Colorado Scenic Byway: Highway of Legends
The Highway of Legends is a beautiful 82-mile scenic drive along Highway 12 through the Rocky Mountains in southern Colorado and also serves as an alternate route to New Mexico. The drive begins or ends at either of the Cities of Walsenburg or Trinidad off Interstate 25. To truly enjoy and experience what the drive has to offer, we recommend taking a couple days to complete if you are staying in the area. Here are some of the adventures from our journey:
1. Historic Town of La Veta
Francisco Fort Museum Schoolhouse
The historic Town of La Veta is worth spending some time exploring. Don’t miss visiting the Francisco Fort Museum. It’s a great museum with lots to see for only a $4 admission fee. Fun to wander and see authentic buildings including the schoolhouse (pictured above), living quarters, a doctor’s office and a saloon. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day and closed on Sundays and Mondays. If you are lucky you might see the cute spotted deer fawn who beds down in the corner of the “L” shaped building.
There is also a picnic area in the park just a couple of blocks away which provides picnic tables and shade for lunch and if you have little ones you can let them burn off some energy in the playground. For something sweet after lunch check out the ice cream parlor located inside Charlie’s Market on Main Street.
2. Historic District of Cokedale
Visible from Highway 12, in the historic district of Cokedale, are the remnants of what used to be coke ovens used for smelting coal. The locals don’t recommend hiking in this area because of their slithering friends that rattle.
In the Town of Cokedale itself, the mining museum is located in the same building as the Town Hall and Post Office. The museum is small but you will find the curator a wealth of information, the museum interesting and worth the stop.
3. Cuchara Village
A great stopping point during your Highway of Legends drive is tiny Cuchara Village. Shopping in the village and a break for refreshments/food at the Dog Bar & Grille – something for everyone!
4. Blue Lake
A beautiful and picturesque lake and a good stop to stretch your legs and watch the fishermen. You can only stroll around part of the lake as a section is marsh land.
A great tip from our server at the Dog Bar & Grille in Cuchara Village was to visit The Greenhouse Hot Springs. This recommendation led us to the Sand Dunes Pool, a natural hot artesian water oasis in the middle of nowhere located outside the Town of Hooper on County Road 63. A complete recreation complex with family & adult pools, bathhouses, food, bar, gift shop, and areas for relaxing and picnics. Also available are cabins and an RV park with full hookups.
The adult section is known as “The Greenhouse” a 10,000 square foot enclosed paradise with four (4) pools ranging in temperature from 98 to 110 degrees. In addition to the pools, the Greenhouse has a sauna, the Steel Box Beer and Wine Bar, lounges for relaxing and tables and chairs to enjoy a variety of food from the reasonably priced Mile Deep Grille. We really enjoyed our experience at the Sand Dunes Pool & The Greenhouse.
The Great Sand Dunes with the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the distance. Enjoy a variety of activities including playing in the “surge flow” of the Medano Creek.
Lathrop State Park is just a few miles from the City of Walsenburg off Highway 160. This is the view from our campsite. The sites have electric only with water available to share with your neighbor, so bring a long water hose to fill up your fresh water tank. The only negative was the mosquitoes.
We would love to hear from you! Please leave any comments or additional recommendations for the Highway of Legends experience below.
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