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South Central Colorado


South Central Colorado

South Central Colorado is caught in the middle of all the other regions, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its own identity. There are some wonderful natural attractions in the area, and Colorado Springs is the state's second largest city. The region stretches from the western slope of the Rockies up by Denver down to the San Juan Mountains along the New Mexico border.

The South Central region might be the most diverse of all six regions, encompassing parts of the northern Rockies near Denver and Boulder, the high country near the San Isabel National Forest, the beautiful San Luis Valley, and some of the San Juan Mountains along Colorado's southern border. Recreation and rugged natural beauty are the best reasons for visiting the area, as there are a number of great parks and forests to see.

People come from all over the country to whitewater raft or kayak on the Arkansas River near Buena Vista, and the nearby San Isabel National Forest is worth the trip by itself. The forest covers the true high country of Colorado, with nineteen of the state's "14ers," the famous Rocky Mountains of 14,000 feet or more. This is the landscape that you dream of when you think of Colorado. Craggy, snow-capped peaks, alpine forests, rich wildlife, and the untouched wonders of nature are sure to capture your imagination.

To the east is Colorado Springs, the metropolitan center of the South Central region. The city itself is beautiful, from the historic downtown district filled with boutiques and museums to the gorgeous campuses of the Air Force Academy and Colorado College. Colorado Springs also serves as a hub for day trips to the wonderful scenic landscape in the area. The Garden of the Gods, which features picturesque red rock pillars, arches, and bluffs, as well as a stunning view of Pikes Peak, lies just outside the city limits. Standing at 14,115 feet, Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America, and it's only a short drive away. You can get to the summit by driving or taking the breathtaking Cog Rail from nearby Manitou Springs.

If you're headed south, the pleasant San Luis Valley is a great place to spend some time. Alamosa and Pagosa Springs are great small towns to stay in, with easy access to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Rio Grande National Forest, and Wolf Creek ski resort. The Great Sand Dunes National Park is especially noteworthy because it juxtaposes incredibly divers landscape, including North America's tallest sand dunes (some over 750 feet high), alpine lakes and tundra, ancient spruce and pine forests, grasslands, wetlands, and six mountain peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation. And if you're looking for a place to ski, you can't go wrong with Wolf Creek, which consistently gets the most snow in Colorado and has the great Rocky Mountain terrain without the crowds of Aspen or Vail.

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