valley is roughly the size of New Hampshire; it is the highest and largest Alpine Valley in the United States. What makes this Alpine desert valley truly unique is its hidden water! Underground aquifers support agriculture, livestock and hot springs!
YOUR FAMILY WILL EXPLORE The Great Sand Dunes National Park
The Dunes of the National Park and Preserve crest at 750 feet above the valley floor. They are the highest (land-locked) Dunes on the North American Continent. They are shaped and sustained by the interaction of sand, wind and water in this bowl-shaped valley. Water flowing from the mountain slopes and percolating from the valley's aquifer all contribute to the maintenance of these unique Dunes. Venture to the Hooper or Villa Grove Hot Springs to soak your bones after a long hike.
YOUR FAMILY WILL CLIMB ABOARD: Two Historic Train Rides
Travel back in time on one of the two historic trains: Rio Grande Scenic Railroad or the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad, recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 2012. These historic remnants of years gone by will take you through the Rio Grande National Forest crossing over the New Mexico State line several times, or to La Veta for the Mountain Rails Live Music Concerts at the top of La Veta Pass, or the Rails and Ales train in late June.
Given the plentiful public lands of the Rocky Mountain Flyway, the area is especially well suited for bird watching and other forms of wildlife observation.
YOUR FAMILY WILL FISH: Gold Medal Waters
The Conejos and the Rio Grande Rivers have designated Gold Medal Waters!
Cast your line into the Rio Grande, teeming with brook, cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout. The Conejos River is also an acclaimed gold medal trout fishing river; flowing from the San Juan Wilderness in southern Colorado, the Conejos provides fly-fishing anglers excellent rainbow, brook and brown trout fishing. Whether you settle in by a River or find a crystal clear lake, you're going to experience Colorado's best fishing.
YOUR FAMILY WILL BE INSPIRED
Be Inspired by the Sacred Circle Mission Churches, the Stations of the Cross, and the Capilla de Todos los Santos (chapel of All Saints) which sits high on top San Pedro Mesa, also known as the Mesa de la Misericordia, or Mesa of Mercy. The Trail of the Stations of the Cross is a series of powerful bronze sculptures along the path that ascends the mesa. This depiction of Jesus' journey was created by local artist, Huberto Maestas. The Sangre de Cristo Heritage Center, 41 Church Place, includes contemporary murals, historic "Santos", wooden carvings by local Hispanic Artists, and a replica of a Morada; structures utilized as places of worship before churches were built.
Summer hours: daily 10am-4pm; Winter hours: Monday-Friday 9am-4pm.
The Sacred Circle Mission Churches are a collection of nine late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century churches located throughout Costilla County.
YOUR FAMILY WILL DISCOVER: The Backcountry
Hike, Bike and 4-Wheel Drive in Rio Grande National Forest and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Flanking the east side of the region are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains rise from the valley floor to over 14,000 feet. The San Juan Mountains form the western perimeter of the valley and gradually rise from the valley to the Continental Divide. Mt Blanca is the highest peak at 14,345 feet.
The Sangre de Cristos' natural diversity of alpine tundra, tall forests of evergreen and aspen, massive desert dunes, spacious grasslands, and wetlands is unique to the North American landscape. Just miles from its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains, the mighty Rio Grande traverses through this National Heritage Area as it winds its way across the state line and into New Mexico. Be sure to visit the Rio Grande Natural Area between San Luis and Manassa.
Recreation activities abound here as a coveted place of exploration, adventure and solitude. You can hike, camp, rock climb, mountain and road bike, horseback ride, ice climb, snowmobile, and backcountry ski.
YOUR FAMILY WILL LEARN: About Our Oldest Vacationers
The Sandhill Cranes have been visiting San Luis Valley for 1000s of years!
In late February - early March, Sandhill Cranes, the San Luis Valley's oldest vacationers, stop near Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge to refuel. For millions of years, the Sandhill Cranes have been spending their "Spring Break" in Colorado's Valley of the Cranes. Wildlife watchers enjoy the wonder of this natural spectacle at the Annual Crane Festival held in early March each year.
LEARN MORE, CALL TODAY: 719-672-3000 Alamosa Visitor Center.
- Region: Alamosa - South Central, Colorado
- Restaurant: On site.
- Internet Cafe: On site.
- Open Dates For On-Site Activities: All Year
- National Park OR Monument: On site.
- National Forests & BLM Lands: On site.
- State Parks: On site.
- Designated Historic District, Site or Plaza: On site.
- Designated Scenic/Historic Byway: Along the scenic byway.
- Designated Hiking Trails: Trails start on site.
- Museum: On site.
- Hot Mineral Springs: On site.
- Family Hot Mineral Springs Pool: On-site.
- Indoor Swimming Pool: Walking distance.
- Golf Course: On site.
- Movie Theater: On site.
- Art Gallery: On site.
- Restaurant(s): On site.
- Internet Cafe: On site.
- Outdoor Swimming Pool: Walking distance.
- Fishing in River, Stream or Creek: On site.
- Fishing in Lake, Reservoir or Pond: On site.
- Guided Fishing Trips (Licensed): Wade Fishing.
- Fishing Tackle Sold: On site.
- Fly Shop: On site.
- Whitewater Rafting Office/Pickup point: On site.
- Horseback Trail Rides (Guided): On site.
- Jeep Trails: Trails start on site. (off road, back country, 4WD, Jeep, or jeeping).
- ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) and/or Dirt Bike Trails: Trails start on site.
- Tourist Train Rides: On site.
- Historic/Cultural Tours: On site.
- Mountain Bike Trails: Trails start on site.
- Bicycle Shop: On site.
- Waterfall Trails: Trails start on site.
- Amusement Rides: On site.
- Mini Golf: On site.
- Hunting in Area: On site.
- Guided Hunts: Yes.
- Drop Camps: Yes.
- Private Land Unguided Hunting On-Site: Yes.
- Rifle Hunting Season: Yes.
- Archery Hunting Season: Yes.
- Deer Hunting: Yes.
- Elk Hunting: Yes.
- Antelope Hunting: Yes.
- Downhill/Snowboarding Ski Area: Ski in/Ski out.
- Cross Country Skiing Trails: Trails start on site.
- Ski/Snowboard Equipment Rentals: On site.
- Snowshoe Trails: Trails on site.
- Ice Fishing: On site.
- Snowmobile Trails: Trails start on site.
- Snowmobile Rentals: On site.
- Snowmobile Tours: On site.
- Snowmobile Sales & Services: On site.