It’s a melting pot, with very diverse cultural richness dating back 11,000 years. A rare find even in America. History in the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and along Los Caminos Antiguos “the ancient road” Scenic and Historic byway that traverses it, dates back to prehistoric Folsom Man hunting in the San Luis Valley. Around 1300, residents from the Colorado cliff dwellings visited, and Native American tribes have lived in the area for millenniums. Fast forward closer to the present and you’ll find the Spanish exploring in 1540, and famed explorer Zebulon Pike arriving in 1804. Hispanic settlers arrived in 1851 to settle San Luis, Colorado’s oldest town. Mormons began arriving in 1875. They were joined by German, Dutch, and Japanese settlers, and more recently, the Amish. Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway, a collection of traditional paths in the region, winds along the Upper Rio Grande River with views punctuated by 14,000-foot mountain peaks and the tallest sand dunes in North America. Today, sandhill cranes feed in the marshes, farmers still till the soil, and Mustangs roam free. Looking beyond the breathtaking scenery, historic adobe structures pepper the region, more than 50 murals adorn buildings, and some of Colorado’s earliest history is on display. We’ve included as many of the varied cultural locations as we could squeeze in, so you can see for yourself where waves of settlers descended on newly formed towns to make a new life for themselves and their families, intermingled their beliefs and traditions in close knit communities, and continue to thrive today. A rare piece of American history just waiting to be explored.