Valley Lakes and Wetlands

The San Luis Lakes are located at the lowest elevation within the Alamosa Basin. They are perennial, meaning that they do not dry up, because they are fed by seepage from the underlying water table as well as by surface flow. The San Luis Lakes are primarily two separate selfcontained water bodies: San Luis Lake and Head Lake. Several other smaller lakes, such as Bachelor Lake, Cotton Lake, Twin Lakes, and Dollar Lake, which are fed by feeder streams and flowing artisan wells, surround these larger water bodies.

Other smaller lakes and wetlands are found throughout the heritage area, but most are found within the Alamosa Basin north of the San Luis Hills. The largest cluster, named Dry Lakes, is found within the Blanca Wildlife Habitat Area, and within the floodplain areas of the Rio Grande to the northwest and southeast of the City of Alamosa in the form of oxbow lakes and marshes resulting from migration of the river bed. These lakes and wetlands are also associated with other major river drainages such as Sangre de Cristo and Trinchera creeks and smaller tributaries of these stream systems.

Clusters of other lakes and wetlands are found within the Baca National Wildlife Refuge in Saguache County and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge in Rio Grande County. In total, the San Luis Valley contains more than 230,000 acres of wetlands, the most extensive system in the Southern Rocky Mountain