The San Luis Valley covers a huge territory in the Rocky Mountains between Highway 50 on the north side to Highway 190 on the south end. This valley may be larger than belief, yet the primary destinations for outdoor adventures in this region are all located in the towering mountains that surround the flat land. The most famous destination in the San Luis Valley is Great Sand Dunes National Park, which attracts a steady flow of visitors during the warm weather seasons. Along the western edge of the valley there are several access points for Jeep trails that go deep into the National Forest, which seasonal hunters and snowmobilers tend to follow. Mountain biking on these same trails is also challenging to do, while the wildlife viewing near the agricultural areas is top notch too.
The San Luis Valley floor is a vast high elevation agricultural area and because the flat land is between tall mountain ranges, this entire area is subject to long periods of drought. There are irrigated farms that are lush and green, but the undeveloped areas are covered with desert sagebrush, which reveal the true colors of this environment. There are a few small farm communities to be found along the main road that runs north and south through this very lengthy flat valley, but not much more than a few old west style shops, a fueling station and a some old historic buildings are all there is to see. There are a few tourist traps to choose from in this big valley too, which include a Colorado alligator farm and the infamous UFO Tower, which are the kind of places where flipping a two headed coin is best for making the decision.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park definitely is the biggest draw, but anywhere a visitors goes from this remote location will require several solid hours of driving. To sum it all up, be sure to top off the tank and drink plenty of coffee, because if no adventures are planned for the surrounding mountains, the very long drive through the San Luis Valley will likely be a drowsy traveling experience. However there is a plus side, because there are some beautiful panoramic views that await toward the north end, so be sure to keep a good camera in standby mode!
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