Spanning almost 8,000 square miles, the San Luis Valley is the world's largest alpine valley. The average altitude is 7,500 feet, so it can be very warm in the summer and very cold at night in the winter. With the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east and the Rio Grande to the west.
The San Luis Valley sits atop the Rio Grande Rift, a split in the crust of the Earth where the sides are pulling away from each other. If the Valley floor were excavated, bedrock would be down about 30,000 feet, making the bottom of the Valley close to 4 miles below sea level. Over millenia, the mountains surrounding the Valley have eroded away, filling in the hole with rock, sand and earth. Quite a few streams flow into the Valley, only to sink into the ground before they go very far.
This is part of the reorg of the Colorado site.
From the Denver Metro area, you can go US 285 West all the way into the valley. You can also take I-70 to CO 91 through Breckinridge to US 24 South to US 285.
From Grand Junction, you can take US 50 East to US 285 near Poncha Springs, then go south on US 285.
From Durango, you can take US 160 East to US 285 North.
Camping is availabe at Penintente Canyon; however, it now costs a bit and has standard BLM regulations. Water is provided down the road from the climbing / camping area (another recent development - follow the signs), and the nearest 'goods' can be found at the 'La Garita Cash Store'.
There are a variety of small, charming B&B type accomodations throughout the valley, in Poncha Springs, La Garita, Del Norte. There are a smattering of motels/hotels in the area as well.
Alamosa is the largest town in the valley for supplies, etc.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for San Luis Valley:
This is the super sweet, overhanging arete 10 yards up the hill from No Honor Amongst Thieves. It starts on the lowest holds you can grab (as a mortal) and climbs directly up the arete....[more]Browse More Classics in CO
Hey, Honest mistake it's not often you meet a Colorado legend in the dark. Thought he was some bum trying to talk shit, "Yeah I wrote the guide book." Anyway, can't thank you enough for all the hard work Bob. About the ticks, I've seen a growing number of them in the past few years. (Castlewood, Penitente, Boulder,and Summit County) I seem to be a magnet for them, just a little heads up to all with dogs and little ones. Nasty little buggers.
Temps are usually great in May. Shade/sun can always be found in the canyon as needed. Depending on the snowpack it could be windy in the afternoons into May. NOAA long term forcast is for continued warmer, drier than normal conditions.
Penitente Canyon Anchor Replacement & Trail Repair Weekend Public Event · By Bob D'Antonio
Saturday, May 12, 2012 9:00am until 7:00pm Penitente Canyon, San Luis Valley, Colorado Penitente Canyon Anchor Replacement & Trail Repair Weekend. This is for all climbers, hikers, or anyone who loves the Canyon and the work that volunteers and the BLM have done in the past. Show up and then get to work. Beer, Food, Bolts, Anchors, Tools and good vibes with be provided.... Come and show some love to this very special canyon.
LOST at Penitente Canyon (6/6/12): blue camera attached to red case with brown 'biner on it. Was missing when we returned for it later in the day. Getting it back would mean a lot, no questions asked. Please message me - I'll obviously reimburse any return costs. THANKS!