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
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.
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.
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.
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
President Nick Saenz
Vice President Hew Hallock
Treasurer Mitchell Jarvies
Conejos County Commissioner
Secretary Helen Sigmond
Alamosa County Commissioner
Anna Lee Vargas
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.
- 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.
Management Plan and Reports