Orient Land Trust

Orient Land Trust is one of the most storied naturist locations in the United States. This Colorado territory is the perfect conjunction of The Naturist Society + The Nature Conservancy (and a half dozen other organizations as well). The huge acreage includes numerous hiking trails, a ranch, a mine, and so much more. Their comprehensive programming lists a bat cave tour, astronomy hikes, and many other options. The best known part of the park is the area called Valley View Hot Springs, so named for the view of San Luis Valley from these natural thermal baths.

My family and I were enjoying a week of vacation travel through Colorado, and we planned to visit Orient Land Trust. (It’s necessary to call ahead and reserve your visit, even for a day visit like ours, since the number of visitors per day is limited.) From Pueblo, it’s about a three-hour drive to Valley View Hot Springs. Most of the journey takes you along curvy mountain roads with gorgeous views of the Arkansas River headwaters, until you reach the San Luis Valley for the last long stretch, and make the turn onto the prairie land fronting the property. The dirt entrance road is visible in the photo above, in the view from the iconic “infinity-edge” pond that is the lowest of the three Top Ponds cascading one into the other.

After registering at the office and paying the entrance fee, we drove into the campsite area and got naked. First we walked around a bit, to see the common area and pool, and then we enjoyed a picnic lunch at a table with a valley view. In just the few hours that we were there last Thursday, we sampled the main Soaking Pond, the Top Ponds, and the Waterfall Pond, and hiked past the Meadow Pond as well. The hike to the Top Ponds is a bit of a challenge, especially if you are still getting used to the Rocky Mountain altitude, but it is well worth it!

Along the drive into the property, almost at the gate, we were thrilled when a pronghorn antelope leaped across the road a little ways ahead. On the way out, we saw two antelope.

Pronghorn antelope

The staff was friendly, the visitors too (and represented a great range of age and ethnic diversity), and the natural experience was overall quite dramatic as the heat of the afternoon dissipated into storm clouds. We left just ahead of the downpour.

Storm approach

Orient Land Trust is a beautiful, sacred place, with a host of programming and much more acreage that we simply didn’t have time to experience. Definitely for the next visit it would be worth planning far ahead in order to stay in one of the cabins or tent sites on the property, and have more time to enjoy and socialize and learn.

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