Colorado's Best Kept Secret: Westcliffe and the Wet Mountain Valley
No doubt, Colorado is an exceptionally beautiful state. Tall peaks, idyllic lakes and abundant nature. But when pressed about their favorite area, Colorado insiders often relenquish a lesser known destination: Westcliffe and the Wet Mountain Valley!
Located in south central Colorado, the Wet Mountain Valley - with its hub, the towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, in Custer County - is considered by many to be one of the most magnificent and unspoiled regions in all of Colorado if not the entire West. Snowcapped peaks against the deep blue sky, 52 crystal clear high alpine lakes brimming with trout and the verdant green of vast ranches at the base of the mountains - this extraordinary valley (elevation 7,888 ft on the valley floor) is truly one of a kind. To the East the valley is bordered by the Wet Mountains (12,600 ft high) and to the West are the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the longest mountain range on Earth, with many of its peaks more than 14,000 ft high and world famous in the community of elite mountain climbers.
Thankfully, because it is somewhat off the beaten path, this area of mountain real estate has maintained its rural charm, yet it is within easy reach of several urban areas. From the towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, Denver is a 3 hour drive North and Colorado Springs - with its beautiful new and very convienient airport - is 90 minutes to the Northeast. In addition, Pueblo, Canon City and the fun town of Salida are each within an hour drive. But there is no need to leave Westcliffe anyway: From a variety of restaurants to plenty of shopping, from exquisive art galleries to excellent Shakespeare stage productions and even large scale music festivals - Westcliffe provides excitement for everyone. And not a single traffic light in sight.
For those looking for uncompromised beauty and solitude in the great outdoors, Westcliffe and the Wet Mountain Valley is Colorado at its absolute best. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, hunting or simply relaxing - Westcliffe has it all in spades. Pure bliss. Even the weather plays along: With more than 320 days of sunshine per year and low humidity, the weather is very pleasant most of the time, with rarely an extended period of gray skies. And if you catch yourself star gazing and getting mesmerized by the brilliant Milky Way illuminating the ultra clear night sky, that's no wonder: Westcliffe has earned wordwide recognition for its amazing, high altitude night sky which is seemingly void of light pollution and has therefore been recognized as one of only 19 "International Dark Sky Communities" on our planet and the only one in all fo Colorado. Westcliffe's night life is indeed a star studded experience.
But the Wet Mountain Valley is also true ranching country. The real thing. Wide open spaces, grazing horses and cattle everywhere and expansive ranches and farms. In fact, hay grown in this fertile valley is valued as some of the very best in the West. 7.5% of the population in Custer County live on farms and ranches, compared to only 1.4% for the state of Colorado and 1.6% for the entire US. Here in the Wet Mountain Valley ranching is still a way of life. Currently there are approximately 4,900 people living in Custer County with a population density of 6.5 persons per square mile. Furthermore, 40% of Custer County's land is State and Federally owned and most of the Sangre de Cristo range is a designated National Wilderness Area. Plenty of elbow and breathing room.
Westcliffe and the Wet Mountain Valley :
Mountain Homes, Ranches and Land at its absolute FINEST!
Mattie Burtt Realty
201 Main Street
Westcliffe, Colorado 80152