The San Luis Valley is “Colorado Genuine” surrounded by majestic mountain ranges cradling the state’s most fertile valley at the headwaters of the historic Rio Grande — a spiritual center of indigenous populations enhanced by a rich Hispano legacy; that today embraces a natural diversity of the essence of Colorado.
The uniqueness of this high altitude, 8,000-square mile region is an expansive sense of place that has abundant sunshine,
open blue skies and vivid starlit nights. With our distinctive communities and supportive business environment, San Luis Valley is a journey with a destination for everyone.
This alpine valley is a tranquil alternative to urban crowding promising to be a place that awakens your potential & sustains opportunity.
Located about midway between Denver and Albuquerque, this is the largest alpine valley in North America. The vast, flat surface of the valley floor at 7,500 feet is bordered on the east by the sharply rising Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which ascend to 14,000-foot peaks, and to the west by the more gradually rising foothills and 12,000-foot peaks of the San Juans, which mark the Continental Divide.
This is also home to the Great Sand Dunes, which are the tallest dunes in North America and of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
Boundaries of the San Luis Valley region are represented by the six counties of Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache, each maintaining a separate identity but economically interdependent.
About 122 miles long from north to south, and about 74 miles across, this covers an area of 8,193 square miles; larger than the state of Massachusetts, but with a combined population of around 46,000
Within its borders, the Valley harbors great diversity of natural and cultural settings. Landscape on the floor of the Valley changes dramatically with the presence of water. From its headwaters in the San Juans to the Texas coast, the Rio Grande is the nation’s second longest river and the lifeblood of the Valley’s agriculture and development in general. Canals and ditches from the Rio Grande and the Conejos River as its major tributary, supply one of the state’s most important farming areas, famous for its potatoes, beer barley, alfalfa, and other crops.
A true sense of place captured by the Valley’s natural setting is further enhanced by its depth of history, art, culture, and people.
The Six Counties of the San Luis Valley
Alamosa County: The City of Alamosa serves as the regional hub with the Valley’s largest hospital, airport, motels, business services, railroad and trucking terminals, industrial parks, federal and state government offices, and regional shopping. Adams State University and Trinidad State Junior College are also located in Alamosa. Major attractions include the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad passenger line, Zapata Falls, San Luis Lakes State Park, Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado Gators alligator farm, and Cattails Golf Course. Alamosa County is home to five utility-scale solar plants, generating over 135 MW of electricity.
Conejos County: Major attractions include the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad that travels a narrow gauge track from Antonito to Chama, New Mexico; Mormon Pioneer Days; Jack Dempsey Museum; Platoro and La Jara reservoirs; Colorado’s oldest church in Conejos; and the Los Caminos Antiguos Byway. The Conejos County Hospital is located in La Jara. Perlite mined in New Mexico and processed in Antonito is shipped by rail. Small farms and ranches with hay, sheep, and cattle are a visible part of the economy. Second homes are being built in Conejos Canyon, and Antonito is a gateway to New Mexico via US 285.
Costilla County: Major attractions include museums in Fort Garland and Colorado’s oldest town in San Luis, Stations of the Cross and the Shrine of All Saints, annual Santa Ana and Santiago celebration each July, a bronze foundry, artist colony in Jaroso, and the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway. Notable fishing areas include Sanchez, Smith, and Mountain Home reservoirs, and Culebra Creek. The county also contains the Valley’s largest tracts of private lands including the Blanca-Trinchera ranch, which focus on hunting and real estate, and the 70,000-acre La Sierra tract, which was originally a Spanish land grant. Small villages and farms are notable near San Luis, with larger farms in Jaroso and the Fort Garland area. San Luis is about 40 miles from Taos, New Mexico.
Mineral County: Creede has art and sporting goods shops, the famous Creede Repertory Theatre, and airport. Wolf Creek Ski Area, located on Wolf Creek Pass, is in Mineral County. Guest ranches are located on CO 149, and many second homes are in the county. Other attractions include a mining museum, ghost towns, North Clear Creek Falls, gold medal fishing on the Rio Grande, and access to the Rio Grande headwaters streams, lakes, and reservoirs in neighboring Hinsdale County. Creede is about 40 miles from Lake City on the Silver Thread Byway covering some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado.
Rio Grande: Rio Grande is the largest potato and barley-producing county in the state. Monte Vista is known as the Valley’s agribusiness center but also has a tourist information center, regional shopping, the Colorado State Veterans Center at Homelake, and an attractive main street. Del Norte serves as a gateway for tourists and has an expanded Rio Grande Hospital. South Fork is the fastest growing town, with many second homes, tourism, a new golf course, and is the start of the Silver Thread Byway. Major attractions include Beaver Reservoir, Big Meadows, gold medal fishing, and backcountry trails. It is also the closest town to Wolf Creek Ski Area, and gateway via US 160 to Pagosa Springs and Durango.
Saguache County: Saguache is the largest county spanning both mountain ranges, with many back roads and trails to high lakes and remote areas. Center is a busy potato processing, shipping and warehousing center of activity. It also has ag treatment facilities supporting a potato processing plant, and farmworker housing. The Crestone/Baca community lies at the foot of the most rugged part of the Sangre de Cristos, and has become a spiritual center with world religions represented by Carmelites, Hindus, Zen and Tibetan Buddhists. It also has many second homes and hosts Colorado College classes. The courthouse is located in the town of Saguache, which has a museum and serves as a gateway to Gunnison via CO 114 and Poncha Springs via US 285. Valley View and Mineral Hot Springs are located off US 285 near Villa Grove. The Baca Ranch became the Baca National Wildlife Refuge as part of the designation of the Great Sand Dunes as a national park.