Heritage Attractions

Explore attractions around the San Luis Valley that reveal the area's striking natural features, rich layers of history, and Hispano cultural arts traditions. A journey between these attractions will reveal the unique spirit and rural charm of the San Luis Valley.

Established in 1858, Fort Garland's primary purpose was as a base against attacks by Indians in an effort to protect the new settlers.  It was once under the command of the legendary Kit Carson, and has an excellent exhibit of his career and family life.  Walk the parade grounds, tour the adobe buildings—including a display about the famed Buffalo Soldiers—and view 19th Century artifacts from early pioneers.  The museum features living history performances at special events throughout the year. 

Originally constructed in 1880 as a part of the Rio Grande San Juan Extension, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is one of the finest examples of a narrow-gauge railroad still in operation today.  This 64-mile steam railroad, connecting Antonito, CO, with Chama, NM, features North America’s steepest railroad grade set among spectacular scenery.

The highest dunes in North America appeared as a "sea of sand" to Zebulon Pike in 1807.  Prevailing southwesterly winds sweep up ancient grains of sand and then deposit them grain upon grain at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  Two major attractions are "High Dune", rising 650 feet above the valley floor and Medano Creek, a lazy seasonal stream that pulses with waves during periods of high water.  This mosaic of sand, water, and mountains forms one of Colorado's most distintive landscapes.