Area Attraction Map: To use the interactive map below, click on the red location pins to learn more about each attraction. Below the map are detailed descriptions and a full guide of destination ideas for your visit to area attractions South Fork Colorado, Del Norte and Monte Vista, CO in Rio Grande Country. We hope to see you soon! Mobile Users: If you experience difficulty with the interactive map, click here to view a list of area attractions.
Pfeiffer’s Grave and Freemont’s Camp Colonel Pfeiffer was a tough but understanding man during a time when no white man was trusted by Native Americans, however through his kind heart he was taken into their community and buried with honor. Freemont’s Camp is the site of an ill-fated group of settlers caught by snowstorms and stranded in the San Juan Mountains.
Natural Arch, Wagon Trails, and Elephant Rocks The Natural Arch was formed by the action of wind, rain and weather on a volcanic dome. The Elephant Rocks are part of the Fish Canyon tuff; volcanic ash welded together over time and has been determined to be at least 28.8 million years old. While the origin of the Wagon tracks is still greatly debated it is believed that these tracks were cut into the soft volcanic tuff by the action of Conestoga wagon wheels.
Penitente Canyon “Rock Climbing” Penitente Canyon served as a place of worship for a small sect of the Catholic Church known as Los Hermanos Penitente. In some areas you can see historic/religious painting left behind on the rocks. Originally named for its seclusion over recent years this area has emerged as one of the state’s premier sport climbing areas. The Canyon and Rock Garden has a variety of bolted climbing routes with a difficulty level of 5.8 to 5.13. This area also includes Shaw Springs with 30 technical routes ranging in difficulty from 5.1 to 5.13.
Rio Grande County Museum Located in Del Norte, which is also the county seat, the museum is open year round. Started in 1961 the museum moved to its current location on Oak Street in 1987 where it now features a gallery of contemporary as well as historic exhibits. Including Native American rock art, History on Hispanic settlers, horno baking, fur trappers, the search for land, freedom, gold and silver. Other museums in the area include: Transportation of the West Museum, in Monte Vista, Home Lake Veterans Center Museum
Old Spanish Trail This trail served as a trade route linking Sante Fe, NM and Los Angeles, CA used by fur, mule, and horse traders including Native Americans and Spanish colonization’s in the 1500’s. After the Mexican war the trail was used less and less in favor of easier routes, to the north and south. More than 100 years after traffic along the trail has ended support for this route as a national historic trail began in 1990. In December 2002 President George W. Bush signed S.R. 1926, designating the Old Spanish Trails America’s 15th National Historic Trail.
Farm Tours – Mushrooms and Potatoes Thousands of years ago a glacier went raging across the land forming the largest alpine valley in the world, leaving behind some of the richest soil in the country. Here you will find a wide variety of crops grown each year including, Barley, Lettuce, Alfalfa, Potatoes and Carrots just to name a few. Some of the farms in the area offer tours of the facilities plus the San Luis Valley Research Center that grows a wide variety of crops. Many farms also offer opportunities for hand picking your own potatoes and carrots in late summer to early fall.
Wildlife Refuge The San Luis Valley has long been a sanctuary for humans and wildlife. Home to two wildlife refuges, you will find a variety of birds and small mammals. The Monte Vista site has an artificially created wetland for birds and waterfowl including Mallards, Canada Geese, American Avocets, Egrets and Herons. Plus Sandhill Cranes which migrate through the area twice a year. March and October are the north, south migration times for the Sandhills and many other birds. However, spectators will find the best time to watch and learn about the cranes during the annual Crane Festival each March, in Monte Vista. The festival is complete with guided tours of the refuge, films, education classes and bird counts.
Summitville Gold Mines Located 11,000ft above sea level Summitville has had a rough 100-year history, which has given forth more than 7.5 million dollars, worth of gold silver lead and copper. During its hay days this town and mine had six processing mills, stores, saloons, boarding houses, homes, a school and slaughter house. However, today the site is home to a multi-million dollar cleanup; resulting from high levels of cyanide and arsenic in the soil, which was once used to extract the gold. Due to health dangers there is no direct access to the site, but visitors can still see the remnants of the mine and the buildings.
