Breathing the San Luis Valley
the mestdagh family living in the SLV and unearthing the region
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Sand Dunes, Hot Springs & Alligators
(Warning: retro post ahead. Reworked from this spring's family blog post.) Julia was a great excuse to visit the Great Sand Dunes NP. It's been a few decades since I've roamed that area.

It was windy at the dunes but it was a riot watching Julia run and run and run - barefoot.
Did I say it was windy? Julia would have hiked us to the top of the highest dune before understanding she was freezing. We headed back after sliding down some steep dunes.

We camped in the park campground. Julia got bored of us and carried her folding chair to the neighboring camp and proceeded to entertain them ... I think. The night held the joys of the campfire and roasted marshmellows. She invited the neighbors over for marshmellows too!

The next day was big fun. We went to the alligator / fish farm between Mosca and Hooper. The local hot springs make possible to pump warm water up from below ground. The warm water, allows for the raising of tropical Tilapia fish. They ship 1 ton / week to the Asian market in Denver. What to do with the fish innards and bones after cleaning the fish though? That's when they brought the gators in to clean up the fish remains. Alligators like the warm water too.

At this point, it appears the place is basically a zoo for rescued animals + a fish farm + a gator display. Snakes, tortoises, ostriches ... Great place for kids and big kids! I'd like to try the gator wrestling but it costs $50. On the other hand, I don't need to lose another limb ...

When you enter the alligator farm, they force a little gator in your hands. I had NO idea they were going to do this! Then they give you a certificate of bravery stamped by the same gator's jaws you were just holding. This place is definitely a must see.

Then we hit the Sand Dunes hot springs pool in Hooper. There's a small kids pool, a small pool for the big kids and a large pool for everyone. Very clean and supposedly the best concessionaire in Colorado. The food smelled good but we brought our own lunch. It was fun! Especially for Julia. Margit did a passable dive on the low diving board and a non-passable job on the high one. At least she tried. I wish I had brought the camera in to show the view of the Sangres from the pool ...
Greetings, I was reading some blogs and came across your blog. I really enjoy how it makes such good reading.

I'll come by again.