Local attractions, events and activities
Whether you like railroads, fishing, birds and other wildlife, or culture and museums, Antonito, Colorado and the San Luis Valley have a ton to offer you.
While visiting us, explore the San Luis Valley and take advantage of some these activities which are our curated list of top things to do in Antonito for 2017.
Voted the best Train ride in America in 2016, the Cumbres Toltec Railroad runs from May 25 – Oct 20 in 2019. The working steam train connects Chama, NM with Antonito, Colorado and is one of the coolest ways you can pass a day in Southern Colorado. If you collected model trains, want to see some amazing scenery, or even relive the famous train scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Cumbres Toltec train ride is an amazing way to spend the day.
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad starts in nearby Alamosa, CO and travels on historic tracks over La Veta Pass that were completed on June 22, 1878. From 1890 to 1950, Alamosa hummed day and night with the activity of both passenger and freight trains from Denver, Durango, Santa Fe, Salida and Creede. After the 1950s, the track was used exclusively for freight until becoming part of Premier Rail Collection in 2006.
One of our favorite spots is also a cool drive from the Inn: Trujillo Meadows Boating Site. We have caught some beautiful Brown trout, and rainbows here. We found that 16-20" were pretty common. With an elevation of 10,400ft weather can move in quickly, so make sure to bring proper gear to stay warm and dry!
This High Elevation Reservoir (10,100+ feet high) found in the small town of Platoro, Co also has a plethora of Brown,Rainbow, and Brook Trout as well as Kokanee Salmon to offer. The boat ramp is the easiest place to park if you don't have a 4 x 4. We recommend that you check in with the Conejos Ranger District (719-852-5941) to make sure the forest roads are indeed passable before making your way there. There is a bait shop in town if you need to replenish your supplies. This is the highest man made reservoir in the State and can offer some world class fishing.
Here is a collection of nearby Lake and Pond Fishing links..
Here is a collection of nearby River and Stream Fishing links from the US Forest Service..
Here is a super handy fishing spot finder tool created by the state of Colorado to find your next fishing spots.
Elk River fishing spot with Directions from the Inn.
You can get Bait and lures, and advice at the Hometown Food Markets (719) 376-2483 located at 512 Main Street in Antonito, which is right around the corner from the Inn.
Nature & Wildlife in the San Luis Valley
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
11999 Highway 150
Mosca, CO 81146
The Great Sand Dunes National Park Website
The Great Sand Dunes are the tallest dunes in North America. They’re a fun place for hiking and sliding while exploring one of Colorado’s natural wonders. You might find that the hike to the top is a bit much for any young family members, and make sure to take plenty of water with you.
A good time to visit the dunes is in March. In the month of March you can see the surrounding high peaks of the Sangre de Cristos just before the snow melts. When runoff begins in the spring, Medano Creek fills up and flows through the dunes, creating an unlikely beach in the heart of the Colorado Mountains. If you decide to come in the summer, make sure to bring Bug spray with you as the mosquitos are hungry.
We recommend visiting the Great sand Dunes on your way to Antonito from Denver or as a day trip from the Inn. Directions from the Inn.
Monte Vista Crane Festival
March 11 - 13, 2022
March 10 - 12, 2023
Birders rejoice! The Monte Vista Crane Festival is back for another great event in 2017. Thousands upon thousands of cranes, ducks and geese stop here during their annual migration north. There are also tons of raptors including owls present for you to capture against a mountain skyline.
The three national wildlife refuges in the Valley provide essential feeding, resting, and breeding habitat for over 200 bird species and other wildlife. Alamosa and Monte Vista Refuges are located at the south-central end of the Valley and Baca Refuge is located at the north end. They are set aside for migratory birds and resident wildlife. The Refuges are now combined administratively into the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
From the Refuge's Website,"Three mountain ranges surround the Valley – the Sangre de Christo to the east, the San Juan to the west, and the Saguache to the north. At sunset, the highest peaks of the Sangre de Christo range take on a blood red glow which inspired the Spanish explorers to name them after the “Blood of Christ.”
The surrounding mountains feed the arid valley with precious surface water and replenish an expansive underground reservoir. The mountain snow melt and artesian wells provide needed water to the agricultural community and to the rivers, creeks, and wetlands that thread across the valley floor.
Monte Vista Refuge
The artificially created wetlands on Monte Vista’s 14,804 acres are intensively managed to provide habitat for a wide variety of waterfowl and other water birds. Mallards, pintails, teal, and Canada geese are common, as are American avocets, killdeer, white-faced ibis, egrets, and herons. Irrigation canals and wells provide precious water to maintain this important wetland habitat.
The 92,500 acre Baca Refuge is a highly diverse combination of shrublands, grasslands, wet meadows, playa wetlands, and riparian areas. This Refuge was set aside not only as another haven for migratory birds and resident wildlife, but also as an important piece in a broader conservation effort to protect the wildlife, habitat, and water of the north and eastern portions of the San Luis Valley. See a map of the refuge.
Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge provides food, cover, and breeding habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife. The Refuge conserves and enhances the wetland and desert habitats found in the area to accomplish these goals. The 11,169 acre Refuge is located at the south end of the San Luis Valley.
These habitats support a variety of wildlife, including songbirds, water birds, raptors, deer, beavers, coyotes, and more.
Museums & Culture
State St & E 10th Ave,
Antonito, CO 81120
Check out this quirky piece of Antonito that is a quick walk from the inn. While not quite the scale of a Gaudi built church in Barcelona, it is unique and worth the walk.
Jack Dempsey Museum
412 Main Street
Manassa, CO 81141
Open 10-5 Tuesday - Saturday
Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day
No Admission Fee http://www.museumtrail.org/jack-dempsey-museum.html
Directions to the Jack Dempsey Museum from the Inn.
Visit the birthplace of one of Boxing's greatest talents in nearby Manassa. The quaint museum features artifacts from his career and tons of photos of Jack Dempsey. It is worth a stop in the summertime.
Fort Garland Museum
29477 Highway 159
Fort Garland, CO 81133
Fort Garland was a military outpost in the San Luis Valley, protecting settlers pouring into the region in the 1860s and 70s. Kit Carson commanded the fort at one time. To get there, take U.S. Hwy 160 west from Walsenburg at I-25 and head up over La Veta Pass to Fort Garland and the museum. It’s about 20 miles east of Alamosa.
Colorado Gators Alligator Farm & Reptile Park
9162 County Road 9 North
Mosca, CO 81146
The Colorado Gators Alligator Farm and Reptile Park is located about 17 miles north of Alamosa off of Hwy 17 between the towns of Mosca and Hooper, west of the Great Sand Dunes. When the Young family brought in alligators in 1987 they became the main attraction at the park. Today, more than 400 alligators, plus lizards, snakes, fish and birds make up this attraction in the San Luis Valley. You can see alligators year round and it is a total hoot to see them sunbathing in the snow.
For other ideas feel free to visit the San Luis Valley Tourism Association's Website