Area Attractions

The newly renovated Sandhill Inn and Suites is your perfect basecamp for countless adventures. Well-informed travelers take advantage of Monte Vista’s central location, a charming town in the heart of beautiful San Luis Valley.

Surf and slide your way down the tallest sand dunes in the country at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge serves as the resting place to nearly 20,000 Sandhill Cranes for six weeks each spring ~ join in welcoming these delightful birds during the annual Crane Festival. Each Winter, the San Luis Valley transforms into a wonderland with many winter activities including Wolf Creek Ski Area, Snowmobiling, and Ice Climbing in Penitente Canyon.  Explore the map for popular destinations around the San Luis Valley or read about our favorite local attractions below.

dunessmallCome explore the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, home of the tallest dunes in North America. The dunes rise from the Valley floor and are nestled up against the Sangre de Cristo mountains and are by far the most recognized and photographed natural feature of the San Luis Valley. The park is located approximately 42 miles from the Sandhill Inn and is open 24 hours/day, 365 days/year. The Visitor Center is open daily except on winter holidays. Hours are 9-4:30, with extended hours in the summer. Learn More>

montevistanwrsmallMonte Vista National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife. The refuge features wet meadows, river oxbows and dry uplands and supports songbirds, water birds, raptors, mule deer, beaver and coyotes. Located approximately 8 miles from the Sandhill Inn, this is one attraction you have to see. Learn More>

The annual Monte Vista Sandhill Crane Festival is usually held the second weekend in March. Like clockwork, nearly 20,000 Sandhill Cranes descend on Colorado’s scenic San Luis Valley for a six week stay as they rest and refuel before continuing north. To celebrate this amazing time, the town of Monte Vista hosts the Monte Vista Crane Festival. You will have the unique opportunity for close-up views of the cranes at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge as they lift off en masse in the mornings, prance and display for each other, and as they return to their roosting spots at sunset. Photographic opportunities are endless. For more information and dates, please visit the Monte Vista Crane Festival website.

sad-fish-b-e1392314323704-1088x516smallThe biggest alligators in the West are just 25 miles from the Sandhill Inn and Suites. The Colorado Gators Reptile Park gives you an up close and personal view of over 400 Gators, Nile Crocs, Rattlesnakes, Giant Pythons, Ostriches, Emus and so much more! Learn More>

penitenteclimbingsmallWhile quite secluded, Penitente Canyon is one of Colorado’s premier rock climbing areas. With a high concentration of world class routes, the area includes Penitente, Rock Garden, Sidewinder, and Witches Canyons.

With a newly reworked trail system, in addition to the rock climbing, there are 17 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking to enjoy through twisty rock canyons and towering boulders. Approximately 25 miles from the Sandhill Inn, it makes for a great day trip. Learn More>

oldspanishtrailsmallRich in history, the Spanish Peak Trail was a major trade route between 1830 and 1848. The trade route ran between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Los Angeles, California. Designated as a National Historic Trail, traces of the original route can still be seen in the area. President George W. Bush signed S.R. 1926, designating the Old Spanish Trail America’s 15th National Historic Trail in December 2002. The Trail Head is approximately 7 miles from the Sandhill Inn. View Map>


riograndescenicrailroad2smColorado’s newest restored scenic railroad offers steam engine rides through breathtaking mountain valleys and passes along hundreds of miles of historic rail. The Rio Grande Railroad features a 100 year old steam engine and has depots in Alamosa and La Veta. The Alamosa Depot is only 17 miles from the Sandhill Inn. On Saturdays and Sundays from June to September enjoy Mountain Rails Live. Take a train ride to their mountaintop concert location, Fir Summit Amphitheater, for a live concert. Learn More>

cumbressmallBuilt in 1880, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is hidden away in a little-known corner of the southern Rocky Mountains and is a precious historic artifact of the American West, and little has changed since. The Cumbres & Toltec is the most spectacular example of steam era mountain railroading in North America. You can catch the train at the Antonito Depot which is only 44 miles from the Sandhill Inn. Learn More>

