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Inside... Welcome to the San Luis Valley .........................................................2 So much to do: Calendar of events .....................................................3 History and Heritage Our deep heritage: San Luis Valley history ........................................6 Take a spiritual journey: Stations of the Cross • Historical churches....... 8 Protecting the Valley: Fort Garland • Pike’s Stockade........................9 Rails along the rio: Denver & Rio Grande........................................10 Trails of yesterday: Scenic byways • Old Spanish Trail ...................11 Keeping the past alive: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad .............12 Historic treasures: Mining country ...................................................13 A taste of the Old West: Old Cow Town.................................................. 13 Valley grown: Local agriculture........................................................14 Step back in time: Museums .............................................................16 Restoring the past: Windsor Hotel ....................................................18 Reliving history: Kit Carson Covered Wagon Train Ride ................19 Arts and Entertainment Alamosa County Events....................................................................20 Colorado Welcome Center ................................................................23 Rio Grande County Events....................................................................... 24 Conejos/Costilla County Events .............................................................. 29 Mineral County Events ............................................................................. 30 Finding your way: San Luis Valley Map.........................................32 Saguache County Events...................................................................34 Award-winning talent: Creede Repertory Theatre ............................36 On the big screen: ‘The Lone Ranger’ • And much more.................37 Dining Guide ....................................................................................38 4th Street Diner • The Dining Room at the Windsor .....................38 San Luis Valley Brewing Company ...............................................39 Dining Directory ............................................................................40 Calvillo’s Mexican Restaurant .......................................................41 Outdoor Adventures Ever-changing land: Great Sand Dunes National Park .....................42 Zapata Falls .......................................................................................43 Cradled by mountains: 14’ers in the San Luis Valley .......................44 Natural Beauty: Fungi and flowers ...................................................44 Hide and seek: Geocaching ...............................................................45 Altitude sickness ...............................................................................45

Rocky mountain spring water Photo by Toni Steffens-Steward

Table of Contents Treasure hunt: Scurvy Dogs Adventures ..........................................45 Wildlife galore: National forests, refuges and wetlands ...................46 Got Elk?: Grande Natural Meats.......................................................48 Ride the rails: Rio Grande Scenic Railroad ......................................50 Tee off: Golfing in the Valley ............................................................52 They’re out there: UFO Watchtower.................................................53 Gators & snakes & emus, oh my!: Colorado Gators Reptile Park....54 Take a day trip in the Valley: Crestone Temples • Rio Grande County history • Art in the Upper Rio Grande SLV ......................................55 An outdoor haven: Recreation in the SLV ........................................56 Nature’s creations: Rock wonders ....................................................60 Catching the big one: Fishing in the San Luis Valley .......................61 Soothing waters: Hot springs and swimming pools..........................62 From here to there: Transportation ................................................63 Advertisers’ Index.............................................................................64

Valley Publishing, Inc. 835 1st Ave. • P.O. Box 607 Monte Vista, CO 81144 719-852-3531

News: valleypubs@amigo.net Advertising: vpadvertising@amigo.net Circulation/Classifieds: vpiclass@amigo.net On the Cover: Editorial Contributors: Great Sand Dunes National Park, Jennifer Alonzo, Teresa Benns, Colorado Gators Reptile Park, Sylvia Lobato, Judith Stone, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Staci Turner & Tori Vigil Reindeer at Grande Meats, Photos by Staci Turner Advertising Contributors: Rio Grande Scenic Railroad Engine, Jennifer Alonzo & Staci Turner Photo by Keith Cerny, Layout & Design: Calvillo’s Mexican Restaurant Jennifer Alonzo & Ellie Bone Platter, Courtesy Photo

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Welcome

to the San Luis Valley

Welcome to the San Luis Valley, where many things happen fi rst and last forever. You are in the veritable birthplace of Colorado, with friendly people and fabulous local food. Here, history and heritage combine to create a tapestry of experiences that can be had nowhere else. History can be seen and touched, written, told and retold. Heritage goes beyond that, to the very heart of a place, producing an aura of serenity, one of the San Luis Valley’s many strong points. The Valley is home to the state’s oldest town, oldest church building, oldest Catholic parish, oldest operating business, oldest adjudicated water right and one of two remaining commons areas in the United States. All of this is being offi cially

preserved. Conejos, Costilla and Alamosa counties comprise the congressionally authorized Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. Downtown Monte Vista is a National Historic District, and the nearby Colorado State Veterans Center is the first retirement home for veterans of the SpanishAmerican and Civil wars. Proud of their history, the Valley and its people preserve as much as possible, and the high, dry climate helps. Humans have long yielded to its allure. Credible evidence has been found of human visitors as long as 10,000 years ago, and Mother Nature was busy here even before that. The towering mountains, active geothermal aquifer and eerie

Buffalo

Photo by Staci Turner

landscape speak of volcanic cataclysms at the beginning of time. All of this conspired to create a place so unique that it carves a permanent place in the memory of the visitor. The San Luis Valley is technically a desert, though it’s the highest alpine valley on Earth capable of sustaining agriculture. Boasting more than 320 days of sunshine each year, the area has become a mecca for solar development and, though it has a short growing season, growth of potato varieties that are not only delicious, but healthful. There’s something for everyone here. Comprised of six counties and more than three million acres of public land, the San Luis Valley offers towering mountain ranges,

fl at prairies, icy mountain streams, geothermal wells feeding hot springs and spas, rough and tumble rodeos, tranquil evenings in the parks, free concerts, eclectic music venues, roaring motocross and auto races, tourist trains and historic downtown buildings fi lled with unique items to see and buy. Fun limited only by imagination can be found at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, where kids can run free and adults can become kids again. Nearby, two of the pioneer mountain passes can be explored. On the western side of the Valley lies the headwaters of the mighty Rio Grande, which fl ows through the entire San Luis Valley. The San Luis Valley not only welcomes visitors, it becomes part of them forever.

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad Photo by Keith Cerny

Great Sand Dunes National Park Photo by Seth Adams

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Rio Grande

Photo by Teresa Benns

San Juan Fiesta


So much to do... May 12 26 26-27

26-28

27 28

Calendar of events

20th Birthday Celebration, South Fork Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TSR) Opening Day, Antonito Denver & Rio Grande Railroad (D&RGR ) Opening Day, South Fork National Small Print Show opening, CRT, Creede Sgt. Glen Martinez Memorial 5K Run/Walk & Golf Tournament Fundraiser, Monte Vista Taste of Creede, A Festival of Fine Arts & Fine Dining, Creede Mainstage Tour, Creede Repertory Theatre (CRT), Creede Ruth Humphreys Brown Theatre (RHBT) Tour, Creede Fort Garland Museum Civil War Re-enactments, Fort Garland Rio Grande Scenic Railroad (RGSR) Opening Weekend, Alamosa Metaphysical Fair & Quantum Reality Conference, Crestone Saguache County Museum Opening & Celebration, Saguache Memorial Day Observations, San Luis Valley

Taste of Creede Festival

Photo by Toni Steffens-Steward

June 1

1-3 2

5 8-10 9 15 15-16 16 16-17 16-24 17

The Drowsy Chaperone Opens, CRT, Creede CRT Opening & Dinner, Creede Summerfest on the Rio, Alamosa Bob Seago Art Opening, CRT, Creede Mainstage Tour, CRT, Creede Run, Rock & Roll at Old Spanish Trail, between Monte Vista & Del Norte Soap Making Workshop, Creede D&RGR Moonlight on the Rio Train, South Fork Farmers Market begins, Del Norte Little Britches Rodeo, South Fork Ruth Humphreys Brown Theatre Tour, CRT, Creede Free Entrance Day at Great Sand Dunes Free Movie Night, Saguache Rally in the Valley, Monte Vista Break the Cycle Race against Domestic Violence 5K Walk/Run, South Fork Flea Market, Otto Mears Park, Saguache Kids’ Fishing Derby, South Fork Mainstage Tour, CRT, Creede RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa Alamosa Round-Up Rodeo, Alamosa Rollin’ Deep Car Show, Alamosa C&TSR Father’s Day Special, Antonito ATV Poker Run & Skidsteer Rodeo, Creede

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20 22-24 23 25 24 26-30 29 30 29-July 1

July 3 3-4 4 5 6 6-8 7 7-8 12 13-14 13-15 14 14-15 14-20 15 17 17-19 18

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The Presidents opens, RHBT, Creede RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa Children’s Summer Carnival, Creede Mud Bogs ‘R’ Back, Del Norte RGSR Rails & Ales, Alamosa RHBT Tour, Creede San Luis Valley Quilt Adventure opens, Alamosa C&TSR Geology Train, Antonito ChaRacTers! Day Camp (ages 5-7), CRT, Creede Mime! Day Camp (ages 8-12), CRT, Creede Is He Dead? opens, CRT, Creede Dancing Under the Western Stars, South Fork RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa

Independence Day Celebration, South Fork D&RGR Moonlight on the Rio Train, South Fork Mining Competition/Days of ’92, Creede Independence Day Celebration, Alamosa Independence Day Celebration, Creede Independence Day Celebration, Crestone Mainstage Tour, CRT, Creede RHBT Tour, Creede Farmer’s Market begins, Del Norte C&TSR Galloping Goose #5, Antonito Boomtown:Improv Comedy Opens, RHBT, Creede Ward Russell Art Opening, CRT, Creede RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa Dutch Oven Cooking Workshop, Creede Mainstage Tour, CRT, Creede Saguache Summer Celebration, Saguache SLV Farmers Market begins, Alamosa Colorado Gators Eggfest, Mosca SLV Antique Iron Club Tractor Pull, between Monte Vista & Alamosa Kitchens in July Home Tour, South Fork American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Alamosa SLV Folk Arts & Fiber Festival, Monte Vista RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa Alamosa Fly-In & Air Show, Alamosa Kay Malouff Art Opening, RHBT, Creede RHBT Tour, Creede Mineral County Fair & ATV Rodeo, Creede Woodcarvers Rendezvous, Creede Ed Wheatley Concert, RHBT, Creede Mrs. Mannerly opens, RHBT, Creede Creede Historical Society Fundraiser, RHBT, Creede Mining Through Poetry, Creede Sanford Pioneer Days, Sanford SLV Big Band, CRT, Creede

19-20 19-21 20 20-22 21-22 21 23-27 24-28 25 26-29 27 27-29 28 28-29 31-Aug. 4

Ladies Aid Bazaar & Rummage Sale, Creede Manassa Pioneer Days, Manassa Fashion Show, Del Norte Free Movie Night, Saguache Harry the Great opens, CRT, Creede Logger Days Festival, South Fork RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa Cats Classic Motorcross, Alamosa Flea Market, Otto Mears Park, Saguache Fort Garland Band Jam, Fort Garland Stage Combat Workshop, Creede Black Light Puppetry! Day Camp, CRT, Creede Teen Scene Session 1 (ages 12-18), CRT, Creede The KID Show opens, RHBT, Creede Ski Hi Stampede, Monte Vista Friends of CRT Golf Tournament, South Fork RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa RHBT Tour, Creede Santa Ana & Santiago Fiesta, San Luis Teen Scene Session 2 (ages 12-18), CRT, Creede

TBA 2-5 3 3-5 3-11 4 4-5 10-12 11 17 17-19 18 24-25 24-26 25 28 31

Rhythms’ on the Rio Music Festival, South Fork Covered Wagon Days, Del Norte D&RGR Moonlight on the Rio Train, South Fork “Keep the Rio Grande Grand” Art Opening, CRT, Creede Rock & Mineral Show, Creede RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa Crestone Music Festival, Crestone Mountain Man Rendezvous, Creede La Jara Glory Days, La Jara Mainstage Tour, CRT, Creede Snowshoe Shuffle, Creede Colorado Gators Annual Gatorfest XVII, Mosca RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa Kahler Memorial Golf Tournament, Alamosa RHBT Tour, Creede Ghost-Writer opens, RHBT, Creede Free Movie Night, Saguache RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa Flea Market, Otto Mears Park, Saguache Mainstage Tour, CRT, Creede Mud Bogs ‘R’ Back, Del Norte Headwaters New Play Festival, CRT, Creede RGSR Mountain Rails Concert, Alamosa RHBT Tour, Creede Historical Society Bar Bash, Creede C&TSR Moonlight Wine Tasting Train, Antonito Sonja Horoshko & Ed Singer Art Opening, CRT, Creede

August


31-Sept. 2 Early Iron Festival, Alamosa 31-Sept. 3 Labor Day Weekend Celebration, Creede 1 Creede Mountain Run, Creede

September 1-2 8 8-9 14-16 15 21-24 22

Mainstage Tour, CRT, Creede Traditional Wacipi Pow Wow, Saguache RHBT Tour, Creede Labor Day Celebration, Antonito Fork Fest-Run for Beer, South Fork Silver Thread Studio & Gallery Tour, Creede Potato Festival, Monte Vista Rio Costilla Studio Tour, Jaroso Cruisin’ the Canyon Car Show, Creede Silver Threads Quilt Guild Quilt Show, Creede Fall Festival, Saguache RGSR Photographer’s Spectacular Train, Alamosa Colorado Gators Sir Chomps O’lot’s 15th Birthday, Mosca

Although we have made all attempts to verify dates and events; they tend to change; therefore, we suggest verifying them with local chamber offices. Alamosa County Chamber Ft. Garland Revitalization Committee 719-589-3681, www.alamosa.org http://fortgarland.webs.com Colorado Welcome Center Monte Vista Chamber 719-589-4840, www.colorado.com 719-852-2731, Conejos County Chamber www.monte-vista.org 719-376-2277 Saguache Recreation Board http://conejoschamber.org 719-850-0051, Costilla County www.townofsaguache.org www.costillacounty-co.gov San Luis Visitors Center Creede/Mineral County Chamber: 719-672-3002 719-658-2374, www.creede.com Silver Thread Interpretive Center Crestone Town Hall 719-873-5512, 719-256-4313 www.southfork.org www.townofcrestone.org South Fork Chamber Del Norte Chamber 719-873-5556, 719-657-2000, www.southforkcolorado.org www.delnortechamber.org

Memorial Day at CSVC Photo by Sylvia Lobato

Alamosa Round-Up Rodeo

Photo courtesy of Valley Courier

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Our deep heritage San Luis Valley history Millions of years ago, volcanic eruptions to the west formed the San Juan Mountains and massive earthquakes on the east side thrust up the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, forming the largest alpine valley in the world. The Valley floor is approximately 7,500 feet above sea level. Protected by 14,000-ft. peaks, the area is the highest Valley in the world capable of sustaining agriculture. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains boast eight of Colorado’s 14,000ft. peaks, along with many other peaks, valleys, alpine lakes and streams. On the west side of the vast Valley is the Continental Divide, while the jagged mountains to the east comprise one of Colorado’s tallest mountain ranges. The unique nature of the San Luis

Creede Historical Mining District

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Valley and its early settlements were recognized by the U.S. Congress in 2009 by the designation of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. Spaniards from New Mexico and Europeans from the east worked together to create Conejos, Costilla and Alamosa counties, which comprise the designated area, but human history abounds all around this vast inter montane bowl. The first people to enter the San Luis Valley were nomadic hunters and gatherers, whose travels centered around the herds of prehistoric bison and other creatures that grazed on the plains and near the mountains. Credible evidence has been found that they hunted here as early as 10,000 years ago. Large stone spear or dart points found near skeletal remains of prehistoric bison in the area tell part of that story. Another part was written by the visitors themselves. Until about 400 years ago, native tribes lived in the San Luis Valley and wrote their stories on rock walls and huge boulders along well-worn routes. Blanca Peak, which towers above the Valley’s eastern side, was one of the Navajos’ four sacred mountains. The traditional Ute word for the Great Sand Dunes is Sowapopheuvehe, “the land that moves back and forth,” while Jicarilla Apaches, who settled in northern New Mexico and visited the Valley

to hunt, called the dunes Seianyedi, “it goes up and down.” Why did these people come to such a forbidding place? For the Jicarilla Apache and Southern Utes, it was to camp and hunt. For the people from the Tewa/ Tiwa-speaking pueblos along the Rio Grande, it was spiritual, a traditional lake, today’s San Luis Lakes, through which their people emerged into the present world. For the Spaniards, it was the spirit of conquest and eventual settlement. Later, prospectors sought gold and silver in the San Juan Mountains, and bootleggers found the thick forests on the side of the Sangre de Cristos a fine place to hide and ply their trade. Early tribes and explorers such as Don Diego de Vargas, who led his men across the flat Valley in 1694, were familiar with the area, following the same well-worn trails. Many famous explorers visited the San Luis Valley between the

Sangre de Cristo Mountains Photos by Staci Turner

16th and 19th centuries, including the Spaniards’ Juan de Oñate, Juan Maria Rivera and Juan Bautista de Anza. Legend has it that a missionary to the pueblo tribes, the Rev. Francisco Torres, gave the Valley its name. Passing over the mountains and seeing the pristine expanse at his feet, he is believed to have named it for St. Aloysius (Louis) Gonzaga, a Spanish saint known for his purity. Then, wounded and near death, he is believed to have watched the sunset as it turned the mountains above him a fiery red and cried out, “Sangre de Cristo! Sangre de Cristo!—Spanish for “Blood of Christ,” naming the mountains forever. The pristine nature of the area was also chronicled by Zebulon Montgomery Pike, who first viewed the Valley in 1807. Fur traders and mountain men followed, as did people from Santa Fe who had been given sections of one of the land grants.


