Set in the center of the vast San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, Alamosa serves as the region's hub for tourism. The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad brought commerce here in the 1870s, but today the main attraction is the nearby Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
The park, a 20-minute drive from town, is a unique geological juxtaposition — the nation's highest sand dunes (topping out at 750 feet) against a backdrop of 13,000-foot mountain peaks.
Visitors come to hike, sled and even ski the dunes, and also to camp, picnic and explore the trails and wildlife preserve that are part of this national park. Deer, bears, mountain lions, foxes and coyotes make their homes here, along with some rare species of insects.
Alamosa ("cottonwood grove" in Spanish) is more a farm/ranch community than a tourist town, but it offers plenty of lodging and local eateries for visitors.
Visitors should also check out the 18-hole golf course and other nearby attractions, such as the Colorado Gator Farm in Mosca or the Zapata Falls waterfall. The Alamosa/Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge is a bird-watcher's paradise, especially in spring.