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The Geology, Ecology, and Human History of the San Luis Valley (Paperback)

The Geology, Ecology, and Human History of the San Luis Valley Cover Image
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The Geology, Ecology, and Human History of the San Luis Valley explores the rich landscapes and diverse social histories of the San Luis Valley, an impressive mountain valley spanning over 9,000 square miles that crosses the border of south-central Colorado and north-central New Mexico and includes many cultural traditions. Twenty-six expert scholars and educators—including geologists, geographers, biologists, ecologists, linguists, historians, sociologists, and consultants—uncover the natural and cultural history of the region, which serves as home to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the San Juan Mountains, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and the Rio Grande headwaters.
The first section, “The Geology and Ecology of the San Luis Valley,” surveys the geomorphology, hydrology, animal and plant life, conservation, management, and mining of the valley’s varied terrain. The second section, “Human History of the San Luis Valley,” recounts the valley’s human visitation and settlement, from early indigenous life to Spanish exploration to Hispanic and Japanese settlements. This section introduces readers to the region’s wide range of religious identities—Catholic, Latter-day Saint, Buddhist, Jehovah’s Witness, Amish, and Mennonite—and diverse linguistic traditions, including Spanish, English, Dutch, Danish, Japanese, and Mayan. The final section, “Travel Itineraries,” addresses recreation, specifically fly-fishing and rock climbing.
The book provides a comprehensive overview of the endemic flora and fauna, human history of indigenous lifeways, and diverse settlement patterns that have shaped the region. The Geology, Ecology, and Human History of the San Luis Valley will appeal to students and scholars of geology, ecology, environmental history, and cultural history, as well as residents and tourists seeking to know more about this fascinating and integral part of Colorado and New Mexico.
Benjamin Armstrong, Timothy Armstrong, Deacon Aspinwall, Robert Benson, Lorrie Crawford, Kristy Duran, Jeff Elison, Eric Harmon, Devin Jenkins, Bradley G. Johnson, Robert M. Kirkham, Bessie Konishi, Angie Krall, Richard D. Loosbrock, Richard Madole, A. W. Magee, Victoria Martinez, James McCalpin, Mark Mitchell, R. Nathan Pipitone, Andrew Valdez, Rio de la Vista, Damián Vergara Wilson

About the Author

Jared Maxwell Beeton is assistant professor of environment and sustainability at Fort Lewis College. His work has been published in international journals such as Nature and Quaternary Research, as chapters in books such as The Geology of the Ouray/Silverton Area, in regional journals such as The San Luis Valley Historian, and in popular scientific magazines such as EARTH Magazine.
Charles Nicholas Saenz is associate professor of history at Adams State University and president of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. His work has been published in the Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies and The San Luis Valley Historian. He has served as an exhibition consultant for History Colorado and appeared on Rocky Mountain PBS.
Benjamin James Waddell is associate professor of sociology, criminology, and borderlands at Fort Lewis College. His work has been published in Sociology of Development, Latin American Research Review, The Social Science Journal, Rural Sociology, Huffington Post, The Conversation, and The Week. More about his work can be found at

Praise For…

From the lofty editorial perspective of Blanca Peak, the huge expanse of the San Luis Valley unfolds to the west, south, and north. This long-awaited regional atlas offers readers an in-depth view of the complex geology, intricate ecology, and vast resources they have offered human populations over the centuries.”
—Enrique Lamadrid, professor emeritus at University of New Mexico
 “A benchmark contribution to knowledge about the valley, its natural resources, and its people.”
—David Lindsey, scientist emeritus for the US Geological Survey

"This volume will find an essential place on the shelves of universities, public libraries, researchers and general readers who are seeking an authoritative, up-to-date source of scientific and cultural information about the San Luis Valley in Colorado's south-central region and relevant portions of northern New Mexico."
—Colorado Central Magazine


"This anthology offers a broad and valuable overview of the remarkable valley where we live."
The Crestone Eagle

Product Details
ISBN: 9781646420414
ISBN-10: 1646420411
Publisher: University Press of Colorado
Publication Date: August 24th, 2020
Pages: 518
Language: English


The Narrow Gauge Book Cooperative is a community-owned, independent bookstore located in Alamosa, Colorado, in the heart of the San Luis Valley. We sell new and used books and a small assortment of local foods and goods. 

To learn more about who we are, read our story about how a community came together to save their beloved, historic bookstore. 

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