Tribal troubles prevented any real settlement until the mid-1800s. Under Spanish and Mexican rule, the area was part of the Nuevo Mexico province and was eventually sold to the United States in 1848 under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. By the 1850s, settlers flocked in to farm land in the southern part of the Valley and, in 1851, Colorado’s oldest town, San Luis, was settled, incorporated and built in a rectangular shape around a plaza as protection from other tribes. Although the nearby Plaza de los Manzanares, now called Garcia, was settled in 1848 and continually occupied, it was never incorporated, yielding the title of “oldest town” to San Luis. In order to water their crops, settlers around San Luis built the People’s Ditch, with a priority date of April 10, 1852. Grantor Carlos Beaubein set aside a common area or vega, still in use today, for grazing of animals. It is only one of two commons in the United States. The other one is located in Boston, Mass. Later, soldiers came in a governmental effort to protect settlers from tribal warriors who were unhappy, as their traditional homelands were turned into placitas, ranches and farms. In 1852, the U.S.Army established Ft. Massachusetts to provide Valley settlers with protection. When its location proved impractical, Ft. Garland was built nearby and a town grew up around it. At one point, the legendary Christopher “Kit” Carson was commandant of the rugged fortress. The Utes had controlled the area for an estimated 1,000 years, but were completely pushed out by 1895. Although many settlers came to the San Luis Valley via the easily traversed trails from Santa Fe, several routes over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains were well-known to native tribes and increasingly used by settlers in the late 1800s. The trails from Santa Fe were partially responsible for the founding of Conejos in 1854 by Major Lafayette Head, Seledonio Valdez and other leaders, who

provided 50 New Mexican families with sections of land along the Conejos River. They named their settlement Guadalupe and changed the name to Conejos within a week. Settling in, they dug irrigation ditches and planted crops. In 1858, they established a Catholic parish, anchored by Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. The first pastor, the Rev. Father Vicente Montaño, started the first school in the Valley that same year. In 1859 a group of 14 families left the area around Santa Fé, N.M., to establish a settlement in what would become Rio Grande County; that settlement was known as La Loma de San José. These pioneers faced the threat of hostile Indians and adverse environmental conditions in the new land. But despite this, groups connected to the Guadalupe settlement branched out into the Saguache, La Garita and Del Norte areas. By 1867, La Loma del Norte and the new town of Del Norte competed for residents. The first settlers weren’t all Hispanic, however. Gold miners boosted the population of the San Juans, while mountain man Tom Tobin homesteaded near Fort Garland in the early 1860s. Tom Boggs, a brother-in-law of fort commandant Kit Carson farmed at what is now called Wagon Wheel Gap in the summer of 1840. Fifty-two years later, the town of Creede was incorporated and underwent the boom and bust cycle of mountain mining. In 1889, precious minerals were discovered in Willow Creek Canyon and the rush was on. Families of soldiers originally assigned to the fort also settled that area, remaining after the garrison was closed. Small settlements sprung up and were named after their founding families, such as Los Valdezes, later Seven Mile Plaza; Los Lobatos and Lucero Plaza. The church at Seven Mile Plaza enjoys historic status. Buried under the altar of the church are Juan Pio Valdez who died in 1888 and Maria Nestra Salazar Valdez who

Civil War remembered at Homelake Photo by Sylvia Lobato

died in 1886. After silver and gold were found near Summitville, Del Norte was platted in 1871 and incorporated in 1872, becoming an important freight and commerce center. Across the Valley, settlers moved into the Medano, Zapata and Sierra Blanca regions and, by the end of the 1860s, settlements dotted the entire San Luis Valley. Then a new sound shattered the quiet Valley air. The remaining Utes called it the “Iron Horse,” the Hispanos called it “el tren” and the other Europeans called it “progress.” While the stagecoach and mule-drawn wagons linked the settlements on the Valley floor with the mines in the mountains, they could not easily transport settlers, miners and entrepreneurs to the booming settlements in the San Juans.

Monte Vista was settled by investors who had come in by train; the Creede mines boomed after transporting their precious metals became easier; Alamosa, founded at the big bend of the Rio Grande in 1878 — its buildings hauled in by flatcar from Garland City at the base of today’s La Veta Pass — became a hub for the narrow gauge and standard gauge railroads, which branched out in four directions. Center, at first called “Centerville” because it was believed to be in the very center of the Valley, was regarded as a town in the 1890s, and its location was perfect for agriculture, which became—and still is—the town’s reason for being. From tipi to adobe, from jacal to church, from vacant land to communities and from dreams to reality, the San Luis Valley has attracted humans for eons and visitors are welcome to explore its history.

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Take a spiritual journey Stations of the Cross A spiritual spot unique to the San Luis Valley can be experienced by taking a walking trail to the Stations of the Cross Shrine at San Luis. The route is adorned with 15 magnificent, near-life-sized bronze sculptures depicting Christ’s last journey, created by Huberto Maestas, a world-renowned artist and San Luis native. These gorgeous bronze statues set among unparalleled mountain scenery are unforgettable and moving. While views of the Valley and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range showcase the area’s majesty, the shrine symbolizes the central role of religion in southern Colorado’s

La Capilla de Todos Santos Photo by Staci Turner

Hispano communities. Perhaps the statues will inspire deep thinking, or the God-created natural beauty of the mountains and valley below will evoke a connection with the Creator and nature. Contemplating long enough, one might also feel a connection to the 40,000 people who visit the shrine each year. The one-mile walk rises to the top of La Mesa de la Piedad y de la Misericordia (The Mesa of Piety and Misery), home to sandstone statues of the Virgin Mary and San Juan Diego, as well as the Memorial de los Martires Mexicanos. Nearby, La Capilla de Todos Santos, the Chapel of All Saints, reaches its shining spires toward the sky. There is no charge to visit the shrine, which is located at the north end of San Luis, 16 miles south of Fort Garland. For those who can’t make the walk, a dirt road leads up to the chapel. For more information about the Stations of the Cross Shrine, call the Sangre de Cristo Catholic Parish at 719- 672-3685.

Stations of the Cross Shrine Valley Publishing File Photos

Historical churches

Our Lady of Guadalupe Photos by Sylvia Lobato

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The San Luis Valley is a place of heritage Presbyterian Church, built in 1895 in the small and faith. town of Mogote. The church was re-opened on July Early efforts to settle the Valley date back 25, 2010 after a 12-year restoration project. to 1832, but hostile tribes repeatedly drove the The faith of our fathers, living still. newcomers away. When they returned in the Stations re-enactment 1850s, the settlers chose patron saint-protectors, Photo by Tori Vigil named their villages accordingly and built their churches. San Acacio was founded in 1850-53, and its mission church is believed to have been built by grateful settlers after Saint Acacius appeared and chased away some hostile Utes. It is the oldest church building in Colorado. Founded in 1851, San Luis is the oldest incorporated town in the state, but Garcia, on the Colorado-New Mexico state line, is the oldest continuously occupied settlement, dating to 1849 but never incorporated. Garcia also has a church, but no information is available as to when it was built. Conejos County, one of the original 17 counties created by the Colorado legislature on Nov. 1, 1861, is home to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Parish. Founded in 1858, it is the oldest Catholic Parish in Colorado and the first dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. San Acacio Mission Church Another historic church is the San Rafael


Protecting the Valley Fort Garland Still guarding the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley, Colorado’s oldest military establishment, Fort Garland, was built in 1858 after an older installation, Ft. Massachusetts, proved unsuitable for the task. In 1862, troops from Ft. Garland joined the Union Army at Glorieta Pass southeast of Santa Fe, N.M., stopping Confederate incursions into the Southwest. Known as the Gettysburg of the West, Glorieta Pass was the turning point of the Civil War in the New Mexico Territory. Many of the original adobe walls and

Fort Garland

Photo by Tori Vigil

Pike’s Stockade

Fort Garland Re-enactment

Explorer Zebulon Pike built his historic stockade on the bank of the Conejos River in 1807. He and his men spent the winter in the stockade and his time there is documented in his journals. Now visitors are able to visit the site and to

view a reproduction of the stockade open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The site is not staffed, but the gate is open for visitors from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free. Pike’s Stockade is located east of Sanford just off Hwy. 285. Info: 719-379-3512

buildings have been restored to house a museum, and the parade ground is much the same as when the fort was commanded by the legendary Christopher “Kit” Carson in 1866 and 1867, as well as in the 1880s, when it was home to the legendary “Buffalo Soldiers.” The black troops assigned to the American west compiled an impressive service record, including the receipt of 15 Congressional Medals of Honor, while stationed at Ft. Garland. The museum features displays of the lives of officers, enlisted men and their families on Colorado’s frontier, as well as artifacts uncovered during various archaeological excavations around the fort. The Milton Mueller Memorial Research Library, opened in 2005, is available to the public by appointment. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer season, and an admission fee is charged. A gift shop in the entrance building features books and souvenirs. Info: 719-379-3512

Replica in the town of Fort Garland Photos by Sylvia Lobato

Don’t miss!

Valley Publishing File Photo

Pike’s Stockade

Photo by Tori Vigil

Valley Publishing File Photo

East of Ft. Garland on U.S. Hwy. 160, is a Veterans’ Park and T33 Aircraft. The American Legion dedicated a memorial stone at the site in 2008 to recognize the Costilla County men and women who have served from World War I to the present.

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Rails along the rio

Denver & Rio Grande

The new Denver & Rio Grande Railroad runs excursions for the enlightenment and education of the general public on the track which, back in 1883, was the original Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, later re-named Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. The line was originally constructed to bring the wealthy and famous to the resorts at what is now the 4UR Ranch at Wagon Wheel Gap. The discovery of silver and other minerals further up the Valley necessitated the extension for the railroad to the Creede mining district. Tracks were laid right up to the bottom of the mines in the canyon beyond the Creede Depot. Passenger trains served the Creede branch from Alamosa also carrying the mail, as well as packages for the railway express. All of these traditional services had ceased to exist by 1932, and freight trains continued to serve Creede (at Wason) until 1985. After that date, service was cut back to South Fork serving the U.S. Forest Industries Sawmill. In 2001, the sawmills closed and freight service ceased west of Monte Vista, and currently idle freight cars are stored along this track. Today, operating the “Silver Streak,” the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad’s (D&RGR) popular rail-bus travels through some of the San Juan Mountains’

most spectacular scenery. Excursions depart daily from a genuine D&RGR depot located at 0097 Ponderosa Drive in South Fork, then travel along the scenic and rugged upper Rio Grande and its palisades with a rest stop at Palisade Campground, then on to Wagon Wheel Gap, with special excursions for dyed-in-the-wool rail buffs all the way up to the “wye” at Wason Ranch. Beginning the week of May 26, the “Main Event” tour departs at 10 a.m. daily from South Fork, with a stop for lunch at historic Cottonwood Cove or Blue Creek Lodge (not included in the fare, but worth the expense). Riders are also welcome to bring their own lunches and snacks. Extra time is allowed to eat and visit gift shops. This tour returns to South Fork by 2 p.m. The extended tour is scheduled by advance reservations. The “Afternoon Delight” tour departs at 3 p.m., includes a stop for ice cream or a snack and returns at 6 p.m. Again this year will be the “Moonlight on the Rio” tour, departing at 8 p.m. during full moon nights, with tentative dates of June 2, July 3 & 4 and Aug. 3, traveling through the shadows of the palisades. Also, special this year is “Rail & Raft”—”we tote em and you float em.”Info: 719-873-2003, www. denverandriogranderailroad.com

The ‘Silver Streak’ travels over the Rio Grande Photo by Staci Turner

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Photo by Toni Steffens-Steward


Trails of yesterday Scenic byways

Silver Thread Scenic Byway, Bachelor Loop The Silver Thread Scenic Byway, better known as Colo. Hwy. 149, connects South Fork, Creede and Lake City. Once a toll road and the Barlow and Sanderson stage route, this scenic 75-mile tour of the San Juan Mountain range takes travelers through both the Rio Grande and Gunnison National forests, and includes two mountain passes, one of them over the Continental Divide. Visitors can take advantage of breathtaking overlooks that offer insight into geology and local history while providing ample opportunity to enjoy spectacular views. The Silver Thread Scenic Byway took its name from the plentiful veins of silver along the wayside of this U.S. National Forest route. The route also traverses the La Garita,

Weminuche and Powderhorn wilderness areas. Visitors return to Creede from Lake City by way of the Bachelor Loop, with its ghost towns and old mines. Signs along the loop keep travelers informed. Info: 719-873-5512, www.southfork. org/silverthread.asp Los Caminos Antiguos This term literally means “the way of the ancient ones.” Spaniards first explored Los Caminos Antiguos in search of gold, and in a religious effort to convert the various Indian tribes throughout the region. Missionary priest Francisco Torres traveled this historic route in the conversion process, naming the Valley “San Luis” and the eastern mountain range “Sangre de Cristo” or blood of Christ. Stops along the way include

Alamosa, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the historic Fort Garland museum, San Luis—Colorado’s oldest town and a chance to catch a ride on the Cumbres

and Toltec Scenic Railroad. No matter which direction tourists travel in the Valley, there is beauty and wonder at every turn. Info: 719-379-3500

Abandoned mines along the Bachelor Loop Photos by Teresa Benns

Old Spanish Trail

Old Spanish Trail markers Photos by Teresa Benns

In 1829, Santa Fe, N.M. merchant Antonio Armijo forged a trail between two remote Mexican provinces, using old tribal and trapping routes to transport men and horses from Santa Fe, N.M. to Los Angeles, Calif., which had become a new trade center. There, woolen textiles, woven in northern New Mexico from the wool of Churro sheep, were traded for strong California mules and horses, necessary to the existence of early settlers in the region. Later, the trail was used by mountain men to transport their furs to sell at points north and west. The Old Spanish Trail was designated a National Historic Trail by Congress in 2002. There are three branches. A portion of the North Branch runs through the San Luis Valley on two sides.These are the East Fork and the West Fork.

The East Fork branches out from New Mexico into the San Luis Valley. It follows the western portion of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, passing through Ft. Garland and heading north past the Great Sand Dunes and the town of Crestone. Then the trail appears to have turned due west to the town of Saguache, crossing Cochetopa Pass into the Gunnison Valley and heading west to Los Angeles. The West Fork, which is still being evaluated for National Historic Trail designation, runs from the Antonito and Conejos area, crosses the Rio Grande River east of Del Norte, cuts north to La Garita and then on to Saguache, where both forks likely merged. To learn more about this unique trade route and its history, visit h t t p : / / w w w. o l d s p a n i s h t r a i l . org.

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Keeping the past alive Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Many Antonito town members started a passionate effort in 1967, to preserve the 64-mile narrow gauge line of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TSR) located between Antonito and Chama, N.M. for future generations. That effort has resulted in the train line that so many enjoy today. C&TSR General Manager Marvin Casias says that, “trains bring out the kid in everyone.” A ride on the Cumbres is a chance to step back in time. The appeal of that along with Colorado and New Mexico’s mountain vistas, green forests, rushing rivers and the chance encounter with wildlife, has brought over a million passengers, movie producers, commercials and many big name movie stars to the C&TSR over the last 40 years. The long wait to see the Autry Engine, Locomotive 463, operating again will culminate May 13. After a decade of inactivity and approximately two and a half years undergoing a rebuild, the 463 will be the star of a pre-season charter over the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The train will depart Antonito at 9:30 a.m. and arrive in Chama at 5:30 p.m. A night photo shoot on the train is also available. During the summer months, C&TSR dedicates their trains for scenic rides deep into the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico, with trains departing from Chama and Antonito featuring a ride over the 10,022-ft. high Cumbres Pass. The line originally started as part of the Denver and Rio Grande San Juan Extension. The train first served the silver mining district in the San Juan Mountains. In 1970 Colorado and New Mexico jointly purchased the line from Antonito to Chama N.M. The line was renamed the C&TSR and began to haul tourists the very next year. It crosses the

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Colorado/New Mexico border 11 times during the ride as the track snakes through rugged terrain. The C&TSR offers daily trips, which are narrated by local, passionate volunteers, who describe the unique scenery to be enjoyed along the way. The season runs May to October. Tickets may be picked up the day prior to departure from 2-5 p.m. and the day of departure between 8-10 a.m. Choose to ride in the comfort of coach class, upgrade to tourist class or experience the splendor of parlor class. All tickets provide access to the open-air observation platform, which allows unobstructed views, spectacular photo opportunities and a chance to spot some local wildlife abundant in this area. Special trains departing from Antonito this year include: A June 24 Geology Train Excursion traverses spectacular geology enroute to Chama, N.M. See the Rio

Grande Rift, the San Juan volcanic field, the Precambrian core of the Tusas Mountains and more. An Aug. 31 moonlight wine tasting train that departs Antonito at 5:30 p.m., travels to Osier and returns. Expect a wild west train robbery at Sublette, dinner at Osier and more. Info: 1-888-286-2737, www. cumbrestoltec.com

Amazing scenery

Photo by Tori Vigil

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Photos by Staci Turner


Historic treasures Mining country

Creede Mining District Photo by Teresa Benns

Gold and silver mining have been a long tradition in the San Luis Valley and remnants of these industries can still be found in the area. In the 1890s, Creede experienced a great change when Nicholas Creede discovered a silver vein and started a silver rush. Slab and tent towns sprung up overnight in the area, and fortunes were rapidly made and lost. In 1985, Homestake Mining Company closed down the last silver mine in the area, the Bulldog Mine, because the price of silver had dropped. Recently, there has been exploratory drilling which will bring the industry back to the area in the near future.

Photo by Staci Turner

The Underground Mining Museum is an excellent place to ďŹ nd out more about the rich mining history of Creede.Visitors can take a mining tour and view exhibits set up to demonstrate mining methods and conditions. Information on the museum is available by calling 719-658-0811 or at www. undergroundminingmusuem. com. While at the museum, visitors can pick up a map to guide them along the Bachelor Loop north of Creede. Along the route are historic mines and camps that show where the mining was actually done. The 16 sites sit along a dirt road with steep grades and an often narrow route.

