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ABOUT COLORADO'S SAN LUIS VALLEY

At about 7800 feet in elevation, the San Luis Valley is the largest high alpine valley in the world. Less precipitation falls here every year than on the Sahara Desert. In this valley, however, the desert terrain literally floats above huge freshwater aquifers. These aquifers represent connections to both our history as an agricultural center, and to our pre-history as a vast ocean. Legends and tales of powerful magic are attached to this mysterious water source, and to the mountain that anchors the whole system – Mt. Blanca.

One of many mountains higher than 14,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristo range, Mt. Blanca commands attentive respect, even when viewed from the San Juan mountains on the other side of the valley, almost 200 miles away. To the Hopi people, who spent time here long before European settlers, Mt. Blanca is known as one of four sacred points on the Earth. At the foot of this one mountain, pools of melted ice find rest after their headlong journeys down the sides of the hundreds of mountains that hide and protect this wide, fertile valley.

Water is widely regarded as the primordial source of creativity – life in all its earthly expressions depends on water. The presence of life-giving water in a high desert valley nourishes an atmosphere of drama and mystery – it’s just the kind of place for gifted artists to explore and grow. Talented people from all over the world have been drawn to this isolated mountain valley – perhaps it is something in the water that compels them to stay. Visitors may attribute their attraction to the landscape, or the slow pace of life, or the rich and generous culture intertwined with some of the worst poverty rates in the nation. But transplanted locals agree with those whose families have worked this land for generations: in the San Luis Valley, the rewards are rich for those who carefully tend their wells.

 

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