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Have you visited Colorado yet? If not, you definitely NEED to! There are a ton of amazingly gorgeous places to visit. It’s truly such a breathtaking state!
We recently went on vacation to Colorado, as we’ve heard it’s so beautiful. We absolutely loved it!
Out of all the towns we visited, Westcliffe, Colorado was my favorite. Read on to see why you should add this town to your Colorado bucket list!
Westcliffe Is Surrounded By Mountains
While mountains are plentiful throughout Colorado, there’s nothing better than being in a valley surrounded by them. Westcliffe is located in the Wet Mountain Valley, so it has beautiful mountains everywhere you look.
It’s bordered by the Wet Mountains on the east and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range to the west.
The valley has such amazing views all around!
It’s a Dark Sky Community
I grew up on the Space Coast of central Florida, which is where the Space Shuttle took off from.
As a result of seeing so many amazing shuttle launches, and spending time at Space Camp as a kid, I’ve always been enthralled with space, stars, and everything sky-related.
It’s sad to realize so many millions of people never get to see the Milky Way or experience the millions of constellations.
It’s so difficult to truly experience the vastness of the sky when so many places have an abundance of light pollution.
What Is Light Pollution?
Light pollution is the excess use of artificial light that causes the night sky and stars to appear washed out.
It affects both animals and humans. In large cities it can even negatively impact the body’s natural day/night cycle balance.
The good thing is that it’s reversible with smart lighting decisions. The International Dark-Sky Association is actively working to share their knowledge about how to minimize the negative effects of artificial lighting.
What’s a Dark Sky Community?
A Dark Sky community is a place that has undertaken dedicated efforts to preserve the view of the night sky. The local citizens work together to minimize light pollution through specific light ordinances such as using lights that face downward.
Keeping light pollution to a minimum allows residents and visitors unparalleled visions of the night sky. They’re amazing locations for stargazing, especially during meteor showers!
Why Westcliffe is Wonderful
While Alaska is amazing for seeing stars, there are actually no official dark sky sites near me. So we recently rented an Airbnb in Westcliffe, Colorado.
It was a perfect location: close to town, a few restaurants and bakeries, and the grocery store. Plus, a hot tub and breathtaking mountain views made it a definite win!
Pick The Perfect Time For Your Trip For Amazing Sky Views
The best time to see stars us during a new moon. When researching the timeline for our trip, I made sure to line it up with the lunar cycle so the moonlight is at a minimum.
While the moon is gorgeous in its own right, I really wanted to see stars.
And wow, it did not disappoint!
It was a bit cloudy around 11pm, so we took a nap and woke up around 3am. We immediately jumped into the hot tub and saw quite a few shooting stars!
See Deer Just Outside Your Windows
When we were driving around Westcliffe, we were amazed by the amount of deer we saw everywhere! They would literally walk right up to the window of the house we stayed in.
We’d sit quietly and watch them graze on the grass before moving on to the next house. They were so adorable!
Visit Mission: Wolf Rescue Sanctuary
Within about an hour drive from Westcliffe is Mission: Wolf sanctuary. This was by far the most amazing experience I’ve ever had!
If you’re not already aware, my husband and I are total dog people, and even run a dog health and wellness site, Om Shanti Pups. We have two rescue pups, Roxy & Rico, so meeting wolves was something we’ve wanted to do for quite awhile!
Mission: Wolf was created by Kent Weber to provide a safe haven for captive wolves and wolf dogs they rescue.
There are currently over 20 wolves at the sanctuary, and they do a wonderful job of caring for them and giving the best life possible to wolves and wolf dogs that have been rescued from ill-equipped owners.
We were lucky enough to be there on a quiet day and were brought into the pen with their ambassador wolf Zeab and wolf dogs Nashira and Abraham. They were so inquisitive and sweet!
The sanctuary doesn’t guarantee any interactions with any of the wolves, as they let the animals decide how much they would like to interact.
We were given basic safety advice, such as don’t come from above to try to pet them – really, that’s great advice to keep in mind with all dogs! We were also helped with social greeting tips, such as smiling with teeth showing as that’s how they greet each other.
Then we headed into their ambassador pen and sat on a log to let them approach us. I was literally squealing inside from excitement!!
All three came over to inspect us and get some belly rubs and snuggles for a few minutes! Best. Day. EVER.
Mission: Wolf is fully funded by donations and staffed by volunteers. Their buildings are all made from recycled materials and focuses on sustainability. There’s no charge to visit the sanctuary, but any donations are greatly appreciated and go directly to the wolves and the teams that care for them.
Pro Tip: Plan your visit for the sanctuary’s bi-weekly feeding sessions, currently on Wednesday and Saturday. The wolves are much more active and social those days, since they know they’re getting a great meal soon!
Check out the Great Sand Dunes National Park
When you think of Colorado, I bet the first things you think of include mountains, lakes, or snow, right? SAME. Imagine my surprise to find out there’s an actual national park with sand dunes within driving distance from Westcliffe!
The Great Sand Dunes National Park provides a great change of pace while exploring the tallest sand dunes in North America. Pretty impressive!