2022 Festival Information

Cranes. Towering, snowcapped peaks. Small-town hospitality.

The 2022 Monte Vista Crane Festival | March 11 - 13, 2022

The Migration

20,000 or so greater Sandhill Cranes and a few thousand Lesser Sandhills. Besides the cranes there are thousands of waterfowl, numerous wintering bald eagles and other raptors that highlight the wildlife viewing.

The Mountains

The towering peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountains serve as the backdrop to this epic migration. Golden fields and snow-covered ridge lines provide endless opportunities for photography enthusiasts.

The People

Experience the small-town hospitality of Monte Vista and the San Luis Valley. 

Photo by Arrow Myers
Photo by Arrow Myers

The 2022 Festival

Due to the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the March 11-13 2022 Monte Vista Crane Festival will be hybrid in nature. We will not using buses or gathering indoors.


Instead of Crane tours, you will drive yourself to a meet-up locations on the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge and learn from experts interesting facts about Sandhill Cranes from Refuge staff and volunteers. Individual tickets are purchased by selecting an event below. PLEASE SELECT ONE Crane Sandhill Crane Orientation Meet-up for THE ENTIRE WEEKEND TO ATTEND, we have limited availability this year because of COVID. If you wish to take a second TOUR to locations outside of the Refuge, AGAIN PLEASE SELECT ONE MEET-UP TOUR FOR THE ENTIRE WEEKEND. 


For 2022 speaking events, we asked our experts to record their presentations. You can watch the videos ON DEMAND for FREE from March 11 thru March 20th. We hope you enjoy! The videos contain interesting information about wildlife use of abandoned mines along the Sangre de Christo Mountains, Flammulated Owls at the Hot Creek Research Natural Area in the San Luis Valley, raptor education by Hawks Aloft and more.

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Past Events

March 2022

Birding Trail Tour

March 12 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Join local ornithologist and author John Rawinski for a birding walk along the trail in southeast Alamosa. We will meet our tour host at 10:30 a.m. We will spend about 1 ½ hours hiking a one-mile round birding trip on an easy trail.

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Dry Creek Archaeology Tour

March 12 @ 10:30 am - 2:30 pm
Movie Manor, 2830 US-160 W2830 US-160 W
Monte Vista, CO 81144 United States
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Dry Creek Archaeological Tour: Tour the Dry Creek Archaeological Site with Price Heiner, Forest Archaeologist for the Rio Grande National Forest. The site occurs on both National Forest and BLM-managed public lands. If time and interest permit, the tour may also include an on-site flint-knapping demonstration by Mr. Heiner. 

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Penitente Canyon

March 12 @ 10:30 am - 2:30 pm

BLM Penitente Canyon Recreation Area: Explore the rock walls and pinnacles of the Penitente Canyon Recreation Area, which is managed by the San Luis Valley BLM Field Office, located in Monte Vista. 

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Blanca Wetlands

March 11 @ 11:00 am - 2:30 pm

BLM Blanca Wetlands: Tour with local experts the Blanca Wildlife Habitat Area, located southwest of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The wetlands are about a 45 minute to one-hour drive from Monte Vista. You will meet the experts at the location given with your ticket.

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Alamosa Refuge Tour

March 12 @ 10:30 am - 1:30 pm
Alamosa Refuge, 9383 El Rancho Lane
Alamosa, CO 81101 United States
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Register for one ticket per CAR and occupants. ( Please pick ONE special tour for the weekend). YOU MUST HAVE ALL-WHEEL OR 4-WHEEL DRIVE.  Explore Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge behind the gate with Refuge Manager Suzanne Beauchaine. Learn what we do to provide wildlife habitat to migratory birds throughout the year. Bring your binoculars as we'll see waterfowl, hawks, and maybe even elk, bald eagles, porcupines, and coyotes! Bring water, binoculars, and lunch. PLEASE REGISTER FOR ONLY ONE SPECIAL TOUR FOR THE ENTIRE WEEKEND. We have limited tickets for 2022.

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Sandhill Crane Orientation Meet-ups (Free ticket required)

March 11 @ 12:00 am - March 13 @ 11:59 pm
Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, 6120 Colorado 15
Monte Vista, CO 81144 United States
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Every year, like clockwork, nearly 20,000 Sandhill Cranes descend on Colorado’s scenic San Luis Valley for a six-week stopover to rest and refuel before continuing their northward spring migration. The town of Monte Vista and the Friends of the San Luis Valley Refuges, host the festival. The highlight of the festival is the opportunity for close-­up views of thousands of cranes at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge as they prance and display for each other, lift-off en masse in…

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Featured Talks and Videos: When you can’t watch Cranes, Watch ON-DEMAND

March 11 @ 7:00 am - March 20 @ 10:00 pm

When the cranes are asleep and you are looking for something to watch, or you stayed home this year and need some new entertainment.  We have collected some old and some new video segments about birds, birding, and the San Luis Valley to entertain you. Some fantastic journalists and videographers have shared their work to entertain, educate and inform you.  Registering for a ticket will give you access to the videos starting March 11 through March 20th.   The Monte Vista…

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Photography Workshops

March 11 - March 13

Award-winning professional nature photographer and Friends of Refuge member Ed MacKerrow will again be offering photography workshops during the 2022 Monte Vista Crane Festival. Three, separate, one-day workshops will be offered, Friday, March 11 – Sunday, March 13, 2022.

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Craft & Nature Fair

The Monte Vista Crane Festival isn’t all about Sandhill Cranes. Sure, the long-legged birds are a big tourist draw. But people also love the festival’s longstanding craft and nature fair.

Festival-goers can find treasures handcrafted by local artisans, from delicately-painted wood carvings of birds to handmade jewelry, quilts, and wildlife art.

  • WHAT: The 39th Annual Arts & Crafts Fair
  • WHEN: March 11 & 12, 2022
  • WHERE: Ski-Hi Complex, Monte Vista, CO
  • TIME: Friday, March 11th: 11 AM - 7:00 PM & Saturday, March 12th: 9 AM - 6:00 PM

Vendors looking to register should visit the Monte Vista Chamber website or contact the Chamber directly via email chamber@montevistachamber.org or phone (719) 852-2731

Refuge and Festival Locations

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