The mission of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is to promote, preserve, protect,and interpret its profound historical, religious, environmental, geographic, geologic, cultural, and linguistic resources. These efforts will contribute to the overall national story, engender a spirit of pride and self-reliance, and create a legacy in the Colorado counties of Alamosa, Conejos and Costilla.

With 11,000 years of documented human habitation, the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is a crossroads of the centuries. Here a unique blend of Native American, Hispano and Anglo settlement is reflected in the diversity of the people, art and traditions. The geographic isolation of our high desert valley and the peoples’ enduring ties to the land have given rise to a rich cultural heritage and ensured its preservation. The area’s fertile cultural landscape is complemented by remarkable natural resources, including the mighty Rio Grande, majestic Rocky Mountain peaks, Great Sand Dunes National Park, National Wildlife Refuges, and the high mountain desert, all of which lend the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area an unparalleled beauty that offers a sense of retreat and a powerful source of inspiration for visitors.

Three Primary Goals:

  • Support development of a vibrant heritage tourism sector that stimulates preservation, economic development, and community revitalization.
  • Tell the stories of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area in ways that build community pride and support preservation, living traditions, economic development, and community revitalization.
  • Cultivate excellent management that provides regional leadership, reflects community values, and achieves sustainability.

Primary Interpretive Themes

 A High Desert Valley’s Wind, Water, and Sand Dunes

The delicate interplay of wind, water, and sand have shaped the San Luis Valley’s unique landforms and contributed to its biological diversity. Though receiving little rainfall, the Valley’s hidden aquifers support extensive wetlands that are home to globally unique plant and animal species and are a migration stopover for many birds.

Land of the Blue Sky People

Interwoven with the Valley’s natural history is a very long and rich human history. The San Luis Valley served prehistoric and Native American cultures as a seasonal hunting ground where fowl, game, and edible and medicinal plants were bountiful. Select landscape features within the Valley have long been revered as sacred.

 Interwoven Peoples and Traditions

The San Luis Valley is a place where different peoples have converged for thousands of years. The Valley’s profound historical, religious, and cultural convergence remains visible in the landscape and can be experienced in its communities, art, food, lodging, and events.

 Hispano Culture: Folklore, Religion and Language

The lower San Luis Valley lies at the intersection of the Hispano Southwest and Anglo Rocky Mountain West where the flavor of Hispano culture thrives. The Valley’s relative isolation has preserved a living cultural tradition where art, language, architecture, folklore, and religious traditions remain evocative of the region’s early Spanish and Mexican settlers.

What is a National Heritage Area?

A National Heritage Area is designated by Congress for its unique nationally significant qualities and resources. It is a place where a combination of natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources have shaped a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape.

A National Heritage Area employs a partnership approach to heritage development involving collaborative planning around a theme, industry and/or geographical feature that influenced the nation’s culture and history. This planning strategy encourages residents, government agencies, nonprofit groups and private partners to agree on and prioritize programs and projects that recognize, preserve and celebrate many of America’s defining landscapes.

A National Heritage Area seeks short- and long-term solutions to conservation and development challenges by fostering relationships among regional stakeholders and encouraging them to work collaboratively to achieve shared goals.

Board of Directors

Hew Hallock is Director of Research for the San Luis Valley Development Resources since August 2010. His background is in journalism having been the founder of a small weekly newspaper in Southeast Colorado, the Editor of the Lamar Daily News, and the Editor of the Valley Courier. Just prior to joining the staff of SLVDRG, Hew was the Southern Colorado Region Representative for the Governor’s Energy Office, promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency programs throughout the regions. Hew is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder and holds a BA in Political Science. He is a native of Southeast Colorado and has lived in the San Luis Valley since 2002.

President Hew Hallock

Anna Lee

Vice President Anna Lee Vargas
Conejos County

Born and raised in Manassa. Graduated Centauri High School. Worked at our family business, Donald’s Service, in Manassa (30 years). Served on the Manassa Town board, from 2010 to present have been Conejos County Commissioner. Married in 1992 to Kristi Hicks. Together have five children and one grandson. Actively involved in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Treasurer  Mitchell Jarvies
Conejos County Commissioner

Secretary Karen Hinojos
Conejos County

A native of Capulin, Dennis Lopez was raised by parents who taught him to strive to be his best and treat others respectfully. Taught by Catholic nuns who set high standards and expectations, Dennis was encouraged to pursue a college education. Dennis recieved a BA in Foreign Languages(Spanish and French), and Chicano Studies and earned his Master's Degree from Adams State College in 1978 in the field of Secondary Education. In 1992, he received his Educational Leadership certification from the University of Denver. He taught Chicano Studies placing emphasis on the Hispanic culture of the upper Rio Grande region for 18 years. In 1986, Dennis served as Activiteies Director, Asst. Principal and Principal of Alamosa High School until 2002. He went on to serve as Principal of Sierra Grande Middle and High School, as TIlte V Director at Adams State University and is currently a Case Manager at Valley-Wide Health Systems in Alamosa. Dennis is one of the founding board members of SdCNHA, founding member of Adobe de Oro Concilio de Artes, Co-chair of the SLV Chapter of Colorado Latino Forum and numerous other community organizations.

Bessie Konishi
Alamosa County

Debbie Pettigrew

Debbie Pettigrew
Costilla County

Graduated Denver Institute of Tech 1976 in Architectual Drafting and graduated Adams State College 1987 in Business. Married 42 years to Gary D. and was blessed with two children Larissa and Lucas, 5 grandchildren. She is the Fort-Chairman of the Fort Garlands Friends, is on the Fort Garland Revitalization Committee and is Chairman of the Sacred Heart Society. She is thirteen generation in Costilla, New Mexico/Colorado and her hobby is working on genealogy.

Herman Martinez
Alamosa County

Jason Medina

Costilla County

Jeff Owsley
Alamosa County

Lori Laske
Alamosa County Commissioner


Julie Chacon

Julie Chacon

Alina Marquez

Alina Marquez

Julie Chacon

Shannon Powers

Alliance Of National Heritage Areas

The Alliance of National Heritage Areas works collectively to protect and promote the people and places that tell America’s stories.
We are a membership organization of congressionally designated National Heritage Areas and partner-affiliated organizations promoting the professionalism and benefits of the program through education and advocacy. Together, we facilitate and celebrate partnerships that improve our effectiveness and impact.
Our goals:

  • Serve as one voice on interests related to all NHAs
  • Educate key constituencies about success and image of the NHA program
  • Facilitate strategic links among NHAs and partners
  • Enhance the organizational capacity of its members
  • Provide a network for sharing best practices regarding a variety of disciplines

Of the 55 National Heritage Areas, Colorado hosts three of them: Cache la Poudre River, South Park, and Sangre de Cristo. They each possess natural beauty, adventure, and history. Discover and experience Colorado’s culture, history, and recreational activities at all our National Heritage Areas through the Colorado Heritage Journey.

2020 Annual Report

Economic Impact Study

10 Year Report

Management Plan