mystery places in San Luis Valley Colorado, Mystic in San Luis Valley Colorado, mystery places San Luis Valley Colorado In History

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A bit supernatural and mysterious, the mystical San Luis Valley is one of the more unusual and beautiful parts of Colorado. With impressive mountain peaks, rolling sand dunes, wide-open spaces, unique events, rich history, and endless outdoor recreational opportunities, a trip to the valley should be on everyone’s Colorado bucket list.

Expand your mind and your spirit and discover the San Luis Valley with our guide below.

San Luis Valley Colorado Alien
Have aliens been visiting the San Luis Valley?! Photo: Bryan Pocius

History of the San Luis Valley

You can’t help but feel the legacy of those who brought life to the San Luis Valley. Steeped in history and tradition, mixed with aspects of the modern world, the valley’s history is one that can’t be denied and is instantly felt upon arrival.

The history of the valley began with the habitation of the Ute Indians and other Indian tribes. Eventually removed from the valley, the Ute Indians left in the 1850s, leaving the valley open for outside settlers. After the San Luis Valley was ceded to the United States by Mexico, the Hispanic settlers started to make their way north.

Making a home for themselves in the valley they founded the town of San Luis in 1851. Later, to protect the valley from hostile Indians, a fort was established in the present-day Fort Garland, in 1852. And like most Colorado towns, with the discovery of gold and silver, a flood of fortune-seekers sought out land in the valley while they mined for their wealth, thus establishing small communities throughout the valley.

National Scenic Byway

One of the best ways to discover the history of the San Luis Valley is to take a drive along the Los Caminos Antiguos. This national scenic byway encompass the major trade route of the Old Spanish Trail and provides a unique glance at the valley’s landscape. The route will take you from Alamosa to Antonito, CO, on the southern end of the San Luis Valley.

image of los caminos antiguos scenic byway
Views along the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway. Photo by Kat Hazleton Olance

If you’re coming from Denver to the north, you’ll enter the valley via Poncha Pass at the town of Villa Grove on Highway 285. You can split two ways here, continue on the main Highway 285 south, or take CO-17 south. The former leads you to Monte Vista, the latter 20 minutes to the east of that Alamosa. Both drives take an hour to cut across the bulk of the northern San Luis Valley, it’s massive.

Another option is to head to South Fork on the far west reach of the San Luis Valley. From here you can head north on Highway 149, aka the Silver Thread Byway to visit Creede. This route continues past Lake City ending just west of Gunnison.

But to return to the mysteries of the San Luis Valley, it’s best to turn around at Creede and head back to South Fork. The two towns are only 30 minutes apart and Creede is worth the detour.

Geography of the San Luis Valley

The valley is generally considered home to six counties that include Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache. We’ve included Mineral County and its county seat Creede, though it lies tucked into the woods just outside the actual valley. The corresponding county seats include AlamosaConejos, the oldest town in Colorado-San LuisCreedeDel Norte, and Saguache.

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