Visiting the Valley

Take the San Luis Valley Tour

The San Luis Valley has been featured in National Geographic’s “Drives of a Lifetime” as one of the world’s most spectacular road trips. San Luis Valley tours provide unsurpassed beauty, history, culture and some great fun along the way. Recreation and agriculture live side by side in the San Luis Valley, making it well worth a visit. Come experience the wonders of the region.

Strong Multi-Cultural Roots

The Valley traces its roots back to early Native American cultures 11,000 years ago and was predominantly home to the Ute Indians.  Navajo, Apache and Comanche tribes also came to trade and hunt.  The Spanish began exploring the San Luis Valley region in the late 1500’s and Mexico established numerous land grants in the territory.  Vestiges of these early inhabitants are still on display.  The Luther Bean Museum at Alamosa’s Adams State University has an excellent display of Native American weavings and pottery, and Mexican-influenced crafts, jewelry and cuisine are available in shops across the Valley.

Rich History

The geology of the San Luis Valley makes a unique environment a rich agricultural region. Ranking among the world’s most distinct topographic sites, the elevation of the valley floor is 7600 feet above sea level. There are two mountain ranges; the San Juan Mountain Range to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range to the east. The San Juan Mountains are abundant in rich volcanic soil which has fed our Valley with essential nutrients for prime growth of potatoes, grains, hay and other crops. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are home to some of Colorado’s famous 14ers. Its beauty houses other unique features to our Valley, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Luis State Park, three naturally hot springs recreational areas as well as many wetland areas.

The first permanent settlement in the Valley was established in 1851 in what is now the city of San Luis, and forts  were constructed throughout the region to protect early settlers. In 1870, gold and silver were discovered near Summitville which kicked off the area’s gold rush. Mining settlements were established in Bonanza, Creede and all along the San Juan Mountains. Visitors today can get a taste of early life in the Valley by visiting Fort Garland, a restored garrison once commanded by Kit Carson. Agriculture has long been the basis of the economy in the San Luis Valley especially in the north central acreage which is unique in world topography, the elevation of the valley floor is 7600 feet above sea level. This area is also known for Old Spanish Trail, railroad construction, and early developments along the Rio Grande River.

Natural Beauty

While the Valley’s history and culture are rich, it is the natural beauty of the Valley that makes it most famous. From Blanca Peak, the highest peak in the southern range, visitors can enjoy idyllic vistas and hikes. The San Luis State Park is a sanctuary for raptors and birds of all kinds. Likewise, the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge are home to a wide variety of bird species, deer, elk, big horn sheep and more.

Endless Recreational Possibilities

The San Luis Valley is great for hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, bird watching, skiing,  ATV trails, rock climbing and more. One of the Jewels of the region is the awe-inspiring Great Sand Dunes National Park. The newest of Americas national parks, the Great Sand Dunes are the highest in the US and welcome over 300,000 visitors each year. La Garita and Wheeler Geologic Areas are renowned for their pristine views and trails as well.

At the center of the Valley is Monte Vista, located at the crossroads of U.S. Highways 160 and 285. The second largest city in the Valley,  It is a beautifully situated, lively community offering tours of historic homes, wildlife viewing areas, the annual Crane Festival held every March, the Ski Hi Stampede, Colorado’s oldest professional rodeo every July, and the San Luis Valley Potato Festival in September, and much more.

We invite you to come  experience  what makes this area special.