Celebrate Colorado’s Unique Western History by Discovering its National Heritage Areas

DENVER (December 13, 2016) — Once roamed by mighty dinosaurs, then formed by native people, westward exploration and expansion, Colorado historic sites and heritage landmarks are among the best preserved in the country. Today, Colorado has the distinct honor of being one of only 16 states to celebrate our nation’s diverse heritage with more than one National Heritage Area including: Cache la Poudre River Corridor, South Park National Heritage Area and Sangre De Cristo National Heritage Area. Designated by Congress, National Heritage Areas are places where natural, cultural and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. These three diverse areas each offer unique opportunities to learn about Colorado’s past, enjoy distinct recreational activities and encourage visitors to immerse themselves in one-of-a-kind cultural experiences.  For more information, visit http://www.colorado.com/articles/complete-guide-colorado-national-heritage-areas
Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area
The 120-mile Cache la Poudre River is the heart of the National Heritage Area which follows the Poudre downstream for 45 miles, beginning in Larimer County at Roosevelt National Forest’s eastern border, through Fort Collins, and ending east of Greeley. The Poudre is significant for its contribution to the development of Western water law and the evolution of complex water delivery systems. The Poudre has become a focal point for recreation where visitors can explore the river front’s 31 miles of paved trail on foot or bike. Day trips include visits to the Fort Collins 1883 Water Works, the Centennial Village Museum, Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center, or drive the Cache la Poudre-North Park Scenic Byway. There are ample venues for shopping, dining and visiting art galleries within the historical districts. State parks and wildlife refuges offer year-round outdoor adventures.
South Park National Heritage Area
Colorado’s mining and ranching heritage lives on in Park County’s South Park, an area known for its wealth of lovingly preserved historic structures and exquisite landscapes. Incorporating the central Colorado communities of Alma, Como, Fairplay, Hartsel, Jefferson and Lake George, the South Park National Heritage Area is situated in a vast river valley surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks, the area possesses an abundance of natural resources, including mineral deposits, ancient Bristlecone pines, unique geological formations and more than 100 rare or endangered plant and animal species.  Visitors can spend the day boating in sparkling waters south of Jefferson at Tarryall Reservoir State Wildlife Area affords excellent trout fishing and wildlife viewing or get an idea of what South Park looked like during the Gold Rush at South Park City in Fairplay, a recreated 1800s mining town with more than 40 historic buildings filled with period furnishings and equipment.
Sangre De Cristo National Heritage Area
Designated in 2009, the vast San Luis Valley, cradle of Colorado’s early settlement and a treasure trove of important natural, cultural and historical features, is America’s newest national heritage area. Encompassing Conejos, Costilla and Alamosa counties and more than 3,000 square miles, the massive area includes portions of the Sangre De Cristo Range, three national wildlife refuges, a national forest and two forest wilderness areas, 15 state wildlife areas and a Nature Conservancy preserve, the Medano-Zapata Ranch. It also includes the beginnings of the Rio Grande, the third-longest river system in North America. In the summer travelers, must stop at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the 750-foot mounds are the tallest dunes on the continent and are great way to enjoy recreational activities such as sandboarding and hiking. The Monte Vista National Wildlife Preserve near Alamosa is birding paradise where lush wetlands supply a year-round habitat for more than 200 species of birds and other wildlife.

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