A taste of the OldOldWest Cow Town In this classy, mini-version of Old Cowtown is located off Old Tucson, Ariz., experience life Hwy. 114 down CC 36. Info: 719as it existed in Saguache County 655-2224, 1-877-653-2698, www. in the 1800s. Meet new owners oldcowtowncolorado.com Joanne and Dave Wendl while enjoying the Mad Cow Saloon (see impressive ranching life mural and frosted glass bar mirror), the guest house, general store, restaurant, gift shop, picturesque wedding chapel, bank, dance hall and museum. Old Cowtown also has its own livery stable and boarding facilities for those wishing to bring their horses to the ranch or board them. Old Cow Town is open to the public, and reservations can be made for an entire weekend by groups or families throug Dec. 31. Recreational opportunities are abound: hunting, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, hiking, mountain climbing, four-wheeling and horseback riding, to name a few. Recreational vehicle hook-ups are available.

Old Cow Town

Photos by Teresa Benns

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Valley grown

Local agriculture

Agriculture, mainstay of the Valley When the early Hispanics settled the Valley, they brought their agricultural skills with them. The later influx of European farmers helped the Valley become a major grain and vegetable producer, eventually exporting agricultural products nationwide. Among these exports are the Valley’s main crops — potatoes, alfalfa, barley and lettuce. Potatoes The first potato crops were grown here in 1882. Ninety percent of Colorado’s potatoes are grown in the San Luis Valley, the fourth largest potato producer in the U.S. Some of the most popular varieties grown locally include: Centennial Russet, Russet Norkotah, Russet Nugget and one red variety, Sangre. The Valley’s cool nights and warm days provide perfect growing weather, resulting in a superior quality product that is shipped to restaurants and grocery chains throughout the South. Cold winters also greatly reduce the likelihood of disease.

Once alfalfa is planted, it usually grows in the same place for five to seven years. Pivots sprinklers are used to water the crop, but some fields also are watered using flood irrigation methods. The first hay crop is ready by mid-June; the second comes on in late July; and there is a third cutting in September. The monsoon season usually has begun by the second cutting, which brings down test scores for quality. The third crop is cut before reaching full maturity and tests highest. A good portion of the lower quality alfalfa hay is fed Hay crops A major hay-producing region, to local beef cow herds or is the San Luis Valley hay crop rakes transported to feedlots, where it in millions of dollars each year for is used as grinder hay. growers. Alfalfa is not far behind Barley potatoes as the Valley’s second To discourage weed growth and most valuable crop. Because of its high nutritional qualities, alfalfa for disease control purposes, small from the Valley is purchased by grains are rotated every two years dairies in northern Colorado and with potatoes. Barley and wheat are the main crops. The ancient grain, New Mexico. During harvest, the crop is quinoa, also is grown in the area. Until only recently, the San laid in windrows with a swather, then allowed to dry for seven to Luis Valley produced the majority 10 or more days before it can be of the state’s barley. Malt barley, compacted into bales and stored Moravian 14, grown specifically for the Molson Coors Brewing for future use. Planting starts in early May and harvest begins in early September, lasting until early October. Potato harvests are labor-intensive and Valley residents traveling the area’s highways watch for weeks as caravans of loaded potato trucks transport the crops to local warehouses. It takes some growers almost a month to get all their potatoes out of the fields. Practically the entire crop goes to storage, is later washed and sorted in the warehouse, then shipped to its destination.

Potatoes in bloom

Photos by Teresa Benns

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Co., constitutes the majority of the crop. A variety developed by Coors, Moravian is planted with certified seed. The brewing company purchases only barley meeting stringent quality requirements. The barley runs a gamut of quality tests before approval for purchase. Kernels are assessed for moisture, protein, damaged and broken kernels, mold, foreign materials and any other irregularities. Owing to the nature of the brewing process, minimum germination for malt barley is 97 percent. Before barley can be used to brew beer, it must first be taken to a malt house to germinate. Germination changes starches to sugars, and when this occurs the barley is then toasted and ground into barley malt. Barley must be planted early in order to harvest the crop before mid-August, when the monsoon rains fall. Lettuce While machinery is used to plant and cultivate crops of head and Romaine lettuce, migrant laborers weed, thin, then harvest the crops. Planting takes place around May 1 and the crop is harvested in


Potato Lasagna Servings: 6 Ingredients: 1 lb. ground beef 1/2 c. onion, chopped 1-1/2 c. mushrooms sliced 1 large garlic clove, minced 2 c. marinara sauce or meat less spaghetti sauce 2 T. parsley, chopped 6 c. Colorado potatoes, thinly sliced, peeled if desired 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese 2 T. grated parmesan cheese Non-stick spray coating

Cattle drive along Hwy. 17 stages from mid-July to October. Migrant laborers cut and package the lettuce on assembly lines set up in the fields for instant transport to coolers, then on to grocery chains and food outlets. Special trucks take the boxes to a vacuum cooler. Refrigerated trucks then transport the lettuce to consumer markets in the Midwest and Northeast. Carrots also are grown in the Valley and shipped to western markets. Cattle Cattle empires flourished from 1865 to 1889 in southern Colorado but sheep also were raised throughout the region. Historic cattle operations such as the Zapata and Salazar ranches are reminders of how the early settlers ran working ranches. Today many ranchers still raise cattle in the Valley, mostly on a small-scale basis. Some cattle producers, however, have recently retired their acreages owing to production costs and water issues. Still, the familiar site of protective mothers shielding wobbly calves

can be seen along county roads and highways every spring. And there’s more For more tastes of the Valley, check out Haefeli’s Honey (719657-2044) and Three Barrel Brewing (719-657-0681), both in Del Norte, Rakhra Mushroom Farm north of Alamosa (719-589-5882) and Cho Ku Rei Ranch outside of Crestone (719-256-4102). Also, don’t miss out on the numerous farmers’ markets held throughout the Valley.

Three Barrel Brewing

Instructions: In skillet on medium heat, brown beef; drain off fat. Add onions, mushrooms and garlic; cook until onion is tender and mushrooms are golden. Stir in sauce and parsley;heat through. In greased 2-quart shallow baking dish (13x9x2 inches) arrange half of the potato slices. Top with half of the meat mixture. Top with remaining potato sauce. Cover tightly with foil; bake at 470 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Uncover, sprinkle with cheeses; return to oven for 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Note: leaving the skins on the potatoes will add dietary fiber.

Local Farmers’ Market Courtesy Photo

Lettuce ready for shipment

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Step back in time

Museums

Alamosa Luther Bean Museum A mural, depicting the naming of the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range, adds to the atmosphere. The main gallery features a collection donated by Charles and Beryl Woodard, including furniture and figurines made from porcelain and carved ivory. The bronze, “Offering to the Great Spirit,” by Allan Houser, stands before two galleries containing artwork by Stephen Quiller, William Moyers, and Joseph Henry Sharp. Upstairs, cases contain Native American pottery, including pieces by Maria Martinez, San Ildefonso artist; santos and retablos, and weavings, including an Eppie Archuleta. Hours: Visit adams.edu/lutherbean for hours Admission: Free Info: 719-587-7151 San Luis Valley Museum The San Luis Valley Museum at 401 Hunt Ave. features educational displays of artifacts, photographs, antiques and collectibles portraying early ranch and farm life, as well as Indian artifacts, Hispanic settlers, the JapaneseAmerican community, Adams State College, Military regalia and early railroading. Museum displays show what an early mercantile or

San Luis Valley Museum Photo by Jennifer Alonzo

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general store was like, along with a model historic U.S. Post Office of years past and a a typical country grade school classroom designed around a fictitious valley town called Wayside. Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission: Adults $2, Children/students free Info: 719-587-0667 Antonito Conejos County Museum Located at 5252 U.S. Hwy. 285, it features memorabilia from the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, Silo Park, the 1913 Warshauer Mansion and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: Free Info: 719-376-2049 or 1-800-835-1098

honor of miners, the museum chronicles the history of nearly 100 years of hard-rock mining and shows how real silver mining was done. Guided tours run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and cost $15 for all ages. Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (summer season) Admission: Adults $7, Seniors $6, Children (ages 6-11) $5, Under age 6 free Info: 719-658-0811

Crestone Crestone Historical Museum Located in downtown Crestone at the corner of Galena Avenue and Alder Street, in the lobby of the old (1901) San Luis Valley Bank building. Exhibits highlight the Gold Rush days (18701920) of the Crestone and El Dorado Mining Districts; 135 years of mountaineering on our Fourteeners (1877 to present) and the founding and evolution of the 100,000-acre Luis Maria Baca Grant, one of the great cattle ranches of the Creede West, now part of Great Sand Dunes National Historical Society Museum Located at 17 Main St., it is in the one-room Park and the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. railroad depot dating back to 1891-92. View old Hours: Weekends, 10 a.m.-4 p.m; weekdays, photographs, history reference books, a hand- by appointment (summer season). Admission: By donation drawn fire wagon and horse-drawn hearse. Info: 719-256-4313 weekdays, 719-256-5227 Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends Admission: Adults $2, Children (under age 12) free, Seniors $1, Family $5 Del Norte Info: 719-658-2303, 719-658-2004 Rio Grande County Museum Underground Mining Museum Chronicling the lives of people settling along The museum is at the edge of Creede on the mighty Rio Grande, such as fur traders and Forest Service Rd. No. 9. Built by miners in trappers, mountain men, medics and Hispanic

Jack Dempsey Museum Photo by Staci Turner


settlers, as well as the Europeans who made the Valley their home, the Rio Grande County Museum is at 580 Oak Street. It is operated through an agreement between the County Commissioners, Museum Board and Del Norte Chamber of Commerce. On display are ancient rock art and a good collection of early photographs. Hours: Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (summer season) Admission: By donation Info: 719-657-2847, 1-800-233-4403 Lookout Mountain Observatory Not a museum as such, the Lookout Mountain Observatory Association celebrates astronomy in Del Norte, which was once part of the Presbyterian College of the Southwest. Star parties are conducted during the year at the Leo Fontenot Memorial Observatory located behind the Rio Grande County Courthouse, which can be used by active amateur astronomers. Info: 719-852-4971 Fort Garland Fort Garland Museum Historic Fort Garland is a proud historic landmark in the town that bears its name. This restored adobe fort was established in 1858 to facilitate settlement after the Mexican American War of 1846. In 1862 its troops marched to Glorieta Pass to engage Texas Confederates in the western most battle of the Civil War—The Battle of Glorieta Pass. Fighting alongside other Colorado Volunteers and New Mexico Volunteers the battle ended Confederate efforts at westward expansion of the war. Fort Garland was once commanded by the legendary Christopher “Kit” Carson and was home to the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers. Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (summer season) Admission: Adults $5, Children (ages 6-16) $3.50, Seniors $4.50, Children (under age 6) free. Colorado Historical Society members and active military and their families have FREE admission. Group Rates available by calling ahead. Info: 719-379-3512

Mauler,” the world’s greatest heavyweight boxer of the 20th Century. View a wealth of photos and memorabilia of Dempsey’s legendary career. Hours: Tues.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (summer season) Admission: Free Info: 719-843-5207 Monte Vista Transportation of the West Museum & Historical Society On the east side of the historic Fassett Building, at 916 First Ave., the Monte Vista Historical Society Museum houses more than 1,500 photographs, history reference books and other memorabilia. It also incorporates early modes of transportation used in the San Luis Valley, everywhere from the Valley floor to mountain mining camps. Travel through the years of change in transportation by viewing numerous captioned photographs provided by the Monte Vista Historical Society. History Center Hours: Tues.-Sat., 12:30-3 p.m. (summer season) Territorial Daughters Library (stone building next to Carnegie Library) Hours: Tues.-Thurs., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Transportation Hours: By appointment only Admission: By donation Info: 719-849-9320

Veterans History Center Based at the Colorado State Veterans Center (CSVC) at Home-lake, the Veterans History Center houses military and veterans organization artifacts dating back to the 1800s. The museum is a repository for unclaimed military memorabilia taken from safety deposit boxes falling into the possession of the state of Colorado. The center also is home to a growing collection of military records gathered from old CSVC records and military veterans still living who volunteer them. Founded as the Soldiers and Sailors home to house homeless and elderly Civil war and Spanish American war veterans, 52 of the CSVC structures are listed on the State Register of Historic Places. One of those structures, the old administration building will Manassa someday house the museum. Jack Dempsey Museum Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m., 1-3 The Jack Dempsey Museum is at 412 Main p.m.; Sat. 1-4 p.m. (summer season) Admission: By donation Street, the birthplace of the legendary “Manassa

Info: 719-852-5118 Saguache Saguache County Museum The Saguache County Museum is housed in a building partially constructed more than 125 years ago and includes the historic county jail, which once housed the infamous “Colorado Cannibal” Alferd Packer. Look for graffiti by early prisoners, rocks and minerals, the Hazard House, a restored home with original furnishings, fine China dolls, fine linens and vintage toys. Gift shop available offering books, paintings and crafts by local artists. Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (summer season) Admission: Adult $5, Children (under age 12) $1 Info: 719-655-2557 San Luis San Luis Museum Housed in the San Luis Cultural Center at 401 Church Pl., the museum features murals and works of art from its own collection and on loan from various artists and collectors, many of whom are local residents. The gift shop offers paintings and other art objects by various local artists. The north wing of the complex houses the Carlos Beaubien Theatre, which shows movies on summer weekends and in the past has been used to host the Santa Ana / Santiago Queen Pageant. The theatre has also been the setting of several stage performances, presentations, and concerts. Because much of the original decor has been maintained throughout the building, the original vigas (roof supports) and fireplace still grace the theatre. Hours: Call for hours. Admission: Adults $2, Seniors/Students $1 Info: 719-672-3611 For more information on all San Luis Valley museums, visit MuseumTrail. org. Sponsored by the San Luis Valley Museum Association, “Your pathway to the history of the San Luis Valley.” Info: 719-580-4346, Facebook: museumtrail.org, museumtrail@yahoo. com

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Restoring the past Windsor Hotel

Not long ago, the Windsor Hotel looked like a hopeless, run-down nightmare. The hotel’s grand opening this spring showed off rooms with restored original elegance, plus a few modern twists. During 1874, the Windsor Hotel’s first year, James L. Briggs, an educated man from Illinois came to San Juan country to remake his fortune as a miner; he was a

restored history with modern amenities. hotel guest that year. Here is an The landlord will never ask you excerpt from a letter about a night to double up unless it is with your spent at the hotel while he waited loved one. You are pampered with for registered mail to arrive from Pueblo: “Well after I got the letter (informing him of a registered letter in Pueblo). I went back to the hotel and went to bed thinking I would get a good sleep as I would undress, being the first time that I have taken off my pantaloons or stockings to clean. Almost twelve o’clock I was awakened by a stranger coming to my room with the landlord saying that he would have to sleep with me as his other beds were all full—two in a bed. The stranger had not been in bed more than half an hour when he ran to vomit. He kept it up for an hour. I think he was the champion. After Windsor Hotel lobby he got through vomiting, he soon went to sleep and of all the snorers, I think he could beat them all. He kept it up all night. I would have got up but the house was cold. As soon as daylight came I got up and as soon as I got my breakfast I started out to rent a house.” In 2012, your stay at the Windsor Hotel offers you a piece of carefully

Windsor Hotel dining room Photos by Mark Niederquell

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800-thread count sheets after you take your pantaloons off and every room even has its own luxurious, private bath. Info: 719-657-9031, www.thewindsorhoteldelnorte.com


Reliving history Kit Carson Covered Wagon Train Ride

Campfire cooking

The First Annual Kit Carson Covered Wagon Train Ride is “South Fork-to-Ski-Hi-Stampede or-bust,” so gather up your gear and don your western wear. Every true westerner, and even folks who are westerners at heart, have thought about what life was like for settlers as they traveled in covered wagons, cooked over open fires, camped along the river and slept under the night sky. The event will gather in South Fork on July 25 for a big pre-ride shindig. Fred Hargrove will entertain campfire friends the first night. The authentic caravan will leave South Fork on July 26 and stop for the night in the historic western town of Del Norte, where a dance is planned. Everyone and their horses then rest for the night, relaxing by open fires under a canopy of stars in the dark Valley night skies. The procession of covered Conestogas will leave Del Norte on July 27 and make their way to Monte Vista, where they will have another fun evening and get ready to be a part of the annual Ski-Hi Stampede parade, July 28. Alice Lenich, owner of Colorado Cowgirls in Del Norte, is organizing

the authentic wagon train ride, modeled after one she and late husband, Frank, participated in many times in Texas. Lenich was 18 when she went on the first ride. She’d been itching to try, but her mother wouldn’t let her go on the Salt Grass Ride until she was 18 years old, Lenich recalls with a laugh. Alice met a young man working the wagons named Frank and knew right away they were meant for each other. Frank must have figured the same thing because, by the end of the ride, he decided to change his major to animal science like Alice’s, and transferred to her college in Texas from his New York City home. The Salt Grass Ride has been

going on for 61 years in Houston, Texas, but the Valley’s Kit Carson Wagon Train Ride won’t have the traffic problems a metropolitan area the size of Houston does. Lenich is working with highway officials and the Colorado State Patrol to prevent any traffic or safety issues. Summing up her thoughts, Alice says, “I’m a pro at campfire cooking over open fires. Everyone ends up helping, even though no one ever asks. The ride is like that; it brings people together and you get to know each other.” “After 43 years of taking care of people, you know how to do it. I’ll use my experience from my other rides to do this right,” Lenich said. Info: 719-657-3111

