Suggested Trips


Suggested Heritage Trips

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Suggested Trips

This page holds six travel itineraries designed to lead you on a journey to distinct sites throughout the San Luis Valley. Each itinerary exposes a unique aspect of the San Luis Valley’s heritage including its natural wonders, pioneering settlers, mining booms, cultural traditions, and creative spirit.

Introducing the Valley

This introductory itinerary features nine sites that capture the essence of the San Luis Valley’s heritage and natural beauty. These sites reveal the area’s striking natural features, rich layers of history, and Hispano cultural arts traditions. A journey between these attractions will reveal the unique spirit and rural charm of the San Luis Valley.


Natural Wonders

Flanked by 14,000-foot peaks and towering sand dunes, bisected by the Rio Grande, and graced by the seasonal migration of Sandhill cranes, the San Luis Valley possesses incredible natural wonders and provides unparalleled opportunities for wilderness explorations.


In the Steps of Pioneers

A journey through the San Luis Valley reveals the influences of Native Americans, Hispano pioneers, Mormon settlers, Homesteaders, as well as ranchers, farmers and prospectors. These groups converged within the Valley prior to the 20th century. Each brought a unique set of cultural traditions, many of which endure to this day.


Ring of Gold

In the rugged mountains ringing the San Luis Valley, visitors may trace the steps of early prospectors and other fortune seekers who were lured to the region by promises of gold, silver, turquoise, and other metals. Although the bustling mining camps of the late 19th century have faded, the Valley’s frontier spirit lingers. Downtown districts, railroads, mines, and landscapes preserve the fascinating stories of the area’s rich mining history.


Life in a High Desert Valley

With 7 inches of annual precipitation and an elevation of 7500 feet or above, the San Luis Valley qualifies as an alpine desert. This desert is unique in that it boasts precious water resources. Mountain runoff feeds ancient aquifers whose waters sustain central-pivot irrigation systems.  Hand dug acequias carry water from streams to fields. Centennial farms and ranches can be found throughout the Valley. These operations have been in the same families for over 100 years and serve as testaments to the longstanding agricultural traditions of this high desert valley. Here herds of cattle still graze the high grasslands in the summer, and trucks brimming with potatoes ramble down country roads.

The Creative Spirit

Architecture, ornamentation and art reveal another dimension of the San Luis Valley’s history, development and creative spirit. Visitors who tour the Valley may admire the wide range of architectural styles found among the homes, churches, and downtown buildings. Many of the Valley’s towns also harbor galleries that present a diversity of artists. Some artists carry on the legacy of traditional arts and crafts, such as weaving and carvings, while others express their creativity through more contemporary art forms.


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