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Great Days out from Crestone, Colorado Crestone’s excellent location in the heart of Colorado makes it an ideal base to explore all the great excursions and activities of the Centennial State. From rafting, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, to simple, good old fashioned exploring, Crestone and its surrounding area is a treasure trove of exciting that captures all that is great about the west. Rio Grande National Forest Ninety miles to the west of Crestone is Rio Grande National Forest, a 1.86 million acre area of land that encompasses a range of different terrain and ecosystems; aside from the dense forest, visitors will find the largest agricultural valley on earth, the San Luis Valley, along with mountains and lively waterfalls. Visitors prepared to bring the hiking boots and set off adventuring will be handsomely rewarded with breathtaking views that seem to go on forever, while bikers and motorcyclists will find enough routes to keep them happy for days. At ninety miles away, the drive is short enough for a day trip – just be sure to set off early to leave ample time to explore the best of the forest. Great Sands National Park Great Sands National Park is adjacent to Crestone, and the drive to the most visited part of the park takes under an hour. Famous for having the tallest sand dunes in North America (they rise roughly 750 feet), the unique geological wonders of the park make it unlike anywhere else in the United States, and it is a truly different experience for families on vacation. Aside from marveling at the sandy formation, visitors should also head to Zapata Falls to see a breathtaking waterfall. Keep your eyes peeled, too; a whole host of wildlife – such as mountain lions, bison, and black bears – roam the area. And if you look toward the sky, don’t be surprised if you see something unusual – this area is a hotspot for UFO sightings, according to some people. Wolf Creek Ski Area The people of Colorado love skiing, and it’s one of the major tourist attractions for out of state and international visitors to the state. There’s plenty of excellent skiing in Colorado, including Wolf Creek Ski Area which is ninety miles and a 1 and ¾ hours away west by car from Crestone. The ski area is noted for receiving the most snow of any resort in Colorado, with about 480 inches falling every year. And though it might not bear an illustrious name like Veil and Aspen, this ski area might just be Colorado’s best kept secret – the locals love it, and it’s status as an under the radar ski resort has kept it agreeably affordable. With slopes for both beginners and seasoned experts, it is an ideal ski area for the whole family. Check the weather report before you set off to ensure the drive is safe, and don’t forget to check that your package type includes all the essentials you need to have a fun day skiing. Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge Sixty miles south of Crestone is Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, which is a haven for wildlife spotting. Consisting of 11,000 acres of wetlands, the refuge is based on the Rio Grande River flood plain and is an excellent area to view coyotes, deer, hawks, owls, herons, and much more in their natural environment. Be sure to take a pair of binoculars to ensure you don’t miss anything important, and don’t forget to pack a lunch – patience is key to seeing wildlife in the wild. Royal Gorge Bridge and Park 100 miles northeast of Crestone is Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, a park that contains what used to the highest bridge in the world. At 955 feet above the Arkansas River, the bridge held the title until the completion of the Liuguanghe Bridge in China. However, though it might not be the tallest in the world, it’s still mighty impressive – and fun, too. Though large parts of the park were destroyed in a 2013 fire, the re-opened park contains enough zip lines, incline railyway train lines, theatre performances, and adrenaline inducing freefall Skycoasters to ensure none of the fun has been lost. It’s one of the highlights of these parts of Colorado, and is a truly unique day out.. ~contributor, Susan Jefferson