Discover Alamosa and all it has to offer, from authentic local cuisine, to historic train rides through the Rocky Mountains. Home of the mystifying Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, this vast outdoor playground is nestled between two vast mountain ranges, the San Juan Mountains and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Massive volcanic activity formed the San Juans, while continental upheaval formed the Sangre de Cristos. Running between these ranges is the mighty Rio Grande.
With our sweeping views and copious sunshine, there is plenty to do in Alamosa. We boast well over 300 days of sunshine yearly, so bring your sunscreen! As you spend time here, you will begin to see the layers unfold that make Alamosa what it is today, from the early settlers who put this town together, to the agricultural prowess that fuels a large part of our economy, to that small town exclusivity that makes you feel right at home.
Any time of year is a great time to visit Alamosa! Depending on when you visit, you can discover many of the treasures the San Luis Valley holds. Choose a soothing soak in one of our hot springs fed by geothermal water and you might share the view with local inhabitants such as bison or an abundant variety of birds. Or explore our inviting downtown, filled with great shopping and dining. Alamosa proudly offers over thirty five restaurants, ranging from authentic Mexican and Thai cuisine to American cooking. With so many choices, you can look forward to a dining adventure each day of your visit!
In the spring, the valley blossoms and wildlife flourishes. Join us during the annual Monte Vista Crane Festival when thousands of Sandhill cranes make their annual pit stop in the valley, or come experience the art and culture of local valley artists during the annual Downtown Alamosa Artwalk.
Or visit in the summer, an exceptional time to be outdoors in the valley. Take in the music, crafts and food at the Summerfest on the Rio, share the adrenaline rush at the Alamosa Round-up Rodeo, or walk downtown to the Farmers Market for fresh local produce and more. Experience first hand, spectacular mountain views on the historic rails and machinery of the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad or the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. But trains aren’t the only classic iron you can see in Alamosa. The Early Iron Festival each September showcases masterfully restored and modified hotrods and cars from all over.
Fall and winter may bring lower temperatures, but not the end of activities in the valley. Cross-country ski, snowmobile or snowshoe through pristine powder and witness the spectacular nature that envelopes the San Luis Valley. Or, take a winter train ride and experience the magical beauty of our breathtaking snow-covered mountains wearing their winter finest.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
You have to see North America’s tallest sand dunes, so big they would cover Denver! The area also features alpine tundra, ancient forests, grass-lands, wetlands, and alpine peaks. It’s an outdoor playground that makes lifelong memories. Often called the Rocky Mountain beach, Medano Creek flows across the sand in Spring, warm and inviting. Build a sandcastle, fly a kite, or just relax with your feet in the clear water. You’ll marvel at the experience of climbing the many peaks of the dune field. Sled, sandboard, run, roll, tumble and jump back down the sandy slopes.
Evening, when the shadows get long, is the best time for photographing the dunes. For variety in your adventure, walk the shady trails in the trees or climb one of the six peaks over 13,000 feet, and hike along an alpine lake. There is a challenging 4wd road up and over the top, too. Whatever your pleasure, the Great Sand Dunes is a diverse wonderland, ripe for exploration. Make sure you stop at the Visitor Center at the Sand Dunes. It offers great educational and information displays with hands-on, interactive exhibits.
Buffalo hunting and the indigenous nomadic life gave way in the San Luis Valley to Hispanic settlers who were enticed by the water to raise crops and sheep, followed by Anglo farmers raising cattle and wheat, and today potatoes, alfalfa and lettuce. The military, railroads and mining brought commerce and a new way of looking at the land.
Relive the golden age of railroads and discover a Colorado few get to see. The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad crossed the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley, climbs steep Sangre de Cristo Mountain passes and wind through alpine meadows to the quaint, mountain town of La Veta. The Cumbres & Toltec Railroad, just south of Alamosa, features all-day trips on vintage, narrow-guage, coal burning steam trains. Built in the 1880s, the line connected commercial outposts and mining camps and was part of the Denver & Rio Grande railway system.
Rich in history and natural beauty, the San Luis Valley also has plentiful museums, historical societies, and cultural points of interest. Or, spend a leisure day driving along the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway, “The Ancient Roads”, exploring the region of the upper Rio Grande River, the northern outpost of sixteenth century Spanish territorial expansion.