Wolf Creek Ski Area Here visitors can enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding on 1600 acres of terrain for beginners and experienced downhill skiers, and snowboarders. Wolf Creek has 5 lifts, 50 trails and plenty of back-country for the adventurous. Several sport shops are available in the area for rentals, equipment, clothing and novelties.
San Luis Valley Southern Colorado’s beautiful San Luis Valley is one of the highest and largest intermountain valleys in the world. Bordered on the east by the steep and jagged Sangre de Cristo Mountains and on the west by the San Juan Mountains, this is the birthplace of the mighty Rio Grande River. Here visitors will find a variety of museums, cultural centers, activities and natural wonders to spark the mind including the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad and Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.
Rio Grande National Forest Covering nearly 2-million acres of public lands on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide, the Rio Grande National Forest is the perfect setting for fishing, scenic driving tours, mountain biking, hiking/backpacking, hunting, photography and pure relaxation.
Silver Thread Scenic Byway The Silver Thread Scenic Byway is 75 miles of breathtaking scenery, history, & wildlife viewing. The Byway ribbons over the Continental Divide through the quaint & historic communities of South Fork, Creede, and Lake City. A mile post guide book of the Byway and its points of interest are available along the route.
Lookout Mountain Lookout Mountains non-motorized trails are open to hikers, runners, bicyclists, and equestrians and provide diverse experiences. The more difficult one mile trail to the summit has an elevation gain of 600 feet with wonderful craggy switchbacks near the top. Its breathtaking summit view displays the entire San Luis Valley and the Upper Rio Grande corridor. Mid way and at the base of the mountain are nearly four miles of looping trails, which are easy to moderate in difficulty. They are flanked by sage, cedar, rabbit brush, prickly pear cactus, yucca, grama grass, Indian paintbrush, and many other wild flowers. The trails also connect the town to BLM land on the south and to the Rio Grande Hospital and Medical Center on the west.
Fall Colors Mother Nature provides us with thousands of miles of forest service access roads that will take you into the depths of the Rio Grande National Forest where you will find yellows, oranges, and reds as the temperatures changes and winter starts is journey to the area. Colors can be seen the starting the second week of September with peak season near the end of the month and the first of October. Hiking, Mtn. Biking and ATV trails also provide great access to the forest for viewing colors. However, for those who want to stay on paved roads there are also plenty of alternatives for viewing the amazing colors that splash the mountains throughout the area. Including Wolf Creek Pass, Pinos Creek and the Silver Thread Scenic Byway.
Skiing and Snowboarding Downhill skiers & snowboarders will find plenty of powder at Wolf Creek Ski Area with over 1,600 acres of the “Most Snow in Colorado”. Here you will find terrain for beginners and experienced riders, with 7 lifts and 50 trails, plus plenty of back-country and tree skiing for the more adventurous. Nordic skiers will find tracks at the ski area, plus over 100 miles of groomed cross-country trails. Snowshoeing, Sleigh rides, Sledding, and Snowcat tours.
Snowmobiling Whether you rent or bring your own machine, you will find over 255 miles of groomed and marked snowmobile trails courtesy of our two snowmobile clubs, plus plenty of open meadows and steep hill climbs, for both beginners and advanced riders. Guide services are available in the area. Other winter activities include: Snowshoeing, Sleigh rides, Sledding, and Snowcat tours. For more information on trail conditions, snow levels, and group rides please contact the Powder Busters or the Silver Thread Outdoor Recreation Club. FREE TRAIL MAPS ARE AVAILABLE!
