Monte Vista Colorado

Monte Vista Colorado Est. 1886

Spanish for Mountain View, Monte Vista is a historic, lively city located in the heart of the San Luis Valley. Surrounded by some of Colorado’s magnificent 14,000 foot peaks, the town attracts a variety of commercial, agricultural, social, and cultural activities.

Beginning in March the annual migration of the Sandhill and endangered Whooping Cranes begins and is celebrated with the annual Crane Festival which draws in visitors to the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge.

Throughout the year visitors and residents can see historic buildings and homes that the Monte Vista Historical Society has worked very hard to preserve. The Transportation of the West Museum  located downtown is also a great stop to view the history of the horse drawn carriages to the early automobile.

During April and May spring planting is in full swing with crops including: potatoes, carrots, oats, barley, wheat, and alfalfa. Visitors are welcome to tour many of the area farms; just stop at one of the local visitor centers for directions.

July kicks off with the Annual Farm and Ranch Heritage days, a two day antique farm equipment show and tractor pull enjoyed by the young and old alike. Later in the month, grab your family, pull on your boots and attend the SKI-HI Stampede, Colorado’s oldest professional Rodeo. Close to town is the lighted softball complex and very affordable 9-hole, family oriented golf course. Also, visit the state of the art Carnegie Library.

Fall brings not only beauty and color to the surrounding mountains, but the harvest of crops planted in the spring, and the Annual Harvest Festival that celebrates the agricultural heritage of Monte Vista.

Area Attractions

Old Spanish Trail Near Monte Vista CO

Old Spanish Trail  This trail served as a trade route linking Sante Fe, NM and Los Angeles, CA used by fur, mule, and horse traders including Native Americans and Spanish colonization’s in the 1500’s. After the Mexican war the trail was used less and less in favor of easier routes, to the north and south. More than 100 years after traffic along the trail has ended support for this route as a national historic trail began in 1990. In December 2002 President George W. Bush signed S.R. 1926, designating the Old Spanish Trails America’s 15th National Historic Trail.

Potato Farm Near Monte Vista CO

Farm Tours – Barley and Potatoes  Thousands of years ago a glacier went raging across the land forming the largest alpine valley in the world, leaving behind some of the richest soil in the country. Here you will find a wide variety of crops grown each year including, Barley, Lettuce, Alfalfa, Potatoes and Carrots just to name a few. Some of the farms in the area offer tours of the facilities plus the San Luis Valley Research Center that grows a wide variety of crops. Many farms also offer opportunities for hand picking your own potatoes and carrots in late summer to early fall.

Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge

Wildlife Refuge  The San Luis Valley has long been a sanctuary for humans and wildlife. Home to two wildlife refuges, you will find a variety of birds and small mammals. The Monte Vista site has an artificially created wetland for birds and waterfowl including Mallards, Canada Geese, American Avocets, Egrets and Herons. Plus Sandhill Cranes which migrate through the area twice a year. March and October are the north, south migration times for the Sandhills and many other birds. However, spectators will find the best time to watch and learn about the cranes during the annual Crane Festival each March, in Monte Vista. The festival is complete with guided tours of the refuge, films, education classes and bird counts.

Horsemen Riding Near Monte Vista CO

Rock Creek Campground Cross Country Trail

The ski trail is located in the Rio Grande National Forest, in the western foothills of the San Juan Mountains. The area is used for archery practice in the summer an as a ski trail in the winter. The trail starts off a fairly even grade and then drops through the trees to an open meadow on the side of the hill. There are several loops that link from here. The views to the east from the meadow are quite a reward for your efforts, with the whole San Luis Valley at your feet and the Great San Dunes and Mt. Blanca in the distance! The trail is appropriate for all levels of skiers. It is easy enough for beginners with some nice flat areas to work on basic technique, and some variable terrain for skill-building. Intermediate or advanced skiers might make two or three laps to get in a strenuous workout.
More Information & Directions    Trail Map

photo courtesy of San Juan Nordic Club


Rio Grande Club Golf Resort Near South Fork CO

Monte Vista Golf Course has the historical status of being one of the first 15 golf courses in Colorado!  Monte Vista is a beautiful, 9 hole course designed by George S. Engle and is still operated by his family. Nestled among beautiful mountain scenery, Monte Vista is a par 36 golf course, offering a pro shop, driving range, club rentals, lessons & memberships. and some of the most challenging yet affordable rounds of golf in the region. No matter if you are just getting started, or consider yourself “Tiger Woods”, Monte Vista is a “must play” course that you can’t miss!

Mountain Biking Near Monte Vista CO

Mountain Biking  / Elevation: 8,280 ft. / Difficulty:  Intermediate to Difficult / Distance: 40 acres of open play area
Open most of the year.  In Monte Vista, at the corner of US Highway 160 and Colorado State Highway 15, turn south and drive for  2.5 miles to Rio Grande County Road 28; then turn west and drive for 7.7 miles; turn right into the Bishop Rock Parking area; off-load and ride the two-track to the “domed rock area.”  The BLM’s Bishop Rock Area is unmatched anywhere in the State of Colorado.  It contains a 40-acre slick-rock non-motorized open play area for bikers and hikers. For advanced riders, this freeform area of flowing rocks creates something similar to a natural skate park. This playground, designated as such by the BLM, has all the features you could ever want to test your skill level.  Map available at

Photo Courtesy of Singletracks

Movie Manor in Monte Vista CO

Movie Manor  Head over to this mom and pop-style hotel that doubles as a drive-in theater! If it has been a long day in the car, you can see the big screen from the comfort of your room. Pro-Tip: Call ahead to request a room with direct views of the screen and pop by the concession stand before you head up to your room.

There is so much more waiting for you!  Click here for a full list of attractions and activities to do in Rio Grande Country.

Monte Vista Ski Hi Complex
Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge
Los Cominos Scenic Byway
Wheeler Geologic Area
Monte Vista Crane Festival