In PILGRIMAGE by Kim Roberts3 Comments

Crestone has received a fair amount of press in the past few years as news of our tiny Colorado community leaks out into the world. We are not your usual mountain town, I once heard someone describe the local population as a community of hermits.  With so many spiritual centers in our midst, 23 at last count, this comes as no surprise. Many of us choose to live here because of access to those most precious of commodities: peace and quiet.

That said, there is much more on offer in Crestone than a silent meditation retreat. Summer is a thriving season here, and there are plenty of things to do. Here are just a few reasons to visit:

  1. Mountains. Crestone is nestled up against the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, a sub-range of the Rocky Mountains considered by Native Americans to be sacred land. Four 14,000 foot (4200 meter) peaks loom over the valley, and turn a shade of deep red at sunset, hence their name. A one hour hike from North Crestone campground will take you right to the gate of protected wilderness area where you can see the peaks up close.
  2. His Holiness 16th Karmapa Stupa. His Holiness was offered land here long ago, and devoted students maintain a stupa in his honor. Sitting halfway up the mountain with a vast view over the Saguache valley, it is an easy forty minute walk up a jeep road, or you can drive and park at the stupa, to make offerings or circumambulate.
  3. Pilgrimage. Crestone has become a modern mecca of sorts, with 23 spiritual centers representing a variety of faiths, philosophies, teachings, practices. While many of our sanghas overlap for celebrations, centers maintain the purity of their lineages to keep a lively diversity. Most have opening hours for the public to visit or join a practice session.
  4. Rinpoche Season. Thrangu Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche, and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche all have centers here and often visit in summer to offer teachings. Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and Anam Thubten make occasional appearances. Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche visited on his US tour. Tsoknyi Rinpoche has land here and hosts a retreat or two each August.
  5. Local Art. The State of Colorado recently nominated Crestone as an official Creative District, a designation awarded to communities that show exemplary creative talent. Artisans Gallery downtown showcases local artists and artisans with an eclectic mix of fine art and handicrafts.
  6. Sand Dunes National Monument. Touted as the tallest dunes in North America, scientists once rated it one of the most quiet places on earth. As the crow flies, it is an easy walk from the Crestone Baca to this national park, but a drive to the official park entrance takes about forty minutes.  It’s also worth a visit to nearby Zapata falls where, according to one local legend, Padmasambhava left signs.
  7. Momos! The Desert Sage Restaurant, run by Bhutanese owners, serves the best and only momos in town, and a variety of other western and Bhutanese options.
  8. Wildlife. With 79 registered Crestonian voters, it often feels like deer outnumber the human population. Coyotes, elk, lynx, bear, rabbit, fox, hawk, eagles and hummingbirds all share our precious enviornment. Every so often you’ll catch site of a few graceful antelope, and it is even said that Bigfoot lives in remote parts of the mountains.
  9. Farmer’s Market. Saturdays during summer an ever-changing variety of vendors set up to sell their wares. You’ll find homemade treats, arts and crafts, fresh local produce, herbal concoctions and occasionally a roaming bard who will cite you a poem for a dollar.
  10. Go Local. Years ago when I lived in one of Colorado’s ski towns, the ski company had trouble finding lift-operators because none of the applicants could pass the drug test. Since then, they’ve abolished the drug test. Whether or not it supports your view of enlightened activity, at the turn-off to Crestone on the T road sits High Valley Cannabis, where with a photo ID you can legally purchase a growing variety of edibles, tinctures, pre-rolled cigarettes and paraphernalia.
  11. Skygazing. At nearly 8,000 feet (2400 meters) Crestone is situated in a climate that some have compared to the Tibetan plateau. The veil is thinner in this high desert valley, and many consider it a power place. Also, the rarified air at this elevation plus the almost complete lack of city lights in the valley make for fantastic star-gazing.
  12. Aliens! It might be due to our proximity to the NORAD military facility just over the mountains in Colorado Springs, but we’ve got all sorts of Unidentified Flying Objects overhead. Believe what you will, but it is not uncommon to see unexplained phenomena falling from (or flying in) the sky.
  13. Soak your bones. Three natural hot springs grace the valley where you can spend a day, evening or night relaxing and replenishing all those minerals you sweated out during your pilgrimage. And of course…
  14. Silent Meditation Retreat. Several of the Buddhist centers offer private accommodation to do your own self-guided meditation retreat. And really, this is one of the best things to do in Crestone, because above all, this a sublime location to practice settling into the natural state.
About the Author
Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts

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A graduate of Naropa University’s M.A. Contemplative Psychology program, Kim Roberts has been a devoted student of Ashtanga yoga and Dharma since 1992. She spent 15 years living in South Asia and now makes her home in Crestone, Colorado, where she is finishing her second book, Toward A Secret Sky: A Guide To The Art Of Modern Pilgrimage, to be released in Spring 2019. She also makes encaustic art. Learn more at KimRoberts.co or KimRobertsArt.com

Photo supplied by the author.

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    What a rude guy! You are right, if he expects $500 from each person for an energy healing, then he should call it a charge for $500, not a donation. Very manipulative and deceptive. I would not go back there again.

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    Maybe not a bad experience at all. What am taking away from this is take your 500 dollars and investe in marijuana stocks.🤔

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    I visited. I think karma can visit the visitors in Crestone. At least that is my take on what happened to me: I got lost a lot. The woman who rented the space to me (by Sage restaurant) must have known the two people she directed me to: the plant medicine people. Supposedly, they had a DEVICE that revealed plants’ messages through sound. Nope, it was the guy, who sat in front of the plants with his drum and flute…after MUCH partaking of ganja, and “channeling” the messages through himself into his instruments. Not only that, but there was a sound when I entered their home…he claimed that was a plant called Sylvia singing. It sounded to me like a synthesizer sound loop and it played for 7 hours straight. I was there to get a plant “healing”. It didn’t happen that first day. But what did happen was that loop, plus a whole lot of words about how they were saving the city from federal invasion (via land ownership). Smart guy it seemed, but they smoked pot non-stop. So the next morning, when I noticed there would be no device hooked up to anything (like an audio form of kerlion photography like I had hoped), it was time to go. Before I left, he asked for the donation. Before I came, I had asked about pricing on healings. He said, “most donate $500, but IT IS UP TO YOU.” I donated $100 and got the following: (deep sigh) then a very quiet “Ok.” Pause. Then, “You happy about that donation girl?” I froze, feeling very uncomfortable. I said yes. “Ok.” And then, as I was on the porch, he brought up the tour they offered o give the day before. I am by myself but I answered, “Yeah, that would be great. Why, is it a problem?” He was visibly angry and said, “Well, I just cant believe you only gave $100. I mean I can give you the tour, but I just cant get over that $100.” I looked at him and said, “Then you should just charge instead of saying people give donations.” And got, “I SAID PEOPLE USUALLY DONATE $500!” I held my ground and got in my car. He led me out. I was looking for the labrynth and he led me there, with his girlfriend in the car (she was nice and hospitable). He got out, came to my car and said, with the same angry energy: “There it is. You probably drove right by it, DIDNT you!” I nodded, thanked him and left.

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