Fort Massachusetts is located six miles from the nearest community. It is on private land and is accessed through a locked gate. Thus, all students and staff will have to live at the site during each ten-day session. It will be a primitive or semi-primitive camping situation. While we expect to construct some facilities to make life more comfortable and the ranch owners have offered to help to some degree, it is uncertain what facilities we will be able to provide.
All students will provide their own tents. More information about what is appropriate will be provided to students when they are accepted into the field school. A creek flows next to the camping area and through the site. This water will be suitable for general washing and bathing but not for drinking without treatment. Drinking water will be hauled in. With specific permission in each case, camping trailers and RVs can be set up at the site, but without hookups. Personal vehicles will not be permitted at the campground or site, but a secure parking area will be provided. Field toilet and solar shower facilities will be provided. There is also a nearby recreation center in Fort Garland that you can take showers at and workout at for a purchase of a daily pass of about $2. Cell phone reception for some carriers is available at the location and electricity or electrical generators will be available on a limited basis for recharging electronic devices.
Students will provide and prepare their own food. Often, students will partner with others for this. Periodic trips to nearby communities will be arranged so that students can acquire or replenish their food. Field camp will have one regular gass stove/oven and 1 standard refrigerator. With the size of fieldschool this requires coordination amonst everyone. If a few people bring camp stoves then a larger kitchen area can be made. The refrigerator works best if people only shop for perishable items once they are at the fieldschool and can coordinate and only purchase for a few days in the future.
We are continuing to work on solutions to improve the field camp logistics. Once accepted into the school you will be kept up to date on developments thru email and/or a course website.
Activities in the San Luis Valley
There is a recreation center about 8 miles from the Fort, which can be used for a nominal fee. The facilities include a pool and a gym.
On the four-day breaks, students are encouraged to take advantage of the various recreational opportunities available in the valley and the region. Mountains that provide endless opportunities for hiking and fishing surround the valley. In addition there are developed attractions such as the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.
The San Luis Valley is also home to The Alligator Farm, which is always an interesting sight.
For a unique experience, there are two historic steam powered, scenic railroads operated in the San Luis Valley.
And for those who wish to expand their knowledge of the past, there are many small, interesting towns in the valley, each with its own unique story to tell. European settlement in the valley goes back hundreds of years, to the days of the Spanish land grants. Many of the towns reflect these origins. They contain an assortment of historic buildings and museums. The surrounding mountains contain an assortment of mining camps, some of them ghost towns, and some semi-ghost towns. There are even some that have been lost to history and have not been officially recorded.
For those whose historical interests tend toward the prehistoric past, there are many Native American sites in the valley, some dating as much as 8,000 years old. If there is sufficient interest, formal field trips will be offered during the 4-day breaks. If there is sufficient interest, one will venture down into New Mexico to Chaco Canyon, the center of ancient Anasazi culture.
A few hours south of Fort Garland one can take in the true Southwest lifestyle in Taos or Santa Fe, New Mexico. While in this area one can also visit the modern pueblos of the Native American descendants of the Anasazi.
Other diversions in the San Luis Valley itself include horseback riding, UFO watching, or simply relaxing in a hot spring spa. Whatever your interest, you can probably indulge it in the San Luis Valley.