Rio grande Country Colorado south fork del norte monte vista
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Your Colorado Recreation Hub with the Best Vacation Value!
Make your LODGING reservations now!

See "what's happening" in Rio Grande Country
Come join us in the good life!!!

Just Imagine...

a day in the San Luis Valley enjoying Colorado's cool sunshine, where you can spend the morning taking photographs of waterfowl at the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge or experience a working Colorado Gator or Bison Ranch near Del Norte, with an afternoon full of heart pounding hikes, 4 wheel drive trails, and river rafting near South Fork, Colorado. You aren't done yet.  Spend your evening at the nationally renowned Creede Repertory Theatre or just sit back and watch the sun set over the mountain tops.

Some of the best fishing in the world can be found here on the Rio Grande River, along with camping, horse back riding, bicycling, rock and ice climbing, hunting, skiing, and snowmobiling.  Not to mention scenery that can't be beat. 

Rio Grande Country is your perfect Base camp for all these activities and much more.  Lodging accommodations can include hotels, motels, cabins, bed & breakfasts, condos, vacation rentals, RV Parks, and camp sites.  Day trips can include the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Wheeler Geological Area National Monument, and Rio Grande or Cumbres Toltec Scenic Railroad (America's longest highest narrow gauge steam railroad). 

You'll find restaurants, shopping, museums, Scenic Byways, hot springs, mining tours, and so much more...

The only thing you might not find is enough time to do it all on your first visit.

South Fork Del Norte Monte Vista Colorado Rio Grande Country

Rio Grande Country is your vacaton hub for...

the towns of Monte Vista, Del Norte, and South Fork, in Rio Grande County Colorado.  It is also your Denver Mesa Verde / Durango connection.

Colorado's San Luis Valley-- filled with cool sunshine, photography,wildlife refuges, Colorado Gators, bison ranchs, hiking and 4 wheel drive trails on 2200 miles of back country roads, river rafting, live theatre, fishing in rivers lakes and streams, camping, horse back riding, bicycling, rock and ice climbing, hunting, skiing, and snowmobiling.  National Parks, National Monuments, scenic railroads, restaurants, shopping, museums, Scenic Byways, hot springs, mining tours, and desert and/or mountain scenery in every direction.

From big annual events to weekly concerts, Rio Grande Country has many choices for your musical enjoyment !

All sorts of lodging accomodations: hotels, motels, cabins, bed & breakfasts, condos, vacation rentals, RV Parks, and camp sites. 

To find lodging accommodations click here!

Activities and Attractions in Colorado's  Rio Grande Country
activities near Del Norte Monte Vista South Fork Colorado

1. Pfeiffers's Grave and Freemonts camp   [top]
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.

2. Natural Arch, Wagon Tracks, and Elephant Rocks   [top]
The Natural Arch was formed by the action of wind, rain and weather on a volcanic dome. Which eventually carved a large hole through the rock forming a complete circle of rock. 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 conastoga wagon wheels.

3. Penitente Canyon "Rock Climbing"   [top]
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 states premier sport climbing areas. The Canyon and Rock Garden have fine 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. For more information, gear and gudebooks stop by the Casa De Madera Sports Shop in Del Norte or call 657-2723

4. Rio Grande County Museum   [top]
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 sttlers, horno baking, fur trappers, the searcyh for land, freedom, gold and silver.
Other museums in the area include: Transportation of the West Museum, in Monte Vista

5. Stone Quarry   [top]
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. 

6. Old Spanish Trail   [top]
This trail served as a trade route linking Sante Fe, NM and Los Angeles, CA used by fur, mule, and horse traders. The trail originated from trade routes used by 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 rout as a national historic trail began in 1990. In December 2002 President George W. Bush signed S.R. 1926, designating the Old Spanish Trails Americas 15th National Historic Trail. For more information you can contact the Old Spanish Trail Association.

7. Farm Tours - Mushrooms and Potatoes   [top]
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, Potato’s and Carrots just to name a few. Some of the farms in the area offer tours of the facilities including the Rakhara Mushroom Farm, 719-589-5882, and the San Luis Valley Research Center that grows a wide variety of crops call 719-754-3594. Many farms also offer opportunities for hand picking your own potatoes and carrots in late summer to early fall. .

8. Wildlife Refuge   [top]
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. This festival is complete with guided tours of the refuge, films, education classes and bird counts.