Authentic wagon train rides have been popular for many years. Photos courtesy of Alice Lenich

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Alamosa

County Events

Sundays at Six

Photo courtesy of Valley Courier

Sundays at Six, beginning date TBA Join the Alamosa Live Music Association (ALMA) for Sundays @ Six in Alamosa’s Cole Park for a free summer concert series, a hallmark of summer in the Valley. For two months, at 6 p.m. on Sundays, the audience is exposed to music performed by local performers and groups, as well as nationally recognized touring musicians. Food vendors are available at all the concerts. In case of inclement weather, the concerts take place in Leon Memorial Hall on the Adams State College Campus. Info: www. almaonline.org SummerFest on the Rio, June 1-3 Alamosa’s Cole park opens up at 4 p.m. Friday, June 1, offering everyone a sneak peek at what the weekend offers. Friday night features a dance in the park with

Summerfest on the Rio Photo by Jennifer Alonzo

Alamosa Round-Up

Photos courtesy of Valley Courier

Tumbleweed from 6-9 p.m. Food vendors and the beer garden will be open. Saturday will be a big hit with the families. Beginning at 10 a.m., the vendors will be ready to go. There will be entertainment throughout the day as well: Blue Sky (11 a.m.), Mo Jones (12 p.m.), Bittersweet (1 p.m.), 2 p.m.-Warren Floyd (2 p.m.), Jewels of the Valley Belly Dancers (3 p.m.), Two Weeks in Fiji (4 p.m.), Mel Lockhart (5 p.m.) and Wendy Woo & the Wendy Woo Band (6-9 p.m.). Fireworks will follow the last act of the evening. Sunday’s entertainment will start up at noon with Indian Nickel, followed by: Semillas de la Tierra Dancers (1 p.m.), Ernestine Romero and Band (2 p.m.), 3 p.m.Jeff Valdez (3 p.m.) and Pedro and the Pistons (4-5:30 p.m.). This free community event celebrates its 10th anniversary in grand style. Info: 877-589-2078, www.summerfestontherio.org

Rollin’ Deep Car Show, June 17 This fun event is traditionally held on Father’s Day in Alamosa’s Cole Park and features low riders, custom cars and even custom bicycles and motorcycles. Info: 719-274-5235 Alamosa PRCA Round-Up Rodeo, June 16-24 The Alamosa Round-Up has been a part of Western Heritage in Colorado for more than 30 years

Summerfest on the Rio Photo by Jennifer Alonzo

Convenient Care Community Clinic Open Daily ~ Visitors & Residents Welcome Located At 1131 Main Street In Alamosa Corner of Highways 160 & 285 719-589-2562

Valley-Wide HealtH SyStemS, inc. Come see us for your preventative, ongoing Care, too! We Want to be your “mediCal & dental Home!” Visit vwhs.org

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and takes place at the fairgrounds south of town. This year’s action will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 16 with a Little Britches Rodeo; a second Little Britches Rodeo will be at 9 a.m. Sunday. A Ranch Rodeo is planned for Tuesday, June 19, then a kick-off barbecue is set for Wednesday at 6 p.m. followed by mutton bustin’ by little ‘pokes at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 21 will bring a cattle drive through downtown Alamosa at high noon and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeo bursts out of the chutes at 7:30 p.m. PRCA action will continue at 10 a.m. Friday, June 22, with

Rollin’ Deep Car Show

SLV Quilt Adventure, SLV Farmers’ Market, June 25-July 6 every Saturday, July 7-Oct. 6 Incredible handmade art quilts Find fresh, organic produce, herbs grace the storefronts of downtown and spices, arts, crafts and spices, Alamosa. Info: 719-589-6982 arts, crafts and fun at State and Main streets in downtown Alamosa. A Independence Day tasting booth offers locally produced Celebration, July 4 foods and live music is usually on Join the Alamosa community tap. Info: alamosafarmersmarket@ in this good, old-fashioned, gmail.com down home celebration. The traditional pancake breakfast will Colorado Gators Eggfest, be held in the SLV Federal Bank July 7-8 parking lot at the intersection Celebrate the spring gator hatch of Edison Ave. with a 10 a.m. parade following. Then, at dark, it’s the annual fireworks display sponsored by SLV Federal Bank at the fairgrounds south of town. Free and open to the public. Info: Rails & Ales, June 23 Ride the rails to a brewery event 719-589-3681 at a pristine mountain location accessible only by rail. Breweries from all over the San Luis Valley, the state of Colorado and beyond will offer a sampling of their finest brews. Info: 877-726-RAIL, www. coloradotrain.com rodeo slack topped off by a rodeo at 7:30 p.m. This year, for the first time, a “Rodeo & Rails Block Party” will be held from 8 p.m. to midnight in downtown Alamosa, sponsored by the San Luis Valley Brewing Company. At 7 p.m. Saturday, June 23, get ready for the metal-crashin’ dirt raisin’ fun of the annual demolition derby that will begin at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, June 24, Cowboy Church will take place at 10 a.m., and a Country Gospel Concert with Susie McEntire will be held at 6 p.m. Info: www.alamosaroundup. com

Rails & Ales

Photo by Keith Cerny

Independence Day parade

Alamosa Round-up Demolition Derby Photos courtesy of Valley Courier

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with great activities for the whole who come from all over the United in the Sports Riders Association family. Info: 719-378-2612, www. States for this growing rural show. of Colorado. The newly formed Jack Rabbit coloradogators.com Free. Info: 719-852-9860 Motorcycle Club has taken over the production of this event, and Alamosa Fly-In and Airshow, Cat’s Classic Motorcross, was awarded the Colorado State July 14 July 21-22 Located at the SLV Regional As the Cat’s Classic enters its Championships in 2011 as the Airport-Bergman Field, the pancake fifth year, pride shows for Monte finale to a long season. The club breakfast runs from 7-10 a.m. and Vista’s John Wilschau and his was proud to host the event, which the airshow starts at 10 a.m. with outstanding accomplishment to had top national racers traveling specialty fly-bys, an unbelievable enhance the event. He put up an from as far away as Texas and number of aerobatic performers, unbelievable late season charge surrounding states to compete. The and aircraft on the ground for last year with five consecutive 315 race entries were a record 315 public inspection. Talk with pilots, wins to earn his amateur ranking for the southwest and Cat’s Classic

was ranked as the second largest SRAC event of 2011. With the new four-corners and huge regular purse, top racers across the southwest are sure to attend. The race is now attracting national exposure on RACER X online and Vurb Moto, so the work and effort for the last four years seems to be paying off for the popularity of the event and the San Luis Valley. This year’s event will continue the four-corners challenge and add a bonfire concert on Saturday evening. Info: 719589-9717, www.catsclassics.com Gators Gatorfest XVII, Aug. 4-5 Watch as foolhardy daredevils compete in an alligator wrestling rodeo. Info: 719-378-2612, www. coloradogators.com

SLV Farmers’ Market

SLV Farmers’ Market

Photos courtesy of Valley Courier

Cat’s Classic

Colorado Gators

Photo by Ashli Adams

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Early Iron Festival, Aug. 31-Sept. 2 Summer signs out with one of Colorado’s largest vintage car shows, music and food along the banks of the Rio Grande. Celebrating its 32nd year, the San Luis Valley Early Iron Festival will once again draw hundreds of unique vehicles to Alamosa’s Cole Park. Driver and sponsor events are Aug. 31 beginning at Cole Park with early registration from 3-8 p.m. and a get-acquainted party from 5:30-10 p.m., also at the park. Sept. 1, is “Show and Shine, the big day with cars on display, music, food and fun at the park, which opens around 9 a.m. A model car contest for builders of all ages will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with judging at 2. For the women, there will be

a “Ladies Tea” from 2-2:30 p.m. at the Senior Citizens Center, at the north end of the park. Winners will be announced from 2-4 p.m. From 6-8 p.m., the club hosts a rodders’ awards banquet at the Knights of Columbus, where awards will be given. The most coveted award is the Rodders’ Choice Award, given to the favorite car as chosen by the hot rodders themselves. That car is traditionally featured in the artwork and promotions for the next year’s event. Following the banquet, there will be a “slow cruise” through downtown Alamosa. On Sunday, there will be a rodders’ church service at the park from 9-9:45 a.m., then a poker run will take place from 10:30 a.m.1 p.m. Info: 1-888-589-9170 or www.earlyironclub.com

Colorado Welcome Center Located in Alamosa’s historic depot at the corner of State Ave. and Sixth Street, the Alamosa Welcome Center is proud of the city’s history, but it features information about all of Colorado, with more than 1,000 brochures separated into seven different travel regions, as well as maps of the state and the same regions. A guide to vacationing in Colorado is available in Spanish, French, German and English. The Alamosa train depot was built in 1908-1909 and once housed not only railroad ticket offices, but bus line offices. After the decline of railroad transportation, the building was used as various government offices. In 2009, the interior renovations enabled the Colorado Welcome Center to move in. Listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places, the depot features architecture and memorabilia of a bygone era. Partnering with the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, the welcome center offers visitors a place to stop and rest or pick up tickets for a ride on the railroad. Friendly travel counselors answer any and all questions about Colorado and the San Luis Valley, especially

things to see and do in the area. They also offer personalized itineraries, road conditions, Wi-Fi, free coffee and tea and more. Pets are welcome. Summer hours are 8 a.m.-6.p.m. In the winter, the center is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at 610 State Ave., Alamosa. Info: 1-800-BLUSKYS, www.alamosa.org, www. colorado.com

Colorado Welcome Center at Alamosa Photo by Sylvia Lobato

Early Iron Festival

Photos courtesy of Valley Courier

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Rio Grande County Events

South Fork’s Birthday, May 12 This year celebrates the 20th birthday for the town of South Fork, and the action will be at the Visitors Center with food and fun. The event coincides with the town’s annual beautification day, when residents pick up trash and spruce up the town in preparation for visitors. Info: 719-873-5512 Memorial Day, May 28 Events will be held at cemeteries and veterans sites around the Valley. Run, Rock & Roll, June 2 This annual endurance event is Del Norte’s way of celebrating National Trails Day with running and bicycling. Located at the Old Spanish Trail on Hwy. 160 between

Monte Vista and Del Norte, follow to benefit local non-profits will be the signs. Info: 719-657-2000 held at a new location, Ski Hi Park in Monte Vista, and looks to be Del Norte Farmers Market, bigger and better than ever. Enjoy begins June 5 live music, vendors, fireworks and a The Farmers Market begins poker run while benefiting the local at Del Norte and will run every community. This year’s raffle item is a new Chevrolet Sonic. Info: 719Thursday through August. 852-9300, 719-850-1994, www. mvrallyinthevalley.com South Fork Little Britches Rodeo, June 8-10 Watch rodeo stars of tomorrow Kids’ Fishing Derby, June 16 Budding anglers will enjoy a compete in the rugged events of professional rodeo at Rickel Arena. free day of fishing at Tucker Ponds Competitors are boys and girls, ages near South Fork. This fun, learning 5 through 18. This is a traditional experience will include wildlife western event that features action, experts, who will gladly answer competition and a few laughs. Info: questions. Info: 719-873-5512, www.southfork.org 800-571-0881. Rally in the Valley, June 15-16 This year’s seventh annual rally

El Valle Car Show

Photos by Sylvia Lobato

South Fork Independence Day Photo by Toni Steffens-Steward

mud runs this year. Kicking off at 11 a.m. on Cty. Rd. 15, follow the signs. Powerful vehicles are pitted against deep mud for an exciting day. Info: 719-657-2000, www. delnortechamber.org

South Fork Independence Day Celebration, July 3 South Fork celebrates a day early so as not to conflict with celebrations around the Valley. Mud Bogs ‘R’ Back, June 23 It will include all the traditional Del Norte will once again host the fun, with a parade, duck races, the ever-popular fire department catfish fry, live music and vendors, a street dance, the traditional Kiwanis chili supper and a gala fireworks display at dusk. Info: 719-873-5512, www. southfork.org SLV Antique Iron Club Tractor Pull, July 7-8 The San Luis Valley Antique Iron Club has its own tractor and

Memorial Day

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South Fork Fishing Derby

Photo by Toni Steffens-Steward

Folk Arts & Fiber Festival Photo by Teresa Benns

Del Norte Covered Wagon Days Photo by Billie Jones

South Fork Little Britches Rodeo Photo by Toni Steffens-Steward

Logger Days

Photo by Josephine Pierce

garden tractor pull track with pulling sleds for both tractors. It is located between Monte Vista and Alamosa at the Alamosa Recreation Park on the north side of Hwy. 160. Experience a slice of farm life at this event, which features antique tractors pulling increasing weight, garden tractor pulls and even kids’ pedal tractor pulls, along with displays and a barrel train ride. Look for antique farming equipment along the track. Info: Jim Clare-719-850-0072, Andrew Davie-719-850-1386, www.slvaic.com Kitchens in July Home Tour, July 12 Local homeowners will open up their South Fork area homes for the annual home tour. Sponsored by the Greater South Fork Community Foundation, this is an opportunity to view some of the most astounding homes in the area. Info: 719-8735512, www.southforkfoundation. org

Logger Days, July 20-22 South Fork’s roots lie in logging. Someone had to hew the lumber to build towns and homes in the booming San Luis Valley, and logging prospered. Logging competitions take place both days, with cash prizes for each event and a championship chainsaw for the very best. Events include the axe throw, plunge cut, timed wood chop, choker race, hanger cut, wrapper throw, speed cuts, twoman cross cut and the accuracy fall. A mini-axe throwing competition gets the crowd involved, and there will be a wide variety of events and activities for folks of all ages, including music, food, arts and crafts, children’s games and prize drawings. Info: 719-873-5512, www.southfork.org

SLV Folk Arts and Fiber Festival, July 13-15 This unique, three day festival celebrates its sixth year of bringing handmade and traditional arts to Monte Vista, with demonstrations, workshops, contests, live music, food and more at Monte Vista’s Marsh Park. The event brings young and old alike to watch yarn being spun from wool, craftspersons at work and more. Info: www.slvfest.com

Ski Hi Stampede, July 26-29 Celebrating its 91st year, the Ski Hi Stampede is Colorado’s oldest pro rodeo. It was founded in the late 1800s so local cowpokes could compare the skills they learned riding the range. Today, it’s a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) event, where the pros accumulate points toward competition in the National Pro Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev. during December.

Kitchens in July Home Tour Photo by Toni Steffens-Steward

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Del Norte Fashion Show, July 20 Del Norte’s first fashion show will begin at 5 p.m. in the Knights of Columbus Hall.


Mud Bogs in Del Norte Courtesy Photo

Ski Hi Stampede Carnival Photo by Jennifer Alonzo

Welcome to Historic Downtown Monte Vista

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In addition to great rodeo action, there will be parades, chuck wagon dinners, dances, concerts and a carnival set up at Ski Hi Park in east Monte Vista. This is the largest event in the San Luis Valley and boasts one of the biggest carnivals in the state of Colorado. This year’s parade theme is “What America’s Made Of,” and the concert entertainment is a double-bill, Country Music Association recording stars Craig Morgan and Hunter Hayes. Info: www.skihistampede.com

Rhythms on the Rio

Photo by Toni Steffens-Steward

Covered Wagon Days, Aug. 2-5 Del Norte turns back its clock for four days of wild and wooly events harking back to when the West was born. This themed event includes a parade, pancake breakfast, the popular and traditional firemen’s barbecue, events at the Windsor Hotel—restored to its former glory—as the heart of town activities, a car show, 5K run, horseshoe tourney, old-fashioned games, a Sunday service and more. Watch for the “biscuit toss,” reputed to have happened at the Windsor Hotel back when cowpokes, suffering from cabin fever, whiled their time away playing poker

Monte Vista Potato Festival Valley Publishing File Photo

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for biscuits. This exciting event involves re-enactors and spectators alike. Info: 719-657-2000, www. delnortechamber.org Rhythms on the Rio, South Fork TBA Check www.southforkmusic.org for updates. Mud Bogs ‘R’ Back (second run), Aug. 18 Del Norte’s second mud run of the season will take place at 10 a.m. Info: 657-2000, www. delnortechamber.org Fork Fest-Run for Beer, Labor Day Weekend A new event this year in South Fork, contact the South Fork Visitors Center for more information, 719-873-5512, www. southfork.org. Monte Vista Potato Festival, Sept. 8 Celebrate the potato and all its possibilities at the Monte Vista Potato Festival. Growing bigger and more exciting each year, the festival boasts exciting activities for adults and kids alike. Info: 719852-3322, www.coloradopotato. org


Conejos/Costilla

County Events

C&TSR Opening Day, May 26 The historic Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TSR), the longest narrow gauge railroad, will celebrate its opening day for the 2012 season with new special trains and amenities in Antonito. The C&TSR draws over 40,000 patrons a year who want to ride the rails and visit the surrounding area. Info: 1-888-2862737, www.cumbrestoltec.com

derby, “M” Mountain will light up with the annual fireworks display. Info: 719-843-5207, www.themanassaproject.org

Ft. Garland Band Jam, July 21 This year marks the third annual “musical community fundraising event.” The jam will be held on the Fort Garland Museum grounds with a beer garden available again this year, along with an open-air market with food. A silent auction and prizes will be a part of Sanford Pioneer Days, July 17-19 The annual pageant competitions will be the celebration. Info: 719-379-3482, www. held on July 17-18, with a parade and day long fortgarlandbandjam.com events following on July 19. Sanford honors Santa Ana y Santiago Fiesta, July 28-29 their roots with a Mormon Pioneer celebration, The oldest town in Colorado plays host to breakfast, parade, barbeque lunch and day of a street full of vendors, mariachi dancers and games. Info: 719-274-0120 singers. The weekend event kicks off each morning with a parade including floats, low Manassa Pioneer Days, July 19-21 This annual event grows larger each year rider cars and horses. Info: 719-672-3321 drawing more floats into the parade, vendors, La Jara Glory Days, Aug. 4 entertainment, rides, games, live music and The town will celebrate with an annual food. This year marks the 133rd annual celebration. breakfast in the parking lot of Jack’s Market, Parades at 10 a.m. each day highlight the event. courtesy of the La Jara Fire Department. There Entertainment will hit the stage and the famous will also be a parade, pet competition, live music hamburger stand will be set up next to the town and local vendors. Info: 719-588-2080 offices with a barbecue being held at the Opera Antonito Labor Day Celebration, Sept. 1-2 House on Saturday. Antonito, sitting as the gateway to southern Don’t miss out on the ever- popular carnival with rides and games to delight all. Five horse Colorado, celebrates Labor Day with local races are planned each day, with two having vendors selling artwork, food and fun. The purses over $1,000 each. Rodeos will be held town also plays host to the annual softball Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, and the tournament, which typically draws over 16 demolition derby will once again take off at 7 teams from New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. p.m. on Saturday. Following Saturday evening’s Info: 719-580-4866, 719-588-3777

Santa Ana y Santiago Fiesta

Manassa Pioneer Days parade Photos by Tori Vigil

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Mineral

County Events

Rock and Mineral Show

Taste of Creede, May 26-27 Located in downtwon Creede, this festival of fine arts and fine dining includes a Quick Draw Competition and a Silver Chef Competition, as well as an art auction. In addition, the Creede Arts Council will present their National Small Print Show Opening.

