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Updated: 11/21/2014

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Los Caminos Antiguos zigzags through the belly of the valley and eventually rises into the southern San Juan Mountains. Here are some highlights of this route:

• Start your tour in Alamosa, a tightly knit community of 8,000, and the central crossroads of commerce and travel in the valley.

• Stop by the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve for a mystifying sight. Pale in color by day and gold by dusk, the dunes’ towering majesty has long captivated visitors.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Alamosa
Shrine of the Stations of the Cross in San Luis, Colorado
Hiking in Great Sand Dunes National Park

• Visit Fort Garland, a preserved military outpost that functioned in the valley from 1858 to 1883. An exhibit entitled “Buffalo Soldiers West” explores the role of African-American soldiers in the expansion of the West, and the Plains Indian Wars of the late 1800s.

• After Fort Garland, head to San Luis, which was established in 1851 and is Colorado’s longest continuously occupied settlement.

• Get out of the car and board the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Antonito, an authentic original of the narrow-gauge railroad era.

• Finish your route atop beautiful La Manga Pass, whose aspen-shaded reaches offer a magnificent conclusion to your tour.

Total distance: 128 miles 
Suggested time:
 3 hours 

Want More? Check out this two-day San Luis Valley itinerary.

Colorado is home to 25 Scenic and Historic Byways, 11 of which are also federally designated America's Byways. Read about all 25 in our Quick Guide to Colorado's Scenic & Historic Byways or view our virtual Colorado Byways Guide. You can also visit the Colorado Department of Transportation's Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways site.

Photos: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Alamosa; the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross in San Luis, Colorado; Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.