Length: 129 Miles
Driving Time: 3 Hours
Los Cominos Antiguos Byway is a historic route that will take you through Alamosa, Fort Garland, San Luis, and Antonito, passing right through the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This 3 hour, 129 mile drive takes you through Colorado’s oldest town, La Vega, which also features the oldest continuously operating business in the state. Stopping in the small town of Antonito, a stop for the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad, you will find many historical treasures. Continuing on the byway you will experience the majesty of La Manga and Cumbres Passes. The Byway is also the perfect place for wildlife watchers with the Alamosa and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges on the route. Have your binoculars ready! The refuges are home to many waterfowl, birds, mule deer and are also home to thousands of migrating sandhill cranes annually in March. Don’t forget a stop at the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, rising 750 feet the dunes are one of the most unique attractions in Colorado. Geologists believe the dunes have been forming for 12,000 – 1 million years.
This is the best route to follow as you explore the region of the Northernmost outpost of 16th Century Spanish territorial expansion. The culture is still alive today with hospitality, good food, adobe missions, museums, galleries, special festivals and events and awe-inspiring natural wonders.
Colorado’s cradle of Hispanic Culture lies in the San Luis Valley, a mystical basin where Sandhill Cranes feed in the marshes and the Great Sand Dunes press up against the mountains. Historic adobe structures pepper the landscape testament to the state’s first settlements.
Los Caminos Antiguos also takes you through Colorado’s oldest surviving community (San Luis, 1851), its oldest parish (Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Conejos), and one of its first military posts (Fort Garland). Drive, explore, take your time- there’s plenty of it to spare.
Photos, Map and Information adapted from CDOT.
Sand Dunes photo provided by www.nps.gov