Lodge dance following. Vendors will be available during the day. The Colorado Mining Com-petition, Days of ’92, will be held at Basham Park on July 3 and 4. Watch seasoned miners compete in such essential skills as drilling and mucking, used to extract precious ores out of the mountains.

Memorial Day Ceremony, Woodcarvers’ Rendezvous, July 14-20 May 28 Skilled woodworkers from all over the The country’s veterans will be honored at country will be making their way to the 10 a.m. by the Creede Elks. Info: 719-658- Creede Under-ground Mining Museum 2661 and Community Center for the 21st annual Woodcarvers’ Rendezvous. More than 20 ATV Poker Run & instructors will be teaching beginner through Skidsteer Rodeo, June 17 advanced carvers, as well as performing This Father’s Day, the Upper Rio Grande demonstrations, and contests. Woodworking Events Complex will be hosting an ATV Poker equipment and supplies are available for Run and Skidsteer Rodeo. Info: 719-658-2929, purchase, as well. Everyone is welcome. Info: 719-658-2376 www.creedewoodcarvers.com Independence Day Celebration, July 3-4 The town will once again host the annual July 4th parade that often attracts thousands of people to Creede. Fireworks will begin after dark above the cliffs, with the Elks

4th of July parade

Days of ‘92

Photos by Toni Steffens-Steward

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Taste of Creede


Rock & Mineral Show, Aug. 3-5 WANTED: Rock Hounds to attend the 11th Annual Rock & Mineral Show located at the Creede Underground Mining Museum and Community Center. More than 35 dealers will be showing mineral specimens, fossils, geodes, gold nuggets, meteorites, tools and artifacts from the Creede area and around the world. From amateur rock hounds to professional geologists, this show has something for everyone. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. both days, and admission is free. Info: www.creederocks.com Mountain Man Rendezvous, Aug. 3-11 The rendezvous is open to the public from Aug. 6-8 offering a way for the general public to walk through and experience some of what life was like in the boom days of Mineral County. Snowshoe Shuffle, Aug. 4 The 28th annual Snowshoe Shuffle will begin and end at Basham Park in Creede. Prizes are awarded for first, second and third place in men’s and women’s age divisions. Creede Mountain Run, Sept. 1 The 22-mile run will start in Creede and will top out near the 11-mile mark along the Continental Divide (12,500 ft.). The 12-mile run will leave the main course at Allen’s Crossing (10,500 ft.) and top out on Bachelor Mountain (10,700 ft.) before rejoining the main course. The two-mile run will follow the main course to the one-mile mark and then return.

Labor Day Weekend Celebration, Aug. 31–Sept. 3 During the annual Salsa Fiesta, Creede residents and businesses compete for recognition of the best salsa in town. In addition, the Creede Mining Heritage will be presenting the 2nd annual balloon festival. Other activities include the gravity derby, ATV rodeo, live music and children’s activities. Silver Threads Quilt Guild, Sept. 14-16 The Silver Threads Quilt Guild will host its 5th biennial “Mining for Treasures” quilt show, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily at the Mineral County Underground Community Center, admission is $3. There will be nearly 200 quilts on display, along with vendors, demonstrations, handmade items for sale, on-site quilt appraisals ($40) and a Quilter’s Cafe. Info: STQG2012@gmail.com Cruisin’ the Canyon Car Show, Sept. 14-16 Pre-registration begins on Friday, and the car show will be held on Saturday. Vintage cars, trucks and motor-cycles will be on display in downtown Creede during the event. The show ends with a Rod Run and Fly-In breakfast on Sunday. For more information on all events, contact the Mineral County/ Creede Chamber of Commerce, 719-658-2374, www.creede.com.

Labor Day Balloon Festival

Mountain Man Rendezvous Courtesy Photo

Salsa Fiesta

Cruisin’ the Canyon Car Show

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Finding your way... San Luis Valley Map

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Map Key Orient Mine & Bat Cave Joyful Journey Hot Springs Crestone UFO Watch Tower Saguache Sand Dunes Swimming Pool San Luis Lakes State Park Colorado Gators Thunder Valley Speedway Alamosa POW/MIA Memorial Pikes Stockade Manassa San Luis Oldest Church in Colorado Antonito Monte Vista Old Spanish Trail Monument Stone Quarry Del Norte Old Cow Town Penetinte Canyon Natural Arch Wagon Tracks Elephant Rocks Fremonts Christmas Camp Pfeiffer’s Grave Summitville Gold Mine South Fork Creede Wolf Creek Ski Area

A B C D

Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area Alamosa Wildlife Refuge Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge Coller State Wildlife Area

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

See map for general locations of: Blanca, Capulin, Center, Conejos, Fort Garland, Hooper, Moffat, Mosca, La Garita, La Jara, Lake City, Platoro, Romeo, Sanford and Villa Grove.

A stream runs in Conejos County Photos by Staci Turner

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Finding your way... San Luis Valley Map

24 25 26 27 28 29

Map Key Orient Mine & Bat Cave Joyful Journey Hot Springs Crestone UFO Watch Tower Saguache Sand Dunes Swimming Pool San Luis Lakes State Park Colorado Gators Thunder Valley Speedway Alamosa POW/MIA Memorial Pikes Stockade Manassa San Luis Oldest Church in Colorado Antonito Monte Vista Old Spanish Trail Monument Stone Quarry Del Norte Old Cow Town Penetinte Canyon Natural Arch Wagon Tracks Elephant Rocks Fremonts Christmas Camp Pfeiffer’s Grave Summitville Gold Mine South Fork Creede Wolf Creek Ski Area

A B C D

Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area Alamosa Wildlife Refuge Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge Coller State Wildlife Area

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

See map for general locations of: Blanca, Capulin, Center, Conejos, Fort Garland, Hooper, Moffat, Mosca, La Garita, La Jara, Lake City, Platoro, Romeo, Sanford and Villa Grove.

A stream runs in Conejos County Photos by Staci Turner

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Saguache County Events

Crestone Metaphysical Fair & Quantum Reality Conference, May 26-28 Come get enlightened at the Crestone Metaphysical Fair. Focusing on holistic methods, you can partake in readings, massages, auraphotos, astrology and much more. It will be held at the White Eagle Inn in Crestone. There will be indoor and outdoor booths, lectures and workshops all weekend. Info: 719- 256-5462, CrestoneFair.com Saguache County Museum Opening, May 27 Located at Otto Mears Park, Highway 285 and Pitkin Avenue in Saguache, the celebration includes 5K/10K races, famous barbecue lunch, craft vendors in the park, kiddie events, music and “how it’s done” events at museum. Info: 719-655-2557

Crestone Music Festival

San Juan Fiesta, date TBA This religious celebration recognizing St. John’s Day is typically held at the Community Park in Center (subject to change). The celebration includes an open-air mass in the park, a bike rally, blessing of the bikes, dancers, baseball games, concessions and a Saturday night dance. Info: 754-3497

Courtesy Photo

San Juan Fiesta

Crestone Independence Day Celebration, July 4 Fourth of July parade and festival in Crestone includes fun events all day, including a 5K race, pancake breakfast, vendor booths and more. Info: 719-256-4313 Saguache Summer Celebration, July 7 No further information available. Crestone Music Festival, August 3-5 This three-day, two-stage, multi-genre, multicultural event features international cuisine, vendors, activities and contests for all ages at the Crestone Challenger Golf Course. More than 20 international, national, regional and local acts perform, with at least five cultures being represented. Headlining the event this year will be Elephant

Independence Day Celebration

Memorial Day Parade Photos by Teresa Benns

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Revival on Friday, Sister Carol Shakedown Street on Saturday and Maura O’Connell on Sunday. Info: 719-256-4533, www.crestfest.org Saguache Traditional Wacipi Pow Wow, Sept 1. A day of Native American celebrations and events will be held in Otto Mears Park in Saguache. Info: 719-655-2847 Saguache Fall Festival, Sept. 15 The end of the summer season celebration in Otto Mears Park in Saguache features music, food, vendors and much more. Info: 719-655-2847 The SLV Theatre Company For scheduled performances in 2012, call 719-580-4443.

Saguache Traditional Wacipi Pow Wow

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Awardwinning

talent

Creede Repertory Theatre

Forty-seven years ago, a dozen Kansas University students received a bizarre request from Creede, a struggling mining town in Colorado: start a theatre to help revitalize the town’s economy. It was a naïve idea, and there were 100 reasons why it wouldn’t work. Expensive equipment would have to be hauled 9,000 feet up into this mountain town. Where would the actors and technicians come from? And even if every permanent resident came to see the show, it wouldn’t sell out three performances. Defiantly, the Creede Repertory Theatre (CRT), along with the many artists who followed, has helped shape the cultural heritage of Creede. In addition, it is one of the nation’s rising stars. In 2007, the National Theatre Conference awarded CRT the Outstanding Theatre Award for achievement by a not-forprofit American theatre. The KU students never imagined that the theatre they created would win an award also bestowed upon The Goodman, Steppenwolf and The Old Globe. In 2011, The Denver Post named CRT’s Executive/Artistic Director, Maurice LaMee, Theatre Person of the Year, and CRT won the Readers’ Choice Award for Best Year by a Company– for the sixth year running. CRT continues to grow and shape the region’s cultural landscape. In July 2011, after a three-year capital campaign, a second performance venue was opened. The Ruth Humphreys Brown Theatre will be home to original works, educational programs and workshops, while allowing simultaneous programming, an extended season of productions and, eventually, year-round performances. In addition the CRT education department brought its original science curriculum play, “The Wright Stuff: The Science of Flight,” by Steven Cole Hughes, to 19,679 students in 2011 – the most in its history. The Young

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2011’s “How to Succeed...” Audience Outreach Tour reaches children in rural and underserved communities across the Southwest. Each summer, the theatre plays to 20,000 patrons in Creede and 14,000 more in the Denver area through partnerships with Front Range theatre companies. The 2012 season line-up includes: The Drowsy Chaperone: The ingenious Broadway hit for the musical-lover in all of us. PG Is He Dead?: The wildly hilarious “new” farce from the father of American wit. PG Harry the Great: A world premiere romantic comedy about magicians, their egos, and why you never, ever reveal how it’s done. PG-13 The Presidents: Forty-four presidents in 45 minutes! For kids of all ages. G Ghost-Writer: The novelist has died, but his secretary goes on typing. Is she channeling his spirit – or is the truth even stranger than that? PG Mrs. Mannerly: Irreverent and hilarious, this comedy reveals what it takes to have the best manners. R Boomtown Improv Comedy: A totally unscripted show inspired by you! PG13 Info: 719-658-2540, www.creederep.org


On the big screen

‘The Lone Ranger’

It has long been said that the Creede area ought to be in movies. Now, it will be. The Disney and Jerry Bruckenheimer Films epic adventure, “The Lone Ranger,” starring Depp as spirit warrior Tonto, and Hammer in the title role will be filmed in the canyon north of Creede, a place that enthralled Director Gore Verbinski, just as it has countless visitors since the 1800s. A Disney scout for the film saw the area in October of 2011, took photos of the canyon north of Creede and sent them to the studio; they then notified the city of Creede about their desire to shoot the film in the area. The thrilling adventure infused with action and humor will bring the famed masked hero to life through new eyes. Tonto (Depp) recounts the untold tales that

transformed John Reid (Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice; taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption. What spiritual wisdom will Tonto, who wears a headdress of the raven— a recognizer of spiritual falsehoods — lend to what is sure to be an incredible production? The film reunites the filmmaking team of the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” blockbusters with famed Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Director Gore Verbinski and Depp, who created Captain Jack Sparrow in his Academy Award-nominated performance and contributed the voice of the title character of Verbinski’s Academy Awardwinning “Rango.”

And much more...

Riverbend Resort, AKA Kamp Komfort Photo by Alex Rice

Willie Nelson in “Where the Hell’s that Gold?”

The San Luis Valley is a beautiful place, with sights ranging from gorgeous to out-ofthis-world, so it should be no surprise that it’s also a movie star. Willie Nelson’s 1988 made-for-TV flick, “Where the Hell’s that Gold?” was filmed entirely on location along the route of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, while scenes from Indiana Jones’ younger years in the 1989 movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” included footage on the railroad as well. The “Indiana Jones House” in Antonito boasts period decorations and is now a bed and breakfast. During 1983, Chevy Chase drove the family station wagon along U.S. Hwy. 160 through Alamosa in “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” then stopped for the night at “Kamp Komfort,” also known as Riverbend Resort, near South Fork. Oprah Winfrey was duly impressed in 2006 while filming “Oprah and Gayle’s Big Adventure,” when she and her best friend drove east from Pagosa Springs, marveled at the “stunning scenery” over Wolf Creek Pass and at South Fork, then stopped for a cone at the Monte Vista Dairy Queen. Along with the mountains, the Great Sand Dunes have naturally attracted producers of educational films, TV commercials and movie segments. You are visiting a real movie mecca.

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer

Photo copyright Disney/Jerry Bruckenheimer Inc.

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Dining Guide Esther Mae Laft’s 4th Street Diner and Bakery is one of those great little finds travelers look for when they want to experience the taste and the texture of someplace new. Tucked away between antique shops and just across from the historic Ute Theatre on Saguache’s newly renovated Main Street, the diner is just that place. Housed in one of the oldest adobe buildings in Saguache, it started out as the Stockmen’s Club and Saloon in 1881, and has maintained its 19th century ambience, reflected in its unique eclectic décor, while the menu offers selections that are truly homemade, including scrumptious pies, cookies and other baked goodies. Laft uses all-natural ingredients for her recipes and buys potatoes

4th Street Diner • Saguache

locally from Rockey Farm. Other purchased from Blue Range fruits and vegetables come from Ranch. Green Earth Farms and local The diner’s summer hours are vendors. Her organic beef is Mondays through Wednesdays, 6

a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays through Fridays, 6 a.m. through 8 p.m. For a truly “Saguache” experience, stop by! Info: 719-655-6411

4th Street Diner and Bakery Photos by Teresa Benns

The Dining Room at the Windsor • Del Norte The restored-to-original-1874 dining room and elegant bar has attracted a four-star award-winning chef obsessed with his craft; one who believes in a fine dining experience for every patron who has a meal in the Dining Room at

the Windsor Hotel. Chef Urs Balmer makes use of as many local/regional ingredients as possible to create his awardwinning cuisine. His seasonal menu reflects local flavors, along with his from-scratch food preparation.

