Following the trails of Spanish Conquistadors, the Los Caminos Antiguos (the ancient roads) Scenic & Historic Byway travels through the areas at the northernmost boundary of 16th century Spanish territorial expansion. The route winds along the Upper Rio Grande River through some of Colorado’s oldest towns, including the first, San Luis, surrounded by panoramic views in all directions. The San Luis Valley was the cradle of Hispanic culture celebrated by the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, appropriate since this part of America was under Spanish rule longer than part of America. The scenic route, where the landscape is an enchanting basin where sandhill cranes feed in the marshes, farmers till the soil, and Mustangs roam free, the naturally beautiful countryside includes 14,000+ foot mountain peaks and the tallest sand dunes in North America. Looking beyond the breathtaking scenery, the Native American and Hispanic influences come to life in historic adobe structures that pepper the landscape. See for yourself where waves of settlers descended on newly formed towns as families sought to make a new life for themselves, bringing their religious beliefs and traditions with them. Close knit communities descended from the early pioneers can still be found where agriculture thrives with the production of potatoes, alfalfa, lettuce, and wheat.