No Agenda Vacation Day 7 – Gators! (August 12)

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We had a lazy morning, even by our standards. I poured through our guidebooks and maps and put together a plan for the next few days, but, but while doing that we missed the hotel breakfast. We stuffed our faces at IHOP instead. After stopping for groceries and gas, we left Alamosa and headed for the Colorado Gators Reptile Park.

You thought it was strange for the tallest sand dunes in North America to be a thousand miles from the nearest ocean? How about a farm filled with alligators in a valley in the middle of the Rocky Mountains? The Colorado Gators Reptile Park originally started out when a family built a tilapia farm to take advantage of the hot springs in the area. They picked up an alligator to eat the waste fish, and things went from there. It’s now a tourist attraction filled with turtles, lizards, snakes, fish, caimans, crocodiles, and, of course, alligators.

The place had a run-down hillbilly feel to it, with lots of kitschy signs to increase the charm.

If you’re willing to pay the money, make a reservation in advance, and lack a basic modicum of common sense, you can even sign up for an alligator wrestling class.

After we had enough lizards and things, we headed out and drove west to Creede. Creede is a historic silver-mining town. With a population as high as 10,000 during the silver boom of the 1890s, it’s now a small tourist town with a population of 290. It was a nice town, but rather empty on a rainy afternoon. We poked around at a few shops but didn’t stay too long before continuing our drive.

We drove over Slumgillion Pass and past the Slumgillion landslide. This is a gigantic slow-moving landslide in the San Juan mountains. It’s four miles long, almost half a mile wide, and moves at about 23 feet a year. We pulled off the highway and headed out to the Deer Lakes Campground. Our guidebook rated this as a 9 for scenery, but… we would rate it a 3.

It was raining on and off as we searched for a campsite with a scenery rating of… 3 1/2? We briefly considered driving into Lake City to look for accommodations before sucking it up and setting up camp. The tent and tarp went up and we had a good, but late, dinner. More adventures awaited tomorrow.