Kiara has offered her home in Crestone as a bed and breakfast for ten years, and provides a place for people to retreat and meditate among her garden of statues and rocks promoting the harmony of many religions.
Kiara, once a Catholic nun, left the sisterhood and later felt drawn to Crestone.
When American brigadier general Zebulon Pike first caught sight of the Great Sand Dunes of the San Luis Valley in 1807, he described it as a "sea in a storm, except as to color."
The Great Sand Dunes are perhaps the greatest attraction in San Luis Valley. Surrounded in the north and east by the Sangre de Cristos, these dunes are the tallest in North America. Not only are they a great tourist attraction today, but they are also the home to an unusual number of UFO sightings.
Ants pervade much of the Native American lore in the San Luis valley.
Painting of the Sangre de Cristos in Crestone. The dual peaks also represent the unity of Shiva (Kailash) and Christ Consciousness (Siddeshwari), a popular visual among those at the Haidakhandi Universal Ashram who have made Crestone their home. According to their teachings, "all religions are incorporated in the principle of Truth, Simplicity and Love."
An array of religious centers sit alongside a high, solitary road that overlooks much of Crestone and the San Luis valley. The valley, once covered in a vast lake, was the sacred hunting grounds of up to a dozen Native American tribes. When United States settlers arrived, it was under the control of the Ute Indians, who were often called "The Blue Sky People."
The Carmelites are a Roman Catholic religious order formed sometime in the 12th Century that focuses on devotion to a lifestyle of poverty.
Scott, a real estate agent from Texas who has a second home in Crestone, meditates in the Carmelite monastery.
Brothers at a music festival in Crestone
Crestone is nestled into the side of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range and hosts a wide variety of religious retreats.
A single road connects Crestone to many of these religious places that make Crestone something of a spiritual Mecca.
A man taking part in Aarti, a Hindu form of singing and worship, at the Ashram in Crestone.
Crestone, CO was once a gold mining town. The boom was short lived and left the mountain range riddled with deteriorating mine shafts.
This is an old advertisement for the safe that was used in the Crestone bank during it's days as a gold mining town.
According to the Hopi tribe, the San Luis Lakes were the location of the "sipapu," a Hopi word in this case referring to the place of refuge during the apocalypse. In Hopi pueblos, a kiva is a room used by the tribe for religious rituals. They are walled, subterranean rooms that also serve as a representation of their cosmos. In the floor of each kiva is a small but deep hole called the “sipapu". The San Luis valley resembles a kiva in many ways, and the San Luis Lakes act as the sipapu of the valley.
According to tradition, the Hopi would be led underground to safety at the sipapu just before a cleansing apocalypse. They were warned of the upcoming apocalypse by sky spirits signaling them to travel to the sipapu.
Once underground, it is said that the Hopi people would be cared for by “ant people” for several generations until it was safe to emerge and re-populate the new world.
Ant hill with cacti.
A couple at the "Elephant Cloud" in Crestone.
One of the many sunsets that gives the Sangre de Cristos it's name, as seen from the foot of Crestone.
Kiara prefers her guests remove their shoes when entering her home (which is also a bed & breakfast), a space she considers sacred.