A holy road trip in our own backyard

By Elaine Taylor 
Parish Nurse, St. Joseph, Grand Junction

Note: The author took a trip this summer with her mother. Journey with her through her stops and recommendations as she highlights places worth exploring in the San Luis Valley.

Get away and experience the holiness in our own backyard.  This overnight journey to the San Luis Valley will remind you of how beautiful and sacred Colorado is.  The first site is 216 miles or four hours from Grand Junction.  Head south on US Highway 50.  Take the scenic route through Lake City or continue to Gunnison.  Ol’Miner Steakhouse in Gunnison is a good lunch stop.   Take the Saguache cut off to La Granita Trading Post.  There are affordable places to stay the night in Alamosa.   Hop in the car and explore these holy places.

dFirst stop: Juan Spiritual Center Holy Rosary Walk
41605 County Road G La Garita, CO 81132

Walk the same path where courageous Hispanic settlers journey to live their faith at the foot of the LaGarita Mountains, the Holy Rosary Walk is a place of panoramic beauty.  It is protected by the rugged San Juan Mountains to the west and looks across the valley towards the majestic Sangre de Cristo mountains.  Take a glimpse of the strength and faith in God and in each other these first settlers possessed to build the second parish in Colorado completed in 1879. Sixty-six miles from the Holy Rosary Walk is the second stop.

Second stop: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
6633 County Road 13 Conejos, CO 81120

This was the first parish established in Colorado in 1858.  Father Joseph Machebeuf said the first Mass.  Fire destroyed the church in 1926 and fire again struck in 2016.  After the fire in 2016, an image of a crown appeared above Our Lady of Guadalupe that some consider a miracle. Another 42 miles from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is the third stop.

Third stop Stations of the Cross
Main Street San Luis, CO 

The town of San Luis is home to a cultural and spiritual display of art.   Created by San Luis native and internationally known Huberto Maestas, the Stations of the Cross are beautifully depicted in a series of bronze sculptures along a comfortable three-quarter mile that climbs a short distance up a small mesa named La Mesa de la Piedad y de La Misericordia, the Hill of Piety and Mercy.   The walk offers numerous opportunities for meditation and reflection, and ends at the top at the chapel, La Capilla de Todos Los Santos (The Chapel of All Saints).  Below lies the village with its “vega.” San Luis’ communal pasture, and the People’s Ditch, the oldest communal irrigation waterway in Colorado.  No matter your spirituality, this is an emotional and cultural experience. Return to Alamosa for the night and enjoy the quiet.  Alamosa is 40 miles from the Stations of the Cross.

Fourth Stop: Grotto in Alamosa
6820 Redwing Lane Alamosa, CO 81101

This is a private home and garden that is open to the public.  It is frequently used for retreats and weddings and is a spiritual experience not to be missed.b

Fifth Stop: The Great Sand Dunes
11500 Highway 150 Mosca, CO 81146

Nestled against the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Great Sand Dunes are the focal point of a wild natural system of high mountain peaks, sparkling streams, forceful winds, and billions of grains of sand.  Here majestic scenery gives intimate glimpses of life’s rich complexity.

This rounds out just a few of the gems in the San Luis Valley, and just a tip of what can be experienced throughout the entirety of the Diocese of Pueblo. Some may be unable to go on pilgrimage to Rome or the Holy Land, but instead may be able to experience the holiness in our own backyard.