As the gateway to the Great Sand Dunes and the heartbeat of the Majestic San Luis Valley, Alamosa offers the perfect mix of outdoor activities and unique experiences. Alamosa overflows with natural wonders such as hot springs, rolling dunes, and towering mountain peaks, making it an outdoor lovers’ paradise.
But beyond its natural beauty visitors will also find a certain mystic only found in the valley. Discover it all with these things to do in Alamosa.
No matter what time of year you find yourself, Alamosa has plenty to offer its visitors. From rolling sand dunes and hot springs to viewing wildlife and UFOs, enjoy these year-round activities in Alamosa.
Rio Grande River Walk
The Rio Grande Trail, also called the Rio Grande River Walk, is an easy footpath located in Alamosa that follows the winding path of the Rio Grande River. This is an out-and-back trail that is just over three miles long, but it can easily be extended to four and a half miles by adding a loop in nearby Cole Park. The Rio Grande River Walk is free to access, and leashed dogs are welcome.
Because the trail spends most of its time by the river, it is mostly flat, making this a perfect trail for visitors hoping for an easy way to see some nature. The trail is mostly gravel with occasional patches of pavement, so it should be accessible to most people. While walking, running, or biking on the trail, look out for deer, ducks, and even the occasional Canada Goose.
An oasis of ponds, marshes, and wetlands, the Blanca Wetlands Area of Critical Environmental Concern, or Blanca Wildlife Habitat Area, is one of the most picturesque regions of the San Luis Valley. An extremely important ecosystem for birds in Colorado, this area is home to thirteen threatened, endangered, or sensitive species, and lucky visitors can spot bald eagles and peregrine falcons on a visit. While open throughout the year, this area is most pleasant during the summer months.
A number of trails wind through the Wetlands, granting visitors great opportunities for viewing wildlife including migratory birds. Additionally, there is a waterfowl-viewing boardwalk, so guests have easy access to view the area’s ducks, gulls, and pelicans. There are little to no amenities in the area, so visitors should come prepared. There is no camping within the bounds of the habitat area, but dispersed camping is available on nearby BLM land.
Set outside of Hooper, just 22 miles from Alamosa, the UFO Watchtower is one of the more unique attractions in the area. Although it is only set around ten feet above the ground, the area’s flat surroundings ensure beautiful views of the distant mountains and, as is expected, uninterrupted views of the night sky for alien sightings.
Underneath the watchtower is an alien-themed gift shop, so visitors can commemorate their visit with alien memorabilia. For those who want the true experience, consider camping at the watchtower for an additional fee. Even without a UFO sighting, this UFO Watchtower in the middle of the San Luis Valley is still a great visit for inquisitive visitors.
A few hot springs exist around Alamosa, and there’s arguably no better way to spend a visit in the San Luis Valley than by soaking in a hot spring. One of the most popular options is Valley View Hot Springs. Operated by the Orient Land Trust, a non-profit organization, Valley View Hot Springs is a clothing-optional hot spring resort outside of Moffat, Colorado.
The resort features a number of natural rock ponds that are filled with geothermally heated mineral water, but there are also three man-made pools. Valley View Hot Springs has a variety of accommodations including camping and historic rooms.
Another great choice is Joyful Journey Hot Springs. With three pools ranging in temperature from 98°F to 108°F, visitors can easily find a way to relax at this resort. The resort features beautiful views across the valley of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, and visitors are welcome to participate in the resort’s art classes and yoga classes. Guests can find accommodations at the resort’s lodge, a yurt, tipis, or traditional camping.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park is a little bit off the beaten path, but it’s well worth the visit on a trip to Alamosa. This national park features the tallest sand dunes in North America, beautiful views of distant peaks, and the unique opportunity to camp on the dunes and enjoy some of the best stargazing in the country.
One of the most popular activities at the park is sand sledding and sandboarding. Boards and sleds can be rented at a number of stores outside of the park, in Alamosa.
There are a number of options for camping in the park. The most traditional camping is located at the Piñon Flats Campground, which is open from April until October each year. This campground has sinks, toilets, and potable water available.
For the more adventurous camper, consider backpacking into the Dunes Backcountry and camping on the dunes. For this experience, reservations are required, and they can be made online.
Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge
Spanning thousands of acres of wetlands that are home to a huge number of wildlife including beaver, deer, and dozens of species of birds, the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best stops in the San Luis Valley for animal and nature enthusiasts alike.
Visitors can enjoy a drive on the Auto Tour, a short scenic drive showing off the best that the refuge has to offer. There are a few trails that run through the area, one of which is the Rio Grande Nature Trail, a 1.8-mile path that gives visitors a nice overview of the refuge.
