Spanish for Mountain View, Monte Vista is a historic, lively city located in the heart of the San Luis Valley. Surrounded by some of Colorado’s magnificent 14,000 foot peaks, the town attracts a variety of commercial, agricultural, social, and cultural activities.
Beginning in March the annual migration of the Sandhill and endangered Whooping Cranes begins and is celebrated with the annual Crane Festival which draws in visitors to the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge.
Throughout the year visitors and residents can see historic buildings and homes that the Monte Vista Historical Society has worked very hard to preserve. The Transportation of the West Museum located downtown is also a great stop to view the history of the horse drawn carriages to the early automobile.
During April and May spring planting is in full swing with crops including: potatoes, carrots, oats, barley, wheat, and alfalfa. Visitors are welcome to tour many of the area farms; just stop at one of the local visitor centers for directions.
July kicks off with the Annual Farm and Ranch Heritage days, a two day antique farm equipment show and tractor pull enjoyed by the young and old alike. Later in the month, grab your family, pull on your boots and attend the SKI-HI Stampede, Colorado’s oldest professional Rodeo. Close to town is the lighted softball complex and very affordable 9-hole, family oriented golf course. Also, visit the state of the art Carnegie Library.
Fall brings not only beauty and color to the surrounding mountains, but the harvest of crops planted in the spring, and the Annual Harvest Festival that celebrates the agricultural heritage of Monte Vista.
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.
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.
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.