The Blazing Mountain Retreat center is located in the heart of the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado. The valley floor averages less than 8 inches of precipitation each year - making it the highest and largest alpine desert in North America. The valley is bordered on the east by the Sangre de Cristo Range and sixty-five miles to the west by the San Juan Mountains.
The area is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with hiking, mountain biking, climbing, horseback riding, hot springs and the Great Sand Dunes Park and Preserve all nearby.
For thousands of years people of the Pueblo, Ute and Navajo tribes inhabited the San Luis Valley and recognized it as a uniquely rich place for spiritual growth and healing. Blanca Peak was one of four sacred compass points for the Navajo and is one of several 14,000-foot peaks in the area.
With the intention to uphold the ancient respect for the land, in 1978 the Manitou Foundation acquired large tracts in the Crestone area to create a place of spiritual retreat where many wisdom traditions could be preserved and shared. In 1980 the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje explored the mountains around Crestone on horseback with Manitou Foundation founder Hanne Strong. During his visit, His Holiness said that the area would be the place where many practitioners would achieve realization.
Today, the Crestone area is home to more than 20 spiritual centers and landmarks, including the Tashi Gomang Stupa, which was consecrated in 1996 on land selected by the 16th Karmapa during his visit in 1980.
In 2005, the Dharma Ocean Foundation purchased 80 acres of this land to create the Blazing Mountain Retreat Center. The Blazing Mountain campus sits on a 16 acre parcel, surrounded by protected land, overlooking the San Luis Valley to the west, and the stunning 14,000 foot Crestone Peaks to the east. In addition to the main campus, the Blazing Mountain Retreat Center has 64 acres of hermitage land with future plans to build solitary retreat cabins.
The town of Crestone is the arts & cultural center of the area. In 2014, the town received grant funds from the State of Colorado to work towards becoming one of the state’s official Creative Districts. Crestone is home to a handful of restaurants, a mercantile, natural grocery store, gas station, galleries, a charter school, and a campus of Colorado College. The longstanding Crestone Music Festival is well-known and its 4th of July parade and festivities bring people from all over. The area is known for alternative building and sustainable living, including food production with several organic growers. The Crestone community is tight-knit with organizations like Neighbors Helping Neighbors and the Crestone End-of-Life Project offering help to those in need, not to mention a large number gifted health practitioners, healers, artists and musicians.