The call of a Sandhill Crane heralds that spring is near in the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado. Every March, the entire population of Greater Sandhill Cranes, between 18,000-20,000 birds, stop for more than two months to load up on fuel on their way to their breeding grounds further north.
Come join us to celebrate this amazing wildlife spectacle the 2nd weekend in March! Watch flocks of dancing Sandhills in the fields just east of the town of Monte Vista. Take a sunrise or sunset bus tour, along with a knowledgeable guide, to view the spectacle up close and personal. Or explore on your own.
Consider taking one of the full-day photography workshops from a professional photographer. Space is limited to 8 participants per day so sign up early. Registration information will be posted on the current Festival page once it’s ready.
Other popular guided tours take you to see raptors and experience the beautiful Penitente Canyon. The Baca National Wildlife Refuge and the Bureau of Land Management’s Blanca Wetlands are both closed to the public at this time of year but if you reserve your seat quickly you will be one of the few visitors that will see these important protected lands and learn about the history of the areas and about wildlife and habitat management.
The Crane Festival hosts many activities in Monte Vista including workshops, movies, expert presentations, and a craft fair. As it gets closer to the festival date, take a look at the complete schedule. To get a glimpse of what’s in store, take a peek at events from the last festival.
Motels and B & Bs fill up weeks in advance, and the population of Monte Vista nearly doubles during the weekend of Crane Festival. Come visit the Valley of the Cranes and enjoy their annual spring return to one of Colorado’s most spectacularly scenic places.
Our Vendor page has information for those interested in the Craft Fair.
For more information about the festival contact the Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce: 719-852-2731
For more information about the cranes contact the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex Office: 719-589-4021
The Monte Vista Crane Festival is one of the oldest birding festivals in the United States. 2016 marks the 33rd consecutive year this festival has occurred! Festival planning is a collaborative effort between The Friends of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges (Friends), The Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Monte Vista and is operated as a non-profit under the Friends’ 501(c)(3) non-profit status. A visit to the Monte Vista Crane Festival is an opportunity to see an amazing natural spectacle as well as experience a unique local community.
Slide show photo credits: 1 – David C. Jones, 2- Cindy Squires, 3-5-6 David C. Jones, 4-7-8 – Ed Mackerrow. Please visit our Gallery page for full and additional images.