Attractions in San Luis

Capilla de Viejo San Acacio — As the oldest continually used non-Native American religious space in Colorado, Capilla de Viejo San Acacio is significant for its Hispanic Heritage beginning in 1850.  As the symbolic and actual center of the Viejo San Acacio community, the church and cemetery (capilla y campo santo) are the location for ongoing cultural use and the site of repeated community gatherings since the village formed circa 1850.  Additionally, due to representations of a regional folk art tradition as expressed through hand-carved gravestones in the cemetery, it is artistically significant. Hwy 142 & County Rd. 15, old San Acacio, CO

casa de santa maria

Casa de Santa Maria — Owner and Editor, Maria Martinez of La Sierra News – San Luis writes;  “If you are looking for a place to contemplate, renew your spirit, worship under the beautiful blue sky, or just unwind from the stresses of the day with nothing between you and a Higher Power, you will want to stop and visit Mother Mary’s Garden, a non-profit sacred site just off Highway 159 South.”  “Surrounded by the mesa to the east and the wide expanse of chamiso covered prairie to the north, south and west, this beautiful spot on the planet is definitely a labor of love. The redwood cedar statue of Mother Mary is incredible, as is the landscaping—and more than anything, the trust in placing these beautiful objects out in the open for everyone to enjoy. The signs invite the passerby to visit, and explain that the garden is a non-denominational, non-profit sacred site.” 211 Culebra Street, San Luis, CO 81152 – 719-672-3130 – –

Fort Garland Museum

Fort Garland Museum – Established in 1858 in southern Colorado, Fort Garland, with its garrison of over 100 men, served to protect the earliest settlers in the San Luis Valley.  Today you are invited to walk the parade ground of the fort and tour the adobe buildings, which feature a re-creation of the commandant’s quarters during Kit Carson’s time.  Rich in military history, Fort Garland also highlights the folk art and culture of the Hispanic community in southern Colorado.  2947 Highway 159, Fort Garland, CO 81133 – 719-379-3512

Huberto Maestas Studio

Huberto Maestas is somewhat of a celebrity in his tiny home town of San Luis, Colorado. Besides its status as the oldest town in Colorado, San Luis has received fame as the home of the Huberto’s life-size Stations of the Cross Shrine on the Hill of Piety and Mercy. Miniatures of these stations reside in a collection at the Vatican Museums in Rome.

Born of an old Hispanic family, Huberto knew very early that he had an artist’s heart and he pursued this calling because he loved it, and also because he didn’t want to be a farmer like all his family before him. He began by painting and drawing, and then one day, someone showed him how to carve wood. He was hooked. After studying sculpture at Adams State University, he began working in a foundry, learning the skills necessary in the final stages of casting bronze sculpture.

109 Main St, San Luis, Colorado

La Vega – La Vega sits to the southeast of the oldest town in Colorado and is the only Mexican-Era land grant commons in the state. In 1863, villagers living in the Rio Culebra Basin allocated the commons 18 miles south to the New Mexico border. Today, 633 acres of La Vega remains and its fate rests in the hands of local descendants. A commission created in the ‘70s governs the commons, which is still a traditional, uncultivated wetlands used only for grazing cattle and horses for five months out of the year. Accessed via Co Rd P6 out of the town of San Luis then turning right onto N8 off of Co Rd P6.

Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway — Translated, the name means “the ancient roads” – aptly named for its tour through 16th century Spanish territorial expansion at its northernmost boundary. Colorado’s cradle of Hispanic culture lies in the San Luis Valley, a mystical basin where sandhill cranes feed in the marshes, farmers till the soil, and North America’s tallest sand dunes press up against the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The route winds along the Upper Rio Grande region through some of Colorado’s oldest towns, surrounded by panoramic views in all directions. This byway allows visitors to experience the culture that is still alive today with hospitality, authentic cuisine, adobe missions, museums, galleries, special festivals and events, and awe-inspiring natural wonders. Historic adobe structures pepper the landscape as a testament to the state’s first settlements. Begin your journey in Alamosa and follow the Los Caminos through three of our country’s most intriguing counties.

R&R Market — More than 400 descendants of Dario Gallegos, and many members of the local community, gathered last weekend in San Luis, the oldest city in Colorado, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the R&R Market, the store Gallegos founded in 1857 and the Gallegos family still operates.

“It is important for the Hispanic community in Colorado to know that the oldest business still in operation in the state, a business that began to operate 19 years before Colorado was a state, was established for Spanish-speaking immigrants,” said Lennell Gallegos-Ramos, great-great-granddaughter of Dario Gallegos, and organizer of the celebrations. 367 Main St, San Luis, CO 81152 –

Sanchez Reservoir State Wildlife Area. Located off Co Rd 21 south of the town of San Luis, Colorado


San Francisco Morada — This circa 1908 building represents an important aspect of Hispano history in southern Colorado.  The building reflects the limited religious and governmental support in poor rural areas of predominately Hispanic populations and the aid societies that formed as a result.  Los Hermanos Penitentes (a lay religious, fraternal organization) constructed and used the building as a chapel and meeting hall.  The organization also served as a cultural force, preserving language, lore, customs, and faith within the isolated communities.  The elongated adobe building was constructed following the traditional linear plan of northern New Mexico. San Pablo vicinity

Sangre de Cristo Heritage Center — San Luis is referred to by anthropologists as “a distinct socio-cultural era of exceptional interest”.  The town was founded in 1851 and was once a part of four Spanish Land Grants decreed by the King of Spain that includes history of Francisco de Coronado.  Here you will find the “vega,” one of the two remaining “commons” in the United States, the oldest water rights in Colorado, and the oldest family store in the state.

The Museum features murals and works of art from its own collection and on loan from various artists and collectors, many of whom are local residents. Located at 401 Church Place, San Luis. 719-672-0999

San Luis People’s Ditch — Though irrigation in the West has been practiced for over a millennium, its continuous use in Colorado stems from the mid-1800s. Beginning in 1852, descendants of Spanish settlers near the town of San Luis built community-owned ditches known as acequias, which diverted water from the Rio Grande and its tributaries.

San Luis Plaza/Court House Historic District — Established in 1851, San Luis is the oldest continuously inhabited town in Colorado.  The district contains an important collection of buildings that includes the county courthouse, the convent and Church of Most Precious Blood, numerous residences, and the town’s commercial core.  The district also includes the Vega, a common ground for animal grazing, and the San Luis People’s Ditch. 304 Main St, San Luis, CO – 719-672-3681

stations of the cross

The Shrine of the Stations of the Cross was built as an act of faith and love for the parishioners of the Sangre de Cristo Parish. We wanted a place of prayer and solace open to members of all faiths and good will. We hope that you will find consolation and peace in your life.

The Stations of the Cross are a series of graphic meditations of the last hours of Christ’s life – His judgment, sufferings, death, and resurrection.

The Shrine is located on a mesa in the center of San Luis, Colorado’s oldest town. The Shrine is formally known as “la Mesa de la Piedad y de la Misericordia” (Hill of Piety and Mercy).  POB 326, San Luis, CO 81152