9. Summitville Gold Mines   [top]
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 use to extract the gold. Currently due to health dangers there is no direct access to the site, but visitors cans till see the remnants of the mine and the buildings.

10. Wolf Creek Ski Area   [top]
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 backcountry for the adventurous. Several sport shops are available in the area for rentals, equipment, clothing and novelties.

11. San Luis Valley   [top]
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 activities and natural wonders to spark the mind including the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

12. Rio Grande National Forest   [top]
Including almost 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.

13. Silver Thread Scenic Byway   [top]
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 for $1.00.

14. Lookout Mountain [top] is a USGS named summit at 8,475 feet.  The Town of Del Norte owns part of the mountain, including the summit.  Private land owners have donated trail easements to the town to help create the Town’s Lookout Mountain Trails system. 
The 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 Grand 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 system of trails connects the town to BLM land on the south and to the Rio Grande Hospital and Medical Center on the west.
We welcome everyone to Del Norte’s unique trails experience, a commune with nature.  Our trails are family friendly, but remember to plan ahead and carry water and rain gear for sudden weather changes.


A. Skiing & Snowboarding   [top]
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 both beginners and experienced riders, with 5 lifts and 50 trails, plus plenty of backcountry 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.

B. Fall Colors   [top]
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.

C. Snowmobiling   [top]
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 trial conditions, snow levels, and group rides please contact the Powder Busters or the Silver Thread Outdoor Recreation Club. FREE TRAIL MAPS ARE AVAILABLE!

D. Hiking   [top]
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. For more specific trail information please contact South Fork, Del Norte, or Monte Vista for descriptions and maps. The Silver Thread Outdoor Club takes group hikes each Tuesday, meeting at the community building on Hwy 149 and love to take newcomers out for a stroll. A Rio Grande County Recreation Trail Map is available to all visitors FREE of Charge.

E. Hunting   [top]
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 through out the year. Many game units are readily accessible for Rio Grande County Including 76, 79 and 80 For local outfitters and guide services please contact one of our local visitors centers

F. Ice Climbing   [top]
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. 

G. Four-Wheeling (Jeeps, ATV's, Dirtbikes)   [top]
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 ATV rides each Thursday, meeting at the Visitors Center in South Fork at 9:00am . They welcome anyone to join them on a ride for great scenery, friendship and tons of fun. FREE TRAIL MAPS AREA AVAILABLE. However, we also strongly recommend serious travlers purchase a Rio Grande Forest Service map for the most detail.

H. Horseback Riding   [top]
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.

I. Golf   [top]
With 3 courses in the valley you are sure to find a hole in one any day of the week from May to October.         
South Fork - The Rio Grande Club (719)873-1995 is a semi private/public18 hole championship course- amenities include driving range, pro-shop, fitness and exercise facilities, putting green, restaurant and bar.                                     
Monte Vista Golf Course (719) 852-4906 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 Goodnights Lonesome Dove (719)873-1072

J. Wildlife Refuge   [top]
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. This festival is complete with guided tours of the refuge, films, education classes and bird counts. 

K. Mountain Biking   [top]
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.

L. Rafting   [top]
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 rips are offered by Mountain Man Rafting on class I and II rapids. (719)658-2663. Unguided float trips are also offered by Cottonwood Cove (719)658-2242, Wolf Creek Ski & Sports 1-800-508-5960 and Spruce Lodge 1-800-228-5605.

M. Fishing   [top]
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.

N. Natural Arch   [top] Located outside of Del Norte this
solid rock arch is a testiment to the areas rich volcanic history. This is a great place to take a picnic lunch, and enjoy other area sites like the Elephant Rocks, Wagon Tracks, and Penetinte Canyon.

O. Camping   [top]
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 please click on the Individual towns websites.

More recreation opportunities than you can fit in one visit.
Two Main Seasons to Enjoy
Summer/Fall May-October
hiking, fishing, rafting, rock climbing, ATV trail ridng,
horseback rides, mountain biking,
train rides, watching live theatre, visiting Sand Dunes National Park,
seeing Colorado's only Gator Farm
hunting in Rio Grande National Forest, bird watching at 2 wildlife
refuges, aspen fall colors tours, hot springs
Winter/Spring  November-April
Downhill skiing, Snowboarding, Cross Country Skiing,
Snowmobiling, Ice Skating, Ice Climbing, Snowshoeing
Famous Sandhill Crane Festival in March

summer fall in rio grande country colorado
winter in rio grande country colorado
wildlife in rio grande country colorado
Start your journey...
in the 3 Towns of
Colorado's Rio Grande Country
"Best Vacation Value in Colorado!"


