The Ultimate Road Trip Guide From Denver to Alamosa

Sometimes, the journey is the destination, and that certainly is true when you're traveling to Alamosa, Colorado.  When you're traveling from Denver to Alamosa, you have two options ahead of you: traveling via I-25 and US-160 W or traveling via US Hwy 285 S.  Each has its own adventures to offer you, and we've outlined them in this handy guide.  So, choose your route, load up the car and enjoy the ride!  

Helpful Tips

1) You will want to check the weather and pack accordiningly.  The locals will tell you: "Dress in layers!" Colorado weather can be unpredictable, so its best to be overprepared than under.  In all weather conditions, be sure to pack sunscreen and sun protection.  We're blessed to have 300 days of sunshine each year, but that does mean it is more important to be sun-safe.

2) Speaking of the weather, you'll want to check cotrip.org before departing for any road closures, road work and road conditions.  You can even view the cameras along your route to see what kind of weather you can expect.  

3) Watch for altitude sickness.  When you leave Denver, you're already sitting at a mile above sea level.  Here in Alamosa, we're at 7,544 feet above sea level, and the mountain passes you'll be driving over reach higher than that.  Be sure to stay hydrated and make sure your body has adjusted to the altitude before you take on any strenuous activity.  

4) On some of the mountain passes, depending on your coverage, you may lose cell service.  Don't panic-service usually is restored as soon as you get to the other side.  If you're depending on your phone for car tunes, you may want to have 30 minutes of music downloaded just in case.  

Via I-25 and US-160 W

Things to Pack

Active Wear-You’ll want to take advantage of all the outdoor recreation opportunities along this route!

Camera-There are plenty of historical attractions along this route you’ll want to capture. 

Must See Stops Along the Way

Castle Rock

Not too far out of Denver, you’ll find the city of Castle Rock.  Right off of I-25, you’ll want to stop by the Outlets at Castle Rock, the largest open-air outlet center in the state.  With over 100 brand name stores, offering their products at 30%-70% off retail prices, it is simply a must-stop shopping experience.  Pick up some breakfast at the B&B Café.  This a local favorite is a part of Castle Rock’s history, having been serving the community since 1946.

Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs sits as the base of America’s Mountain-Pikes Peak.  Among the many must-see stops in this destination is Garden of the Gods.  There, you can see amazing red rock formations, completely for free.  If you’re looking to stretch your legs, you can try climbing the Manitou Incline.  With 2,800 steps, the incline rises 2,000 feet in just under a mile.  Colorado Springs is also home to the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, which has an interactive visitor center and offers year round tours of their facilities where Olympic champions and Team USA hopefuls train.

Side Trip: Bishop’s Castle

This stop will be a little out of your way (around 30 min each way), it’s well worth the detour.  For nearly 60 years, Jim Bishop has been constructing his castle, which now stands as an impressively monumental statue in stone and iron.  Visitors are always welcome free of charge.

Pueblo

Known as the Steel City, Pueblo is a great stop along the way to Alamosa.  Get some fresh air along the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk, where you can walk along the river or, depending on the time of year, take a guided river cruise.  You can also stop at the Weisbrod Aircraft Museum, a World War II Army air base that has been converted into a museum with more than 30 vintage aircrafts.  Pueblo is famous for growing delicious (and spicy!) Pueblo Green Chiles.  Take the Pueblo Chile Farm Standing Tour, or try a Pueblo Slopper (hamburger patty smothered in green chile and topped with cheese and onions) at any of the 25 restaurants that serve up their own version. 

Walsenburg

On your way to Alamosa, you’ll exit I-25 in Walsenburg.  This charming town is nestled in the heart of Spanish Peaks Country, and is the perfect spot to stop and rest up before venturing on over La Veta Pass.  West of town, you can visit Lathrop State Park. Lathrop State Park is also the only Colorado State Park with a Golf Course.  Stop by Daily Perks for an afternoon pick-me-up before continuing on to the San Luis Valley. 

Fort Garland

Get your first taste of the San Luis Valley in the town of Fort Garland.  Established in 1858, Fort Garland was once under the command of the legendary Kit Carson.  You can take a step back in time at the Fort Garland Museum, where you can learn about Kit Carson, the famed Buffalo Soldiers and there are living history performances throughout the year.   

Welcome to Alamosa!   

Explore what to do while you’re here.

Via US Hwy 285 S

Things to Pack

Fishing Gear- You’ll be traveling along the Arkansas River, which has miles of Gold Medal waters! 

Clothes you don’t mind getting wet-The Arkansas is also the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in the US.

Swimsuits-This route has some of Colorado’s famous hot springs!

Must See Stops Along the Way

Fairplay

Fairplay is known as the official Trout Fishing Capitol of Colorado, so anglers, be sure to pack your fishing poles!  While you’re in the area, you’ll want to stop at South Park City, a remarkable restoration of an early Colorado mining town, with 44 buildings, filled with over 60,000 artifacts.  Stop by Java Moose for some breakfast and coffee.

Buena Vista

From Buena Vista to Poncha Springs, you’ll be driving along the Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway.  Soak up the scenery and surrounding 14ers along your way (it’s the highest concentration in the state!).  Speaking of soaking, you’ll want to try whitewater rafting while you’re here.  There are plenty of outfitters to choose from that will make your experience unforgettable!  While you’re here, try Eddyline Brewery Taproom, a local favorite for their food and their beer. 

Side Trip: Browns Canyon National Monument

Before you get to Poncha Springs, you want to take a short (around 10 minutes each way) detour to visit Colorado’s newest National Monument, Browns Canyon.  The Arkansas River carved out this beautiful geologic marvel, with colorful cliffs and rock outcroppings. 

Poncha Springs & Salida

The nearby towns of Poncha Springs & Salid offer a plethora of outdoor recreation if you’re needing to take a break from the road.  Salida has also been named one of Colorado’s first Creative Districts.  You’ll want to stop a peruse the various studios and galleries in Salida’s downtown before you leave.  Stop by The Boathouse for some Baja Mexican style goodness before you depart.

Hooper

You have now entered the San Luis Valley!  You’ll want to make a stop in one of our four hot springs to rest after your journey.  Each have their own unique experience to offer you, and they are all along your route to Alamosa. 

Welcome to Alamosa!   

Explore what to do while you’re here.

 

 

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