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This week the National Scenic Byway Foundation announced that the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic & Historic Byway of Colorado is the winner of its 2023 Byway Organization Award for Interpretation. This is one of the Foundation’s eight national awards presented annually.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is the oldest church in Colorado. It lies along the Camino Scenic Byway in the San Luis Valley. Photo courtesy of Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area.

This called for the design and installation of seven large Wayshowing structures made of wood, metal, and adobe. Nine low-profile metal signs were added. The Byway now has nineteen interpretive signs along the 129-mile corridor.

More signs are being planned and designed for specific locations along the scenic Byway. The ambitious project involved partners including not only local historians, but actual descendants living along the Byway, asked to tell their authentic story that is unique to the site. This oral tradition cannot be found anywhere else.

In addition to Interpretive Signs, the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area partnered with the San Luis Valley Museum Association through a Colorado Tourism Grant to create a GPS self-guided tour through the TravelStorys app.

Travelers along the Byway simply download the app to their phones, then select and download the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic & Historic Byway tour.

The tour can be linked to the traveler’s vehicle stereo system via Bluetooth. Oral histories can then be played along the byway as the traveler nears a historical site or point of interest.

Using this GPS app, travelers will not need phone service to listen to the oral histories. Interested individuals who are not traveling the Byway can still access the oral histories on the app via phones, tablets, or computers.

The Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic & Historic Byway was designated a Colorado Byway in 1991. Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area was designated in 2009 and now manages the Byway, one of the heritage area’s signature projects.

The heritage area is committed to promoting, preserving, protecting, and interpreting its profound historical, religious, environmental, geographic, geologic, cultural, and linguistic resources.

Water Tank Meadow on the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway served the Cumbres and Toltec Railroads. Photo courtesy of Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Foundation.

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The National Scenic Byway Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving as The National Voice of Scenic Byways and Roads, dedicated to strengthening Byways through education, training, and shared expertise. The Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway is also a designated national scenic byway, that runs through Chaffee County.

It is the vision of the National Scenic Byway Foundation that our nation’s designated Byways will be recognized and valued worldwide for their distinctive experiences, stories, and treasured places.

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