The 17-mile backcountry Bachelor Loop Tour outside of Creede takes visitors past historic mines and camps in the Creede Mining District. A four-wheel drive is not required, but the gravel road does have some steep, narrow grades through West Willow Creek Canyon. Visitors should allow about an hour to drive the full loop, but may turn around at any of the 16 numbered and interpreted sites.
John Charles Fremont’s Fourth Expedition attempted a winter crossing of the Rocky Mountains late in the year of 1848. The expedition ended in failure, high in the snowbound La Garita Mountains to the northwest of present Del Norte, Colorado. Using a map and compass, hikers can forge their way through various routes to actual identified campsites used by Fremont and his men in the harsh winter of 1848 and 1849. Actual trails from camp to camp do not exist. Compass directions are given to allow you to walk directly from site to site. It is up to you to decide the best routes and to create your own orienteering expedition. For a suggested routes and more information on the Fremont’s ill-fated journey through the backcountry of Colorado’s La Garita Mountains visit http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-rio-grande-national-forest-colorado-sidwcmdev_066108.html#ixzz36tuWMLHu
The 129-mile route encompasses 22 marked sites in Alamosa, Conejos, and Costilla counties. Along “Los Caminos Antiguous” (“The Ancient Roads”), the history of the northern outpost of sixteenth-century Spanish territorial expansion unfolds. www.loscaminos.com
In several places, the roads and highways of the SLV intersect the Old Spanish Trail, a historic trade route linking Santa Fe, New Mexico with Los Angeles, California. The Old Spanish Trail was used for nearly 20 years, from 1829-48. At a site west of Monte Vista on Highway 60, stone monuments mark the one of the two branches of the Old Spanish Trail that traversed the SLV. The dirt roads heading south from the monument provide access to hiking and biking in the Limekiln area. For more information on the history of the Old Spanish Trail visit: Old Spanish Trail Homepage
Soldier and explorer Zubulon Pike led the first major U.S. expedition to the Southwest. In 1807, Pike’s men erected a stockade at this site on the banks of the Conejos River and raised the American flag, though the stockade stood on Spanish soil. A replica of Pike’s stockade now stands on the site. For more information on Fort Garland and Pike’s Stockade visit: http://www.historycolorado.org/museums/fort-garland-museum-and-pikes-stockade-0
The historic railroad opened the San Luis Valley to commerce. As tracks were laid, towns were built, torn down, and relocated at the new end of the rails. Today, the railroad offers passenger excursion trains from Alamosa east over scenic La Veta Pass and southwest to Antonito. The unique connection with the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad in Antonito is the only place in North America where standard gauge passenger rail meets narrow gauge passenger rail. Trains depart Alamosa, Antonito, and La Veta daily. Visit https://www.coloradotrain.com/ or 1.877.7CO.Rail for schedules and fares.
This San Luis Valley national heritage area encompasses Alamosa, Costilla and Conejos Counties, a scenic area rich in history, religion, culture and biodiversity. Visit http://sdcnha.org/js/ for more on the history and culture of the area, maps, and suggested places to visit.
Founded in 1851 by Hispano settlers, San Luis is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in Colorado. High atop a mesa overlooking the historic town is the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross. A trail leads visitors past a series of outdoor sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Jesus.
The 75-mile Silver Thread Scenic Byway links South Fork, Creede, and Lake City to US 50 west of Gunnison. The byway is named after the area’s rich veins of silver ore that lured miners and settlers to the region. Along the route, travelers experience southern Colorado’s rich history, wildlife, and spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery, including North Clear Creek Falls, one of Colorado’s seven natural wonders.
The drive to Summittville, an old gold mining town, is a dramatically scenic mountain loop that can start in Del Norte by driving up Pinos Creek and returning via Jasper (another historic mining town), and the Alamosa River canyon.