Los Caminos Antiguos
Length: 129 miles. Driving time: 3 hours.
The Great Sand Dunes are one of nature's most painstaking creations. Hundreds of feet high and more than a thousand miles from the nearest ocean beach, these drifting dunes accumulated over the eons as winds swept sand against the west face of the Sangre de Cristo Range. That slow, determined process reflects the spirit of the San Luis Valley - an enormous, sun-baked flat between the Sangres, and the San Juan foothills. Life here would not seem to have changed much since the 1600s, when Spain cast its claim over this region. Los Caminos Antiguos take you to Colorado's oldest surviving community (San Luis, 1851), its oldest church (Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Conejos), and one of its first military posts (Fort Garland). Drive, explore, take your time- there's plenty of it to spare.
Lenore C. Bates