Crestone: A Brief Introduction to a Colorado Gem
By Joyce Lisbin, Ed.D. Executive Director
Colorado is a magnificent state. The mountains gift us with beautiful scenery, places to hike, ski and the joy of observing elk, moose and the surprising grandeurs of nature! The Rocky Mountain National Park, The Sand Dunes and all of the mountain towns are wondrous. In the midst of all of this is a unique treasure, a place called Crestone. It is more than a mountain town with a brief and colorful mining legacy. It has a complicated history of Land Grants, an unsuccessful attempt to develop a retirement community and since 1988 it is the home of the Maurice Strong Manitou Foundation. The Mission of the Foundation is to provide land to various wisdom traditions for contemplative centers and educational organizations, with an emphasis on sustainable development and land use.
The utopian-like mission statement has resulted into an idyllic collection of spiritual centers representing religions and ethical centers from around the world. At the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, overlooking the San Luis Valley is a unique collection of monasteries, ashrams, churches and conservation centers. Visiting Crestone allows for a delightful introduction to world religions and beliefs. This is the home of a Tibetan Buddhist Center, a Sufi Circle, the Haidaikhandi Universal Ashram, a Baptist Church, the Shumai International Institute and more.
Less than 200 people are permanent residents of Crestone. The town is a curious mixture of nomadic ‘hippies’, artists, seekers of spiritual strength and modern pioneers who may live off the grid and rely on the land. I have visited this town several times and plan on returning often. Each time I visit, the experience is different and fascinating. Crestone has temples, stuppas and magnificent places to practice yoga, meditation and the wisdom tradition of your choice. It is a spiritual center that respects the diversity of faiths, the delight of creativity and our need to respect nature and conserve the earth. I hope that this introduction leaves you curious and planning a visit.