Alamosa County is centered in the middle of the San Luis Valley, and offers unique outdoor recreation, majestic views, trail systems, steam engine train rides and quiet dark night skies in a quaint railroad and agricultural town. Walk along the trail systems of the Alamosa Ranch or paddleboard along the Rio Grande River. Explore one of three local breweries or ride on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Hike up and sand board down the nation’s highest dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park and preserve or quietly view a variety of birds and wildlife at the Alamosa Wildlife Refuge or Blanca Wetlands. View Colorado Alligators or take a dip in a hot springs swimming pool. Dine at local family own businesses or take lunch on the road and play a round of Golf at Cattails Golf Course. Stroll around Alamosa’s downtown to experience its history and small-town charm. From red brick to pressed metal ornamentation, Alamosa is a study in the architectural trends that have passed through the nation since the 19th century. There are also 16 locations on the National and State Register of Historic Places. Fine tune your historical knowledge by visiting the San Luis Valley Museum and the Luther Bean Museum.
From July to October stop by the Valley Farmer’s Market in Alamosa. This weekly market features local produce from farmers and unbelievable baked goods from local Amish and Mennonite families. In the fall, follow your nose to witness the roasting of New Mexico and Colorado chilies.
Here on a summer Sunday evening? Join the locals for the Alamosa Live Music Association Sundays @ Six free concert series every Sunday, starting at 6pm in Cole Park from June through August.
During the winter months, be sure to catch the Rio Frio Ice Festival, which includes a 5K on the frozen Rio Grande, Fat Tire bike racing, Ice Carving, Ice block bonfire, sub-zero plunge and great local eats and drinks. Experience climbers can ascend the frozen face of Zapata Falls. Cross country ski under the Colorado blue sky with uninterrupted views in every direction. Ice Skate and play indoor sports and the Alamosa Recreation Center and catch live music and activities at local restaurants, bars and breweries, and at Adams State University campus.
Alamosa offers a variety of places to stay during your visit. You can camp at the dunes or local RV site, stay in a comfortable hotel or get an authentic cowboy experience at the Zapata Ranch. Learn more about amenities in Alamosa by visiting https://www.alamosa.org/
Cities in Alamosa County
Nature and wildlife lovers, sports enthusiasts, and history and culture seekers will be in heaven as they explore the backcountry of Conejos County. A generous 66 percent of the land is public land, overseen by the National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and State of Colorado, providing endless locations for outdoor recreation and large game hunting. Camping sites and lodges offer outdoor adventurers an authentic rural frontier to explore under sun filled days and dark night skies. Fish pristine, gold medal waters of the Conejos River, and if you don’t want to go it alone, there are many guides and outfitters in the area. Fish species include, Trout, Northern Pike, Walleye, and Salmon. The San Juan Wilderness Area and eight State Wildlife Areas offer miles of hiking for all ability levels, ATV and primitive four-wheel drive trails, and cross-country skiing or snowmobiling is an option for the winter months. Visit the Colorado State Wildlife site for details on trails.
Volcanic activity deposited gold, silver, and turquoise in Conejos County in the areas of Platoro and the King Turquoise Mine. In the summer months you won’t want to miss events like La Jara Glory Days, Manassa Pioneer Days and Antonito’s Labor Day festival.
Conejos County is home to the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, America’s longest and highest narrow gauge steam railroad, the oldest Hispano civil rights union, the S.P.M.D.T.U. , and Mission churches dot the landscape, with the largest and oldest being Our Lady of Guadalupe. Several museums can be found throughout the small towns, which depict early frontier life of southern Colorado. There are state and national historic sites throughout the county like Pike’s Stockade and Lobatos Bridge, which is just a stone’s throw away from where Don Diego de Vargas first crossed the Rio Grande.
Towns in Conejos County
Hispanic settlers from the Taos Valley established several small villages along the Rio Culebra in the San Luis Valley and officially took possession of this portion of the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant on April 5, 1851. Settlers built a church in the central village of La Plaza Medio and dedicated it on the Feast of Saint Louis, June 21, 1851. The village was renamed San Luis de la Culebra in honor of its patron saint. San Luis remained part of the Territory of New Mexico until 1861 when the Territory of Colorado was established. Today, San Luis is the oldest continuously inhabited town in the state of Colorado.
The Villages of the Culebra River: Chama, San Pedro, Los Fuertes, Garcia, Jaroso, San Francisco, San Acacio, and Mesita are quaint and full of culture that has been passed down over centuries. Here the native and the sacred are one, and folklore, stories and old wisdom are alive. This is not a big-time tourist route, but rather a land of mission churches, long winters and patience. This is the home of the penitente religious brotherhood, with roots in sixteenth century Spain. People farm, raise children and celebrate fiestas, baptisms, and quinceaneras (young girls rite of passage) and other old-time traditions like Las Posadas and Mis Crismas.
Costilla County is also home to Fort Garland Museum, which is a historic adobe fort that was once commanded by Kit Carson. Just west of Fort Garland is the town of Blanca, once a railroad stop for shipping trainloads of produce out of the San Luis Valley, is now a quaint town with incredible views of Mount Blanca, standing 14,345 feet tall.
The People’s Ditch is Colorado’s oldest water right and flows through the town of San Luis, just down the road from Colorado’s longest continuously running business, R&R Market. Near the center of town is the start of an incredible religious walk. The Stations of the Cross Shrine, a series of bronze sculptures, dedicated in 1990, winds up the Mesa de la Piedad y la Misericordia (Hill of Piety and Mercy), which oversee the town of San Luis. View the stations created by Huberto Maestas as your steps wind up to the La Capilla de Todos los Santos, a Catholic Chapel that sits atop San Pedro Mesa. The summit overlooks the farms of the Culebra River villages. The farms were laid out in narrow strips from 55 to 1000 feet long, measured in varas. Fields of wheat and pinto beans, carefully irrigated apple orchards, long narrow plots of potatoes, corn and high-altitude crops like habas or fava beans are well tended.
Explore three isolated State Wildlife Areas and four reservoirs for hiking, fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing along with Colorado’s southernmost 14er, Culebra Peak.