Located in south central Colorado in the stunning San Luis Valley, the city of Alamosa might not seem like much of an outdoor destination. There are strip malls and restaurant chains, railroads and remnants of an industrialized era, sure, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find authentic Mexican eats, a burgeoning outdoor scene, and of course, more trails than you can hope to see in a weekend.

Here are some of the must-dos while in the Alamosa area!

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Play: Any Google search of “Alamosa” will lead you straight to the jewel of this region: the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Just a short drive from downtown Alamosa, the Dunes are an absolute treasure to behold and an otherwise anomaly in this mountainous state. Set against the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, here you will find the tallest dunes in North America, which spread for more than 30 square miles and fold into the recesses of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and even tundra. Though the long line of cars at the entrance and the popularity among drive-by tourists may at first be a deterrent for our adventurous followers, this unique destination is a must for anyone with a bucket list. Grab a sled or board from Kristi Mountain Sports for $18/day to get the most out of your visit to the dunes. We recommend hitting the dunes early, as late afternoon storms and hot temperatures can make the exposed sands hot and volatile.

Stay: Camping in the dunes is free, though a backcountry permit is required and permits are limited to six people per party. Primitive tent sites at Piñon Flats Campground are available at $20 per night, but if you want a shower at the end of your sand-filled day, you may want to opt for the Alamosa KOA, where you can have access to WiFi, showers, even a pool, for $30 per night for non-electric tent sites.

Eat: Thanks to the crew at Kristi Mountain Sports, we discovered Mi Taquito, a family owned Mexican restaurant located in downtown Alamosa. Grab one of their special breakfast burritos on your way to the dunes for just $3 (trust us, the burrito is substantial and vegetarian friendly, not to mention dank). Need a place to post up and get your WiFi and caffeine fix? Check out The ROAST, a cozy cafe with a bar to boot.

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