The newly renovated historic La Veta Inn
|One of only two incorporated towns in sparsely populated Huerfano County (orphan), La Veta, (population 924) is a small town located in south central Colorado that was founded by Col. John Francisco, a friend and contemporary of the more famous Kit Carson. Searching for a place to build an outpost, he stopped here and exclaimed, “This is paradise enough for me!” Ft. Francisco is located in town and an enlightening tour of the old fort exposes a wealth of history in the area.||
The town is located on the Cuchara (Spanish for spoon) River. The expansive valley is bordered on the west by the Sangre de Christo (blood of Christ) mountain range that is part of the Rocky Mountains . This range extends from the middle of Colorado well south into New Mexico . It was named by Spanish explorers because of the way the sunlight at dawn turns the snowy peaks red each morning.
|Although the Sangre de Christo mountains are lovely, it is the Spanish Peaks that will draw your attention. These two magnificent peaks are often simply called the East Peak and West Peak . Serving as landmarks for ancients and pioneers, the locals know them as the Wahatoya, meaning Breasts of the Earth – the meaning is evident at a glance. Native Americans considered them sacred and life giving. These two mountains, while very close in proximity to the Sangre de Christo range, are separate geological formations and not associated with the main mountain range at all. They are younger, volcanic formations called Stocks. These were two volcanoes, that never became volcanoes. They pushed up under the earth but never erupted. In time, as the earth eroded, the mountains were left looming above the valley.|
Of particular interests are the Great Dikes of the Spanish Peaks . These dikes, or walls, are the world’s best examples of natural dike walls. They stretch like spider legs reaching out from the West Spanish Peak . The same volcanic upheaval that created the mountains, created long cracks in the earth that filled with molten rock. In time, the earth eroded around these as well, leaving these walls that tower over 100 feet and crawl across the landscape for miles. These are reminiscent of the Great Wall of China – only they are not man made. La Veta flourished due to successful ranching and nearby mining operations. The historic Denver Rio Grand Railroad, once boasted the highest narrow gauge railroad in the world as it topped La Veta pass. Don’t come with expectations of anything that is posh and swanky. Rather, expect to travel back to the bygone days when soda bar and the neighborhood bakery are the local meeting places. La Veta boasts only two paved streets – and we like it that way. The locals are down to earth and very friendly. More recently, La Veta has attracted artists, musicians, authors, and others who are tired of the hustle and bustle of big city life. The wealth of arts within this small town is astounding. Local art galleries and shops offer an array of items to those wanting to enhance their collections. One visit here and you’ll understand why so many have chosen to make the area under the Wahatoya their home.
To learn more about the area or to plan extra-curricular activities, check out these La Veta Websites:
La Veta Cuchara Chamber of Commerce – www.lavetacucharachamber.com