Monte Vista, which is Spanish for “mountain view”, is located in the San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado. It is aptly named, as the town has extraordinary views of expansive mountain vistas. Monte Vista was laid out in 1884 and incorporated in 1886, and had previously served as a watering stop for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. With a population of 4,175, it is the most populous city in Rio Grande County. Monte Vista is surrounded by farms that produce potatoes, alfalfa, carrots, and barley. In fact, the Miller Coors brewery, which is based in Golden Colorado, gets its barley from the farms around Monte Vista. The great outdoors are in Monte Vista’s backyard, with lots of recreational activities to offer; including fishing, boating, camping and hiking. Monte Vista’s old-fashioned downtown area offers a variety of shopping, art galleries and restaurants for you to enjoy after a long day experiencing the local nature.
Just south of Monte Vista lies the beautiful Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. It stretches 50 miles east to west and 100 miles north to south and is one of Monte Vista’s top attractions. With all this land, you’re sure to find spectacular views! There are more than 200 species of wildlife - including a plethora of beautiful waterfowl. The Monte Vista Crane Festival is also held at the refuge every year, where you can witness thousands of sandhill cranes as they migrate through the area.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is just a 50 minute drive from Monte Vista. This 150,000-acre park and preserve has a mixture of wetlands, grasslands, mountains and of course, sand dunes. While you’re in the park, see the 30 square mile dune field, with a vertical height of 750 feet - the tallest dune field in North America! The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are also visible from the Park. With plentiful hiking trails, picnic areas and even a beach area at Medano Creek, there is something here for everyone to enjoy!
The Potato Festival is a fun-filled event held at Chapman Park in Monte Vista. Some of the activities include a Tater Trot 5K, a Truck and Semi Show, a mashed potato dunk tank, craft and food vendors, games, a motor-sport aerial freestyle show, and, of course, freshly harvested Colorado potatoes! If you’re interested in agriculture, there is a 3-hour agriculture tour that will take you to the San Luis Valley Research Center and a local grower’s field. And the best part is: it's FREE! If you’re in the area during the festival, be sure to stop by and enjoy a day full of fun (and potatoes) for the whole family!
Come experience Colorado’s oldest pro rodeo – the Ski Hi Stampede! This historic rodeo began in 1919 when a reported 10,000 people came together to witness the event. There is fun for the whole family at the Ski Hi Stampede - mutton busting and bull riding included. There even is a carnival, parade in downtown Monte Vista, concerts, and plenty of delicious food! With all of these events, Ski Hi Rodeo Stampede is the place to be!
With over 10 years of experience in the food industry, the Sunflour Café is sure to leave you wanting more! This family-owned restaurant serves a wide variety of homemade food. Pop in for breakfast and try biscuits and gravy, pancakes, omelets, French toast, crepes, or a breakfast burrito! Take a break from shopping and have some lunch or dinner as well: they serve meatloaf, beef stroganoff, steak, pulled pork, salads and soups. And be sure to save room for dessert! We hear their cookies, rolls and homemade pies are absolutely delicious.
Do you want to experience what some call the best steaks and enchiladas in the San Luis Valley? Then you won’t want to miss the Mountain View Restaurant! This is a great place to experience authentic northern New Mexican and American cuisine, such as Hatch Green Chile and Chimayo Red Chile. This family-run business also offers smoked St. Louis style ribs, steaks, seafood, and burgers. Don’t have time for a meal? Stop in their sports lounge and grab a quick drink! This is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of exploring in and around Monte Vista.