Huerfano County has a long history as it was home to many Native Americans and later settled in the mid 1800’s by Mexicans of Spanish decent who migrated from what is now New Mexico and the San Luis Valley. Huerfano County presents breathtaking scenery, fascinating history and a wealth of recreational options. Huerfano County was one of the 17 original counties when Colorado became a state in 1876. The word “Huerfano” (War-Fe-No) translated, means “Orphan.” It was named after the lone volcanic butte 7 miles north of Walsenburg on I-25.
Walsenburg is located on I-25 and US 160, with access to Colo. Hwy 10. As the county seat it has served as a trade center for the county and region. Walsenburg is named in honor of Fred Walsen an early pioneer, who opened the first coal mines. The town grew quickly following the discovery of coal. Over 50 mines were developed. The mines began closing in the 1950’s and are no longer in operation.
La Veta is 17 miles west of Walsenburg on Highway 12. Amidst nature’s great beauty , La Veta offers a refreshing small town quality of life combined with the sophistication of art galleries, theater, dining, a fitness center, musical entertainment and shopping.
Highway 12 is known for its’ scenic beauty and is called the Highway of Legends, National Forest and Colorado Scenic Byway. It makes its’ way through the Spanish Peaks Wilderness area, ending in Trinidad. Travelers are treated to the Spanish Peaks mountain ranges, the Cuchara River, ranches, rolling meadows, lakes, tall aspen and pine trees and an assortment of wildlife.
As you continue south on highway 12, travelers will come to the village of Cuchara. Originally settled by farmers it became a retreat area with breath taking beauty at over 8,000 feet.
Gardner is NW of Walsenburg on highway 69. It’s a quaint ranching community. The area is popular for hiking, fishing and backpacking along the Huerfano River and east side of Blanca Peak.
Lathrop State Park is just 3 miles west of Walsenburg featuring camping, fishing, boating and water-skiing. Huerfano County is also home to three National Forest Wilderness Areas. For other recreation in the immediate area, there is hiking and fishing in our high mountain lakes and streams of the National Forest. Mountain biking, camping, horseback riding, and golf at Grandote Peaks and Walsenburg golf courses. Huerfano County is the eastern “gateway” to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, in the San Luis Valley.