Hiking From the open valley floor to the surrounding mountain tops, we have a variety of terrain, scenery and ability levels available on more than 20 trails in the area. The Del Norte Trail Organization is a group of like-minded individuals who want sustainable world-class trail experiences in Rio Grande Country and the Western San Luis Valley, working to improve, expand and connect our regional trail systems. For specific trail information please contact South Fork, Del Norte, or Monte Vista for descriptions and maps. The Silver Thread Outdoor Recreation Club sponsors group hikes from the South Fork Visitors Center each week, and love to take new comers along. Trail Maps are available.
Hunting Elk, deer, moose, and bear are just some of the big game that can be hunted in the beautiful mountains. Starting in August, you can take a chance with your bow and arrow or try one of the rifle seasons starting in October. Small game such as water fowl foxes, and rabbits can be hunted throughout the year. Many game units are readily accessible for Rio Grande County Including 76, 79 and 80.
Ice Climbing A relatively new sport to the area, many enjoy climbing on any of the waterfalls in the area as well as ice walls that form on the rocks located on Wolf Creek pass.
Four-Wheeling (Jeeps, ATV’s, Dirtbikes) Surrounded by 2 million acres of National Forest opportunity abounds with endless miles of forest service roads and trails to wander down. ATV’s and dirt bikes can also find adventure on any of the 8 trails located in the area. Please consult a current forest service map for open roads and trails. The Silver Thread Outdoor Recreation Club takes group rides from the South Fork Visitors Center. They welcome anyone to join them on a ride for great scenery, friendship and tons of fun. FREE TRAIL MAPS ARE AVAILABLE. However, we also strongly recommend serious travelers purchase a Rio Grande Forest Service map for the most current details.
Horseback Riding Get up close & personal with the beauty & rugged nature of the land from the back of a magnificent animal, the horse. Options include hourly, daily & overnight specialty trips. Please contact our local guides for further information.
Golf With 2 courses in Rio Grande County and several others in the neighboring communities you are sure to find a hole in one any day of the week from May to October. The Rio Grande Club located in South Fork is a semi private/public 18 hole championship course- amenities include driving range, pro-shop, fitness and exercise facilities, putting green, restaurant and bar. Monte Vista Golf Course is a municipal 9-hole regulation course with driving range, club rentals, pro-shop, lessons, RV-sites and memberships.Miniature Golf is open to the public at Apple Lodge B & B in Del Norte & Goodnights Lonesome Dove in South Fork.
Rafting Choose either a gentle, smooth ride on slow moving waters, or the excitement of white water, all of which can be found along the Rio Grande River. No matter what you pick, you are insured breath taking views. Guided raft trips are offered by Mountain Man Rafting on class I and II rapids. Unguided float trips are also offered 8200 Sports, Rocky Mtn. Ski & Raft, and Spruce Lodge.
Mountain Biking Thousands of miles of forest service access roads are always available for riding, or try any of the 12 trails in the area. The trails and roads range from beginner to advanced terrain. The Del Norte Trail Organization is a group of like-minded individuals who want sustainable world-class trail experiences in Rio Grande Country and the Western San Luis Valley, working to improve, expand and connect our regional trail systems.
Fishing You are sure to find all the fishing you can handle with over 30 miles of the Rio Grande River designated as “Gold Medal”. Plus more than 13 lakes and a multitude of streams available within 20 minutes of town. Winter also abounds with fishing on several lakes in the area the most popular locations are Beaver Creek Reservoir or Big Meadows.
Camping Tents, RV’s or sleeping under the stars, no matter what your choice, camping is easy in Rio Grande County. We have 10 National Forest campgrounds and numerous privately owned RV parks and campgrounds in the area. For a complete lodging list, click here.
Stone Quarry Once a flourishing business in the valley this quarry provided much needed stone for a variety of historic buildings including the county court house. Visitors and still access this site which lies east of Del Norte and not only find 8 foot slabs of rock still strewn on the ground, but climb to the top of the site for a picturesque view of the San Luis Valley.
Rio Grande Country offers more recreation opportunities than you can fit in one visit!