Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is a federally designated National Heritage Area in the south central portion of the U.S. state of Colorado. The heritage area includes the San Luis Valley and portions of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The region combines influences of Anglo-American, Hispano-American and Native American influences. It also includes portions of the upper Rio Grande valley.
The national heritage area includes Alamosa, Costilla, and Conejos counties, and portions of Saguache and Rio Grande counties.It also includes within its boundaries Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Baca National Wildlife Refuge, the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, the South San Juan Wilderness, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area, San Luis Wilderness Study Area, Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge and the Medano-Zapata Ranch.
Other features include the Trujillo Homestead, a National Historic Landmark.
The area overlaps with the "Hispano Homeland", the ethnically distinct Hispanic population in the upper Rio Grande Valley and adjoining uplands, as described by academic, Richard Nostrand.The national heritage area was established to preserve and promote the region's distinctive cultural and natural features. The San Luis Valley was culturally isolated for much of its history, preserving a distinctive local Spanish dialect and vocabulary. A high proportion of the local population is descended from Hispanos, Spanish colonial settlers who arrived in the area in the 1800s, the first European settlers in Colorado.
Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area was established by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.
The San Luis Valley is a region in south-central Colorado with a small portion overlapping into New Mexico. The Rio Grande with headwaters in the San Juan Mountains about seven miles east of Silverton, Colorado flows through the San Luis Valley and then south into New Mexico. It contains 6 counties and portions of 3 others. The San Luis Valley was ceded to the United States by Mexico following the Mexican–American War. Hispanic settlers began moving north and settling in the valley after the United States made a treaty with the Utes and established a fort. Prior to the Mexican war the Spanish and Mexican governments had reserved the valley to the Utes, their allies. During the 19th century Anglo settlers settled in the valley and engaged in mining, ranching, and irrigated agriculture. Today the valley has a diverse Anglo and Hispanic population.
The Sangre de Cristo Range is a high, rugged and narrow mountain range of the Rocky Mountains in southern Colorado in the United States, running north and south along the east side of the Rio Grande Rift. The mountains extend southeast from Poncha Pass for about 75 mi (121 km) through south-central Colorado to La Veta Pass, approximately 20 mi (32 km) west of Walsenburg, and form a high ridge separating the San Luis Valley on the west from the watershed of the Arkansas River on the east. The Sangre de Cristo Range rises over 7,000 ft (2,100 m) above the valleys and plains to the west and northeast.
Alamosa County is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 15,445. The county seat is Alamosa. The county name is the Spanish language word for a "grove of cottonwood trees."
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is an American national park that conserves an area of large sand dunes up to 750 feet (229 m) tall on the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley, and an adjacent national preserve in the Sangre de Cristo Range, in south-central Colorado, United States. The park was originally designated Great Sand Dunes National Monument on March 17, 1932, by President Herbert Hoover. The original boundaries protected an area of 35,528 acres. A boundary change and redesignation as a national park and preserve was authorized on November 22, 2000, and then established by an act of Congress on September 24, 2004. The park encompasses 107,342 acres while the preserve protects an additional 41,686 acres for a total of 149,028 acres. The recreational visitor total was 527,546 in 2019.
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. They are located in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the United States. The mountains run from Poncha Pass in South-Central Colorado, trending southeast and south, ending at Glorieta Pass, southeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The mountains contain a number of fourteen thousand foot peaks in the Colorado portion, as well as all the peaks in New Mexico which are over thirteen thousand feet.
Blanca Peak is the fourth highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the U.S. state of Colorado. The ultra-prominent 14,351-foot (4,374 m) peak is the highest summit of the Sierra Blanca Massif, the Sangre de Cristo Range, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The fourteener is located 9.6 miles (15.5 km) north by east of the Town of Blanca, on the drainage divide separating Rio Grande National Forest and Alamosa County from the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant and Costilla County. The summit is the highest point of both counties and the entire drainage basin of the Rio Grande. Below the steep North Face of Blanca Peak two live Glaciers once developed, until extinction sometime after 1903. North & South Blanca Glaciers were located at 37° 35N.,longitude 105° 28W. Blanca Peak is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude.
The Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge is an 11,169-acre (4,520 ha) United States National Wildlife Refuge located in southern Colorado. The site is located in the San Luis Valley along the east side of the Rio Grande approximately 8 miles (13 km) southeast of Alamosa primarily in southeastern Alamosa County, although very small parts extend into northeastern Conejos and western Costilla counties. It is managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service jointly with the Baca and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges. It was established in 1962 as a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge is a United States National Wildlife Refuge located in southern Colorado. The refuge is located in the San Luis Valley south of the town of Monte Vista, Colorado in southeastern Rio Grande County, Colorado, in the watershed of the Rio Grande. It was established in 1953 by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission to provide a habitat for wildlife, particularly waterfowl, in the San Luis Valley.
