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  • Writer's picturePaul Brewer

Costilla County Colorado Area Guide - Adventure is Calling!

No Matter Your Brand of Outdoor Activity, Costilla County and the Surrounding Area Will Keep You Busy and in Awe for Generations! Adventurous Costilla County!

Colorado Landscape
Welcome to Colorful Colorado

Welcome to Costilla County, Colorado. Come for a visit, and you might just want to stay awhile! There is so much to do in this small community that you might not even know it is here, so let me tell you all about it!

With a population of only 3,524 people, Costilla County is the perfect place to get away and not have to deal with traffic, noise, and the everyday hustle of the city. Who needs that anyway!!?? It also boasts having Colorado’s oldest town, San Luis. This place is packed with museums and cultural diversity.

If you happen to also be an avid outdoorsman (or woman!), then this place is the icing on your cake! Here are a few of my favorite things to do in Costilla County.


Well, you just can’t talk about this area without mentioning the numerous mountain ranges.

Blanca Peak, Mt Lindsey, and Culebra Peak are the most popular for hiking, biking, and climbing. You can have 4 seasons of fun here, enjoying the crisp mountain air! Bring the family, your friends, and all your toys (you know the ones, I mean, the ones that aren't ‘allowed’ in your neighborhood) and start having the time of your life!


You can fish in Colorado without a license during the first week of June. For the remainder of the year, a Colorado fishing license is required. A one-day license is available for $9, and a 5-day license is $21. Colorado residents over 65 can fish without a license. For Fishing License purchase, fishing rules, and fishing regulations, please visit Colorado Fish & Wildlife

Costilla county hosts four main reservoirs. Eastdale Reservoir, Sanchez Reservoir, Smith Reservoir, and Mountain Home Reservoir. Because of Colorado’s conservancy efforts, these regions boast lush waters, rich vegetation, and abundant wildlife. They are great places to spend the day on the water with family and friends, fishing, sightseeing, and relaxing!

Mountain Home Reservoir is a coldwater lake fed by Trinchera Creek and is located in a state wildlife area near Ft. Garland. It has fantastic views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and has a nice population of rainbow trout and northern pike. There are many camping sites around Mountain Home, and camping here is free; the kids will love it!

Sanchez Reservoir is a warm water lake located a few miles south of San Luis, Colorado's oldest town. Sanchez Reservoir also offers scenic views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. While for many, fishing is the primary draw, this state wildlife area also offers a place to boat and camp. So the whole family will love spending time here! Fishermen will find a variety of fish, including catfish, perch, northern pike, carp, and walleye.

Smith Reservoir is located in the San Luis Valley, just south of Blanca, Colorado. This reservoir is a cold water lake, and it is stocked annually with trout, so it makes a great fishing spot.

Whether you’re fly fishing, spinning, or baitcasting, your chances of getting a bite in Costilla County are great. So grab your favorite fly fishing rod and reel, and head out to one of the reservoirs for tons of fun!

Big Game

Rifle and Bow Hunters alike will find large game throughout the mountain habitats, sagebrush flats, pinyon and juniper rangeland, and cottonwood stream bottoms. This is a hunter's paradise!

Deer, elk, antelope, coyotes, bears, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bears, and coyotes are common sites in the area. Large herds of 100 elk are not uncommon, and even if you aren't a hunter, you can come and just appreciate all of these beautiful animals with your camera instead of a rifle.

Big game hunting draws woodsmen from near and far to Colorado. Costilla County offers some of the best big game hunting in Colorado and is populated with deer, elk, antelope, bears, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions. In addition to the abundant wildlife, hunters can expect to track game through mountain habitats, sagebrush flats, pinyon and juniper rangeland, and cottonwood stream bottoms. Upper elevations contain heavy timber with pure and mixed aspen and conifer. This is what hunting is all about! Getting out in nature and tracking.

Weather is a dominant factor for hunters in this area, so make sure to be prepared. Snow will cause herds to move down quickly from higher elevations. Hunting here can also be challenging because animals can move quickly to large areas of private land and onto Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, where hunting is prohibited.

But do not fear! There is a “Greenbelt” in Sangre de Cristo Ranches that has over 5,000 acres set aside for hunting and recreation. The Trinchera Elk Herd in Game Management Unit 83 is one of the largest in Colorado, with an estimated population of 16,000 elk! Herds of deer, small game, and waterfowl are also common to the greenbelt.

Deer hunting in the San Luis Valley has been improving recently due to the limit on buck licenses. Success rates are high for lucky hunters that draw a buck tag. Due to the overall low deer population, doe hunting is allowed only on private land in specific areas to address game damage issues.

Elk hunting is good but does require hunters to pursue animals in challenging terrain. So for experienced hunters, this is a favorite spot! Success for elk hunters in the later seasons increases with winter weather, but keep in mind that snow can make travel difficult.

Check out the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Big Game Brochure for licensing and permits, along with limits and information


Another very popular thing to do in Costilla County is camping in the picturesque landscapes. Whether you prefer RVing or tent camping, you can do it here! There are ample camping opportunities in the reservoirs, and you can surround yourself with Cliff faces, sagebrush, wet meadows, mountain meadows, ponds, lakes, forests, and, of course, the reservoirs. Spend the days outdoors and the nights by the campfire with family and friends. What more can you ask for?

The Blanca RV Park offers 26 RV hookups plus tent camping at the foot of Mt. Blanca. WOW! A convenience store, gas pumps, showers, and laundry facilities provide a touch of comfort for extended stays. The reservoirs (like the Smith Reservoir State Wildlife Area) offer great camping, too. This is an awesome place for fishing, boating, or just picnicking or relaxing on the beach of the lake.

If you’re looking for the perfect reprieve from the noise and stress of your busy life, look no further! You’ll find it here in Costilla County. You’ll wake to the sweet sounds of nature or the breathtaking view of Mt. Blanca. Grab the family, pack the car, and head out to these amazing campgrounds and start enjoying some time away from the city!

Great Sand Dunes Oasis is on the eastern side of the remote, high-mountain San Luis Valley, between the Blanca Massif and Crestone Needle, are the Great Sand Dunes, the tallest sand dunes in North America. The dunes cover approximately 39 square miles and rise to almost 750' above the valley floor. This is a must-see spot! The Great Sand Dunes Oasis is the

gateway to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

The dunes are the product of the wind and rain eroding the San Juan and the Sangre de

Cristo Mountains that ring the San Luis Valley. They have collected here because the prevailing winds across the valley blow in this direction. But here, at the foot of the mountains, the wind has to drop some of its load of sand in order to clear the mountains. So over the course of millennia, the dunes have built up to where they are today. And tomorrow they will be different because the wind keeps on blowing. It’s a great spot to visit over and over again!

Bringing it home

While you are here, make sure to check out the sand boarding adventures, 4x4 and offroad trips, fishing, mountain bike trails, hiking, the Zapata waterfall, and golfing!

See…. I told you…. Costilla County has it all! Ready to buy a property in the mountains and spend all your free time here? I can help!! Visit the website, call or email me with any questions!

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