Nestled in the shadows of the Sangre De Cristos, Crestone is a quaint town with a population of just 127 people with no shortage of scenery or activity. Crestone’s unique geology allows you to explore barren desert, snow covered peaks, and everything in between. Due to its unique positioning in the San Luis Valley, this lovely town is home to several spiritual centers and monuments, with Buddhism as the most prevalent. Fill up on gas and head southwest for an unforgettable weekend in Crestone.
Day 1 — Religious Monuments and Hiking
Familiarize yourself with the area and explore the town of Crestone. Breathe in the fresh San Luis Valley air with a morning walk up to the the Tashi Gomang Stupa, one of several Buddhist monuments in town. This breathtaking structure honors traditional Tibetan Buddhism and features a 360 degree view of the Sangre De Cristo mountains and the San Luis Valley desert.
Crestone boasts miles of trails, and if you’re planning on camping, head to the beautiful, rustic North Crestone Creek Forest Service campground. For thrill-seeking hikers and climbers, two fourteeners await you: the Crestone Needle, standing at 14,203 feet above sea level, and Crestone Peak, summiting at 14,300 feet. These are two of the toughest and most dangerous fourteener climbs in Colorado, so if you prefer something a little less risky, there are several more moderate hikes including the North Crestone Creek Trail and the wonderfully scenic Willow Lake Trail.
Cap off a day of hard work by meandering into the tiny downtown area. Make sure to stop at the “World Famous” Crestone Free Box, where you may take an item or donate something to the community. And it wouldn’t be a true Colorado town without a brewery, so stop for dinner at Crestone Brewing Company for a house-made falafel burger and a taste of one of their “nano” brews.
Day 2 — Desert sage and Great Sand Dunes
Now that you’ve explored the mountains, it’s time to head down into the valley for some time in the desert. Crestone and the neighboring Baca Grande region are home to thousands of acres of wildlife refuges, which provide protected habitat for several native and migratory species. Avid birdwatchers will find a variety of species, from songbirds to waterbirds to raptors. The area is also lively with mule deer, elk, black bears, and a variety of small mammals.
If you’re up for a small drive, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve lies just an hour away. This incredible geological wonder shifts with the winds and creates various “summits” for you to conquer (if you don’t mind a bit of sand in your shoes!).
Back in Crestone, end your evening at Desert Sage Restaurant, a local’s favorite. They offer a range of cuisine, from typical American food to traditional Himalayan dishes and will appease everyone from vegans to meat-eaters alike. Once dinner is over, take a stroll outside and soak in the quiet evening air and gaze at the stars in this quaint gem of a Colorado town.