ITINERARY 1: Introducing the Valley

Introducing_the_Valley

This introductory itinerary features nine sites that capture the essence of the San Luis Valley’s heritage and natural beauty. These sites reveal the area’s striking natural features, rich layers of history, and Hispano cultural arts traditions. A journey between these attractions will reveal the unique spirit and rural charm of the San Luis Valley.

 

 

Elk 21 Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve – The National Park showcases the continuous work of wind, water, and time. Sand captured by the unique topography of the massive and nearly vertical Sangre de Cristo Mountains creates the tallest inland dunes on the continent. Medano Creek flows seasonally at the base of the dunes, providing a place where visitors enjoy sand, water, and sun in a spectacular mountain setting. Summer: 9am-6pm | Spring and Fall: 9am-5pm | Winter: 9am-4:30pm | 719.378.6399 | http://www.nps.gov/grsa/

FtGarlandReenactors2 Fort Garland Museum – Built in 1858 during the height of the U.S.’ westward expansion, this historic adobe fort accommodated a string of notables. The legendary Kit Carson served as commandant after the Civil War. Military history, including the story of the Buffalo Soldiers, as well as the region’s Hispano culture and folk art, are featured at Fort Garland. The museum is also home to an active archaeology field school. April-October: daily 9am-5pm | November-March: Thursday-Monday 10am-4pm | 719.379.3512 | http://www.fortgarlandmuseumfriends.com

Jeremy Elliott 25 jelliott62280@gmail.com3 San Luis: Stations of the Cross, San Luis Museum – Founded in 1851 by Hispano settlers, San Luis is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in Colorado. High atop a mesa overlooking the historic town is the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross, a dramatic illustration of Christianity’s importance to the Valley’s Hispano communities. Here, a path leads visitors past a series of outdoor sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Jesus. Downtown, the San Luis Museum and Cultural Center highlights the Hispano cultural arts traditions of the Valley, including contemporary murals, historic religious items, and embroidery. Summer: daily 10am-4pm | Winter: Monday-Friday 9am-4pm | 719.672.3611 | http://www.museumtrail.org/SanLuisMuseum.asp

4 Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad – Originally constructed in 1880 as a part of the Rio Grande San Juan Extension, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is one of the finest examples of a narrow-gauge railroad still in operation today. This 64-mile steam railroad, connecting Antonito, CO, with Chama, NM features North America’s steepest RR grade set among spectacular scenery. The Society of International Railway Travelers named the C&TS, “cats,” one of the twenty best railway experiences in the world. Passenger trains operate from Memorial Day Weekend-mid October departing Antonito daily | 1-888-CUMBRES for ticket reservations and fares | www.cumbrestoltec.com

5 Rio Grande Scenic Railroad – This historic railroad opened thRio Grande Scenic Railroade San Luis Valley to commerce. As tracks were laid, towns were built, torn down, and relocated at the new end of the rails. Today, the railroad offers passenger excursion trains from Alamosa east over scenic La Veta Pass and southwest to Antonito. The unique connection with the C&TS Railroad in Antonito is the only place in North America where standard gauge passenger rail meets narrow gauge passenger rail. May-October: Trains depart Alamosa, Antonito, and La Veta daily | 1.877.7CO.RAIL for schedules and fares | http://www.alamosatrain.com

cranes6 Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge – In the heart of this arid mountain valley, lush wetlands provide year-round habitat for birds and other wildlife. In March and September, twenty thousand migrating Sandhill cranes use the refuge as a major stopping point. This migration is one of the Valley’s greatest spectacles. Open daily during daylight hours | Bus tours from town to the refuge available during the Monte Vista Crane Festival in March | http://www.fws.gov/alamosa/Monte%20Vista.html


RGCM7 Rio Grande County Museum
– Located in Del Norte, the Rio Grande County Museum provides an overview of the Valley’s natural and cultural heritage. Exhibits reveal stories about the Valley’s residents, including Native Americans, Hispanic settlers, trappers, and miners. Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-5pm | 719.657.2847 or 800.233.4403 | http://www.rgcm.org

 

mining8 Creede: Underground Mining Museum/Bachelor Loop Tour –The boomtown of Creede attracted thousands to silver mines along Willow Creek during the 1890s. The Underground Mining Museum presents this history using real mining equipment and other exhibits. Visitors may also explore the Bachelor Loop Tour, a 17-mile backcountry auto tour that leads past impressive mining structures and spectacular mountain scenery. Summer: daily 10am-4pm | Fall-Spring: weekdays 10am-3pm | 719.658.0811

 

SM9 Saguache County Museum – The Saguache County Museum is housed in a historic building that has served as a school, courthouse, and residence for jail keepers, making it a great place to learn about Saguache’s history and colorful figures. Historic mementos and personal collections bring a real sense of the people who thrived in this closely knit agricultural community. Memorial Day-3rd Saturday in September: 9am to 4pm | 719.655.2557 | http://www.museumtrail.org/SaguacheCountyMuseum.asp