The San Luis Valley is an extensive valley located in both Colorado and New Mexico. The semi-arid desert valley floor, perched at an elevation of 7,600 feet, averages less than 6 inches of rainfall a year and is completely ringed by majestic mountains, many of which are over 13,000 feet high. The Sangre de Cristo mountains form the Eastern border of the Valley. Agriculture and cattle ranching are two important economic components of the Valley. The San Luis potatoes are famous throughout the country. Carrots, lettuce, barley and alfalfa are also grown here in the largest agricultural high altitude valley in the world. Cattle, sheep and goats graze the grassland.
The Valley is often referred to as "The Mysterious Valley". Books, and TV documentaries have reported the various activities about UFO sightings, Bigfoot sightings, cattle mutilations, weird noises, apparitions and unusual military activities. Native Americans consider the Valley to be sacred. Twelve Native American Tribes used the Valley for sacred hunting and vision quests.
Additionally, many mystics, psychics, seers and shamans, believe the San Luis Valley to contain vortices and possess much positive energy and healing powers. This has led many Eastern and Western religions to establish worship, teaching, and healing centers centered around Crestone on the eastern rim of the Valley.
Over Labor Day weekend, we traveled to the San Luis Valley with our son Joe and his girlfriend Jesse. We stayed at the Sangre De Cristo Inn in Crestone, Colorado, and attended the 19th Annual Energy and Sustainability Fair. We would also see a Tibetan Memorial Park, visit the Shumei International Institute, and the Buddhist Stupa of Enlightenment. We traveled to Hooper, Colorado to visit the UFO Watch Tower. Just outside of Hooper we stopped to see the wonderment of the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
To see the descriptions of each of these destinations, simply scroll down the page. You can then view the slide show of the pictures we took by clicking on the destination title. Or, you can go directly to the Slide Shows Menu Page by clicking on the link at the top of this page.
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Crestone is a small town located at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the San Luis Valley. It began in the late 1800s as a gold mining town. and by 1910 it would have a population of 2,000. Today, Crestone has a population of a little over 100. This little town has become internationally known as an important spiritual center boasting about 30 spiritual centers in and around Crestone. It is a mecca for artists and musicians. We would enjoy the flavor of organic and healthful foods at the local restaurant. However, most importantly we would savor the peace and tranquility of Crestone.
This Fair has traditionally been a grass roots, home-grown affair where local people could trade ideas and products with one another. It has since grown to be a platform for cutting-edge exchange between Crestone and the renewable energy world. We would see solar ovens in operation, solar electric panels, and the use of water to gas to enhance gasoline fuel efficiency. Combine this with local food and music and it would be both a fun and learning experience.
The Baca Grande gets its name from an historic land grant from King Ferdinand of Spain to the Baca Family in 1823. It would later be acquired by George Adams, founder of Crestone in the late 1800s and developed into a cattle ranch. During the Great Depression, the Baca Grant would be developed into one of America's foremost Hereford cattle ranches. In the 1970s, home site development was planned thus forming the beginnings of the current Baca Grande subdivision. In recent years, Canadian millionaires Maurice and Hanne Strong, envisioned the Baca Grande as a global village where people could explore environmental and spiritual issues. Driving through Baca Grande we would experience what the residents there enjoy, scenic vistas, abundant wildlife, and peaceful surroundings. The area also has many wonderful B&B's such as the "I Am Harmony".
The Tarboche Memorial Park is located on 5 acres near Crestone, Colorado in the Baca Grande. Tarboche means "Place of Prayer Flags". The fluttering in the wind of the prayer banners gives the appearance that prayers are being sent skyward. Originally, the Park was established for victims of the Chinese invasion of Tibet but since 9/11 it is a memorial for all victims of terrorism and oppression. While walking through the Park, we would also notice cairns - rocks that were piled on top of each other. We would later learn that this is a Buddhist practice of stacking stones as a form of worship and asking for good fortune to be bestowed on the stacker and his/her family.
Shumei is a spiritual organization, started in Japan, that is dedicated to creating an ideal state of health, happiness, and harmony for all humanity. These high goals can be accomplished through an appreciation of art and beauty, a reverence for Nature through Natural Agriculture and by the healing art of Jyorei. Located in Baca Grande, we visit the Shumei International Institute, where we take a guided tour and would be given a free guided tour of the beautiful Center and then participate in Jyorei.
The Tibetan word for Stupa is "Chorten" which literally means "object of offering". According to Buddhism, after the passing away of holy teachers, their physical remains are revered as holy relics and are carefully preserved in a stupa. Buddhists worship these reliquary in order to gain merits for themselves. Our friend, Dr. Lai, explained to us that the correct way to do this was to walk clockwise around the Stupa. We would also again see the prayer flags and the stacking of stones (cairns).
The UFO Watch Tower, just north of Hooper, Colorado, is owned and operated by Judy Messoline, a very friendly lady with a sharing spirit. Judy's favorite TV shows were "Sightings" & "X~Files". After watching show after show, she realized she was hearing things like: "Great Sand Dunes" & "San Luis Valley" on many episodes of these programs. With this in mind, Judy had an idea! She has created the first (that she is aware of) UFO WatchTower®. While visiting the site, some psychics said they saw a vortex ("a portal to a parallel universe"), others saw two. So, at their suggestion, "The Healing Garden" was created in front of the UFO Watch Tower using arrangements of rocks to help channel the energy. Visitors are encouraged to bring and place their own rocks or other artifacts to get their energies there as well. We visited the UFO Watch Tower in the late afternoon to scope it out and take pictures, then late at night for star gazing, but alas, no UFOs appeared!
Great Sand Dunes National Park is nestled against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the San Luis Valley. It was created by a natural system of high mountain peaks, sparkling streams, powerful winds and billions of grains of sand. Visitors at the Park can hike up the dunes and then sled, "snowboard", run, tumble and jump back down. You will be awed by the majesty of the huge dunes that are the tallest in North America.