One of the primary goals of the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon is to expose people to new parts of our state that they don’t ordinarily visit.  Such is the case with this year’s venue, situated in the heart of one of my favorite parts of Colorado, the San Luis Valley.  While the main event is the Flyathlon, I would encourage flyathletes and their families / friends to spend a little extra time in the SLV, and experience some of the other wonderful and weird opportunities that it has to offer…

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve:  For those of you Coloradans who have never visited the dunes, your Colorado residency status is now under review.  For those of you who think you have visited the Sand Dunes, in recent years, I have discovered that there is so much more than just the dunes themselves.  Try driving your (high clearance) vehicle to the top of the Medano Pass primitive road, and once you are there, run up to Medano Lake and catch pig cutthroat trout.  Venture into Sand Creek on the north side of the Park/Preserve from Music Pass (just outside of Westcliffe, CO) and catch both trout and spectacular views.  One thing I do not recommend is running the Sand Ramp trail with limited water

The Town of Crestone, CO:  If you have been to Ward, CO, and you think that you have seen the limits of human consciousness, drive the 30 miles or so off of Hwy 17 to visit Crestone, CO.  Squashed up against the western base of the majestic Sangre de Cristo mountain range, Crestone (by design) has a little bit of everything.  One morning, while staying at the Sangre de Cristo Inn, we watched an older cowboy meticulously saddle up his horse (we’re talking half an hour here), only to ride a block and a half to the local coffee shop.  As we entered that coffee shop that AM for coffee and a breakfast burrito, three dreadlocked gentlemen were pouring over a very colorful, metaphysical map while musing about string theory.  45 minutes later, on our way out, the same group of gentlemen were having a very different conversation.  “So, how did you know he was a zombie…?”.  This place is beyond awesome.

UFO Watchtower:  Seriously, all sorts of alien abductions have happened in the SLV.  Fact.  And for $10, you can sleep on the watchtower.

Colorado Gators:  Started as a Tilapia farm in 1974, Colorado gators has evolved into a sanctuary for unwanted reptiles like Mr. Bo Mangles and Sir Chomps-a-Lot.  If alligator wrestling is your thing, game on.  If it isn’t, your Colorado residency status is hereby denied / revoked.

Penitente Canyon:  For you rock climbers out there, I understand that Penitente Canyon holds some of the best climbing and bouldering in the state.  I am not a strong rock climber (something about not having the arm strength to lift my enormous mass), but the area does also have some solid trail runs.  That said, it also has a shit-ton of rattlesnakes, so be careful.  If you find one in your tent, drop it off on your way home at Colorado Gators.

Local breweries:  The region boasts 3 super awesome breweries, all who have graciously committed beer to this year’s race.  In Poncha Springs, visit Elevation Beer Company.  In Del Norte, stop in at Three Barrel Brewery.  In Alamosa, hit the San Luis Valley Brewing Company.

Saguache, CO:  Our host town is a very cool place to visit.  Over the years, I have gotten to meet a number of Saguache County residents, and they are great people living cool lives.  Please check out their Chamber of Commerce website, and when you are in town, buy a lot of local goods…

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