Established in 1870, Villa Grove is a tiny Colorado village located on Highway 285 at the northern tip of the San Luis Valley. It’s an unincorporated community situated at 7,986 feet, about 30 minutes south of Salida via Poncha Pass.
The Saguache County community has a post office with a zip code of 81155. There are very few businesses in town, just a dispensary, a pottery shop, and a small trading post. It hosts a popular music festival each fall and is also close to the Sangre de Cristo Wildnerness, so don’t underestimate the activities in this small town.
The original name of the town was Garibaldi, founded in 1870 by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. It was the southern endpoint for the narrow-gauge line over Poncha Pass between 1870 and 1890. It had been named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian revolutionary.
In 1872 it was changed to Villa Grove to be less controversial. In 1894 the words were combined to Villagrove, and then back to Villa Grove in 1950. Today, the sleepy little town resembles something out of an old Western movie, typically just a pass-through town on the way to other larger ones in the area.
Seven Peaks Festival – A highly anticipated 3-day camping music festival in Villa Grove comes each year in September. Headliners include huge names in the country music scene, always featuring the festival’s host, Dierks Bentley. Previous performers include Hardy, Morgan Wallen, and Ashley McBryde. With options ranging from tent-only camping to luxurious glamping set-ups, there’s a spot for everyone on this fun-filled weekend.
Hot Springs – Joyful Journey and Valley View hot springs are both just a short drive from town, offering a peaceful retreat after a day of hiking and exploring. Joyful Journey has 3 mineral water pools and two jacuzzis. Valley View has 6 soaking tubs and a swimming pool that are family-friendly and clothing-optional.
- San Luis Valley campground is a family-owned campground surrounded by BLM land right in Villa Grove. There are 15 full hookup RV sites and 10 separate tent camping sites. Guests have access to a shower house with coin-operated laundry and a small common area with a couch and TV for relaxing.
- O’Haver Lake campground is a high-elevation, seasonal campground on the shores of O’Haver Lake. Although there are several campsites, it is a pretty popular campground and a handful of them are kept as first come, first served. The property has a camp host in the warmer months, vault toilets, drinking water, and trash collection.
- Read about the camping near Alamosa, Sand Dunes, and around the San Luis Valley.
Fishing – The closest fishing spot would be 20 minutes north near Poncha Springs on the Arkansas River. There are plenty of areas to cast a line for trout.
- Hot Springs Canyon trail is 4.8 miles out and back with a steady incline through the valley. There is no real payoff here, but it’s a nice, secluded spot to take a walk for some fresh air.
- Mt. Ouray is a rugged, rocky climb to sweeping views of the surrounding area. The hike is 6.3 miles roundtrip with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain. There are several rocky scrambles and the top is notoriously windy so pack accordingly.
- Hayden Pass OHV trail is a 6.9-mile pass through San Isabel National Forest with a couple of sharp turns and pinch points along loose gravel. It’s a beautiful drive if you do it carefully and essentially connects Villa Grove to Coaldale.
- Shirley Site trailhead is open for bikers and off-road vehicles in the warmer months and eventually leads to the historic Shirley mining camp. Little remains at the site but a railbed. There are a few dispersed campsites scattered near Poncha Creek.
While there are no accommodations in the small town of Villa Grove, head north over Poncha Pass to Salida for hotel options, about 30 minutes away. And if you’d prefer to stay in the wacky San Luis Valley, consider Alamosa’s best lodging, a mere 50-minute drive south.
Activities near Villa Grove
- Bonanza (16mi)
- Alamosa (54mi)
- Center (43mi)
- Crestone (30mi)
- Del Norte (55mi)
- Hooper (35mi)
- Moffat (17mi)
- Monte Vista (53mi)
- Poncha Springs (21mi)
- Saguache (18mi)
- Salida (26mi)