In the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, the landscape of Great Sand Dunes National Park is something totally surreal and unique. With 14,000-foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as a backdrop, miles of and miles of Namibian-looking sand dunes are one of Colorado’s most beautiful quirks. The national park offers great activities to explore its natural wonder.
Find lodging in Alamosa or pitch a tent in one of the many campgrounds. Take a hike to nearby Zapata Falls, or even bring sleds and boards for some otherworldly sand-boarding down the slopes. Ride the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad train, and drive the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway.
Where to lodge? Just 35 miles southwest of the visitor’s center, the town of Alamosa makes a good headquarters for Great Sand Dunes National Park exploration. If you’re not camping, lodging in Alamosa is the best bet, as accommodations in the smaller towns between Alamosa and the dunes will be sparse. Another advantage to lodging in Alamosa is its connection to area attractions like the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad train station and the Alligator Farm and Reptile Park for the kids.
The list of lodging in Alamosa has something for both chain-hotel play-it-safers and local hotel chance-takers. For those who are looking for the uniformity and familiarity of a hotel franchise, look for the well-lit logos of Ramada, Hampton Inn, Best Western, Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Super 8.
Going this route, at least you’ll know what to expect from the national hotel brands that pop up everywhere. You’ll also know where to look — on the newly developed edge of Alamosa, right there with the big box retail stores and impersonal food franchises found in Anywheresville, USA.
For those who want to break out of the hotel franchise comfort zone, the rewards are plentiful. Local Alamosa lodging options highlight the personality of the area, adding to its unique sense of place. Get inside Alamosa and Southern Colorado by staying somewhere small-scale and locally-owned.
Opt for a place in the heart of the Alamosa downtown area, within walking distance to its local restaurants, art galleries and boutique shops. Here are some ideas for small-scale Alamosa lodging options with characters of their own:
Alamosa Lamplighter Motel
Built in 1968, the architecture and décor is a flashback to the 70s, but the price is right and the stay is comfortable. The biggest perks of the Lamplighter Motel are the location and the breakfast. It’s situated downtown, just a stroll away from Alamosa’s shops and eateries. The price includes a solid breakfast at the restaurant next door.
Couch Surfing in Alamosa Colorado
Hospitality exchange networks online are a growing trend in travel. Why stay in a hotel or motel when you can get in contact with locals and even request to stay at their home?
With websites like CouchSurfing.org, you can find local hosts almost anywhere – including small-town Alamosa, Colorado. A search for ‘Alamosa, CO’ within the CouchSurfing.org website will bring up a handful of results. Browse the profiles of local people who love travel and hosting guests.
A few quotes from host profiles:
- “My wife Freda and I love people and believe the greatest gift we can offer is hospitality and breaking bread with old and new friends.”
- “I am a musician, home brewer, and fly fisherman.”
- “Current mission: to be genuine and to be genuinely known.”
Steam Train Hotel in Antonito, Colorado
If you’re planning on lodging in Alamosa as a stopover on your way south, or for train enthusiasts whose main interest in the San Luis Valley is the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, you may want to consider passing through Alamosa and continuing along highway 285 South. Or jump on the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway. Just short of the New Mexico border, you’ll find the tiny town of Antonito in Conejos County, Colorado.
Conejos County is a natural playground for anglers, hunters and general outdoorsy types. The town of Antonito is a snapshot of rural life here. Only in deep small-town Colorado can you find unique local lodging like the Steam Train Hotel, whose claim to fame is the “Indiana Jones Home.” Yes, you can actually stay in the very home where clips of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed and even ride the steam train that Indy himself rode. Now that’s a real Colorado-style adventure.
If You Go
Alamosa Lamplighter Motel
425 Main Street
Alamosa, CO 81101
Phone: (719) 589-6636 http://www.alamosalamplightermotel.com/index.html
Steam Train Hotel
402 Main Street – Antonito, Colorado http://antonitocoloradosteamtrainscenicrailroad.com/
Cynthia Ord is a freelance writer based in her hometown of Denver CO, a contributing editor at The Travel Word (http://www.thetravelword.com/), and a Latin America addict.