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Things to do in Alamosa

Alamosa sits the middle of the San Luis Valley bounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Culebra Range to the east and the rugged San Juan Mountains to the west. Alamosa, home to Adams State University, offers lots of outside fun including hiking, wildlife observation, photography, mountain biking, climbing, rafting, kayaking, fishing, hunting, and camping.

The nearby Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the valley’s best attraction, sits tucked against the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The sand dunes, the highest in North America, crest over 700 feet above the valley’s sagebrush plain. The rippled dunes, covering 150 square miles, are easy to hike: climb up Star Dune, the highest point, splash in Medano Creek along the eastern dune flank, or camp at Piñon Flats Campground. Photographers also love the play of light across the sculptured dunes at sunset.

Alamosa and the San Luis Valley are renowned for fantastic birdwatching. Alamosa and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges protect wetlands and animal habitat on the Rio Grande floodplain. Plenty of wildlife, including hundreds of bird species, raptors, coyotes, red foxes, deer, and beavers, live in the refuges. The Alamosa refuge’s South Bluff Trail is excellent for spotting animals, hiking, and mountain biking. Spring is ideal for visiting the wildlife refuges when thousands of sandhill cranes, ducks, and geese stop for a few weeks while migrating north.

Hikers find trails scattered around the San Luis Valley that range from difficult ascents up high mountains to easy day hikes. The Zapata Falls Trail is popular and fun, especially on hot days. Mountaineers can climb 10 Fourteeners, including Blanca Peak, Crestone Needle, Kit Carson Peak,  and Culebra Peak on the east side of the valley. Other great hikes are a trail to La Garita Natural Arch, Elk Creek Trail, and Red Lake Trail.

The Alamosa area is great for scenic driving tours. Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway makes a 120-mile semi-circle around the valley. The drive follows a network of highways that were once ancient trails trod by Ute and Apache Indians, Spanish settlers, explorers like Kit Carson and Zebulon Pike, and miners. The drive passes through San Luis, Colorado’s oldest settlement, old Fort Garland, Antonito with the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, and Cumbres Pass on the New Mexico border. Valley View Hot Springs and Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa in the north part of the valley offer relaxing soaks with mountain views.