Photos courtesy Ameille Warner/Dandelion Creative Services
Outdoor Recreational Paradise
Saguache County is framed by the majestic San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains. Its name, pronounced “Sa-watch,” is derived from the Ute language, but interpretations of the term vary from “blue earth” to “sand dune.” Either one, however, is an apt description for a place that offers abundant natural beauty and plenty to do and see.
One of the least populated places in Colorado, getting away from it all is easy in Saguache County. The region boasts outdoor activities galore such as hiking and camping, mountain biking, fishing and hunting, horseback riding, motorsports and wildlife viewing. Top attractions are truly one-of-a-kind—Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve; Colorado Gators, a reptile farm; a UFO Watchtower and many historical sites along the Old Spanish Trail.
Saguache County is also hot springs country. Surrounded by stunning scenery, Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa, Sand Dunes Swimming Pool, Splashland Hot Springs, and Valley View Hot Springs offer visitors the opportunity to simultaneously refresh and relax.
A Quick History of Saguache County
From the earliest hunter-gatherers to the arrival of European settlers in the 1880s to present-day ranchers, Saguache County attracts spirited individuals who are by nature adventurous sorts.
With abundant agricultural lands as far as the eye can see, Saguache County’s first permanent residents were naturally farmers and ranchers. In those early days, the primary crop was wheat used to produce flour and support the burgeoning mining camps around the area.
Like other places in Colorado, early pioneers quickly discovered there was gold and silver in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. By the 1870s, trains were chugging through regularly transporting precious metals and bringing everyday necessities to growing rural communities.
History buffs are in luck in Saguache County. Itinerary-worthy sites include Robertson’s Flour Mill that dates to the 1860s; Crestone School House which served schoolchildren until 1949; Moffat Community Church which was built using a machine ordered from the Sear’s catalog; and, Old Spanish Trail Markers that identify points on the historic trade route linking Santa Fe, New Mexico with Los Angeles, California.
Saguache County terrain was also suitable for cattle ranching, an enterprise that continues to thrive to this day. The region’s grass-fed beef is in high demand. Evolving with the times, other agricultural products have come to the forefront. Goat dairies make specialty cheese and milk, while local artisans create textiles from the fiber of llamas, sheep and goats.