Thousands of tourists flocked to the San Luis Valley the weekend of March 10—12 for the 34th Annual Monte Vista Crane Festival. There’s simply no other place like the Valley, where visitors can witness the annual migration of tens of thousands of sandhill cranes each spring against the backdrop of 14,000-foot, snow-capped peaks. Bird lovers came from all over: Denver, Fort Collins, California, New York, Florida and even as far away as Europe.
Warm temperatures, calm winds and tours to the crane’s favorite haunts brought superb crane viewing this year, with some 17,000 cranes making an appearance.
Tourists don’t just pass through the Valley during the event. They stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores and buy fuel from our gas stations. The festival is the first real influx of visitors as winter winds down, and an economic boon to Monte Vista and nearby towns.
It’s one of the oldest birding festivals in the nation, offering breathtaking tours led by wildlife experts to a few of the Valley’s spectacular destinations: Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Penitente Canyon. There are photography workshops and birding talks; and a popular art and nature fair with the work of talented painters, jewelers, wood carvers and textile artists.
One fair favorite is Hawks Aloft, a raptor rescue and rehabilitation organization exhibiting live birds of prey as part of their educational program. The group also conducted raptor tours for festival goers.
Two new events this year included a photo competition that drew more than 70 submissions and a children’s coloring contest garnering 172 young competitors from Monte Vista’s Bill Metz Elementary School. Winners took home ski passes, train tickets, binoculars and more.
The festival is organized by volunteers from the Monte Vista Crane Festival Committee (in partnership with the Friends of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges, Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce, City of Monte Vista and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge) and operated as a non-profit under the Friends’ 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Without the help of these volunteers, businesses and individuals, the festival wouldn’t be possible.
We would like to thank this year’s sponsors and supporters for their generosity of cash, service and in-kind donations. Please support their businesses and thank them for investing in our communities. You can stop by the Platinum Sponsor's offices to see the beautiful crane photo acknowledging their donations.
And you can support the event by liking the Monte Vista Crane Festival’s Facebook page.
Monte Vista Cooperative
Rio Grande Water Conservation District
Rio Grande County Lodging Fund
Troy Plane Insurance Agency INC.
China Garden (Yuan Enterprises LLC)
Dr. Rick Santi, DDS
Jack’s Market Pharmacy
Absolute Shine Auto Body and Paint
Colorado Potato Administrative Committee
Don Thomas Bakery
San Luis Valley Federal
Monte Vista Rotary Club
Dr. Brian M Roberts, D.D.S
Sandhill Inn and Suites
Dr. David Hinkley, O.D.
J & B Tax Accountants
Monte Vista Kiwanis Club
San Luis Hospitality (Comfort Inn)
V&V True Value Hardware
Wall, Smith, Bateman, INC
Walter S. Fullwood, CPA, P.C.
Bay Photo Lab
Kristi Mountain Sports
Monte Vista Country Club
ProVisions by Marilyn
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad
Wolf Creek Ski Company
Please consider donating to support the Monte Vista Crane Festival if you have a business in Monte Vista or the San Luis Valley and benefit from the influx of visitors that the festival brings to our Valley. Next year’s festival is March 9-11, 2018. All donations are tax deductible under the non-profit, 501(c)(3) status of the Friends of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges. Thanks for another great year. See you in 2018 for the 35th Annual Monte Vista Crane Festival!
PLEASE SEND DONATIONS TO:
Monte Vista Crane Festival
P.O. Box 585
Monte Vista, CO 81144