The Dining Room at the Windsor Hotel Photo by Mark Niederquell

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“We don’t even have a microwave,” said the dining room’s General Manager/Planner Hallie Furr. “We can name where our honey, bison, potatoes, sausage, organic cheeses, olive oil and other regional products Chef Urs uses to

cook come from.” Their updated wine list includes a selection of high-end wines and a new Colorado wine list as well. Colorado Whiskey is served from the bar as are Three Barrel Brewery beers, brewed right next door. The Dining Room serves breakfast at 9 a.m. Lunch runs from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and dinner is 5 p.m. to close. Info: 719-657-9031, www. thewindsorhoteldelnorte.com

Gosar sausage pork in spring rolls Photo by Jennifer Alonzo


San Luis Valley Brewing Co. • Alamosa From excellent tasting microbrewed beers to the fresh local ingredients used in its cuisine, the San Luis Valley Brewing Company is a fine dining experience in downtown Alamosa. Designed with artist Kris Gosar’s help, the former bank that kept its vault door creates a unique mix of part-art gallery, part sports bar. The restaurant’s ambience meshes well with the diverse mix of customers the San Luis Valley Brewery receives. On some weekends, live local entertainment is added for an

extra dose of pleasure The SLV Brewery’s outstanding food is as local as it gets with Gosar Sausage and Salazar Beef burgers. Organic greens are the foundation of SLV Brewery Company’s huge menu of salad meals and creative takes on old favorites like the BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato) sandwich, fresh crab cakes and jambalaya, plus a familyfriendly children’s menu, gives everyone a reason to love the San Luis Valley Brewery. Info: 719587-2337, www.slvbrewco.com

San Luis Valley Brewery

Photos courtesy of Matt Beckner

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Calvillo’s Mexican Restaurant • Alamosa

Homemade tortillas are a customer favorite

Calvillo’s Mexican Restaurant at 400 Main Street in Alamosa has been serving hungry patrons since 1995, which seems to indicate they’re doing something right. Owners and head chefs Martin and Jose Lopez specialize in authentic Mexican cuisine. The restaurant prides itself on offering a casual dining experience with exceptional food, served and presented by a welcoming staff. Calvillo’s offers a full menu and buffet seven days a week. Fresh salad, fruit and desserts are always available. Voted “Best Mexican Restaurant in Colorado” by News 4’s John Jones, Calvillo’s started out in a small building. With an outstanding Mexican Fridays include authentic dress reputation and service, they have been able to expand to offer more with catering services for special options. Large banquet rooms events. are available for parties, along Martin Lopez explains, “We want to be known as the best. We will do whatever it takes to keep our customers satisfied. We strive to keep things new and exciting. We have many changes coming, including an extended bar and an updated bakery. Our fresh mex grill, Mi Taquito is newly opened as well.” Although there are a number of Mexican food restaurants in the Valley, Calvillo’s offers something special. Once you try it, you will understand why. Info: 719-5875500

Cooking up authentic Mexican food Photos by Jeremy Alonzo

Photos courtesy of Calvillo’s

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Ever-changing land Great Sand Dunes National Park Winter is over and the snow has melted, but there’s still opportunity if one is yearning for skiing and snowboarding. Visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, with the tallest sand dunes in North America, with an ever-changing 38-square-mile panorama of golden sand, towering mountains and a surging creek that creates an inland beach. Skiing and ‘boarding the dunes takes work, since the natural undulation makes it impossible to build and sustain any sort of mechanical lift. The ever-changing dune field

has fascinated human beings for thousands of years, and it is home to at least seven insect species found nowhere else on earth. The Great Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle is endemic only to the dunes. More than 200 species of birds, herds of elk, pronghorn, deer and bison roam in and at the edges of the preserve, while a number of rare plants flourish in the arid clime that is the dunes. Stretching over a vast area at the foot of towering mountains, the pristine dunes are just one part of the national park and preserve. which contain forests, desert land, wetlands and alpine tundra,

comprising one of the most diverse ecosystems in the United States. To answer the inevitable questions, a visitors center lobby contains exhibits, information and even a movie about the dunes. Here, too, are special wheelchairs constructed to travel over sand, opening the the dunes to people who otherwise could not enjoy them. The story of the dunes may be as old as the planet itself. Thousands of years ago, the prevailing winds began carrying grains of sand to the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and depositing them there, eventually creating a 720foot high dune, the tallest in North

America. Today, those same winds carve and re-shape the dunes into an ever-changing landscape that sometimes seems to sing as the wind blows through two nearby mountain passes. Two streams flow along part of the dune field perimeter and actually help form the dunes. The best known, Medano Creek, flows along the east and southeastern sides of the dunes, while Sand Creek flows along the northwestern side. Both completely disappear into the groundwater system. Medano Creek comes to the surface in April and lasts well

Great Sand Dunes National Park Photos by Staci Turner

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into summer. Snowpack is the direct indicator of what the level and duration of the creek will be for the year. The flow is determined, not just by the snowpack at the crest of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, but by the amount of snow that falls in the creek’s entire drainage basin, including the foothills. Flow conditions are updated frequently on the park’s website. Mid-to-late May is usually the peak of Medano Creek’s annual flow, but it will usually last into July. May is also the best opportunity to experience “surge flow,” where waves up to about 12 inches high flow across the sand. In wet years with good peak runoff, young children can float down the waves on inflatable toys. Sunscreen is very important, as well as extra gear to protect against sudden changes in the weather. In the summer, the sand can become very hot by afternoon, so climbing, skiing, boarding and other recreation is best advised in the mornings or evenings. Visitors should take along proper footwear to avoid the heat and, as with other outdoor recreation, adequate headwear is important. A water bottle is a necessity because the dunes are essentially a desert, with no shade or water. Camping is offered on a firstcome, first-served basis and backcountry hiking and camping is available surrounding the dunes with free backcountry permits that can be obtained from the park rangers. Info: www.nps.gov/grsa

Zapata Falls

Photo by Sylvia Lobato

This popular, yet spectacular, place is located on US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land a short trip south of the Great Sand Dunes National Park, off Colo. Hwy. 150. It is a good option for summer afternoons when sand temperatures are high. Simply driving to the trailhead provides an excellent view of the entire dunefield and San Luis Valley, especially at sunrise or sunset. However, the hike to the falls requires wading over slippery rocks into a crevasse. The falls are 9,400 feet above sea level and have well-placed rest stops along a quarter-mile trail through piñon and juniper forests, aspen groves and scrub oak. The air is thin at this elevation, and the trails can have loose gravel. Be sure to take along water and wear proper clothing, including sturdy hiking shoes or boots. From the visitors center, drive south about 8 miles along Hwy. 150, then turn left (east) onto a gravel road. Drive about 3.5 miles to the trailhead. To view the falls, hike about one-half mile, cross the creek, then scramble up the rocks and stream into a crevasse where the 25-ft. high falls cascade onto a ledge.

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Cradled by mountains

14’ers in the San Luis Valley

Ten of Colorado’s 54 mountains that reach an elevation of at least 14,000 ft. surround the San Luis Valley. The highest of the group is Blanca Peak, at 14,345 ft. the fourth highest mountain in Colorado, behind Mt. Elbert at 14,433 ft., Mt. Massive at 14,421 ft. in Lake County and 14,420-ft. Mt. Harvard in Chaffee County. Mt. Blanca is part of the Sangre de Cristo range located just southeast of and behind the Great Sand Dunes. At 14,294 ft., Crestone Peak is the second highest SLV mountain while the 14,197-ft. Crestone Needle is third. Although not as close together as the names

imply, both are in the high altitude southeastern section of Saguache County. Also in that section and very close together are 14,165-ft. Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point at 14,081 ft. Humbolt Peak, at 14,064 ft. and 14,047-ft. Culebra Peak are number six and seven on the list. Ellingwood Point and Mt. Lindsey are equal in elevation at 14,042 ft., but are in different counties. Ellingwood is a few miles northwest of Mt. Blanca, at the eastern edge of Alamosa County, and Mt. Lindsey is in the far northern portion of Costilla County. Little Bear Peak, with a name likely having nothing to do with its 14,037 ft. elevation, finishes last

among the SLV group of “14’ers.” It is in the northern portion of Costilla County. Those who dare to climb the 14’ers range from novice hikers to world-class mountaineers. Though many of these peaks can be climbed in a day, climbers should always be prepared for the unexpected. Experts suggest you notify others of your route and estimated time of return, avoid hazardous

San Juan Peaks

Photo by Teresa Benns

Natural beauty The mountains that surround the San Luis Valley offer an opportunity to view thousands of wildflowers and some unusual and tasty mushrooms.

September alongside any road and on almost any nature hike. Visitors are encouraged to take photos in order to remember the beautiful specimens.While they are great to photograph, they are best left where Wildflowers they are found for others to enjoy. The abundant wildflowers can In fact, picking or digging up the be seen from late June well into lavender and white columbine, the Colorado state flower, is regulated by a special state law. More information on wildflower species and where best to view them can be found at the Silver Thread Interpretive Center in South Fork, 719-873-5512.

Wildflowers

Photo by Staci Turner

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Mushrooms Mushroom hunting in the mountains gives visitors and locals alike an opportunity to experience the forests and pick up some useful tips along the way. Tips on finding mushrooms: •Moisture—damp areas are a great place to find mushrooms •Consistency—mushrooms tend

weather, keep a steady pace, stop and rest every few minutes to avoid lightheadedness and carry needed equipment with you. Equipment should include: ropes, lighter or matches, flashlight, water, food, jacket, knife or multi-tool, compass, maps, cell phone and a first aid kit. The air is thin at this altitude, and any route taken can have loose rock and gravel. Info: www.14ers.com

Fungi and flowers

to re-grow in the same spot and Center in South Fork at 719-873during the same time from year 5512. to year •Elevation—mushroom growth can vary largely by elevation; a few hundred feet can make a big difference in your findings •Trees—many mushrooms grow in association with certain tree species •Location—dense forests aren’t always the best places to find mushrooms; trails, gravel road edges and stream banks can be very productive •Timing—if seekers are too early in the season, chances are slim that mushrooms will be visible; however, if it’s too late in the season, the fungi will no longer be edible and may be overrun with insects. August is Colorado’s peak month for finding mushrooms. Mushrooms should not be eaten without an expert opinion. More information is available Mushrooms from the Silver Thread Interpretive Valley Publishing File Photo


Altitude sickness When planning a trip to the San Luis Valley, keep in mind that much of the area sits above 7,800 ft. Symptoms of high altitude sickness include headache, lightheadedness, weakness, trouble sleeping and an upset stomach. These most often pass as your body adjusts. If you have confusion and difficulty breathing, even while resting, consult a doctor immediately. Severe high altitude sickness can be treated with doctor prescribed medications. A simple way to prevent altitude sickness is to take traveling to a higher altitude slowly, rest often and drink plenty of water. Those with certain lung and heart problems are encouraged to consult their physician before visiting the Valley.

Hide and seek Geocaching Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game that has become a popular outdoor activity in Colorado and throughout the world. Adventure seekers who participate are equipped with Global Positioning Systems (GPS), or they may use other navigational techniques to hide and seek out containers, called geocaches or caches. Participants then share their experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by many types of people from all age groups and walks of life. A typical cache is a small waterproof container, which has a logbook in it where the geocacher enters the date they found the container and sign it with his or her code name. Some larger containers may be plastic storage containers, which hold items for trading, Traded items include inexpensive toys or trinkets. Currently geocaches are placed in more

than 100 countries, and the game is played around the world on all seven continents. In the past 12 years of activity there have been over 1,639,000 active geocaches published online in various websites from more than 5 million geocachers worldwide. San Luis Valley geocache coordinates can be found at www.geocaching.com. Info: www. geocachingcolo.com

File photo

Treasure hunt Scurvy Dogs Adventures Scurvy Dogs Custom Treasure Hunts & Adventures was created in 2000 by entrepreneur Bill Sauvigne’ and is based in Del Norte. In a time of video game obsessions and monosyllabic family conversations, Scurvy Dogs has come up with a fun and entertaining way for families to bond, by creating custom treasure hunts to conduct at home or while on vacation. These interactive adventures lead groups on quests, following clues to uncover hidden treasure. “Having fun as a group and working together towards a successful conclusion is what positive teamwork is all about,” reports Sauvigne’. Customtreasurehunts.com is not only a fun activity for the whole family; it sets the stage for future problem solving, non-violent competition and working well with others. As a teacher, Sauvigne’ found children losing a sense of interactive play, becoming isolated and interacting mainly with a computer monitor. He created the customtreasurehunts. com concept to re-live his own childhood of imaginative games and play. “It’s not all together surprising,” offers the 52-year-old, “that the people who really get

into treasure hunting are not just the kids, but the parents, as well. In fact, we’ve had a number of corporations approach us about running team building exercises and chambers of commerce interested in creating a “buzz” for their downtown areas.” Scurvy Dogs works with each group to design a custom “hunt” tailored to their interests that incorporates each group’s information. Two weeks prior to the adventure, Scurvy Dogs sends a series of clever, themed mailings to heighten interest. During the actual hunt, the on-site team from Scurvy Dogs guides the hunt with additional clues, adding color with actors and staged meetings. One of the many options offered by Scurvy Dogs is to videotape or photograph the adventure for a bound memory book or DVD. The culmination of the hunt is the discovery of the missing treasure – customized for each group and shared by all participants. Custom treasure hunts are a great way to add a unique activity to a vacation or reunion without paying a fortune. It’s good clean fun, and even the surliest teenagers will have the time of their lives! Info: www. customtreasurehunts.com

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Wildlife galore National forests,

Chipmunk

Sandhill Cranes

National Forests The Rio Grande National Forest on the Valley’s west side encompasses 1.86 million acres and is one of the state’s greatest wilderness treasures. Located high up in the San Juan Mountains in the far western part of the forest, the Rio Grande begins its 1,800 mile trek to the Gulf of Mexico. The Continental Divide runs for 236 miles along most of the western border of the forest and the 14’ers and lower peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range form the eastern border. The San Luis Valley, one of the highest agricultural alpine valleys in the world, lies between these two ranges. The Rio Grande National Forest is open, free of charge, for visitor use and enjoyment, although fees may be charged and permits required for some activities and locations. Info: Forest Service OfficesAlamosa: 719-587-0915, Conejos County: 719-274-5193, Creede: 719-658-2556, Del Norte: 719657-3321, Monte Vista: 719-8525941, Saguache: 719-655-2457 Alamosa and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges The headquarters for both the Alamosa and Monte Vista refuges is located four miles east of Alamosa on U.S. Hwy. 160 and two miles south on El Rancho Lane.

Elk on the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge Photos by Staci Turner

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refuges and wetlands

Among the greasewood and the saltbush on the 11,169-acre refuge, visitors will discover a wide variety of songbirds, water birds, raptors, mule deer, beaver and coyotes. The larger Monte Vista Refuge covers 14,084 acres and boasts waterfowl and birds including mallards, pintail, teal and Canada geese, Sand Hill cranes, also American avocets, killdeer, whitefaced ibis, egrets and herons. To reach the Monte Vista Refuge, travel six miles south of the city of Monte Vista on Colo. Hwy. 15. Info on the refuges: 719-589-4021 Baca National Wildlife Refuge Currently closed to the public, the 92,500-acre Baca National Wildlife Refuge is covered by wetlands, sagebrush and riparian areas in Saguache and Alamosa counties. Blanca Wetlands Some 158 species of shorebirds take refuge at the Blanca Wetlands, including birds one would normally expect to find along the seashore. Visitors also will find amphibians, mammals, fish and insects. Trails are wheelchair accessible so handicapped individuals also can enjoy birdwatching at the salty marshlands. The Blanca Wetlands are located 11 miles northeast of Alamosa on

Cty. Rd. 2S. Info: 719-274-8971 Zapata Ranch/Refuge The 103,000-acre Zapata Ranch next door to the Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to buffalo, bobcats, coyotes, mule deer, elk, horned lizards and a plethora of bird species. Insects native to the area will be of interest and nature lovers will delight in the cactus varieties and wildflowers abundant in the spring. The ranch is located just off Hwy. 150 near the Great Sand Dunes National Park east of Mosca. Info: 719-378-2356, www.zranch.org

Coyote


Peregrine Falcon

USFS Photo by Tom Kogut

Bear

USFS Photo by Don Virgovic

Ducks

USFS Photo by Dave Herr

Blanca Wetlands

Bull Snake

Turkey

Buffalo on Zapata Ranch

Photo by Staci Turner

USFS Photo by Dennis Garrison

Photo by Staci Turner

Photo by Teresa Benns

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Got Elk?

Grande Natural Meats

Five miles west of Del Norte on Hwy. 160, between mile markers 196 and 197, visitors to the Valley will discover some unique southern Colorado icons. The Anta Grande Elk Ranch is home to docile elk and reindeer and the headquarters of ElkUSA. com and Grande Natural Meats. Grande Natural sells prime cuts of farm-raised USDA inspected elk, buffalo, goat, whitetail deer, red deer and fallow deer, plus antler sets or mounts, many

Granny Jan’s B&B

Reindeer roam the ranch Photos by Staci Turner

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dog chews and even Alaska Seafood. Grande Natural’s owners, Jan and Rich Forrest, built their business from scratch starting 14 years ago and have become the largest elk meat retailer in the USA. Despite the charm of their ranch store, known as Grammy Jan’s, their key to success is the Internet, which makes individual shoppers all across the nation their marketplace. The ranch’s quaint log cabin outlet store stocks jerky and sausage, plus various frozen red meat items. Discount meats are always available, as are the nationally distributed game meat dog foods and antler dog chews. Moving meat in large quantities, the inventory of all-natural meats is replenished regularly, guaranteeing customers fresh, recently flashfrozen game products. Grammy Jan’s prices are very competitive and some of the lowest in the game meat business. All meats sold by Grande Natural are derived from grass-

fed, USDA-inspected deer and elk free from steroids, antibiotics and animal by-products. The buffalo are grain-finished to insure juicy, tender steaks. Rich noted, “Now, everyone can enjoy fullflavored elk or deer meat without any trace of the gamey taste.” The products are shipped via UPS to some of the finest restaurants nation-wide, including several local establishments. Additionally, their select meats sell in hundreds of natural grocery stores and chains in an eight-state region. Products are prepared for sale by numerous independent USDA processors, three located here in Colorado. Products can be sold to the public in affordable bulk packages ranging from whole animals down to fifth bundles of elk and as whole bundles down to eighth bundles of buffalo meat. Gift packages and jerkysausage combos for holiday and special events are also available. A number of their products have been highlighted in magazines and books, including ForbesLife and The Complete Venison Cookbook. Maxim Magazine’s 2010 jerky competition selected Grande Natural’s Buffalo Pepper Jerky to be in the top 10 nationwide. Also, in the winter of 2011 Grande Meats was featured in Cooking Wild

Antlers pile up at the ranch

Magazine with an article titled “Buying Meat Online.” This was a great compliment, as many of the other stories featured some of the largest and most well-known providers in the nation including Broken Arrow Ranch in Texas, Nebraska Bison and New Zealand’s Broadleaf Meats headquartered in Los Angeles. Since game meats are heart healthy, running 90-95 percent lean, Jan believes the business will continue to thrive. “Physicians are recommending buffalo and elk for their cardiac patients much more often, and veterinarians prefer the non-allergenic meat for pets.”Anew, rustic shop-freezer building, packed with game meat products seems to substantiate Jan’s optimistic claim. Stop by Grande Natural Meats for elk steaks, buffalo burgers, all-natural jerky or sausage, some great dog food or antler dog chews, or just to view the animals and say “hi.” Info: 719-657-0942, www. ElkUSA.com.


