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About Colorado’s National Heritage Areas

A National Heritage Area is a site where the historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to create a landscape of national importance. Its significance is like that of a national park, but these are largely lived-in landscapes. Of the 62 National Heritage Areas, Colorado hosts three: Cache la Poudre River, South Park, and Sangre de Cristo. They boast the natural beauty, activities, and Western history Colorado is known for, while also representing Colorado’s many contributions to our nation’s diverse ancestry.

Discover and experience Colorado’s culture, history, and recreational activities at all our National Heritage Areas!

Three Unique Heritage Areas

Cache la Poudre River

The Poudre River played a pivotal role in the development of western water law as well as pioneering unique water delivery methods.

South Park

Park County is a place where the past is always present. Learn about Colorado’s Native American and rich mining, ranching, and exploration history.

Sangre de Cristo

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area tells the stories of the peoples, culture, and environment of the lower San Luis Valley and its adjacent mountains.

Ideas to Extend Your Stay:

The suggested itinerary is designed as a guide. If you have the time, we recommend you extend your stay with a trip to theses National Parks.

Cache la Poudre North Park Scenic Byway

Explore the 101 miles of the Cache la Poudre North Park Scenic Byway starting in Fort Collins and the Cache NHA where you can spend a day exploring historic landmarks, art, and culture before enjoying the brewery and nightlife scene. Follow the byway as it winds its way along Colorado’s only designated Wild and Scenic River. This national designation preserves the river in its natural, free-flowing state to protect ecosystems and wildlife. This part of the Cache la Poudre River is known for its breathtaking scenery and wildlife viewing and is a hot spot for hiking, kayaking, and fishing. The three-hour byway drive climbs through the canyon to the 10,276-foot Cameron Pass, where it intersects with the Colorado State Forest, a 70,000-acre preserve of glaciated mountains and evergreen thickets. The stunning views stretch down into the bowl-shaped basin of North Park and the byway ends in the charming town of Walden, in the heart of North Park. North Park, once a favorite bison grazing ground, remains heavily populated with deer, antelope, elk, moose, beaver and coyote; migrating waterfowl flock to the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge. Plan your trip.

Combres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a National Historic Landmark. At 64-miles in length, it is the longest, the highest and most authentic steam railroad in North America, traveling through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Rocky Mountain West. Join us for a day trip through the unspoiled Rocky Mountain West and on what the readers of USA Today have called the best, and most scenic train ride in America (2016, 2019, 2020). Depart from Antonito, Colorado or Chama, New Mexico for a steam train ride of a lifetime! Find adventure on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad with a journey you’ll never forget!

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Stay on a moonless night to experience this International Dark Sky Park’s starry skies!

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles (265,807 acres) encompasses a spectacular range of mountain environments. From meadows found in the montane life zone to glistening alpine lakes and up to the towering mountain peaks, there is something for everyone to discover. Along the way explore over 300 miles of hiking trails and incredible wildlife viewing.