fishingsmThe San Luis Valley is every fisherman’s dream. The Rio Grande is the second longest river system in the United States. Th absolute best fishing can be found in South Fork and Creede where the headwaters are located. A 22 mile section of the river near South Fork has been designated as Gold Medal Water. This section of the river from South Fork up stream through Creede are designated fly and lure fishing only. there are 50 tributaries between South Fork and the Rio Grande Reservoir offering great small stream and dry fly fishing. There are also numerous lakes in the San Luis Valley that are stocked by the state with very liberal catch limits. Be sure to check the local regulations as they may change from lake to lake. Most local fly shops and sporting goods stores will have maps for fishing and can give you great advice on the local waters.

For more information on fishing and licensing in the San Luis Valley please visit the following websites.

mvgolfcoursesmallExperience the tradition of one of Colorado’s first golf courses in a relaxed atmosphere. At Monte Vista Golf Club you will find a pro shop and tennis courts in addition to the beautiful 9-hole golf course. The Monte Vista Golf Club is less than two miles from the Sandhill Inn and is open to the public. Inquire at our front desk for a $10 coupon! Learn More>

riograndegolfclubsmThe Rio Grande Club and Resort offers an award winning combination of sandstone outcroppings, pine, aspen, and cottonwood groves, and a challenging shot over the Rio Grande River, and that is just in the first nine. The back nine takes you through dramatic elevations, and serene Alder Creek. A truly mountain style nine that will have you coming back for another visit. For more information and to reserve a tee time, please call 719-873-1997 or visit their website.

mtnbikingsmallLocated just 15 minutes away, about 14 miles, in the town of Del Norte is a multi-trail system that is perfect for hiking and biking. Explore the Stone Quarry, Penitente Canyon and Del Norte Trail System. The terrain and the views can’t be beat. Learn More> 

rock-creeksmallEnjoy the gorgeous display of the colorful aspen leaves in the fall while hiking along the Rock Creek trail. The campground/picnic area is located fairly close to the town of Monte Vista (approximately 17 miles from Sand hill Inn) in a narrow mountain valley alongside the fast-moving Rock Creek. You can fish along the North and South Forks of the creek and hunt big game in the fall. Learn More>

zapata-falls-colorsmallA short 1/2 mile hike from the BLM parking and picnic area will take you to the waterfall. Although the hike is short, it is an adventure. You will get to wade through cold creek water and climb over slick rocks, but it is worth it. The recreation area offers a campground, a trail head for the South Zapata Creek Trail and great mountain biking trails. Only 45 miles from the Sandhill Inn, this is a must see. Learn More>


stationsofthecrosssmThe Stations of the Cross are a series of graphic meditations of the last hours of Christ’s life – His judgment, sufferings, death and resurrection. Sculpted by internationally known artist Huberto Maestas, the meditations are truly beautiful. The Shrine is located on a mesa in the center of San Luis which is Colorado’s oldest town. The Shrine is formally known as “la Mesa de la Piedad y de la Misericordia” (Hill of Piety and Mercy). Learn More>

skihistampedesmallEnjoy some old fashioned fun at the Oldest Pro-Rodeo in Colorado. It all began in 1919, but two years were deducted because of World War II, when no events were held. The Ski Hi Stampede is a San Luis Valley tradition and shouldn’t be missed. It is held every summer in July. Watch rodeo events, enjoy concerts, great food and more! The festivities are held at Ski Hi Park in Monte Vista, which is just under a mile away from the Sandhill Inn. Learn More>

museumtrailsmThe San Luis Valley is rich in history and is home to several museums that showcase the history of days gone by in the region. The San Luis Valley Museum Association has a museum trail that you can follow that will take you on a journey through time.

Some of the museums in the region are: Conejos County Museum, Creede Historical Society, Creede Underground Mining Museum, Fort Garland Museum, Jack Dempsey Museum, Monte Vista Historical Society Museum, Old Spanish Trail, Rio Grande County Museum, Saguache County Museum, and the San Luis Valley Museum.

