Settled in 1880, Walsenburg sits at the gateway to Cuchara Valley. Originally founded as Plaza de Los Leones in 1862, and in 1870, Fred Walsen opened a large general store and the first coal mine, became a community leader and incorporated the town's 320-acre site. Be sure to visit the Scenic Highway of Legends (Highway 12), designated as a Colorado State Byway in 1987 and a National Byway in 1988. Like its name, the highway passes through numerous towns that played a part in forming Colorado's fascinating historical legacy.

Lathrop State Park

Also in Walsenburg is Lanthrop State Park. Here there are lakes for swimming, boating, wind surfing, and fishing. Nestled among the pines and high altitude lakes is Monument Lake. A legend here tells of two Indian chiefs who, in search of water for their thirsty tribes, met and embraced in peace, crying for the lack of water. A lake formed at their feet and a volcano erupted, enclosing the two chiefs in rock in the center of the lake. Today, this lake and nearby North Lake offers fishing and other year round outdoor activities. Located south west of the town is the San Isabel National Forest, the Spanish Peaks, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where one can see beautiful scenery.

Scenic Highway of Legends

This route, Highway 12, was designated as one of Colorado’s scenic and historical byways in 1987. It was named a National Forest Byway in 1988. The 80 mile route passes through wonderfully beautiful scenery on its course. It can be driven in about two hours. It winds through Walsenburg, La Veta, Cuchara, Monument Lake, Stonewall, Vigil, Weston, Segundo, Cokesdale and Trinidad crossing the Cuchara Pass at 9,994 feet above sea level part way along the byway. A welcome center is located in Trinidad with more information about the route. Here is a map page for the highway.