This spring season, skip the densely popular tourist destinations and head to a quieter corner of Colorado just off the path less traveled: Alamosa in the San Luis Valley. At only 7,544 feet elevation, Alamosa is a warmer–and quieter–option for those eager to hit the highway for a road trip come springtime.
Between its proximity to Great Sand Dunes National Park, the meandering Rio Grande, and a wide array of delicious restaurants, Alamosa makes a perfect early-summer getaway. Here are our top five reasons why spending a spring weekend in Alamosa should be at the top of your travel list!
This story was created in partnership with Visit USA Parks.
Photo credit: @jonsnyderphotography
1. Alamosa is Only an Hour Away
Located a half-day’s drive away from the busy Front Range in the southern portion of Colorado, Alamosa feels like it might as well be a world away. Winding waterways replace highways, local wildlife sub in for traffic, and stars twinkle instead of fluorescent lights. The best part is that Alamosa hasn’t yet been discovered by swarms of tourists escaping the city, so it hasn’t lost its authentic hospitality and western flare.
Getting to Alamosa is half the fun. The road trip from Denver, Santa Fe, or Salt Lake City is beautiful; but those on a time crunch might prefer to jump a flight. Fly direct from Denver, right into the heart of Alamosa. Talk about convenient! This relatively new and definitely scenic hour-long flight makes getting to this hidden gem easier than ever before.
Photo credit: @zakarychase
2. You Can See a Stunning National Park, After Dark
There are a few things to consider when you’re going stargazing. Of course, you don’t want it to be cloudy. Then, you should try to plan around the cycle of the moon—it’s best to view the stars when they aren’t competing against so much light. But there is also an ideal time of year for viewing the Milky Way Galaxy: and it’s spring and summer! Spring is a wonderful time to gaze upon this mesmerizing feature of our night sky, and there’s no better place to do so than in Alamosa.
The best place to soak in the stars in Alamosa is at Great Sand Dunes National Park, a short drive from downtown. This stunning park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America, and they come alive after the sun goes down. In fact, in 2019, Great Sand Dunes was designated a Dark Sky Park, solidifying its legendary status as a wonderful place to make a wish. Those who would like to sleep on the dunes can obtain a permit beforehand for a night they will never forget.
Photo credit: @phalconalmighty
3. It’s Easy to Enjoy the Warm Spring Weather in Alamosa
Travelers who venture to Alamosa from mountainous regions will delight in the warm spring temperatures found in the San Luis Valley. There are a number of ways to take advantage of all this vitamin D.
Those who enjoy the water will be pleased to hear that there’s a beginner-friendly stretch of the Rio Grande River that runs right through town. This three-mile trip is easily navigable on stand-up paddleboard or kayak. Simply shuttle with cars or bikes via the brand new public boat ramps alongside the riverbank. Prefer to hike? Try Zapata Falls, just up the road from Great Sand Dunes National Park. The short but steep quarter-mile hike leads you directly to the mouth of a stunning waterfall, shrouded in ice for much of the spring. (Take care with your footing on the approach.) And of course, we wouldn’t blame you for returning to the sand dunes for a day of sand boarding and surfing. A number of outfitters rent boards in town, making it easy to spend a classic day in Alamosa.
Note: Always remember to dress in layers, wear sunblock, and drink enough water when recreating at elevation! We also recommend brushing up on Leave No Trace principles before your trip.
Photo credit: @heyyy_ak
4. You Can Always Warm Up at the Hot Springs
Of course, springtime in Colorado means that it is possible to see all four seasons in a single day. While precipitation isn’t likely during your visit to Alamosa, you may experience wind. (After all—that’s what formed the sand dunes!) But don’t be discouraged. There are several places to escape the breeze if needed.
is our favorite spot for finding respite.
This unique destination in the high desert features a large pool, ideal for families and those who want to cut laps (it includes a diving board and a rental center overflowing with water toys). For those over 21 years of age, a short walk through a hallway glowing with party lights will deliver you to a real oasis; The Greenhouse. Inside, you’ll find a number of hot spring-fed pools, a sauna, and a wide array of blooming, tropical plants. The Steel Box Bar serves up a huge assortment of craft beer and wine as well as finger-licking menu items. Shoshito peppers and ahi tuna, anyone? The whole experience makes for a truly unexpected find in southern Colorado!
Photo credit: @milagroscoffeehouse
5. There is Plenty of Western Hospitality (and Flavors)
From locally roasted coffee to two unique breweries within walking distance on Main Street, Alamosa knows how to keep you fueled for your adventure. Authentic flavors and home-cooked cuisine make finding three square meals a day easy and delicious. (The build-your-own breakfast burrito at Milagros Coffee House and the newspaper-size menu at San Luis Valley Brewing Company for lunch or dinner are not to miss.) Plus, many of the historic buildings have cozy cast iron stoves to warm up beside, should a spring squall breeze through. As for lodging, there are plenty of places to stay in Alamosa. From comfortable hotels to cozy Airbnb options, you’ll return home feeling rejuvenated by your springtime visit to the San Luis Valley.
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