For information on the San Luis Valley Museum Association’s museum trail please visit their website.

For information on museums in the region visit the following websites:

dunes-pool2smallBring the whole family and come spend a day of fun in the naturally hot artesian waters of the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool. This large pool is amazingly clear with no odors or added chlorine. Approximately 31 miles from the hotel near the town of Hooper, enjoy amazing views of the scenic desert surroundings and mountains while enjoying the warm waters. Open year round, closed on Thursdays. Learn More>

skateparksmallThe Montez Skatepark is a great way to spend an afternoon. The park includes an 8,500 sq. ft. snake run ranging from 5 to 7 ft depths, a frame bank/ledge, china banks, step up gap, escalating quarter pipe, mini ramp with competition stair handrail hubba setup and so much more. The park is located at 1442 Grand Ave, Monte Vista, CO 81144, just a one block from the Sandhill Inn.

creedesmFull of natural beauty, Creede was the last silver boom town of the 1800’s, and now offers great adventures year round. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails as well as great trout streams that attract fly fishermen from all over the world. In the winter enjoy snowshoeing expedititions, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Visit the Underground Mining Museum or take in a play at the Creede Repertory Theatre. And if you feel like you need some shopping therapy, there are plenty of local shops and boutiques in downtown Creede.

For more information on Creede, please check out the following links.

chairliftsmallWolf Creek Ski Area is one of Colorado’s oldest and finest ski resorts. It is only 49 miles from the Sandhill Inn and boasts the most snow in Colorado and over 1600 skiable acres. Whether you are a skier or a boarder, you are in for a treat. Friendly staff and plenty of light powder snow make Wolf Creek memorable and will keep you coming back season after season. World class skiing at a great price. Lift tickets are one of the most affordable in the state! Learn More>

snowmobilingsmallThe Upper Rio Grande Area has over 300 miles of groomed trails, side trails, open parks, meadows and hills to climb from 8,200 ft to 12,000 ft. These trails follow Forest Service Roads that are not open to driving during the winter. Snowmobiles and Cross Country Skiers share the trails and terrain. Be safe and courteous on the trail and ALWAYS check weather conditions, never go alone, make sure family members, friends or lodge owners know your location. Start your engines and have fun! Learn More>

potatoessmThe San Luis Valley Potato Festival is an annual event that happens in early September. Colorado’s San Luis Valley is the second largest fresh potato growing region in the U.S. for good reason. Situated at an elevation of 7,600 feet, nestles between the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountains, the valley enjoys mild temperatures and 350 days of sunshine a year. The festival includes live music, field bus tours, train tours, semi and truck shows, scavenger hunts, cooking demonstrations, and the Tater Trot fun run. It is a fun time for the entire family. For more information, dates and times, please visit the Colorado San Luis Valley Potatoes website.

The San Luis Valley offers many festivals throughout the year that provide endless fun for the entire family. Below are just a few of the annual festivals in the area.

 Sandhill Crane Festival (March)  Covered Wagon Days Festival (August)
 Memorial Day Encampment at Fort Garland (May)  Rhythms on the Rio (August)
 Taste of Creede (May)  Crestone Music Festival (August)
 Hot Rods & Dirt Drags (June)  SLV Potato Festival (September)
 Summerfest on the Rio (June)  Early Iron Fest (September)
 Ski-Hi Stampede (July)  Labor Day Weekend Celebrations (September)
 Forth of July Celebrations  Fall Festival & Quilt Show (September)
 Manassa Pioneer Days (July)  Chocolate Festival (November)
 Annual Logger Days Festival (July)  Winterfest (December)
 Hollyhock Festival (July)  Parade of Lights (December)
 Annual Farm & Ranch Heritage Days (August)

For information on upcoming festivals and events please visit the following websites:

Click here for more ideas and places to explore while you stay at Sandhill Inn & Suites.

If you would like more information about area schools and government offices, please see the below information.