Highway Of Legends
About 205 miles from Lyons, or a three and a half hour drive, you’ll find one of the first scenic highways of Colorado, the Highway of Legends. While on the way to Santa Fe, my husband and I passed many signs, which directed travelers to this eighty-two mile, two hour scenic side trip that begins in Walsenburg and ends in Trinidad. You take Rte. 160, west toward LaVeta where the Highway of Legends actually begins at Rte. 12.
The drive includes twenty-two communities, points of interest, scenic vistas, historic, cultural, and recreational areas. With a multitude of available activities, you might decide to make the trip last a whole weekend. Head out on Friday night and return Sunday evening. For a list of restaurants, motels/hotels, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds visit here.
Walsenburg, which is located in Spanish Peaks Country, sits in the shadows of the twin peaks and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Artistic inspiration, natural wonders, and history surround this quaint, small town. Drive west and find Lathrop State Park where you can take a dip in clear, clean water or try your luck at fishing.
The Comanche Indians called the Peaks “Wahatoya,” meaning Double Mountain. As home to the rain gods, the Comanche believed the mountains served as the source of life or “breasts of the world.” Later, other groups, Apache, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Ute, camped and hunted in Spanish Peaks Country.
LaVeta also resides in the shadow of the twin peaks in the Cuchara Valley. For more information, visit LaVeta Chamber of Commerce's website . You will find tidbits on the town’s history, geology, activities, camping, day trips, and the excursion train to Alamosa.
Cuchara looks like a town taken from an old western movie, hitching posts and all. Small wooden buildings house a gift shop, liquor store, and more along the main street. Keep your eyes open or you’ll miss the town and its 140 inhabitants. Be sure to stop at the famous Dog Bar Saloon for a taste of the old west.
From Cuchara, take in the sights of North Lake State Wildlife Area or Monument Lake Park before heading toward Stonewall. A local legend claims that when two Indian chiefs embraced in peace and cried for their lack of water, a lake formed at their feet. A volcano erupted and encased them in rock in the center of Monument Lake. Stonewall, gets its name from the 250’ wall of Dakota Sandstone that rises above the town. Residents are outnumbered 100 to 1 by large elk herds. The wall’s name originated from James Stoner, the postmaster in the 1860s. Stoner’s Wall became Stonewall after his death. For more information, check this website.
Another stop along the Highway of Legends includes the town of Weston, once considered a rough and rowdy town. In 1800s it had five saloons, general stores and a crowded jail. Today, Weston is a small, sleepy village. Legends abound about lumber disputes and bank robberies. The Purgatoire River flows along the south side of town offering fishing among other activities.
Other stops might include Cordova Plaza, Medino Plaza, Hill Ranch, Segundo, Valdez, Trinidad Lake, Trinidad State Park and the city of Trinidad. As you can see, one could spend a week or more along the Highway of Legends area taking in all the historical locations and side trips.