The San Luis Valley Colorado lies at 7600 feet above sea level and contains the Rio Grande River, Sand Dunes National Park, Zapata Falls, Kit Carson Fort, among many other archeological and historical sites. This is high desert country and most of the farming is done using wells that feed huge circular fields. We traveled here from Dolores on US 160 which was a beautiful drive up through the mountain passes topping out at about 9000 feet. We are staying at the KOA which is a well staffed and run campground which allows campfires. Wifi is through a third party and poor.
Monday we went to Sand Dunes NP which has very large and impressive sand dunes. Peg and I opted out of walking up the face of the sand dune formation but you can see in the pictures that lots of folks are walking up to the top. We opted to go back down the road to Zapata Falls for some hiking fun and cool mountain waters.
Zapata Falls is about three miles off the main road made up of very rough, mostly of loose cobble stones and pot holes that ended in a BLM parking lot and campground. The trail to Zapata is 1/4 mile long with a rise to 400 feet. This is a rough trail with lots of cobblestones and loose gravel. A pretty typical desert mountain trail, difficult but not impossible. There are plenty of benches to stop and rest on and shade from time to time.
The trail ends at the shallow, fast flowing river draining very cold snow melt. Viewing the falls means wading in the river about 100 yards or so into the canyon. It was a fun walk even though I froze my feet. The view up the chute of the falls was incredible. The water was so cold and the canyon walls so close in that even the misty air was very cold, you could see your breath. It is worth the trip, Peg and I enjoyed the views and the good company of hardy souls who were there with us.
Even though this is desert, this is the rainy season. Every day the clouds would build up above the mountains and top out in the jet stream. The morning clouds became afternoon thunderstorms which were scattered around the valley. The rain was generally light with lightning occasionally causing electricity outages that lasted a couple of minutes.
The link is to pictures taken at the Great Sand Dunes NP, Zapata Falls, and from the surrounding area.