5 Towns,10 Stops Museum Road Trip

The San Luis Valley is rich with history and can be found around every corner! This road trip leads you from Fort. Garland all the way to Creede with 10 museum stops along the way each filled with its own unique story of the Mystic San Luis Valley. This trip will likely take all of two days but can easily be broken up into three days if needed. So hop in the car and get ready to learn all about the unique destinations and how they came to be! 

Fort. Garland Co.

Once you have made your way over La Veta pass, the first town you will be in is Fort. Garland. This tiny town was established in 1858 and is home to the Fort Garland Museum. Here you can explore a 19th century military fort featuring original adobe buildings and learn about the Buffalo soldiers that once used to call it home. See the place where women and children eventually moved in making it feel like home for the soldiers. Learn about the Civil War and the part that Colorado played in it. Once you have seen it all, don't miss the chance to go and visit Pike's Stockade, built in 1807 and now a historical landmark. At this location, Zebulon Pike first raised an American flag over what was once Spanish territory. After taking in these remarkable sites, hop back in the car, you are headed to Alamosa.

Alamosa, Co.

Don't get too comfortable, you will arrive in Alamosa in just over 20 minutes! The town of Alamosa was established in the year 1878. Alamosa meaning cottonwood grove in Spanish lives up to its name as you will see what seems like endless amounts of cottonwood trees in the area. There are three stops to visit while you are in town and each one hosts different historical information that will leave you wanting more. First up is the San Luis Valley Museum. This stop hosts genuine costumes worn by 1860's frontiersmen as well as other clothing from the 19th century. Find various Indian artifacts throughout the museum as well as two display rooms. One is a school room staged as it would have been in the 19th century and the other hosting a traditional trading post. Find uniforms worn by the brave men and women that served our country in World War I and World War II and explore the Veteran's memorial wall honoring them. See cultural artifacts from the early settlers, and even an exotic bug display. There is so much to see in this location so be sure to take your time! Be sure to take home a keepsake from the gift store, you won't want to forget this experience. Your next two stops are at the same location just up the road. Head over to Adams State Univerisity to explore the Luther Bean Museum and the Ryan Geological Museum.  At the Luther Bean museum, you will find Native American pottery, items from the early settlers of Conejos County, items from former Colorado Governor and the University's founder William H. Adams, and items from Colorado's first lieutenant Governor, Major Lafayette Head. Explore further and find gorgeous paintings and statues as well. The Ryan Geological Museum hosts more than 5000 minerals and fossils for your viewing pleasure. Find everything from a 165 pound octahedral pyrite cluster to raptor claws in this exhibit. Spend hours looking at the various items that are on display and immerse yourself in a world of items many of which came long before us! After you have spent plenty of time taking it all in, get geared up for three more stops in Monte Vista.

Monte Vista, Co.

This quiet town was established in 1886 and features original buildings from its founding. Housing three museums, an afternoon can easily be spent taking in all of the history you would want to know! Your first stop will be the Homelake Veterans' History Museum. The location of the museum is the former campus of the Colorado Soldiers' and Sailors' Home, now the Homelake Veterans' Center. The switch took place in 1889 to give a home to the high number of aging and disabled veterans from the Civil war, opening its doors to its first resident in 1891. On display you will find countless items from the residents that have and currently do reside at the facility and other veterans' from across the San Luis Valley. Walk through the beautiful cemetery, the final resting place of many men and women that once served our country. Once you have taken it all in, you will head up the road for your next stop: The Monte Vista Historical Society Museum. Here you will find detailed documentation of the town's founding and all of the years that have followed. View over 4000 photos, hundreds of articles, historical reference books, and various memorabilia. Take in a time before your own in this tiny but mighty location. Don't wear yourself out however, because the Transportation of the West Museum is within walking distance, and you won't want to skip it! At this location you will get a glimpse of what it was like to travel in the 1880's-1900s. Find items like an original buggy from the horse and buggy days, early modes of transportation from the Valley floor all the way up to the mining camps. Explore historical farming methods and take in plenty of old photographs. After you have traveled through the early days of transportation, it's time to head 20 minutes up the road into Del Norte Colorado for your next stop.

Del Norte, Co.

This quaint town was established in 1871 to be a base camp for the mines at the time. Prior to its establishment, the area was home to Utes that utilized the open space for its abundance of hunting, plants, and accessible water and timber. Today, the town thrives with several historical buildings including the Windsor Hotel  which first opened its doors in 1874 and still stands with much of its original beauty intact. Here, your destination will be the Rio Grande Museum.  Take a historical adventure as you wander through the many exhibits. Focused on rich cultural history, find information about the Native Americans that once called the area home, to the settlers that came from New Mexico, the mountain men fur trappers that once roamed, explore the era of gold mining and all of the settlers that came with it, the farmers and ranchers that took up residents for the rich soils, and all those that made their way in for a chance at a better life. Immerse yourself in comprehensive exhibits like the potato industry exhibit or the Fremont Fourth Expedition. Spend hours learning all about this area and how it came to be, but don't forget, there are still two stops to make on your museum road trip! 

Creede, Co.

Your next stops will be in the quiet mountain town of Creede Colorado. The town was founded in 1892, but was home to the Native Americans as early as 1870. When the mining boom began, settlers began to come through as establish ranches that they stayed at. The location became popular, leading to the extension of the railroad from Del Norte in 1884. When word began to spread of a large silver strike made by Nicholas Creede, bringing about huge numbers of hopeful prospectors. The town soon began to build itself hosting many cabin homes, gambling houses, saloons, dance halls, grocery stores, theaters, banks, newspapers, and so much more in a short span of time. This wild west town was full of cowboys, outlaws, and quickly became one of the most famous mining boomtowns in Colorado's history. Because of the large amount of historical events that took place, the town is now home to the Historical Society Museum as well as the Underground Mining Museum. There is also a remarkable historical walking tour that is a must do! The Historical Society Museum is housed in an old historic depot and displays items like Creede's first hand- drawn fire wagon, horse drawn hearse, newspapers and old photos, gambling equipment, and early pioneer utensils. Take a deep dive into the day to day lives of prospectors, homesteaders, miners, and notorious individuals responsible for the founding and shaping of the town. Next door to the museum, you will find the Historical Library. Here you can dive into thousands of historical photos and research dedicated to the preservation of the towns history. Do keep in mind that this location opporates seasonally Memorial Day to Labor Day annually and can be visited by appointment only in the off season. The last stop on your journey will be the Underground Mining Museum, and you are in for a treat. Explore this completely encased underground museum as you take in all 10,000 feet of this creation. The location was blasted out of solid rock to begin the construction in 1990. Here you will go on a tour and experience what actual mining in operation looked like. You will see many different mining artifacts with real equipment that was once used in the area. On your tour, your guide will be a retired miner that will explain the equipment, various mining methods, as well as share their own experiences from their time underground. There is so much to learn and so much to see at this location making it the perfect end to your historial journey. 


Take your time and really dive deep into each stop as you learn all about each area and the abundant amount of history that they each hold. Every location you stop at will house different information relevant to the town and give you an in depth look at how this string of towns came about and what it took to create them! There is no shortage of museums and historical sites all across the San Luis Valley and much that can be explored outside of this road trip! Dive into some research and take this journey, or create your own as you make your way across these culturally diverse and historically rich towns. 

From all of us here at Visit Alamosa, travel safe and enjoy this historical endeavor! 






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