CRESTONE, Colo. - Most people come to Colorado for the mountains and skiing, but thousands of faithful from around the world are also arriving on a spiritual pilgrimage, and they're staying in an unlikely place.
Many people call the town of Crestone the spiritual center of Colorado. Several institutions, shrines, churches and temples representing many of the world's religions surround the Saguache County town.
Down the rural roads of the San Luis Valley is a place Matthew Crowley says people only visit if they have a good reason.
"I like to think of Crestone as the community at the end of the road. There's no reason to come here, except to come here," Crowley said.
Historically, mining brought the first settlers to Crestone, but then as time passed, some started to visit because they felt a strange power in the rugged hills that surround the small town.
For Crowley, that power is the landscape's beauty. It's the reason he thinks the area has become a spiritual center for institutions like his.
"We're at the Shumei International Institute. This is the third of three sacred sites for our organization, which is based out of Japan and represents the element of earth. It's a pilgrimage site for our worldwide membership,"' Crowley said.
"There are a couple of Christian traditions here, a lot of Eastern traditions, a lot of Buddhist lineages. I think what makes Crestone unique is for the population, which is around 1,500 people. We have more than 30 spiritual and religious organizations that call this home," Crowley said.
It's also a place real estate agent Viva Lawson calls home.
"I came here, because it's an interesting place," Lawson said.
It's a small town that takes about a second to see by car but has more and more artists from all over the world arriving by the day.
"I have clients from Germany, Denmark, Holland, and every now and then I'll see Buddhist nuns riding their bikes in their saffron robes up and down the street," Lawson said.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Crestone might be able to teach the world a big lesson.
"We formed something called the Crestone Spiritual Alliance eight years ago, and we get along famously," Crowley said.
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