Story Pitch: Three Days in Spanish Peaks Country
Southern Colorado’s Highway of Legends Historic and Scenic Byway Audio Tour
Experience the Legends of Spanish Peaks Country with the Highway of Legends Audio Tour
Travel beneath the iconic Spanish Peaks on the Highway of Legends Scenic Byway virtual tour. This virtual loop will take you up into the mountains at 10,000 feet and down into the flat plains. You’ll drive through historic cities and towns, former mining camps, and even a few ghost towns.
You’ll find out about the ancient geologic changes that have formed the surrounding landscape over millennia. You’ll hear tales of the old West, with its covered wagon trains and gun battles.
You’ll also learn about the coal and steel production that built America… starting right here in Huerfano County. And – you’ll hear about the people who made it happen: coal miners, union laborers, and the mighty Mother Jones – the most dangerous grandmother in America. And of course, you’ll hear about the native people, and the lives they lived here. There’ll be legends, ghost stories, and even a few rumors. And finally – you’ll hear tips about local hikes, museums, and parks where you can stop to stretch your legs.
La Veta Creative District
The La Veta Creative District is a hub of arts and cultural activity located on the Highway of Legends, a Colorado Scenic Byway nestled below the majestic Spanish Peaks. Early traders built Francisco Fort in 1862, which served as a trading source for Denver. Since then, the area has served as a destination for an eclectic mix of artists, photographers, musicians, thespians, dancers, writers, practitioners of the healing arts, and to people seeking a creative experience.
Cuchara Mountain park
A formally abandoned ski resort is now Cuchara Mountain Park, , an environmentally sensitive facility that offers year-round opportunities for recreation, education, entertainment, special events and socializing.
Hike the old ski runs among the changing colors of fall in the hidden mountain gem of Cuchara.
Lathrop State Park
Colorado’s first state park, Lathrop State Park features two lakes and nearly 1,600 acres of recreational land nestled among the pinyons and junipers of the Spanish Peaks’ foothills.
Martin Lake offers water skiing, power, and sailboating. It’s also a warm-water lake, making it great for swimming. Horseshoe Lake is a peaceful haven for canoeists, kayakers, and other wakeless boaters. Catfish, bass, walleye, trout, and bluegill thrive in both lakes, although Horseshoe Lake is known for its large tiger muskies.
Lathrop State Park’s Hogback Nature Trail is one of the area’s most popular hiking trails. And when visitors are done with their hike, they’ll often relax on the park’s beach or let their kids play on the playground.
Wahatoya Lakes State Wildlife Area
The Wahatoya Lakes State Wildlife Area—one mile east of La Veta on Bear Creek Road—offers the perfect respite for fishing, picnicking, hiking, wildlife viewing, and non-motorized boating.
The main trail at this 203-acre state wildlife area meanders through fields, woods, and into a deep arroyo on the south side. There is a by-pass trail for people who prefer not to enter the arroyo. The trail follows a berm on the north side that offers a beautiful view of the Spanish Peaks and Mt. Maestas.
Uptop Historic District
Discover the Uptop Historic on the top of La Veta Pass. Once home to The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, historic Uptop businesses have gone through many iterations, including a sawmill, a tavern, and a small ski resort. Its historic buildings are open for exploring and nearby trails make this a hiker’s delight.
Audio Walking Tours of Walsenburg, La Veta, and Cuchara
Take to the streets with Spanish Peaks Country’s new historic walking tours, which cover the towns of Walsenburg, La Veta, and Cuchara,
Each of the new tours is self-guided via GPS and includes a professional audio narrative and images. Listeners go on a journey through time as they stop at historically significant buildings and hear of events, architectural details, and the significance each building might have had in developing the character of Walsenburg, La Veta, or Cuchara.
Stargazing at Southern Colorado Astronomical Park
Just one mile west of La Veta is the Southern Colorado Astronomical Park, a crossroads of ancient and modern astronomy, including a stone calendar and two observatory structures. The land on which the park sits was donated to the Southern Colorado Astronomical Society for the purposes of education, research, and enjoyment by all.
Here, you can gaze upon the stars much like ancient astronomers did several thousand years ago or take a more modern approach by viewing Spanish Peaks Country’s phenomenal dark skies through a telescope.
La Veta is also part of Colorado Stargazing: Experience the Night, a self-guided tour connecting several Colorado locations known for their dark skies and incredible stargazing opportunities.
Museum of Friends, Walsenburg Colorado
The Museum of Friends (MoF’s) home is the historic “Roof and Dick” building in the heart of downtown Walsenburg. MoF is a Contemporary Art Museum incorporated in 2007 by artists Brendt Berger and Maria Cocchiarelli. The museum’s name stems from the fact that the initial 500-piece collection of paintings, photographs, and sculptures were gifts from friends to Brendt and Maria. Today, friends and new artists continue to donate their work, expanding the permanent collection to over 1,600 works of art.
Cool Fact: Neighboring Gardner is home to Libre, the only counter-culture artist commune still in existence in Colorado.
The museum, considered the only counter-culture museum in the U.S, now offers virtual tours on its website museumoffriends.org. Also on the site are audio recordings by both Brendt and Maria that discuss a selection of the art in the permanent collection and their friendships with the artists.