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Westcliffe, Colorado in the Wet Mountain Valley
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Opportunities abound for the flyfisherman in valley ponds and in an alpine lake as in the photo.
   
Custer County celebrates its cowboy roots during the Westcliffe Stampede each July.
   
The historic Beckwith Ranch is just one of the sites on the Frontier Pathways National Scenic Byway.
Located in south-central Colorado, the Wet Mountain Valley may be the state's most beautiful and unspoiled mountain valley. The Valley is bordered on the east by the Wet Mountains and on the west by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains: the longest and straightest mountain range on earth. The Sangres' string of 13,000 and 14,000 foot snow-capped peaks tower over the 7,800-foot valley floor.

Because it is off the beaten path, the Wet Mountain Valley maintains its rural charm, and the community works hard to keep it that way through initiatives like Dark Skies (click to learn more) to prevent light pollution and assure those beautiful, star-filled skies you can only find in the mountains. And yet the valley is within easy reach of several urban areas. From the towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, the Valley's commercial center, Denver is three driving hours north; Colorado Springs, with its beautiful airport, is 90 minutes to the Northeast; and Pueblo, Canon City and Salida are each within an hour's drive.

This is ranch country, and for those seeking beauty and solitude in the great outdoors it is prime vacation, hiking, biking, horseback riding and relaxing country. The evidence of this rural lifestyle is seen in the population density of 4.41 persons per square mile. Forty percent of our county's land is State and Federally owned and most of the Sangre de Cristo range is designated a National Wilderness Area. 7.5% of our population live on farms and ranches. This compares to 1.4% for the state of Colorado and 1.6% for the entire US. Currently there are approximately 4,000 people living in Custer County.

In 2012 the population grew to 4255. It is estimated by our Master Plan Committee that there will be 6,619 people by the year 2020. The town of Westcliffe is "old Colorado" in nature and with the vastness of the surrounding land it is one of the last remaining bastions of the true old west!

Climate
The name "Wet Mountain Valley" is an interesting one since the area is semi-arid with low humidity and relatively little precipitation. The climate is ideal, and resembles the climate of northern New Mexico (only three hours south) rather than the cold associated with Northern Colorado. With over 320 days of sunshine per year and with low humidity, the weather is pleasant the vast majority of the time, even in the winter. In this blessed region of Southern Colorado, there is seldom an extended period of gray skies.