The Famous San Luis Valley

The Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Monument was established in 1932. The monument, located in the San Luis Valley on the Western Slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, contains some of the highest sand dunes in the United States. Some of the dunes exceed 700 feet in height and were deposited over thousands of years by winds blowing through passes in the mountains. The park covers about 38,662 acres and has water to cool your feet at the base between the parking area and the foot of the dunes.

GPS Coordinates: 3743'56.30"N 10530'42.07"W

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American Southwest

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Antonito, Colorado in the San Luis Valley is the main station for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad which dates back to 1871. It is the highest and longest narrow-gauge railroad in North America. You can catch the train there and take an exciting railroad trip to Chama, New Mexico through some of Colorado and New Mexico's most beautiful country.

GPS Coordinates: 37 4'7.04"N 106 0'51.12"W

Fort Garland, Colorado

Fort Garland, built in 1858, was named for Brevet Brigadier General John Garland, then in command of the Department of New Mexico. This fort was built to protect the settlers from the Indians. In 1865 Kit Carson was given a commission as brigadier general and cited for gallantry and distinguished service. In May of 1866, Kit Carson and his Hispanic 1st New Mexico Volunteer Regiment were ordered to Fort Garland where they remained until Ill health forced him to resign the following year 1867.

GPS Coordinates: 3725'25.86"N 10525'53.66"W

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Colorado Gator Farm

Colorado Gators is located in the San Luis Valley and provides great experience and entertainment for young and old. Brave young visitors may even earn a Certificate of Bravery for holding a baby alligator. It started as a fish hatchery and they brought in the gators to help with clean up and disposal operations. Now the gators have become an excellent attraction. The complex is large, including indoor and outdoor visiting areas for the gators, fish and other creatures. They have a nice gift shop and you might even get to feed the gators.

GPS Coordinates: 3742'21.90"N 10552'10.24"W

Hot Springs Pools

You will find hot springs pools throughout the San Luis Valley. Most of them are not very well advertized. Splashland geothermal outdoor public swimming pool is great for the family and is located one mile North of Alamosa on Colorado Highway 17.

Valley View Hot Springs located in Penrose, Colorado has the unique combination of clothing-optional hot springs at the elevation of about 8,700 feet above sea level. It is open all year around. The facilities are charmingly rustic and primitive. Four natural ponds are located on the hillside for leisurely soaking. There is also lodging, RV space, campground, a small indoor pool and a woodburning sauna. From the junction of US 285 and CO 17 near Mineral Hot Springs, you would take the gravel road CR-GG due East seven miles.

GPS Coordinates: 3811'30.34"N 10548'55.38"W

Mesita, Colorado

There is an interesting place in Costilla County in the San Luis Valley called Mesita. It is along the "Ghost Railroad" the San Luis Southern Railroad. There are a number of very old (some boarded up) buildings constructed with black lava rock from a volcano that is just West of town. A little history on the ghostly Town of Mesita, based on research of how the area was originally developed can be found here.

GPS Coordinates: 37 5'54.06"N 10536'7.62"W

See More Photos & Video Here of Mesita, Colorado

Rio Grande River

Anyone who has heard the balled of Billy the Kid has heard of the famous Rio Grande River which runs through the San Luis Valley. There is still land available near and even along the bank of the river for those who have the foresight to invest in the rare opportunities that still exist in this part of the San Luis Valley.

GPS Coordinates: 37 4'41.06"N 10545'20.83"W

Cano's Castle

Cano's Castle
Cano's Castle is a must see if you are in the area of Antonito, Colorado which is located South of Alamosa along highway 285. It was built by Donald "Cano" Espinoza, a Christian Vietnam Veteran as a castle of faith, after his life was spared from the killing fields of the war. He has been working on the castle according to published information since 1980. Cano has also dedicated it to his mother, Margaret Trujillo Espinoza who passed away in 1992 and his best friend, Gilbert "Pancho" Salazar who was killed in Vietnam five days before his tour of duty was up. It is hard not to gaze upon this structure without being deeply moved.

GPS Coordinates: 37 4'51.86"N 106 0'21.21"W