Twice a year, usually in March and September, approximately twenty thousand Sandhill Cranes migrate through the San Luis Valley, making this an optimal time to visit the refuge. During the rest of the year, visitors have a chance to see songbirds, owls, swans, and even eagles.
San Luis Valley Brewing Company
Colorado towns are famous for their breweries, and Alamosa is no different. For any beer aficionados visiting the area, no trip is complete without stopping by the San Luis Valley Brewing Company. With hops and barley purchased from local producers as well as small batches, this is a truly local brewery that cares about quality, sustainability, and taste. There are six brews on tap year-round as well as a number of seasonal beers, so there’s no shortage of options.
Aside from the beer, the San Luis Valley Brewing Company features a full-service menu including a number of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, and tacos, plus pasta and steak. The brewery is located in downtown Alamosa on Main Street and is open seven days a week.
Alamosa is a summer lover’s paradise. With fishing, hiking, biking, and even a chance to feed an alligator, visitors will find no shortage of summer activities in Alamosa.
The San Luis Valley is surrounded by two mountain ranges, the beautiful Sangre de Cristos and the San Juan Mountains, so it’s no surprise that there are multiple options for world-class hiking nearby. One of the most adventurous hiking options near Alamosa is to attempt a summit of Blanca Peak, the fourth highest of Colorado’s 53 14ers.
At an elevation of 14,345′, Blanca Peak is no joke, and it should only be attempted by those with experience hiking in the mountains. Depending on which approach is used, the trail will most likely be over 15 miles round trip, and it gains around 6,500 feet of elevation.
For a potentially less harrowing hike, consider heading to Zapata Falls. With a length that’s only around one mile, this short but pleasant hike takes hikers near the falls where water tumbles thirty feet to the ground. Although it’s a short trail, the views are great.
More Hot Springs
Splashland Hot Springs, opened seasonally each year since 1955, is a simple hot spring pool located just north of Alamosa off State Highway 17. Filled with hot water heated underneath the earth, this no-frills pool complex offers stunning views of the nearby mountains from the floor of the San Luis Valley. After enjoying the water, visitors can purchase snacks and drinks at the concession stand.
Another option is Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & RV Park. Located outside of Hooper, Colorado to the north of Alamosa, this small hot spring resort features two pools, a small restaurant, a gift shop, and even cabins for rent. Visitors are sure to enjoy the Greenhouse, a 10,000 square foot adults-only area offering a sauna, pool, and small soaking tubs.
Colorado Gators Reptile Park
For any visitors to the San Luis Valley hoping to hold a baby alligator, look no further than the Colorado Gators Reptile Park. Each visitor gets the chance to take a picture with a baby alligator, so animal and reptile enthusiasts are sure to love a visit to this educational and sustainable park. Besides baby alligators, visitors can see tortoises, albino alligators, crocodiles, pythons, anacondas, rattlesnakes, and a number of different species of lizards.
Fishing on the Rio Grande River
The Rio Grande River, which is one of the longest rivers in the United States, runs through Alamosa and offering anglers some of the best fishing in Colorado. The Rio Grande parallels US Highway 160 for much of its length in the San Luis Valley, so there’s no shortage of good public access for fishing.
One of the best sections of the river exists between South Fork and Del Norte, two towns locate west of Alamosa. This is certified Gold Medal Water, and there are large numbers of brown and rainbow trout in this section. Some spots are accessible with waders, but float fishing is often easier.
Some of the state’s best mountain biking exists right outside Alamosa near Del Norte. One option is the Stone Quarry trail system. These are relatively easy trails, so they’re good for beginner mountain bikers who want to get their feet wet on a trip to Alamosa. For visitors without mountain bikes, rentals are available in Alamosa.
A more advanced option for biking exists in Penitente Canyon. Visitors can ride the Sunshine Kitty Trail, a two-and-a-half-mile singletrack trail that offers stunning views and five hundred feet of elevation change. For a more adventurous ride, head to Bishop’s Rock. There are no trails, so bikers are free to explore the forty acres of slickrock as they see fit.
Best Western Movie Manor
An interesting combination between a hotel and a drive-in movie theater, the Best Western Movie Manor is a fun option for visitors looking for accommodations in the nearby town of Monte Vista. Aside from all the standard hotel amenities, including breakfast, a fitness center, and well-appointed guest rooms, this hotel also features the Star Drive-in Theatre.
One of the two screens can be seen by hotel guests from the rooms’ windows, so visitors can catch a movie without even leaving their bed. The other screen is only accessible by car, but hotel guests have complimentary access. There’s a snack bar available near the screens, so visitors can enjoy great food with their drive-in movie experience.
No matter if you are here to see the sites or watch for UFOs, there are plenty of things to do in Alamosa and the San Luis Valley.
This content was originally published here.