A Traveler's Blog

Do you want to visit Alamosa like you know a local?  Here is your chance!  Enjoy the following feature articles writtten by a traveler enjoying some hidden (and not so hidden) treasures around the San Luis Valley. 

The Captivating Story of Colorado's Historic Alamosa

As you rumble through the Colorado mountains aboard the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, it’s easy to imagine you’re a settler rolling into the west to start a new life.

When you hop off the train in Alamosa, you still feel that deep sense of yesteryear as you stroll among Mission-style buildings and adobe structures. With its long, rich history and many cultural influences, Alamosa is an intriguing destination for travelers who love to get a taste of the past. Of course, Alamosa’s fascinating history extends beyond the days of the Old West.

 

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Farm to Tap: Beer in the San Luis Valley

On either side the river lie

Long fields of barley and of rye

that clothe the wold and meet the sky…

Alfred, Lord Tennyson -  opening to The Lady of Shalott  poem 1832

Though Tennyson wrote this poem about medieval England, his reference to fields of grains and a river could easily refer to the San Luis Valley and the Rio Grande.  Not easily seen from the major highways passing through the valley, the fields of ‘irrigation circles,’ are there.  They extend to the wolds, the higher uncultivated ground at the base of the mountains, which do indeed reach up to meet the sky!

For farming here, the first Spanish settlers dug ditches to capture water that trickles and tumbles off the high peaks to support growing food in this high desert valley.  At an average elevation of 7,700 feet, with an annual average precipitation of only 7-10 inches on the valley floor, it became important to find and develop hearty crops to handle the harshness of high altitude sun, varying soil conditions, minimal rainfall, cold nights and low humidities.  Potatoes worked well underground but how about above?  Enter the ancient cultivated grains of barley, wheat and rye.  Barley is especially suited to this valley.

With the presence of Coors in Golden, barley became a good cash crop for the farmers who had the soils, surface water rights and/or wells for irrigation.  Farmers continue growing for Coors but now, the craft beer industry has expanded and requires more specialty malted grains, different varieties of hops, and new strains of yeast to allow eachbrewery to find its own niche. Oh, and good water.   

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10 of the Most Instagram-Worthy Spots in the San Luis Valley

How do you take an Instagram-worthy photo?  You travel to an Instagram-worthy destination of course! Luckily, Colorado’s San Luis Valley is filled with beautiful locations and breathtaking views for you to choose from.  We’ve compiled ten of the most Instagram-worthy spots in the San Luis Valley for you.  These gorgeous spots are sure to rake in the likes and impress your followers!  Share your favorite San Luis Valley spots with us using the hashtag #VisitAlamosa and follow @alamosa_colorado on Instagram to see more Instagram-worthy photos!   

 

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Why You Should Experience Colorado's San Luis Valley By Train

Visit southern Colorado, and you’ll find a landscape that looks much as it did centuries ago, with craggy, towering peaks, windswept plains, and, of course, the iconic sand dunes. There are a few hardy communities in this awe-inspiring landscape, but venture outside of those, and you’ll hardly see another soul. As you explore the wild terrain, you might get the sense you’ve stepped back in time. And, you just might think you’ve leaped to the Old West days if you board the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad train, which allows passengers to experience the rugged San Luis Valley much the same way people did in the late 1800s.

Departing from Alamosa, the train offers full-day excursions, winding through the mountains and ending at La Veta, where passengers can enjoy art galleries and a variety of restaurants. For another option, you can board the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Antonito and ride it to Chama, N.M., climbing higher than 10,000 feet as the train rumbles through southern Colorado. No matter which train you take, you’ll find that it’s an exciting way to soak in the beauty of the San Luis Valley and the surrounding mountains.

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Great Sand Dunes to Host Amateur Astronomy Night

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is hosting an amateur astronomy night on Saturday, September 8th from 8:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the South Ramada picnic area near the Dunes Parking Lot. Telescopes will be set up at the South Ramada for planetary and deep-sky object viewing throughout the event. Ranger-led tours of the night sky begin at the South Ramada at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Staffed tables will provide astronomy information, handouts, and additional activities including an opportunity for kids to complete a Junior Ranger Night Explorer activity book and  work towards earning a special night sky patch. Stargazers are encouraged to continue enjoying the dark skies after the event. 

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Five of the Toughest Outdoor Adventures in Southern Colorado

There’s an unparalleled excitement we feel when we overcome obstacles in the wilderness. We feel a rush and deep satisfaction when we step into new territory, or try an activity for the first time, and expand our perception of our own abilities. Adventurers who thrive at that intersection of challenge and exploration should make their way to Colorado’s San Luis Valley, where they’ll find a handful of the toughest outdoor adventures in the Centennial State.

Alamosa sits in the center of the valley, with the Sangre de Cristo range to the east and the San Juan Mountains to the west. Denverites can blaze down I-25 and reach Alamosa in a four-hour drive. The area’s mix of spicy terrain is a draw for hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, cyclists, and rock climbers. Here are a handful of the most riveting experiences for adrenaline-seekers in Southern Colorado.

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An Angler's Guide to the Best Fishing Near Alamosa

Heaven among anglers, the high-desert valley of Alamosa is home to a ginormous web of more than 1,400 rivers, streams, reservoirs and lakes, including the beloved Rio Grande River, which is fed by the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Of those waterways, the Rio Grande River, a siren call to anglers, embodies one of the longest stretchs of Gold Medal Water that the Centennial State can offer.

To qualify for Gold Medal status, the water must produce a minimum of a dozen quality trout—measuring at least 14 inches—per acre. This healthy ecosystem delivers 60 pounds of standing stock—the amount of living organisms in the ecosystem, including fish, plant life, and micro invertebrates—per acre. The designation only applies to water that is accessible to the public.

The Rio Grande and other waterways near Alamosa support five major species of fish, including rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout, and Rio Grande cutthroat.

Considering the wilderness of the San Luis Valley, its unique terrain—including the tallest sand dunes in North America—and boundless outdoor recreation access (without big crowds), this area is prime for all varieties of anglers. Diehard explorers can venture to remote, high-alpine lakes, yet families can design fishing vacations that allow access to amenities in town and a fun mix of other outdoor activities.

Whether you stay near town or go deep into the Rocky Mountains, you’re bound to catch healthy trout. Here’s your guide to help kickstart a trip to the world-class angling scene that surrounds Alamosa.

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Experience Alamosa: Take A Ride On The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

ALL ABOARD THE RIO GRANDE SCENIC RAILROAD

If you are looking for an experience that encompasses the quintessential Alamosa, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad may be perfect for you.  This train ride combines the rich history of the west, breathtaking mountain views and small town hospitality that Alamosa is known for.  The train travels on the tracks that were laid in 1878 to bring supplies into the San Luis Valley and ship agricultural and mining products out.  You can relive the golden age of railroads through miles of unspoiled Colorado territory, all the while learning about the San Luis Valley and surrounding areas from the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad’s friendly and knowledgeable staff. 

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