Words and Photos by Ericka Kastner
Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre De Cristo moutnains, Crestone is home to more than 20 diverse spiritual centers, reflecting nearly all the major religions of the world. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Monastcism, