Wide Open Spaces

Great Sand Dunes National Park | Photo: @ranchlands

Explore the San Luis Valley’s Wide Open Spaces

When you set foot in the largest alpine valley in the world, you’ll get a sense that there’s more than meets the eye. The valley in question is the San Luis Valley which is formed by a rugged ring of snow-clad mountains capturing magnificent 100-mile views inside, along with some truly exceptional and beautiful lands ready to be explored.

Its enough to feel remote, even when you’re not far from home.

wide open spaces birds Zapata Ranch | Photo: @ranchlands

Where To First?

Being in a protected valley surrounded by mountains has preserved and fostered a unique and vibrant culture maintained over centuries—not to mention a long-list of scenic wonders. Due to the area's unique range of biodiversity, you can wander through high alpine deserts and dunes, wetlands and lakes, mountains, and forest all within the same afternoon while taking in views that’ll make you swear you’ve stumbled onto another planet.

wide open spaces forests Rio Grande National Forest | Photo: @christi_b

Expansive National Forests

Head any direction out of town and you’re bound to be quickly greeted by pristine National Forests. Both the Rio Grande National Forest and San Juan National Forest collectively encompass millions of acres and hug the rim of the San Luis Valley. Offering endless access to thick forests, jagged mountains, and high alpine environments, you’ll be mesmerized by the abundance of space and adventure potential.

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untamed wilderness Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area | @mjsmoot

Untamed Wilderness Areas

They don’t call it the “Wild West” for nothing. Alamosa is centrally located near five (yes, five!) separate wilderness designated areas: Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, Spanish Peaks Wilderness, South San Juan Wilderness, Weminuche Wilderness, and La Garita Wilderness. When it comes to being off the grid, it doesn’t get much better than visiting these stunning areas.

Don’t forget to travel responsibly!

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local fourteeners Crestone Needle | @travis.sherman.93

Local Fourteeners

Colorado’s most dense group of 14’ers—a mountain that exceeds 14,000’ in height—is right in our backyard making Alamosa a hot spot for hikers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. For those willing to summit one or more of these majestic peaks, outstanding views of the valley and nearby Great Sand Dunes are patiently waiting for you at the top. Along the way up from the valley floor, you’ll pass through a myriad of various ecosystems as you emerge into the beautiful high alpine terrain near the summit.

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see the wild side Zapata Ranch | @ranchlands

See the Wild Side

It might not come as a surprise, but because of our geographic location and abundance of well-preserved places, the San Luis Valley is a mecca for wildlife watching and birding enthusiasts. Between acting as a biannual layover for 23,000 Sandhill Cranes, homing over 2,000 wild Bison at the Zapata Ranch Conservatory, and calling home to over a hundred species of birds, it’s no wonder this place is teeming with wildlife.

Did we mention that the valley is home to three separate wildlife refuges? Baca National Wildlife Refuge, Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge are each nearby.

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Explore our spaces

  • National Forests

    • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
    • Gunnison National Forest
    • Rio Grande National Forest
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partner badge

Small actions have big consequences, and it’s up to both our visitors and local community to help preserve our lands and protect our outdoor environment. As stewards of the Care for Colorado Coalition, we’re thankful for everyone who practices the 7 Leave No Trace principles.

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