Alamosa County

Alamosa County is home to many natural resources accessible to visitors. Blanca Peak, at 14,345 ft, towers over the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The Blanca Wildlife Refuge and San Luis Lakes State Park offer a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Alamosa is a Spanish word meaning “cottonwood grove”. The county was formed from the northern portions of Conejos and Costilla Counties.

Located in south-central Colorado, Alamosa County is bordered on the east by the Sangre de Cristo mountains and on the south by Conejos and Costilla Counties. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve begin in the northern portion of the county.

The City of Alamosa, located on a big bend of the Rio Grande, is an important railway and economic hub of the San Luis Valley.

A river runs through it

After the Sangre de Cristo mountains uplifted on the east and the Rio Grande Rift widened, sediment eroded into the valley and large lake systems formed. The lakes dried up leaving the valley floor fairly flat. Prevailing winds blew sand towards the Sangre de Cristo’s and the Great Sand Dunes were created.

Water now flows through the Valley in the Rio Grande and its tributaries. The Rio Grande travels through Alamosa County beginning on the west and traveling east until the big bend in Alamosa where it turns southward and leaves at the southern county border.

A railway town arrives on the train

Alamosa Railyard 1900: Photo courtesy of Alamosa Library

Alamosa Railyard 1900: Photo courtesy of Alamosa Library

The decision to move the town of Garland to the bend in the Rio Grande in June of 1878 and establish a new railroad hub forever altered the landscape of Alamosa County. Two years after conquering La Veta Pass, when the D. & R.G. reached the bend in the Rio Grande River a shop and roundhouse was constructed around which the town of Alamosa was built. The materials arrived on the train.

The shops witnessed the major repair of locomotives, and attracted a diverse population enticed by employment, eventually employing as many as 600 people in Alamosa and 200 elsewhere in the San Luis Valley.

Previously, the agricultural town of Hooper, with its irrigation ditches, was larger.


Early on, the railroad town of Alamosa contained mostly brick civic buildings in contrast to the architecture in Conejos and Costilla counties that were influenced by Hispano traditions.

Slide Show Photo Credits: 1) Bison at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, courtesy National Park Service 2) Rio Grande Path in Alamosa, courtesy Marilyn Loser 3) Old Alamosa, courtesy Southern Peaks Public Library 4) Alamosa Alamosa Art Walk, courtesy Tawney Becker 5) Alamosa Roundup Professional Rodeo, courtesy Alamosa Roundup 6) Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, courtesy Rio Grande Scenic Railroad 7) Blanca from Bend in the Rio Grande, courtesy Marilyn Loser


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