America's Scenic Byways

Los Caminos Antiguos

129 miles - 3 to 4 hours to drive the byway.

The Great Sand Dunes are one of nature's most painstaking creations. Hundreds of feet high and more than a thousand miles from the nearest ocean beach, these huge drifting dunes accumulated over the eons as winds gathered and swept sand against the west face of the Sangre de Cristo Range. That slow, determined process reflects the spirit of the San Luis Valley - a high, enormous, sun-baked flat between the Sangres, and the San Juan foothills. Life here would not seem to have changed much since the 1600s, when Spain cast its claim over this region. Los Caminos Antiguos take you to Colorado's oldest surviving community (San Luis, 1851), the oldest church (Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Conejos), and one of its first military posts (Fort Garland). Drive, explore, take your time- there's plenty of it to spare.