Recommended day trips are San Luis Valley area attractions within an hour or so from Twin Rivers Cabins & RV Park.
The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Experience this diversity through hiking, sand sledding, splashing in Medano Creek, wildlife watching, and more! Kids absolutely love playing in the biggest ‘sandbox’ in the USA. The visitor center at the park offers a host of unique displays about how the dunes were formed as well as interactive educational interpretive displays kids and adults can play with together.
In San Luis, Colorado, is the oldest continually inhabited town. San Luis has an exceptional tourist attraction, the Stations of the Cross Shrine. These sculptors are ¾ to life size bronze statues of the 15 stations of the cross with the Resurrection being the 15th.
The Shrine is located on a mesa (flat top mountain) in the center of San Luis where parishioners have recreated their own Calvary. The Shrine of the Stations of the Cross was built as an act of faith and love by parishioners of the Sangre de Cristo Parish in San Luis, Colorado. They wanted a place of prayer and solace that is open to members of all faiths and good will, hoping that those visiting will find consolation and peace in their lives.
The spiritual traditions evident in this Shrine reflected in the lives of the people of San Luis and the surrounding area have deep roots. The Hispanic first settlers of this area brought with them Spanish and Mexican traditions of communal ownership of land and water, a strong allegiance to their language and customs, and intense religious faith. We are proud to be their descendants, and we are committed to preserving our sacred heritage.
The Colorado Gator Farm is one of Alamosa’s most unique attractions. Utilizing warm geothermal waters of the valley’s aquifer, the owners decided to start their very own tilapia farm in 1977. Instead of throwing away the dead fish, in 1987 they bought 100 baby alligators to take care of the fish remains naturally. These baby alligators grew fast in the warm, geothermal waters and locals started asking if they could see them. The Gator Farm opened to the public in 1990, showcasing their tilapia ponds and then enormous alligators.
Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge is located in the San Luis Valley, a high mountain basin located in south-central Colorado. It’s one of three national wildlife refuges in the San Luis Valley that provides crucial feeding, resting, and breeding habitat for over 200 bird species and other wildlife. Alamosa and Monte Vista Refuges are located at the south-central end of the Valley and Baca Refuge is located at the north end.
The Valley, sitting at 7,800 feet, extends more than 100 miles from north to south and 50 miles from east to west. Three mountain ranges surround the Valley – the Sangre de Christo to the east, the San Juan to the west, and the Saguache to the north. At sunset, the highest peaks of the Sangre de Christo range take on a blood red glow which inspired the Spanish explorers to name them after the “Blood of Christ.”
The surrounding mountains feed the arid valley with precious surface water and which replenishes an expansive underground reservoir. Mountain snow melt and artesian wells provide needed water to the agricultural community and to the rivers, creeks, and wetlands that spread across the valley floor.
The Refuge’s wetlands are artificially made and intensively managed to provide habitat for a variety of waterfowl and other water birds. Water from irrigation canals and wells maintain this important wetland habitat. Mallards, pintails, teal, and Canada geese are common, as are American avocets, killdeer, white-faced ibis, egrets, and herons. This Refuge is one of over 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System – a network of lands set aside and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specifically for wildlife. The Refuge System is a living heritage, conserving wildlife and habitat for people today and generations to come.
Pike’s Stockade is a designated National Historic Landmark, owned and operated by the Colorado Historical Society, State of Colorado. It is the site where explorer Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike constructed a stockade (fortification) to protect his exploration soldiers from the harsh winter elements of the San Luis Valley in Colorado. The stockade was constructed in 1807, on territory claimed by the Spanish government. Pike encountered Spanish dragoons and was captured and escorted to Chihuahua, New Spain (now Mexico). During the year of his confinement, Pike kept a secret journal, which he published soon after his release. The journals served as a blueprint for further exploration and eventual takeover of the Southwest by the United States.
Taos, NM & the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
Taos, New Mexico, was one of the first art colonies in the United States, and for good reason. The technicolor landscape surrounding this city, located on a mesa at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, inspired the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe, Robert Henri, Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips. Taos is quite small, with a population of 5,700, but it packs a huge artistic and cultural punch.
At 565 feet high with a 600-foot span, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is one of America’s highest and most famous bridges. It’s right on route 64 crossing the Rio Grande near Taos, New Mexico. Completed in 1965, it is a superb example of a well proportioned cantilever truss bridge with an attractive, curvilinear profile. The bridge received the American Institute of Steel Construction’s award for “Most Beautiful Long Span Steel Bridge” of 1966. In 1997 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Upon visiting the bridge, on the way to Taos, you will enjoy the gorgeous view looking down into the canyon and also the jewelry and trinket vendors that gather on either side of the bridge to sell Indian jewelry and other objects of folk art.