Traveling anywhere can get expensive, luckily there’s plenty to do in Alamosa that will cost you nothing at all! Here are some of our favorites.
1. Discover a Hidden Waterfall
Just outside of the Great Sand Dunes National Park, there is a hidden gem that is completely free for you to discover. Zapata Falls is a 25-foot waterfall, tucked away in a rocky crevasse. To reach this beautiful destination, it is a half a mile hike. On the hike up to the falls, you’ll be treated with stunning views of the San Luis Valley, Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Great Sand Dunes. At the end of the hike, you can play in Zapata Creek before wading through the water to the Falls. (Remember to bring shoes that you don’t mind getting wet!) Zapata Falls is the perfect family adventure to add to your Alamosa trip! The road to Zapata Falls can be rocky, so we recommend having a high clearance or 4WD drive vehicle. (You can also park at the bottom of Zapata Road and hike up to the trailhead, which is about 3 miles.)
2. Explore a Wildlife Refuge
The San Luis Valley is home to three National Wildlife Refuges, totalling over 119,000 acres. The Alamosa, Monte Vista and Baca Refuges are set aside for migratory birds and resident wildlife. Each is a perfect playground to explore the many different habitats and perhaps get a glimpse of the many species of wildlife that call these refuges home. The Alamosa Refuge offers two hiking trails: the Rio Grande Nature Trail and the Bluff Nature Trail. The Bluff Nature Trail offers interpretive panels and beautiful views of the San Luis Valley. The Rio Grande Nature Trail follows the river for which it was named through cottonwood trees and willows. The Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge is famous for being a stopping point for Sandhill Cranes on their annual migration in spring and fall. All three of the San Luis Valley refuges are open an hour before sunrise until an hour after sunset, and all are completely free!
3. Walk (or Float) Along the Rio Grande
The Rio Grande river finds its headwaters are in the San Luis Valley, where it winds through Alamosa before continuing its journey to the Gulf of Mexico. The possibilities for fun in the Rio Grande’s waters are endless! The slow pace of the river through town is perfect for floating, paddleboarding and for beginners to raft and kayak. For the more experienced, there is more difficult rafting and kayaking upriver in the towns of Creede, South Fork and Del Norte. There are also plenty of spots to fish along the Rio Grande. In fact, there are 17 miles of Gold Medal Water along this stretch, meaning that there are plenty of trout to catch! (Please note, you will need a Colorado Fishing License to fish here.) For the wildlife enthusiast, there are plenty of birds and animals along the river’s edge. In Alamosa, you can walk along the river’s dikes and search for wildlife, or just enjoy the beautiful scenery.
4. Take a Historic Walking Tour
Established in 1878, Alamosa’s Downtown is filled with rich history. You can learn all about that history on the Downtown Alamosa Historical Walking Tour. Start this self-guided tour at the Colorado Welcome Center in Alamosa (610 State Ave.) with your complementary map and take a stroll into yesteryear. Discover which restaurant’s building used to be the San Luis Hotel, where former Colorado Governor Billy Adams (and founder of Adams State University) lived the last days of his life. See a ten-wheeler steam locomotive that was built in 1883. Figure out what Alamosa attraction used to be the city jail. View the architectural trends that have passed through the nation since the 19th century -late Victorian, commercial brick, Mission Revival, and Art Deco styles. Don’t forget to stop in to the shops and restaurants that now call Downtown Alamosa home!
5. Fun at Blanca Vista Park
Just outside of Alamosa, you’ll find Blanca Vista Park. Well-known for having the most gorgeous views of Mount Blanca (hence the name), this park has plenty to offer and is free to the public seven days a week, from dawn to dusk. The park encircles a large pond that is available for kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding and fishing for kids 16 and under. There is a trail that wraps around the pond, which is perfect for an easy walk or bike ride. There are also picnic tables and a dog park on site. No trip to Alamosa is complete without stopping by this gem of a park.
6. Summit a Fourteener
For the most adventurous, there’s nothing like making it to the top of a fourteen-thousand-feet-above-sea-level mountain. Here in Colorado, these peaks are lovingly referred to as fourteeners, and the San Luis Valley is home to ten! Bagging a fourteener is not for the faint of heart, but if you are able to make it, there’s no view quite like it in the world. Like everything on this list, it is free to participate, but please assess your own skill level before attempting.
7. Hike a Trail (or many)
If summiting a fourteener seems a bit out of your comfort zone, don’t fear! If there’s one thing Alamosa has plenty of, it is trails! Check out our San Luis Valley Trail Guide for some ideas, or check out the COTREX app for a map of all the trails in the state, which can be filtered by activity, length, difficulty and more. (Please note: to access trails within the Great Sand Dunes National Park, you will have to pay the entrance fee.)
8. View our Outdoor Art Gallery
Alamosa’s Downtown, in addition to being a historical gold mine, also houses a unique collection of public art. Through the city’s Artscape program, artists from around the nation have the opportunity to display their sculptures in Alamosa’s downtown. Each September, as part of the Alamosa Art Festival, new pieces are installed and remain throughout the year for visitors and residents to enjoy. You can stop by the Colorado Welcome Center in Alamosa for a guide, then take a self-guided sculpture tour. Remember, the pieces change annually, so even if you’ve seen them on a previous trip, it is likely a completely different experience.
9. Play a Round of Disc Golf
For an afternoon of fun, stop by Alamosa’s public Disc Golf Course. The course is completely free and open year-round, you just need to bring your discs! With 27 holes to play, a round of frisbee golf can easily turn into a day-long activity. The course has cement tee pads, a variety of holes, and is located along the Rio Grande in a moderately wooded area-providing some great obstacles to challenge your skills.