Crestone is a Statutory Town in
County in Southwestern
The population was 73 at the 2000 census
. It is a small
village at the foot of the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo Range
, in the
northern part of the San Luis
. Crestone was a small mining town, but little paying ore
was discovered. In the 1970s a large land development, the Baca Grande
, was established to the south and
west and several hundred homes have been built.
Crestone area, which includes the Baca Grande and Moffat,
Colorado, is a
spiritual and new age center with several
world religions represented; including a Hindu temple, a Zen center, a
coed Carmelite monastery, several Tibetan centers, and miscellaneous new age
Crestone is easily accessible to visitors, a National Forest Service campground
is about 3/4 of a mile north of town,
and other lodging is available including several bed and breakfasts
. Activities in the area
, as well as spiritual explorations.
is named for the 14,000-foot peaks that
lie just east of the town: Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle.
The Crestones, as they're known
collectively, in turn took their name from the Spanish word
, which according to Walter Borneman
and Lyndon Lampert's book A Climbing Guide to Colorado's
means "the top of a cock’s comb", "the crest of a
helmet," or in miner’s lexicon, "an outcropping of ore."
Near the Town Hall in Crestone
The first settlement in the Crestone area occurred after the
American Civil War
granting of the Luis Maria
Baca Grant No. 4
to the heirs of the original Baca Grant at Las Vegas, New
Title to the grant at Las Vegas was clouded
by a second grant of the same land. The Baca heirs were offered
alternative lands from the public lands of the United States. The
tract selected near Crestone was 12.5 miles on a side and was
located to the south of the town of Crestone. The Bacas deeded the
land to their attorney, but it soon passed by tax sale to a third
party. The ranch headquarters were on Crestone Creek
to the southwest of Crestone.
The Baca Grant was one of the first large tracts of land to be
fenced in the West and in its heyday was the home of prize Hereford cattle
In addition to ranching there was some mining in the area to the
east of Crestone, with some small and one moderate sized gold
strike. In 1880 the town of Crestone was platted by George Adams,
the owner of the Baca Grant. In 1900, with the help of Eastern
investors, George Adams ignited a minor boom, reopening one of the
more promising mines and building a railroad spur to the town and
the mines along the Range south of town. However, lacking good ore,
the boom was short-lived. A long period of decline followed.
By 1948 Crestone had declined to its post-war population of 40
souls, mostly retired folks and cowboys who worked on the Grant, as
the Baca Grant was called. Many of the old cabins were used as
vacation homes. By 1971 the Baca Grant came into the ownership of
the Arizona-Colorado Land
and Cattle Company
which subdivided a portion of the Grant
creating the Baca Grande
, a subdivision
originally platted for about
10,000 lots. At great expense underground utilities were installed
and roads built. However, sales lagged and by 1979 the development
was considered a liability by the corporation, now AZL
. Maurice Strong
of a controlling interest in AZL and his fiancee Hanne Marstrand
visited the development and
"fell in love with it." The Strongs were inspired to create a world
spiritual center and began granting parcels of land to traditional
The population gradually began to increase and by 2006 several
hundred homes had been built and a number of small spiritual
communities had become established. As the Baca Grande contained no
provision for business uses, Crestone became the business center of
the community and having enacted a small sales tax was in a
position to finance further improvements.
is located near the 38th parallel, in the San Luis Valley in south central Colorado.
is platted on a quarter section of land (160 acres; 0.6 km²).
A stream, North Crestone Creek, runs through it and much of the
land near the creek, the main part of town, is well watered in
normal times, but during a prolonged drought the creek may dry up
and underground water levels may fall.
In more technical terms, Crestone is located at (37.995792,
According to the United
States Census Bureau
, the town has a total area of
0.2 square miles (0.6 km²), all of it land.
The following is derived from the US census and covers only the
town itself, thus giving a misleading idea of the area. About half
of the homes in Crestone itself are used only on a seasonal basis.
The Crestone community, is much larger, consisting also of several
hundred homes in the Baca Grande subdivision, the surrounding rural
area, and the small town of Moffat, Colorado which hosts one of the
local schools. (There is also a charter
As of the census
of 2000, there were 73
people, 45 households, and 18 families residing in the town. The
people per square mile (112.7/km²). There were 79 housing units at
an average density of 314.7/sq mi (122.0/km²). The racial
makeup of the town was 95.89% White
, 4.11% from other races
. 1.37% of the
population were Hispanic
of any race.
There were 45 households out of which 8.9% had children under the
age of 18 living with them, 28.9% were married
living together, 4.4% had a female householder with no
husband present, and 60.0% don't fit into the above categories.
48.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.7% had
someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average
household size was 1.62 and the average family size was 2.22.
In the town the population was spread out with 8.2% under the age
of 18, 4.1% from 18 to 24, 23.3% from 25 to 44, 45.2% from 45 to
64, and 19.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was
52 years. For every 100 females there were 102.8 males. For every
100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.0 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $31,250, and the
median income for a family was $40,000. Males had a median income
of $22,813 versus $27,917 for females. The per capita income
for the town was
$22,291. There were 18.8% of families and 19.7% of the population
living below the poverty line
including no under eighteens and none of those over 64.
Colorado-based singer-songwriter Jason
was selected as a finalist in Great
Britain's 2007 UK Song Contest
for a song he wrote about the
town of Crestone.
Crestone has become internationally known as a locus for a large
number of many different religious and spiritual traditions.
Accommodation of spiritual pilgrims and eco-tourists is now the
biggest industry in Crestone. Crestone's development as a spiritual
center was initiated by Maurice Strong, a multimillionaire
businessman and United Nations
Undersecretary, and his wife, Hanne Marstrand Strong. They
purchased a great deal of land in the 1970s and established the
Manitou Foundation and Manitou Institute, which, according to its
website, "provides and grants and some financial support in
Crestone/Baca, Colorado, to qualified religious and spiritual
projects." Many of the groups in the area were made possible by
A number of spiritual leaders have remarked upon what they perceive
as special qualities of the area. The name of the nearby Sangre de Cristo
(Blood of Christ)
mountains are one indication of the early impression the area made
on settlers. Thrangu Rinpoche
Tibetan Buddhist lama, has stated that in part because Crestone is
near the Continental Divide
waters that flow in both directions, it is a particularly
auspicious place. According to Buddhist scholar Reginald Ray
, another high-ranking Tibetan
Buddhist lama, Khenpo
Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche
, told him "Crestone is one of the two
or three places on Planet Earth for best suited for retreat
The chart below details the centers that have been established in
- Portions adapted from the Wikinfo article, "Crestone, Colorado"
- Harlan, George. Postmarks and Places, either
self-published or Golden Bell Press, 1976, trade paperback.
- "A Spiritual Community Takes Root: Crestone,
Colorado", article by Jeffery Paine in
News & World
Report November 16, 2007
- For Many a Follower, Sacred Ground in Colorado
New York Times, January 11, 2008
- History of the Baca Grande
- A study by Colorado College anthropology students about the
potential impact of natural gas drilling on Crestone's spiritual
A study by Colorado College anthropology students about the
potential impact of natural gas drilling on Crestone's spiritual