The Baca National Wildlife Refuge is a 78,697-acre (31,848 ha) United States National Wildlife Refuge located in southern Colorado. It is within the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area.
Rio Grande National Forest is a 1.86 million-acre (7,530 km²) U.S. National Forest located in southwestern Colorado. The forest encompasses the San Luis Valley, which is the world's largest agricultural alpine valley, as well as one of the world's largest high deserts located around mountains. The Rio Grande river rises in the forest, and the Continental Divide runs along most of its western border. The forest lies in parts of nine counties. In descending order of land area within the forest they are Saguache, Mineral, Conejos, Rio Grande, Hinsdale, San Juan, Alamosa, Archuleta, and Custer counties. Forest headquarters are currently located in Monte Vista, Colorado, but plan to move to Del Norte. There are local ranger district offices in Del Norte, La Jara, and Saguache.
The Brazos Mountains is a range in far northern Rio Arriba County, in northern New Mexico in the southwestern United States. The range is part of the Tusas Mountains – the southern portion of the San Juan Mountains which are more well known in Colorado. A high crest runs from the border with Colorado for over 20 miles (32 km) in a south-southeasterly direction. The high point of the range at 11,405 feet (3,476 m) is on Grouse Mesa, at the Brazos Benchmark. Two miles (3 km) to the southeast is the more distinctive Brazos Peak, at 11,288 feet.
The Luis Maria Baca Grant No. 4, south of Crestone, Colorado, was a large land grant made in 1860 by the United States to the heirs of the original Vegas Grandes Grant at Las Vegas, New Mexico. Title to the grant at Las Vegas was clouded by a second grant of the same land. The Baca heirs were offered alternative lands from the public lands of the United States. The largest of the tracts selected, near what is now Crestone, was 12.5 miles (20.1 km) on a side and was located to the south of what is now Saguache County Road T, about 1-mile (1.6 km) south of the 38th parallel. The Bacas deeded the land to their attorney, but it soon passed by tax sale to a third party. The ranch headquarters was on Crestone Creek to the southwest of Crestone. The Baca Grant was one of the first large tracts of land to be fenced in the West and in its heyday was the home of prize Hereford cattle.
The Sangre de Cristo Wilderness is a long and narrow wilderness area covering 220,803 acres (893.56 km2) of the Sangre de Cristo Range centered about Saguache and Custer counties, Colorado. Smaller areas are located in Fremont, Alamosa, and Huerfano counties. All of the wilderness area is located on U.S. Forest Service land within the San Isabel and Rio Grande National Forests and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The wilderness area is home to several fourteeners and quite a few thirteeners. Crestone Needle is considered the most difficult.
Zapata Falls is a waterfall located in the San Luis Valley near the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on Bureau of Land Management land adjacent to Rio Grande National Forest and south of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Alamosa County, Colorado. The waterfall has a drop of about 30 feet (9 m). Access to this waterfall entails a mildly steep 0.5-mile (800 m) hike. Viewing the falls requires fording the stream and climbing rocks.
The San Luis Valley Conservation Area is a proposed "landscape scale" National Conservation Area in south-central Colorado and far northern New Mexico which would be administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
The Closed Basin Project is a groundwater extraction project in the San Luis Valley in Colorado, United States, operated by the United States Bureau of Reclamation.
The Blanca Wetlands Area of Critical Environmental Concern, or Blanca Wildlife Habitat Area, is an area of the San Luis Valley in Colorado, United States, that serves as a refuge for birds, fish and other wildlife. It is about 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Alamosa on County Road 25. The wetlands had been completely destroyed by pumping and diversion of water for irrigation. Starting in 1965 the Bureau of Land Management began to restore them, and they have become an increasingly important ecological habitat for shorebirds, waterbirds and other wildlife and native plants.
The San Luis Closed Basin is a 2,940-square-mile endorheic basin in the Alamosa and Saguache counties of south-central Colorado. It includes San Luis Creek and its tributary, Saguache Creek. While the basin is east of the majority of the Rocky Mountains, it lies west of the Sangre de Cristo Range. An elevated plateau in Alamosa County, the San Luis Hills, separates the San Luis Closed Basin drainage from most of the San Luis Valley, which is southward-flowing and drains through the Rio Grande.
Francisco Maestas et al. vs. George H. Shone et al. was a school desegregation case in Colorado involving Latino children in the early 20th Century. Filed in the Colorado district court, 12th district, in 1912 by Francisco Maestas against the Alamosa School District Superintendent and Board of Education in 1913, the case precedes Del Rio ISD v. Salvatierra by sixteen years, Alvarez v. Lemon Grove by seventeen years and Mendez v. Westminster by thirty-three years. The court ruled in favor of Maestas and the other Latino families.