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.
• 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.
• 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
Colorado is home to 26 Scenic and Historic Byways, 11 of which are also federally designated America's Byways. Read about all 26 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.