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Connect Yesterday and Today in Costilla County

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La Vega
Courtesy Tawney Becker

Visit Colorado's oldest town, see the Stations of the Cross, fish old creeks & today's reservoirs, & ride the Rio Grande Scenic railroad..

Visit San Luis, Colorado’s oldest town, founded in 1851. It was a part of 4 Spanish Land Grants decreed by the King of Spain.

La Vega

Bordering San Luis is La Vega, one of only 2 remaining “commons” in the country (the other is Boston Commons). Still used for communal grazing, it has dwindled in size to 500 acres. To view La Vega, look for the stone commemorative marker at the south edge of town on the west side of CO Hwy 159 (Main Street) in San Luis. It is best to call ahead before exploring La Vega since the lands are not open to the general public.

However, an excellent interpretive display in the San Luis Museum and Cultural Center in downtown San Luis gives details on La Vega.

The San Luis Cultural Center also houses a replica of a Morada room (a chapel of th ePenitente or Hermandad, a religious-fraternal brotherhood in Hispanic Society).

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross Shrine, a series of bronze sculptures dedicated in 1990 links the world of today with the beginnings of settlement in the Sangre de Cristo region. View the stations created by Huberto Maestas as your steps wind up to the La Capilla de Todas los Santos, a Catholic Chapel that sits atop San Pedro Mesa.  From the summit you can overlook San Luis against the backdrops of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

La Capilla de Todas los Santos
Courtesy Tawney Becker
Smith Reservoir
Courtesy Colorado State Wildlife

3 State Wildlife Areas and creek fishing

Northeast of San Luis fish at Sanchez Reservoir State Wildlife Area (3 miles E on CO 142 to CO 159. Then 5.2 miles S on Cty 19). Or fly fish in the catch and release waters of Culebra Creek (From the CO 159 bridge turn downstream and go 3 miles to the Jaquez Bridge. The reservoir is known for northerns and walleyes. The Culebra Peak, the most southern of Colorado’s 14,00-foot peaks forms the headwaters of Culebra Creek.

Mountain Home and Smith reservoirs are also favorite fishing sites in Costilla County.  Visit the Colorado State Wildlife Site for details: Click on map, select Costilla County at the bottom near the middle. Select one of the 3 State Wildlife Areas for detailed information on wildlife viewing, fishing, and hunting.  You’ll also find directions and interactive maps.

Fort Garland

Against the backdrop of Mt. Blanca, step into the world of Kit Carson at Fort Garland. Established in 1858 the garrison of more than 100 men protected settlers in the San Luis Valley. See a re-creation of the commandant’s quarters as they were in 1866 when Carson commanded the fort.


ppp Fort Garland Commandant's Quarters
Courtesy Fort Garland Museum
Steaming up La Veta Pass
Courtesy Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad traverses Costilla County from the San Luis Valley over La Veta Pass to the town of La Veta.  Hop on at the station in Alamosa.