Del Norte

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As the gateway to the San Juan Mountains, Del Norte is the ideal location to start your Rocky Mountain Vacation. Founded in 1871, today Del Norte is a town frozen in time with much evidence of a rich history. Del Norte is the home of the Rio Grande County Museum and Cultural Center. Del Norte also has a new 6,000'+ paved runway/airport.

Restored Historic Hotel & Restaurant, Historical Museum, Motel, B&B,
Group Lodges, RV Park, Main Street Shopping, Restaurants.

For a quiet time with a chance to experience starry nights and to get away from the "fast lane", come and enjoy the unsurpassed year round magic of Del Norte.

Monte Vista

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Spanish for mountain view, Monte Vista is a historic, lively city located in the heart of the San Luis Valley. In every direction you look you are surrounded by some of Colorado's magnificent 14,000 ft. peaks. Monte Vista is home of the famous Sandhill Crane festival in March and in July you'l find the Annual Farm & Ranch Heritage Days and Colorado's oldest professional rodeo.

Drive In Movie Theatre,Golf Course,
Wildlife Refuge, Rodeo, Motels, 
B&Bs, RV Park, Great Restaurants,
Unique Shops

No matter when you visit Monte Vista, you will always find fun and
stimulating activities for you and your family.

South Fork

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Initially developed as a community to service lumber & mining operations, South Fork is now the center of a rapidly growing tourist and recreation area. Located at the junction of the Rio Grande and its south fork, you will find the beginning of the historic Silver Thread Scenic Byway. South Fork is also home to world-class 18 hole Rio Grande Club golf couse.

" Small town.
World class adventure."

Scenic Railroad Excursions, Golf Course, ATV Trails, Lodges, Cabins, Motels, B&Bs, RV Parks, Home/Condo Rentals,Great Restaurants, Unique Gift Shops

South Fork invites you to come relax in our scenic mountain splendor!

Come join us in the good life!
Watch this amazing 11 minute video and you will want to start planning you trip now!

Scroll down to see more videos about different events and seasons in Rio Grande Country

Winter in Rio Grande Country on YouTube

Monte Vista Ski Hi Stampede Rodeo- July 25th-28th 2013

Del Norte - Covered Wagon Days -August 1st-4th 2013

South Fork Music Festival August 10th-11th 2013

Summer in Rio Grande Country

"Come join us in the good life!"

Click here to contact us for a free Visitors Guide

Contact Information and Helpful Links for Rio Grande Country

Visitors Centers
Del Norte
Rio Grande County Museum/Visitors Center
Monte Vista
San Luis Valley Information Center
South Fork
Silver Thread Visitors Center
Chambers of Commerce
Del Norte
Monte Vista
South Fork
General Information
Rio Grande County Clerk
Rio Grande National Forest
Rio Grande County Museum
1-877-365-9487     Rio Grande County Museum
Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge
Wolf Creek Ski Area
Colorado Snowmobile Hotline
Road Conditions
Silver Thread Outdoor Club 719-873-5429
Powder Busters Snowmobile  719-873-0208
To receive a Rio Grande Country Visitors Guide please contact:
Silver Thread Visitors Center at 1-800-571-0881.
Click here to see a video on South Fork

click The Colorado Vacation Directory of cabins, lodges, campgrounds, bed & breakfasts and fun things to do such as fishing, rafting, hunting & skiing. As well as, a detailed regional Colorado map section.

This Web Site is Paid for with Rio Grande County Lodging Tax Dollars
Rio Grande County Tourism Board Members
Marty Danko -- South Fork click to email
Josephine Pierce -- South Fork click to email
Dan Pruss -- South Fork click to email
Craig Williams-- South Fork click to email
Obbie Dickey -- Del Norte click to email
Mark Applewhite -- Del Norte click to email
Alice Lenich -- Del Norte click to email
George Kelloff -- Monte Vista click to email
Britt Jardon -- Monte Vista click to email

west fork complex fires near south fork colorado