Orient Mine

 
 
Trailhead: Orient Mine (north end of the RV camping loop)

Activities: Hiking, Camping, Swimming                               Map

Closest City / Town: Villa Grove, CO (northern San Luis Valley)

Driving Directions:

From Denver or Boulder ~ From I-25, Hwy 85, or C-470, take Hwy 285 south (towards Fairplay). Stay on 285 south (with a left turn at Johnson Village) all the way over Poncha Pass to County Road GG (about 4 miles south of Villa Grove). Watch for signs that say "Hwy 17 - Alamosa - Great Sand Dunes". Turn left there and immediately stay to the left which will put you on County Road GG.  (Do not take the right fork onto Hwy 17).  Stay on County Road GG for 7 miles until you reach the Orient Land Trust entrance. 

From Colorado Springs ~ Take Hwy 115 south towards Canon City, then Hwy 50 west through Salida, turn left onto Hwy 285 south at Poncha Springs, stay on 285 over Poncha Pass to County Road GG (about 4 miles south of Villa Grove). Watch for signs that say "Hwy 17 - Alamosa - Great Sand Dunes". Turn left there and immediately stay to the left which will put you on County Road GG.  (Do not take the right fork onto Hwy 17).  Stay on County Road GG for 7 miles until you reach the Orient Land Trust entrance. 

From Pueblo / Canon City ~ Take Hwy 50 west through Salida, turn left onto Hwy 285 south at Poncha Springs, stay on 285 over Poncha Pass to County Road GG (about 4 miles south of Villa Grove). Watch for signs that say "Hwy 17 - Alamosa - Great Sand Dunes". Turn left there and immediately stay to the left which will put you on County Road GG.  (Do not take the right fork onto Hwy 17).  Stay on County Road GG for 7 miles until you reach the Orient Land Trust entrance. 

Hiking Distance: 3.25 miles (roundtrip)

Description: It should be noted upfront that it will cost you $10-$13 / person to enter the Orient Land Trust premises to trek up to the Orient Mine (price depends on the season).  Price includes hiking, dipping in the Valley View Hot Springs, and use of all facilities - including restrooms - on the property.  Valley View Hot Springs is one of Colorado's finest natural springs.

The hike starts out from the north end of the RV camping area.  The trailhead is easy to find, and the trail is relatively simple to navigate - posted signs delineate the course.  Plan to gain 800' in elevation on this hike.  All along the way you'll be exposed to marvelous views of the San Luis Valley, San Juan Mountains, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and mining remnants.  Set aside at least three hours for this journey.

Camping is available, with a variety of sites suitable for vehicles (cars, campers, smaller RVs) or tents. Campsites are reserved on weekends from May through mid-October but individual sites are always first-come, first-served. A shared kitchen is available for use by campers and day visitors. Contact the Orient Land Trust for more details.

Worth Noting: Between 100,000 and 250,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats visit the Orient Mine between the months of June and September.  They migrate every year between Colorado and South America.

While visiting the Orient Mine and bat cave, you should definitely consider taking a dip (or two or three) in the natural hot springs (aka Valley View Hot Springs).  A note of caution: the Valley View Hot Springs are naturist hot springs, meaning that clothing is 100% optional.

Contact the Orient Land Trust for further details. 

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