Wetlands in Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge.

© Martha Marks/Shutterstock

Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge

Top choice in Southeast Colorado

This wildlife refuge on the banks of the Rio Grande is a special spot, and will give you some idea of what the valley must have looked like before it was developed for agriculture. It's best to visit at dawn or dusk, when wildlife is the most active and when you'll hear the amazing soundscape of bird calls and whistles.

If you're lucky you might spot bald eagles, elk, coyotes and porcupines; in the spring and fall look for migrating sandhill cranes and numerous other seasonal travelers.

The refuge is located 3 miles southeast of Alamosa on Hwy 160. A 2.5-mile trail along the Rio Grande and a panoramic overlook on the east side of the refuge give visitors views of the wetland marshes, ponds and river corridor.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southeast Colorado attractions

1. San Luis Valley Museum

3.91 MILES

Located behind the Chamber Depot, this museum has a small but well-arranged collection of ‘then and now’ photographs and artifacts from early farm life in…

2. Blanca Wetlands

9.41 MILES

The Bureau of Land Management has restored the wildlife habitat at Blanca Wetlands, northeast of Alamosa. Activities include fishing for bass or trout in…

3. San Luis State Wildlife Area

16.11 MILES

This state wildlife area is a patch of bleak terrain on the edge of the Great Sand Dunes National Park, where dunes covered with saltbush and rabbitbrush...

4. Jack Dempsey Museum

19.6 MILES

Manassa, a 10-minute drive northeast of Antonito, is home to a tiny one-room cabin where boxing legend Jack Dempsey was born as the ninth child of a poor…

5. Fort Garland Museum

20.42 MILES

A restoration of the fort's buildings and exhibits are maintained by the Colorado Historical Society. A good stop for visitor information.

6. Viejo San Acacio

23.03 MILES

The beautiful Viejo (old) San Acacio is a historic Catholic church where mass is still occasionally held. To get here, head 4 miles east of San Luis on…

7. Stations of the Cross

26.48 MILES

Following a path up a small hill, local sculptor Huberto Maestas’ 15 dramatic life-sized statues of Christ's crucifixion are a powerful testament to the…

8. San Luis Museum & Cultural Center

26.49 MILES

This handsome museum and gallery chronicles Hispanic culture in southern Colorado, in a modern building that blends sustainable concepts with traditional…