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Ride the rails

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

Take a trip to somewhere in the middle of nowhere in one of the nation’s most famous railroad cars. Most of us have heard the song, “The train they call the city of New Orleans.” Passengers on the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad (RGSR) can experience what it was like to ride that famed train in the Mardi Gras and Calumet club cars, which were part of it. One of the most famous trains on the Illinois Central’s system, the train was popular in its own way, but became even more so after Steve Goodman composed the song, then Arlo Guthrie recorded it and included it in his album, “Hobo’s Lullaby.” The RGSR has brought two of the cars to Colorado, where riders can bid America “good morning” and become part of the story. There are all-day club car specials that include breakfast, lunch, live music and a gift bag, departing from both Alamosa and LaVeta. Offering more than ever before, the RGSR includes rides on classic excursion trains, the historic club cars, Saturday night dinner trains and more.

The summer concert series, “Mountain Rails Live” kicks off June 16-17 and books some of the nation’s best folk and country music, as well as San Luis Valley favorite bands, mariachi and more, along with a train ride to Fir, atop La Veta Pass, where a special, Earth friendly, natural amphitheater enhances the experience. Because the venue is accessible only by train, performers must stay in either Alamosa or La Veta and ride the train to the concerts. Who knows when music might break out? Generally hosted by Country Music Association nominee Fred Hargrove, the concert series is a memorable — and changing — experience. Fred plays concerts on the train and helps book entertainment for the best tourist train in Colorado. While visitors might ride the train or attend a concert, the combination of the two is the genius of the series. Concert trains and excursions run most weekends from Memorial Day to Sept. 23. Trains depart from Alamosa and La Veta and offer round-trip rides or a stop at the concert site. From Wednesday to Sunday,

Valley Steam Flyer stop in Monte Vista Photo by Staci Turner

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there is a chance to see two eras of mountain railroading as trains run from Alamosa to Antonito, where they meet up with the narrow gauge Cumbres &Toltec Scenic Railroad, which runs from

Departing the depot Photo by Keith Cerny

Special children’s train Photo by Ashli Adams

Antonito to Chama, N.M. through some of the area’s most spectacular scenery. On Thursdays, there’s a ride on the Valley Steam Flyer to Monte Vista, which is great for families.


The short ride is the perfect solution for those “what to do?” days. Layover time in Monte Vista allows for visits to the downtown historic district and enjoyable concerts in the park. RGSR’s most popular event, Rails & Ales, is set for June 23. The train takes off from Alamosa and stops at a remote mountain location; there over 20 regional breweries are set up. Enjoy live music and delicious western barbecue, while sampling local beers. In fact, all the trips are family-friendly and that’s what makes riding the rails an unforgettable experience. Info: www.coloradotrain.com

Scenes from aboard Photos by Keith Cerny

Train approaches Fir

Michael Martin Murphey Courtesy Photo

Rails & Ales

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Tee off

Monte Vista Golf Course

Golfing in the Valley

It’s tee time in the Valley, where golf courses offers lessons and on site rentals. are so beautiful that it’s hard to keep one’s mind Adding to the experience are a driving range, on the game. putting green and a full-service pro-line golf shop under PGA Golf Professional Bryce Cattails Golf Course Bervig. Visitors are encouraged to inquire Alamosa’s Cattails Golf Course is the place to about golfing/lodging packages, as well as get away from the crowds and enjoy a relaxed memberships to fit any budget. round of golf. The 18-hole, par 71-course is a The Blue Foxx Continental Grill located in the cottonwood tree lined golf course with many clubhouse offers a full menu, as well as a kids’ wetlands throughout. The greens lie just north menu, and visitors from on or off the course are of the famous Rio Grande, with a 360-degree invited to dine. The clubhouse and restaurant are view of the Sangre De Cristo and San Juan also available for special occasion rental. mountains at 7,600-ft. elevation. Cattails also From Alamosa, the road to Cattails leads north on State Ave. from Main St. and over the Rio Grande Bridge, turning west at the wellmarked entrance. Info: 719-589-9515, www. alamosacattails.com

Monte Vista Golf Course Photos by Staci Turner

Monte Vista Golf Club The Monte Vista Golf Club is nestled on 40 acres in the heart of Monte Vista. It was designed and built by Jason B. Newman, who was introduced to the organizers by Lawrence C. Phipps, Jr., who called him “the golf expert of the Cherry Hills Club.” The course opened with sand greens in 1928. The Monte Vista Country Club was incorporated 20 years later and work began to convert the greens to grass. The course was originally flood irrigated and many of the old dikes are still visible. Though the fairways are relatively straight, they are very narrow by today’s standards and are lined

Cattails Golf Course

Photo Courtesy of Cattails

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with trees of varying maturity. The greens are small, and have Penncross Bent and their very own strain of annual Blue Grass. By using different teeing areas, the front holes are significantly different from the back, and the length is also increased. The course offers challenge to the good golfer, along with forgiveness for the beginner. From downtown Monte Vista, west on Hwy. 160 to Dunham Street, then turn north on Dunham, or take U.S. Hwy. 285 to Prospect Ave., then west to Dunham. Tee times are encouraged, but not required. Info: 719-852-4906, www.monte-vistagolfclub. com Rio Grande Club The Rio Grande Club’s award-winning combination of mountain views and challenging shots over the Rio Grande keep golf enthusiasts wanting to come back for more. The 18-hole course features sandstone outcroppings, as well as a challenging shot over the river with dramatic elevations and serene alder creek in the back nine. Along with golfing, an outdoor patio, restaurant and bar are open to the public

throughout the year. The family-friendly Timbers Restaurant located in the clubhouse offers an awardwinning, full-service dining experience. For more relaxed dining, the Big River Grille boasts spectacular views of the 18th hole and mountain scenery. The clubhouse and fishing lodge are available for weddings, banquets, business meetings and

other special events. Membership to the Rio Grande Club includes access to the fitness center, swimming, tennis and fishing along the Rio Grande. Members also have access to private land along the river, along with the fishing lodge. The clubhouse is located just minutes from South Fork. Info: 719-873-1995, 719-873-1997, www.riograndeclubandresort.com

Rio Grande Club

Photo Courtesy of Rio Grande Club

They’re out there... UFO Watchtower In a valley where sand dunes sing and a mutilated horse still holds celebrity status more than 40 years after its death, a UFO watchtower with vortexes and a healing garden just seems to fit in. Believers, skeptics or searchers, most people are changed by a stop at the UFO Watchtower along CO Hwy. 17, 2-1/2 miles north of the tiny town of Hooper. The UFO Watchtower is also a movie star. Kris Simms, screen writer and producer of PM (paranormal mysteries), originally from the Valley, returned this past year to film his movie. With a generous deck and a geodesic dome that is part museum and part gift shop, the

watchtower offers views of a place that has been called “mysterious” by authors and “gorgeous” by artists. The “healing garden” features two vortexes said to lead off the planet, along with an eclectic collection of items left by visitors seeking comfort and truth. Depicted as stereotypical “little green men,” aliens beckon the visitor to stop and visit. There’s also a primitive campground for those who want to stay longer. This year’s two-day UFO conference, July 28-29 will feature speakers on alien abductions, UFOs and other mysterious topics. Info: 719-378-2296, www.ufowatchtower. com.

UFO Watchtower

Valley Publishing File Photo

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Gators & snakes & emus, oh my! Colorado Gators Reptile Park

Celebrating a quarter century with alligators, the Colorado Gators Reptile Park is one of the San Luis Valley’s biggest surprises. See the biggest alligators in the west, a working fish farm and a reptile rescue facility. Brave visitors can even wrestle an alligator. The farm also boasts a new biodome, the San Luis Valley’s own tropical rain forest. Originally a geothermally heated fish farm, the attraction has grown to include not only alligators and crocodiles, but rattlesnakes and giant pythons, lizards, turtles, ostriches, emus, peacocks, a

Colorado Gators Reptile Park Photos by Staci Turner

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100-pound alligator snapping turtle, an albino python and an albino alligator, Mr. Bo Mangles, who joins Sir Chomps O’Lot, the first alligator hatched in Colorado, and Morris, a retired movie star who appeared in the 1996 comedy, “Happy Gilmore.” The park also has been featured on The Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. More than 125 species of birds have been spotted at Colorado Gators, including the rare Great Egret. Exotic plants such as bamboo and papyrus make their home in the greenhouse fish breeding area. Annual events include Eggfest,

July 7-8, in which handlers remove eggs from nests to be hatched in incubators. Gatorfest, the annual alligator rodeo, is Aug. 4-5 and Sir Chomps O’Lot’s 15th birthday is Sept. 22. Alligator handling classes are offered for those brave enough to try. Colorado Gators is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $15 for adults, $7.50 for children and free for kids five and under and seniors 80 and over. Info: 719-378-2612, www. coloradogators.com


Take a day trip in the Valley Crestone temples

The mystically inclined were initially drawn to the Crestone area in the 1970s as a sort of Shangri-La-like refuge, owing to the stark beauty of the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the peaceful Valley below. In the early days, the Manitou Foundation, brainchild of Maurice and Hanne Strong, provided land grants to monasteries and religious institutes to help create an internationally recognized interfaith smorgasbord of the world’s religious traditions. Today, the area is home to representative devotees of many world religions.

Below are samplings of just some of the religious centers in Crestone open to the public: Christianity • The Spiritual Life Institute and the Nada Hermitage Retreat Center are a Catholic Carmelite Monastery. Info: 719-256-4778 Buddhism • For Crestone Mountain Zen Center and Lindsfarne interfaith chapel activities call 719-2564692; Yeshe Korlo observes the Nyingma Buddhist tradition; 719-

Dragon Temple

Photo by Teresa Benns

256-5224; visit Karma Thegsum Tashi Gomang Center at www.kttg. org; Dragon Mountain Temple is a small, experimental, Zen temple in the Shunryu Suzuki-roshi lineage; please call before visiting. Info: 719-256-5092, http://www.

dragonmountaintemple.com Hinduism • The Haidakhandi Universal Ashram practices traditional Hinduism. Daily devotionals are held. Info: 719-256-4108

Rio Grande County history

Photo by Alex Rice

This trip begins in Monte Vista and visits many unique and historic places. First, take a short drive east down Sherman Avenue to the oldest veterans home in Colorado. The Colorado State Veterans Center at Homelake was established in 1889 as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home, providing a peaceful home for aging and disabled Civil War

Artistic collage of Creede

Photo by Toni Steffens-Steward

veterans. Here, you will find a number of historic structures, a military history museum, the state’s oldest military cemetery and more. Returning to Monte Vista, see the fully restored National Historic District, which is downtown. A short drive westbound on U.S. Hwy. 160 passes the one-of-a-kind Movie Manor Motel,the only place in the world that one can stay in a room and watch the movie at the same time. Then it’s on to Del Norte, a historic community with a good museum, quaint shops and more. The fully restored Windsor Hotel was once the heartbeat of the town and is headed there again. The Rio Grande County Museum has

a permanent diorama of La Loma de San Jose, the first settlement in what is now Rio Grande County, along with other displays seen only here. Between Del Norte and South Fork, an interesting side trip accesses the grave of Col. Albert H. Pfieffer, a confidant of the famed Christopher “Kit” Carson. To reach the gravesite, go west from Del Norte on U.S. Hwy. 160 for 8.4 miles, look for the Point of Interest sign and turn right onto Rio Grande Cty. Rd. 18. Drive 1.3 miles, crossing the Rio Grande. Turn left onto Cty. Rd. 15 and continue 0.4 miles. There is a sign on the right side of the road and a path going to site. It is a brief climb over a small

metal bridge and up a slope to the hillside gravesite. Then it’s on to South Fork, through some of the state’s most beautiful scenery. At South Fork, there’s a choice: take the right “tine” on Hwy. 149 toward Creede or the left on Hwy. 160 to Wolf Creek Pass. Returning to Del Norte, travel east about 3 miles until a sign appears stating, simply “Plaza;” take a left and travel about 2 more miles to the historic St. Francis of Assisi Church in what was once called “Plaza de Los Valdezes,” but is now Seven Mile Plaza. The community’s founder and his wife are buried under the altar of the old church.

Art in the Upper Rio Grande SLV

To find great art in Creede and Del Norte, all a person has to do is walk around. In South Fork, a short drive takes you to the Mountain Lighthouse and Gallery, just west on U.S. Hwy. 160. Artwork created by local and regional artists is on display and for sale. Creede kicks off summer with the Creede Arts Council’s National Small Print Show opening during Memorial Day weekend,. The Creede Repertory Theatre also sponsors an array of art shows

throughout the summer season. For an art fix while you wait, take a walk on Main Street. Rare Things Gallery & Gifts is a miniature art gallery itself and is exactly as the name suggests. Amble over to Quiller Gallery for awe- inspiring art by internationally renowned artist Stephen Quiller. Do not miss the Janet R. Thompson Studio. Her lifelong work with pastels and vibrant paintings will astound. Abbey Lane Gallery, offers

an extensive collection of local, regional and national artists. In Del Norte, visit the Gallery at The Windsor. You will find an extensive collection of works by some of the San Luis Valley’s many artists. Info: Creede Arts Council, 719658-0312, http://creedeartscouncil. com There are many art studios in various other parts of the Valley as well; check with the the local chambers for more information.

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An outdoor haven

Recreation in the SLV

Campers line Mountain Home Reservoir Photo by Jennifer Alonzo

Penitente Canyon Courtesy Photo

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When it comes to recreation, the 719-256-4315 Crestone—Some of the best San Luis Valley has it all. hiking trails can be found in this eastern Saguache town with its Hiking, rock climbing Mountains surrounding the San stunning views of the Sangre de Luis Valley offer hiking and rock Cristos and famous 14’ers. Call the Saguache Ranger District, climbing for all skill levels. Penitente Canyon, Natural 719-655-2547, for campsites and Arch — Climbers can enjoy 60 to the Crestone Visitor’s Agency at 70 different climbing routes and 719-256-5210 for hiking and rockhikers have numerous options in climbing information. It is important for hikers/climbers this popular canyon between La Garita and Del Norte. Tent and to be prepared for the often extreme camp sites are available. On the way temperature shifts in the area. to Penitente Canyon look for F.S. Always pack layers of clothes and Rd. 660 and the road just past it, bring along protective items. leading to La Garita Arch, another Camping great hike/climb. Other campsites To find where to camp out in the in the area include Storm King and Poso. Call the ranger district for vast Rio Grande Forest, call 719additional Saguache County sites 852-5941. For private camping opportunities in Rio Grande and at 719-655-2547. Sand Dunes, Zapata Falls— Mineral counties, call the chamber This national park abounds in offices at 719-852-2731 or 719hiking, backpacking and climbing 658-2374. Or visit http://www. opportunities in a variety of sangres.com/colorado/riogrande/ environments. For information on camp.htm. For Great Sand Dunes fees and programs call 719-378- National Park camping information 6306. Don’t miss the hiking trip to call 719-378-6399 or go to http:// Zapata Falls, especially gorgeous www.nps.gov/grsa/planyourvisit/ campgrounds.htm in early summer. Orient Mine, Valley View Hot Birdwatching Springs, Everson Ranch – The Russell Lakes State Wildlife historic Orient Iron Mine is home to the largest known colony of Area–Legendary among Colobats in Colorado. The Orient Land rado birders, the wooden boardTrust also hosts a modest resort walk of the Johnson Lake nature and campground with access to trail offers year-round opportunities the mineral hot springs. Close by to spot a variety of waterfowl, is the historic Everson Ranch. Info: shorebirds and raptors. Russell

Sandhill Cranes

Photo by Staci Turner


Lakes, north of Center along Hwy. 285, opens July 15 when the nesting season ends. The Colorado Gator Farm along Hwy. 17 offers another special spot to view birds and waterfowl, as do the refuges featured in this publication. Biking, 4-wheeling Biking enthusiasts say that, for great biking, visit Terrace Reservoir in Conejos County, Penitente Canyon between Del Norte and La Garita, Middle Frisco Trail behind the car wash in Del Norte, and Deep Creek Trail off Hwy. 149, 18 miles from South Fork, just three of the beginner’s trails. For advanced and experienced locations, see http:// southforktrails.com/index.html Four-wheeling destinations include the Rock Quarry between Monte Vista and Del Norte, a

challenging climb up Mount Blanca, a scramble through Old Woman’s Creek to the Natural Arch in La Garita, a trip to Rio Grande reservoir, 20 miles from Creede, or Medano Pass Primitive Road at the Great Sand Dunes Park. For more information, go to http://itpodcast. org/blog Rafting, fishing, boating For great fishing adventures, try fly-fishing the Rio Grande or in Conejos Canyon above Antonito, boating on an area reservoir or quiet casting at Tucker Ponds, Million Reservoir, Big Meadows or Beaver Creek Reservoir near South Fork. In the Creede area, visit Road Canyon Reservoir for generally good fishing and boating. These reservoirs, along with the river and numerous creeks in the area are a trout angler’s paradise.

