I arrived in Alamosa having been chased by a storm, all the way from Bailey – my home. Things weren’t looking good from an aesthetic stand point. Still, recalling the words of Sam Abell’s father – ‘bad weather makes great photographs’ – I remained optimistic, and continued into Alamosa with a smile on my face.
I met with the director of tourism for the area, Jamie (…). She welcomed me into her office and we began talking about Alamosa and its attractions. Immediately, we got talking about The Great Sand Dunes – a truly world-class-wonder. The Dunes are quite the sight to behold – desert, a river, mountains, and plains – all in one place.
Having discussed the main feature of Alamosa area, I asked about what she felt were the lesser-known gems. This led the conversation to Zapata Falls. Jamie seemed overly-enthusiastic for me to head up there, based on the pictures I had seen online (all the same angle, the same shot). Well, it turns out there was nothing overt about her enthusiasm – Zapata was, indeed, a phenomenal little-known gem.
The falls are a short 1/4 mile hike, which is very forgiving, up a clear-cut gavel path. Behind you, as you walk, vast plains stretch out as far as the eye can see. Moving on up, you’ll begin to hear water, and it gets louder,
the closer you get – you’ll know when you’re close. Eventually you’ll come up to a serene stream, that, if you’re up there anytime from 10:00am – which I recommend – will glisten and twinkle in the light.
You’ll eventually end up at what looks like a cavern, or a small gorge. Take your shoes off – or keep them on – and wade up through the water. After tactfully stepping on the smooth pebbles of the river bed, and meandering through the gorge, you’ll see it – Zapata Falls. I’ve provided some photos to aid your mind’s eye here.
I’d been to this area of the world one year before, on a family road trip to see the dunes. However, I was so caught up in seeing this renowned location that I missed one of the key, inspiring things about Alamosa area; its vastness. Whilst on route to The Great Sand Dunes, I couldn’t help but be entirely concerned with the potential greatness of the wonder I was about to witness – an honest occupation of the mind, no doubt. This pondering, however, led me to miss a lot. This time round I took a different approach.
I see no reason to regard Alamosa area as anything less than a must-visit location. From the aesthetic standpoint, which I so love to indulge, it really is flawless; The Dunes, Zapata, and the general expanse, make this so. With enough photo opportunities to last a lifetime, and likewise, enough walking trails, you’ll not be bored. Couple the sight-seeing and hiking with Fort Garland Museum – a fascinating revamped military outpost from the early 19th century – and Alamosa’s quirky coffee houses and collected restaurants – The Roast and Bistro Rialto come to mind – and you’ve got yourself a fantastic four days in an overlooked gem of CO.
This story has been created in partnership with ALAMOSA, COLORADO.