Welcome to the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado the Valley has a long and rich history in geology and in culture.
Land ownership and management
About 50% of the 2,000,000 acres (810,000 ha) in the San Luis Valley is privately owned. Much of the land in the south part of the Valley, in Conejos and Costilla counties, was originally part of large Mexican land grants and is private land.
500,000 acres (200,000 ha) on the borders of the valley (generally adjacent to National Forest Lands) are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, BLM, a division of the United States Department of the Interior. This land is usually leased to neighboring ranches for grazing for a nominal fee. Part of the value of a ranch is its continuing lease of BLM or National Forest lands.
Large areas of private lands have either been subdivided into subdivisions of small “ranch” lots or have been sold or donated to the Federal government and make up portions of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, other wildlife preserves, and various state wildlife sites.
Agriculture and wildlife
Agriculture in the San Luis Valley is generally concentrated around the Colorado towns of Monte Vista and Center. Principal crops include potatoes, head lettuce and barley. The barley grown here is the main supplier for Coors beer company. In 1982, quinoa was successfully grown for the first time outside of South America in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, and commercial growth has occurred since 1987. Less favored areas with a shorter growing season and less access to water rights tend to be devoted to alfalfa and grazing. Broad areas, especially in Saguache County, Colorado have a high water table or are even flooded part of the year. Uncultivated land is often covered with “chico”, low brush such as rabbitbrush, greasewood and other woody species. Cropland is typically irrigated with large (1/4-mile radius) center-pivot irrigation systems, and a common feature of the Rio Grande Delta area where the Rio Grande enters the valley are large piles of potato-sized rocks screened from the soil.
The area supports a wide variety of wildlife. Sandhill cranes migrate through the valley every spring and fall. The Monte Vista Crane Festival takes place in March, centering on the wildlife refuge located six miles (10 km) south of town. The valley is a flyway for many migrating birds including avocets, bald eagles, goldfinches, and a plethora of hawk varieties.
There are over 500 known artists living in the San Luis Valley as evidenced by an onging directory maintained by Monte Vista artists’ group, The Art Thing, The Art Thing’s membership boasts several nationally recognized artists working in various media. Monte Vista is also home to the  Monte Arts Council as well as several festivals and an art tour that attracts artists from as far away as California and North Carolina.
The San Luis Valley is home to five active live theaters, two at Adams State University, The Creede Repertory Theater, The Old Spanish Trails Theatre Company and Rocky Mountain Stage in Monte Vista. In August there are two major Music Festivals, the Crestone Music Festival and Spanish Trails Music Festival and Mexican Rodeo. Music in the valley has two well known sponsors in the South Fork Music Association and the Alamosa Live Music Association.