Rio Grande County, Colorado

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Rio Grande County is one of the 64 counties of the State of Colorado of the United States. The county is named for the Rio Grande (Spanish language for "Big River"), which flows through the county. The county population was 12,413 at U.S. Census 2000.[1] The county seat is Del Norte.



According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 912 square miles (2,362 km²), of which 912 square miles (2,361 km²) is land and 1 square mile (1 km²) (0.06%) is water.


The gateway to the San Juan Mountains, Rio Grande County is one of the highlights of the San Luis Valley. The county covers 913 square miles (2,360 km2) ranging from approximately 7,000 feet (2,100 m) on valley floor to several 13,000-foot peaks. The scenic landscape and close community make Rio Grande County a great place to vacation, work and live. There are three municipalities within the county, Monte Vista, Del Norte, and South Fork and all have been historically developed along the rail line that follows the Rio Grande River. Monte Vista is the county’s largest community situated on the valley floor. “Monte” as most people call it is the center of the agricultural aspect of the county. There are numerous festivals, events, and clubs that take place in and around Monte Vista, and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge is a stop for migratory Sand Hill Cranes every year. Del Norte is a quaint town with a focus on its historic past; it is the county seat, home to the Rio Grande County Museum, and maintains a historic façade in its main street. Home to many small shops and boutiques it is a beautiful place to shop and also provides recreational activity with climbing, hiking, and fishing close by. The newest town in Rio Grande County is South Fork. South Fork is surrounded by the Rio Grande National Forest and other public lands and has easy access to Wolf Creek Ski Area. Developed as a logging center it has become a gem of the Valley with a booming housing market, world class 18 hole golf course, and the distinction of being the “Gateway to the Silver Thread” scenic byway.

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