San Luis Valley boating

Bike riding in Conejos County Photos by Staci Turner

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Other boating and fishing locations include Platoro Reservoir outside Antonito, Smith outside Blanca, Sanchez near San Pablo and Mountain Home Reservoir east of Fort Garland. For fishing spots in South Fork, call 719-8735512. For other fishing locations in Rio Grande County, call 719852-2731. Rentals Many activities require special equipment and most visitors haven’t brought it along. Some top spots for renting equipment in the Valley include: 8200, South Fork— bike, raft rentals Adams State College Adventure Program, Alamosa— raft rentals Alpine Cyclery, South Fork—

Mountain Home Reservoir Photo by Jennifer Alonzo

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bike, raft rentals Cottonwood Cove, Creede— Jeep, raft rentals Holiday RV, South Fork— Jeep rentals Kristi Mountain Sports, Alamosa— bike rentals San Juan Sports, Creede— bike rentals Spruce Ski Lodge, South Fork— raft rentals Twin Pine Motor Sports, South Fork— ATV, Jeep rentals Forest Service Offices: Alamosa: 719-587-0915 Conejos Cty: 719-274-5193 Creede: 719-658-2556 Del Norte: 719-657-3321 Monte Vista: 719-852-5941 Saguache: 719-655-2457


Rio Grande Reservoir Known in Mexico as Rio Bravo, the Rio Grande has long been memorialized in song and verse. Roy Rogers sang about it, Bing Crosby crooned about it, the Sons of the San Joaquin gave it a lick or two and Johnny Rodriguez set it to another beat. Its fame even enters into the Brad Pitt flick, “Moneyball.” So what’s all the fuss about? It is the fifth longest river in North America and the 20th longest in the world, forming the border between Texas and Mexico. In the San Luis Valley, one can visit its headwaters, where it rises as a clear, snow-fed mountain stream at an elevation of more than 12,000 ft. above sea level. A slightly rough, but spectacular, trip takes the visitor to the century-old Rio Grande Reservoir near the headwaters. The birthday celebration this year pays homage to those pioneers who realized that the mountains needed to hold onto some of the water and their ingenuity in damming it up. Rio Grande is Spanish for great river, and the reservoir lies at an elevation of 9,400 ft. The water level can fluctuate year to year, depending on winter snowfall. To get there, travel southwest on Colo. Hwy. 149 for 20.1 miles, to the intersection of Colo. Hwy. 149 and F.S. Rd, 520 (Rio Grande Reservoir Rd.), then 13.1 miles west on Rd. 520.

The Rio Grande Reservoir Rd. 520 scenic drive is an easy, 18-mile drive that can be enjoyed before, after or instead of fishing and boating. The gravel road is rough and narrow in places, but suitable for passenger cars, RVs and trailers. Several resorts and guest ranches can also be found along this road and there are numerous trails in the general area. There are four campgrounds serving the area, while Ute Creek Trailhead is on the northeastern side. The popular 30 Mile campground is also next to the Rio Grande reservoir, and serves as a base for hiking into the Weminuche Wilderness. The trailheads of the Squaw Creek and Weminuche trails are in the campground. Beyond that, a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed to take the rest of the road through Timber Hill, over Stony Pass, and down into Silverton. Originally an old stage and freight route, this road follows the Rio Grande for many miles. Fishing a stream in Conejos County

Rio Grande Reservoir Courtesy Photo

Platoro Reservoir

Photo by Keith Cerny

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Nature’s creations

Rock wonders

Creede Caldera & Wheeler Geologic Area The Creede Caldera, located near the town of Creede, is one of several small calderas (including Bachelors and San Luis) that are encompassed by the huge La Garita Caldera. It is essentially the remains of an ancient super volcano that spewed 5,000 cubic kilometers of ash, compared to the 1.2 cubic kilometers deposited by Mount St. Helens in 1980. It is the largest known eruption of its kind. Nearby is a beautiful, wondrous and evolving landscape known as

Wheeler Geologic Area, a mound of accumulated, solidified, layered and weathered volcanic ash. Originally named the Wheeler National Monument for a 19th century surveyor, Captain George M. Wheeler, the area was transferred to the U.S. Forest Service from the National Park Service in 1950. The massive rock formations span 600 acres of Rio Grande National Forest and the La Garita Wilderness, with capstones, needles and spears created by violent eruptions of the La Garita Caldera, now a dormant volcanic field.

This is an extremely fragile environment where footing can crumble easily. One should consider the terrain when planning a visit. It is a five-hour jeep ride to the boundaries and a 14-mile hike both ways. July and August are prime times to see the spectacular beauty of the Wheeler area. Both the Creede Caldera and the Wheeler Geologic Area are difficult to access, but are very popular. The awesome immensity and antiquity of the area is a consistent draw to visitors. The Mineral County/ Creede Chamber can direct tourists to the area. Info: 719-658-2374, www.creede.com

the same source — the La Garita super volcano. To reach Penitente Canyon, take Cty. Rd. G (La Garita turnoff) west off Hwy. 285 and go eight miles to the La Garita Store. Just past the store, go left (after pavement ends) on Cty. Rd. 38. At the one-mile mark, turn right where the main road turns south and take the middle of the three roads. La Garita Natural Arch Near Penitente Canyon, the La Garita Natural Arch is a mustsee. A volcanic dike created this incredible rock formation; then through centuries, this layer of rock eroded and cracked, rounding the rock edges and creating a hollowed out arch. The arch is in the Rio Grande National Forest and may be seen from a vehicle window or up close by taking a moderate 400-ft. hike. For more information or directions, contact the U.S. Forest Service in Del Norte, 719657-3321.

Penitente Canyon Penitente Canyon is an international destination for rock climbers who can choose from 6070 different climbing routes. The “welded tuff rock” draws climbers because it is one of the “sweeter”climbs for those involved in the sport. Penitente Canyon Consulting a map and carefully is made up of the same type of solidified rock deposits found in following directions are essential in the Creede area and issued from reaching these destinations. Wheeler Geologic Area Photo courtesy of USFS

La Garita Natural Arch Photo by Teresa Benns

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Penitente Canyon

Valley Publishing File Photo


Catching the big one Fishing in the San Luis Valley The earliest San Luis Valley visitors saw the abundant opportunities for fishing as a means to survive. Today, many come to enjoy all the recreation offered by the many creeks, lakes, rivers and the mighty Rio Grande. Boating, water sports and fishing, especially fly-fishing, top the list. A cousin of the salmon, trout are game fish, including brown, cutthroat and rainbows, all highly prized and fun to battle. Fly-fishing pits human against fish for some stimulating contests, but special regulations can apply as to length, type and limit of trout taken, and this is especially true of “Gold Medal” waters. Streams given this designation by the Colorado Wildlife Commission are those that provide outstanding angling opportunities for large, trophy-sized trout. Of the more than 9,000 miles of trout streams in Colorado, only 167.8 miles are Gold Medal streams, and the Rio Grande boasts 22.5 miles of these, between South Fork and Del Norte. The Rio Grande begins its long journey to the Gulf of Mexico from watersheds high in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. Look for good brown and rainbow trout fishing from Rio Grande Reservoir downstream to Del Norte (from the upper boundary of Coller State Wildlife Area downstream to the Farmers’ Union Canal). To reach the Coller State Wildlife Area, from South Fork, go 4.5 miles northwest on Hwy. 149. Fly-fishing is best June through July when stone fly and mayfly hatches dominate fish diets. The Gold Medal section from South Fork to Del Norte provides the angler with the best opportunity to catch a trophy brown trout (Bigtrout.com). Fishing season is from April 1 of one year to March 31 of the

next. State regulations apply and licenses are required. A one-day license is $9, while a five-day non-resident license is $21, and an annual resident license is $26. The purchase of a $10 Habitat Stamp also is required for individuals over age 18 and under age 65. A few hot spots Where to go—The Conejos River winds through the San Juan National Forest/South San Juan Wilderness Area coming from Platoro. Artificial flies and lures only; two 16-inch trout limit.

check out Embargo, Beaver and Rock creeks. See the state guidebook for more information. How to get there—Bridges along Hwy. 285 heading into Monte Vista and Hwy. 112 into Del Norte cross the Rio Grande. Be sure to watch for private property and make sure you’re not trespassing.

How to get there —From Alamosa take Hwy. 285 to Antonito. In Antonito turn west on Hwy. 17 just south of town. Go 35 miles along the river then take a right hand turn at Forest Rd. 250. Take 250 along the river for 25 miles to Platoro Reservoir. Where to go—The mighty Rio Grande, from Del Norte through South Fork and up to Creede, check http://www.creede. com/recreation-activities/outdoorrecreation/fishing.html for best spots in Creede; for South Fork

Fishing the Rio Grande

Photos courtesy of 4UR Ranch

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Soothing waters Hot springs

and swimming pools

Visitors are welcome to relax and enjoy one in the forest of the Sangre de Cristo mountain of the Valley’s several hot springs. range. The private, clothing optional, pools are open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa with pools and ponds open around the clock Joyful Journey’s geothermal pools in Moffat for overnight guests. Take advantage of the vary from 98-110 degrees and offer panoramic rustic, remodeled cabins after a relaxing day views of the Sangre de Cristo range. A variety at the sauna and springs. Children under age of therapies are offered, along with therapeutic 16 are free, while adults pay $15 for day use massage. Spa hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and $30 to spend the night. Info: 719-256every day. Adults are $12, Saguache County 4315, www.olt.org residents; seniors and children ages 4-12 are $10. A wide variety of accommodations are Sand Dunes Swimming Pool and RV park available, ranging from luxurious rooms to Two pools filled with soothing, naturally hot simple camping. Info: 719-256-4328, www. artesian waters greet visitors at the Sand Dunes joyfuljourneyhotsprings.com Swimming Pool, also known as Hooper Pool. Children will enjoy the baby pool and 25-ft. Orient Land Trust water slide. Formerly known as Valley View Hot A full kitchen and on-site restaurant, Mile Springs, the Orient Land Trust is nestled high Deep Grille, is new to the pool and is open daily, featuring weekly specials. The pool is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day except Thursday. For adults 13 and older, the admission is $12; children 3 to 12, $8 and children under age 3 swim free. RV and tent camping spaces are available, as are cabins and a family travel trailer. Info: 719-378-2807, www.sanddunespool.com Joyful Journey Hot Springs Valley Publishing File Photo

Splashland After some extensive renovations, Alamosa’s hot springs, Splashland, is set for season

Sand Dunes Swimming Pool Photo by Ashli Adams

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two under new ownership. The pool offers 105-degree natural geothermal water, a new diving board, an improved deck that accommodates picnic tables and areas for relaxing, a kiddie area, grassy spots and lighting that allows for night-time swimming. Hours are set from 10 a.m.-6 p.m, Tues.-Thurs.; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Fri. and Sat. and 12-5 p.m. on

Splashland

Photo by Jennifer Alonzo

Sun. Info: 719-589-6258 Ramada Water Park The Water Park at the Alamosa Ramada Inn boasts a 21-ft. high and 155-ft. long giant water slide, which is fun for all ages. There is also a kiddie frog slide, a splash pool, a recreation pool and a hot tub. A snack bar is available

and security baskets and towels are issued upon entry. Access to the park is free to guests (up to four persons per room), and non-guest rates are $6.50 per person; children under age 2 swim for free. The water park is located at 333 Santa Fe Ave. in Alamosa. Info: 719-589-5833

Ramada Water Park Photo by Tori Vigil

From here to there... Transportation

Automobiles Budget Rent a Car • 2490 State Ave. • Alamosa, CO 719-589-0103 • www.budget.com Hertz Car Rental • 2500 State Ave. • Alamosa, CO 719-589-6138 • www.hertz.com L&M Car Rental • 1002 West Ave. • Alamosa, CO 719-589-4651 Little Stinkers Taxi • 6848 Malouff Rd. • Alamosa, CO 719-589-2500 SLV Transportation • 1102 Main St. Unit B • Alamosa, CO 719-589-5734 Bus Texas New Mexico & Oklahoma Coaches • 701 West Ave. Alamosa, CO • 719-589-4948 Twin Hearts Express • 1-800-654-9456 Planes Great Lakes Airlines • 2490 State Ave. • Alamosa, CO 1-800-554-5111 • www.greatlakesav.com

Mileage from Alamosa Albuquerque, NM.......................................205 miles Amarillo, TX ..............................................352 miles Austin, TX ..................................................892 miles Chama, NM ............................................... 79 miles Cheyenne, WY ..........................................343 miles Dallas, TX .................................................721 miles Las Vegas, NV ...........................................800 miles Lincoln, NE ...............................................724 miles Oklahoma City, OK ...................................582 miles Phoenix, AZ ...............................................722 miles Salt Lake City, UT ......................................540 miles Santa Fe, NM .............................................173 miles Taos, NM ................................................... 90 miles Topeka, KS ................................................629 miles Canon City..................................................139 miles Colorado Springs ........................................163 miles Denver ........................................................215 miles Durango ......................................................149 miles Fort Collins .................................................274 miles Grand Junction ...........................................249 miles Gunnison ....................................................122 miles Pagosa Springs ........................................... 89 miles Pueblo .........................................................122 miles Salida .......................................................... 83 miles Trinidad ......................................................109 miles

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Advertisers’ Index

Support these local businesses

A-1 Mobile RV Service..................................................................... 58 Absolute Shine Auto Body & Paint .................................................. 27 Adams State College ......................................................................... 33 Alamosa Family Recreation Center .................................................. 23 Alamosa Round-Up PRCA Rodeo .................................................... 21 Alibi’s Sports Bar & Grill ................................................................. 27 All Good Things ............................................................................... 36 AppleLodge B&B ............................................................................... 4 Arby’s................................................................................................ 21 Beer Keg Depot................................................................................. 43 Bistro Rialto ...................................................................................... 23 Calvillo’s Mexican Restaurant ............................................................ 1 Casa de Madera Gifts ........................................................................ 19 Cat’s Classic ...................................................................................... 20 Cattails Golf Course.......................................................................... 52 Colorado Cowgirls ............................................................................ 19 Colorado Gators Reptile Park ........................................................... 54 Coloring Outside the Lines ............................................................... 27 Conejos County Tourism .................................................................. 29 Cowboy Up Western Wear ................................................................ 27 Creede Arts Council .......................................................................... 36 Creede Chamber...................................................... Inside Back Cover Antler’s Rio Grande Lodge, Big River Music, Club at the Cliffs, Cottonwood Cove, Creede Beadery, Kentucky Belle, Miner’s & Merchants, Mountain Views RV, Off Broadway, Rare Things, Rincon Real Estate, San Juan Sports, Thressia’s Beauty Salon, Willowcreek Realty Creede Historical Society ................................................................. 17 Crestone Music Festival.................................................................... 34 Creede Olive Oil Company............................................................... 31 Creede Repertory Theatre ................................................................. 36 Creede Underground Mining Museum ............................................. 17 Denver & Rio Grande Railroad ........................................................ 10 Doc’s Outdoor Sports........................................................................ 57 Dos Rios Mexican Restaurant........................................................... 28 Ernest’s Taxidermy ............................................................................. 7 Elk Ridge Framing & Gifts ............................................................... 18 First Southwest Bank ........................................................................ 33 Grande Natural Meats ....................................................................... 49 Haefeli’s Honey ................................................................................ 14 High Valley Healing Center .............................................................. 34 Home Reflections .............................................................................. 19 Jack’s Market, Del Norte .................................................................. 18 Jade Communications ....................................................................... 43 Joyful Journey Hot Springs............................................................... 62 Juniper Village .................................................................................. 28 Kathy’s Fabric Trunk .......................................................................... 6 Kavleys Business & Tech Center ...................................................... 22 Ken’s Service Center......................................................................... 61 La Garita Trading Post ...................................................................... 35 Lake City Chamber ........................................................................... 37 Mark’s Outdoor Sports...................................................................... 42 Massage Connection ......................................................................... 28

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Monte Vista Golf Club ...................................................................... 52 Mountain View Restaurant............................................................... .24 Monte Vista Co-op ............................................. ...............................26 Old Cow Town Colorado .................................................................. 13 Pine Cone Books ................................................................................. 6 Quiller Gallery .................................................................................. 30 Rainbow Grocery & Sporting Goods................................................ 57 Rally in the Valley ............................................................................. 24 Ramada Inn of Alamosa ..................................................... Back Cover Rio Grande Club & Resort................................................................ 52 Rio Grande Hospital ...............................................Inside Front Cover Rio Grande Pharmacy ......................................................................... 4 Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.............................................................. 51 Rio Grande Scenic Railroad Dining Car ........................................... 41 Rio Grande Tourism Board ............................................................... 25 River Valley Group ........................................................................... 59 Rock & Mineral Show ...................................................................... 30 Saguache Recreation Board .............................................................. 35 Sand Dunes Swimming Pool ............................................................ 62 Scurvy Dogs Treasure Hunts ............................................................ 45 Shades, Quilts & Etc. ........................................................................ 27 Silverthread Info. Center ................................................................... 58 SLV Brewing Company .................................................................... 22 San Luis Valley Tourism Assocation................................................. 39 Smith Market Gallery ....................................................................... 35 Splashland Hot Springs ..................................................................... 62 Star’s Family Dining ......................................................................... 27 The Blarney Stone............................................................................. 57 The Bridge .......................................................................................... 5 The Holy Moses ................................................................................ 31 The Legacy........................................................................................ 28 The Yoga Ranch .................................................................................. 3 Twin Pine Motor Sports .................................................................... 61 UFO Watchtower .............................................................................. 53 Valley Publishing ................................................................................ 5 Valley-Wide Health Systems ............................................................ 20

A San Luis Valley sunset Photo by Staci Turner


Summer on the Rio Grande 2012  

San Luis Valley visitors guide

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