South Central Colorado

Royal Gorge Bridge near Canon City

South Central Colorado is a region in the US state of Colorado. It includes many attractions historically placed in the Western Slope region of the Rocky Mountains, but extends into the geographically distinct San Juan Mountains, with the pleasant San Luis Valley between the major ranges.

Cities

Other destinations

Hikers are dwarfed by the dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park near Alamosa

Recreation and rugged natural beauty are the common denominators for South Central Colorado's parks and forests.

Understand

Roughly speaking, this region is bounded on the:

Region boundaries in Colorado are indistinct, and sometimes contentious. If you're looking for a destination/attraction that you think should be in this region, but can't find it, check the pages for Northwestern Colorado, Eastern Plains, Denver Area, and even Southwestern Colorado.

Geography

This region is dominated by the mountainous scenery that most people think of when they hear "Colorado." About half of the state's Fourteeners, mountains with summits above 14,000 ft, are here, and even the valley levels are above 6500 ft except on the eastern slope. This high elevation means that altitude sickness is an issue for the visitor freshly up from sea level. If you're coming from near sea level, it's a good idea to spend your first day or two in the region acclimatizing to the altitude in the cities before heading to the high country. Colorado Springs, the region's largest city, and neighboring Manitou Springs have things to do that will keep you occupied as you acclimatize. This said, most of the attractions and destinations here are in the great outdoors; bring hiking boots or skis.

Talk

English. This is one region of Colorado where there are significant numbers of Spanish speakers, but unlike the equivalent region across the New Mexico state line, there are no towns where there is a Spanish-speaking majority, or any need for fluency in Spanish.

Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and Alamosa (because of the presence of a university) all give reasonable chances of running into speakers of other major world languages. Great Sand Dunes National Park may have limited interpretive materials in major languages as well.

Get in

By foot

For the dedicated long-distance hiker the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (in short Continental Divide Trail) is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide of the Americas along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states; Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Get around

During the winter, heavy ice and snow are a major concern, which can make driving difficult and slow going. Always check the weather and road conditions before heading out. Even on a clear winter's day, make sure your vehicle's wiper fluid reservoir is full. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) spreads both sand and magnesium chloride on the roads, which makes for an impenetrable, gluey mess on your windshield.

In the summer months, it's not uncommon to see the shoulders of the highways littered with broken-down vehicles that could not handle the steep grades and high altitude air of the Rocky Mountains. If you are venturing from a lower altitude, make sure your car can handle mountain driving. Thinner air means you will be burning more gasoline. Also, with so many steep grades, expect to gear down to avoid unnecessary friction to your brake pads.

Do

Hiking

Water Activities

Stay safe

Health

There's no reason to fear the mountains, as long as you approach them with proper respect and preparation. As with anywhere else, recklessness and a lack of forethought can get you into trouble, especially in Colorado's vast back country.

The Sangre de Christo Range in Colorado

Safety

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, January 02, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.