San Luis Valley

From Academic Kids

San Luis Valley is a large broad alpine valley in south-central Colorado. The valley is drained to the south by the Rio Grande which rises in the San Juan Mountains to the west of the valley and flows south into New Mexico. The valley is approximately 122 miles (196 km) long and about 74 miles (119 km) wide extending from the Continental Divide on the northwest to the New Mexico state line on the south. Parts of New Mexico are also considered to be part of the San Luis Valley.

The San Luis Valley is comprised of 6 counties: Saguache, Alamosa, Rio Grande, Conejos, Costilla and Mineral. The principal towns are: Alamosa, Monte Vista, Del Norte, South Fork, Creede, Saguache, Center, Fort Garland, San Luis, Antonito, La Jara, Crestone, Villa Grove, Hooper and Mosca.

The Sangre de Cristo Range is the eastern border of the valley. Mt. Blanca is prominent in the middle of the range. There are several passes at between 9,000 and 10,000 feet (2,700 and 3,000 m), La Veta pass being used by US Highway 160 and by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D. & R. G.) tracks. Other passes used historically were Medano, Mosca and Sangre de Christo Passes.

Elevation rises as you go north in the valley to Poncha Pass, used now by US Highway 285 and historically by the narrow gauge tracks of the D. & R. G..

About 50% of the 2,000,000 acres (8,000 km²) in the San Luis Valley is privately owned.

500,000 acres (2,000 km²) on the borders of the valley, generally abutting National Forest Lands are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, BLM, a division of the United States Department of the Interior. This land is usually leased to neighboring ranches for grazing for a nominal fee. Part of the value of a ranch is its continuing lease of BLM or National Forest lands.

Public lands in the mountains surrounding the San Luis Valley are generally part of the Rio Grande National Forest and are managed by the United States Forest Service.

Agriculture in the San Luis Valley is generally concentrated around the towns of Alamosa, Colorado, Monte Vista, Colorado and Center, Colorado. Principal crops include potatos, head lettuce and beer barley. Less favored areas with a shorter growing season and less access to water rights tend to be devoted to alfalfa and grazing. Broad areas, especially in Saguache County, Colorado have a high water table or are even flooded part of the year. Uncultivated land is often covered with "chico", low brush such as rabbit bush, salt brush and other woody species.


Regions of Colorado Flag of Colorado
Eastern Plains | Denver metropolitan area | Front Range | Mineral Belt | San Luis Valley | Western Slope
Largest cities
Arvada | Aurora | Boulder | Broomfield | Centennial | Colorado Springs | Denver | Englewood | Fort Collins | Grand Junction | Greeley | Lafayette | Lakewood | Littleton | Longmont | Loveland | Northglenn | Parker | Pueblo | Westminster | Wheat Ridge
Counties
Adams | Alamosa | Arapahoe | Archuleta | Baca | Bent | Boulder | Broomfield | Chaffee | Cheyenne | Clear Creek | Conejos | Costilla | Crowley | Custer | Delta | Denver | Dolores | Douglas | Eagle | El Paso | Elbert | Fremont | Garfield | Gilpin | Grand | Gunnison | Hinsdale | Huerfano | Jackson | Jefferson | Kiowa | Kit Carson | La Plata | Lake | Larimer | Las Animas | Lincoln | Logan | Mesa | Mineral | Moffat | Montezuma | Montrose | Morgan | Otero | Ouray | Park | Phillips | Pitkin | Prowers | Pueblo | Rio Blanco | Rio Grande | Routt | Saguache | San Juan | San Miguel | Sedgwick | Summit | Teller | Washington | Weld | Yuma

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