The Cuchara Foundation focuses its efforts on projects and activities in the Cuchara Valley, the area between the top of the Cuchara Pass to La Veta. Central to this region is the Cuchara Village.
“Cuchara, CO is a charming mountain village tucked on the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, in the heart of the Cucharas River Valley. Surrounded by the San Isabel National Forest with all its lakes, mountains and wilderness, this village is a favorite respite for Colorado hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.”
“The earliest records of the Cuchara Valley show that it was not called Cuchara at all, but rather Nunda Canyon. Nunda is an Indian word for "potato." The first Anglo settlers were homesteaders. Land was free, as long as they built a house with a real door and window. Many of them followed the Indian tradition by raising potatoes in the meadows.”
“By the late 1800s it was referred to as Cuchara Valley. Cuchara is Spanish for "spoon." Some say that the river and valley were named that because early explorers found ancient spoons along the river. Others say the name was given because of the spoon shape of the valley. They claim that when the giants roamed the earth, the valley was formed when a giant laid down his spoon after a heavy rain, thus making an impression in the side of the mountain. The impression has remained.”
“In 1908 George Mayes and his wife moved to the valley for Mayes' health. Seeing the valley's beauty, Mayes was convinced that the area would make a great summer resort. He named the resort Cuchara Camps. And by 1910, several summer cabins had been built and Cuchara became a community, at least in the summer.”
The cabins and homes that were once a part of Cuchara Camps, are now privately owned, some by families who have been coming to Cuchara to relax and have fun for several generations. However, there are loads of cabins, condos, a couple bed and breakfasts, and an inn that are available for guests and tourists to rent year round.
These two organizations, together with Cuchara Hermosa, a group whose mission is to beautify the valley, all work in tandem to make Cuchara some folks’ vision of "Heaven on Earth."
Cuchara offers wonderful views of dramatic West Spanish Peak, one of two geological towers once used as guideposts for traveling American Indians and pioneers. “West Spanish Peak, with an elevation of 13,623 feet, overtops the East Peak which only has an elevation of 12,708. However, this difference is not readily discernible from a distance. The Spanish Peaks are geologically distinct from the faulted and uplifted mountains of the Sangre de Cristo range to the West. The Peaks are prime examples of "stocks," which are defined as large masses of igneous (molten) rock that intruded layers of sedimentary rock and were later exposed, due to erosion.”
“Among the most unusual features of the Spanish Peaks are the great dikes that radiate out from the mountains like spokes of a wheel. When the molten magma was rising in the Earth it was also moving through vertical cracks and joints. As erosion has occurred, these dikes have also become exposed. These walls of rock are often spectacular in height and length, and are known to geologists world wide. They are a unique feature of the landscape around the Spanish Peaks. When you are here, I'll tell you the legends surrounding the Devil's Stairstep Dike and Goemmer's Butte.”
South of town, along Colorado Highway 12, part of the scenic Highway of Legends, are gorgeous views topping out at the 9,995 foot Cucharas Pass.
There are abundant opportunities for hiking, fishing, off roading, and camping, especially at Cordova Pass, Cuchara Recreation Area, and Blue and Bear Lakes. And to satisfy your hunger, there are a couple of local restaurants to relax with a meal and your favorite drink. There are souvenir shops for merchandise to help you remember your visit. Time in Cuchara is time to savor the scenery and the hospitality in what we call, our “Little Slice of Heaven.”
If you can’t find what you are looking for on any of these various websites, you can contact the Huerfano County Tourism office for information on lodging, dining, and other activities.
Get off the interstate and come explore!
For additional information contact Spanish Peaks Chamber of Commerce
Want to learn more as you experience the Cuchara Valley yourself? Download “The Scenic Higway of Legends” app and follow along as you drive Highway 12 from Walsenburg to La Veta and through the Cuchara Valley to Stone Wall and on to Trinidad. https://travelstorys.com/tours/highway-of-legends
To see and enjoy old Cuchara Village try the walking tour app of the Village area, highlighting some of the original cabins, is available for download here. You can download it to your phone so you can walk along and listen, or just enjoy it virtually your laptop.
Speaking of enjoying Cuchara virtually, check out our Cuchara Digital History Project!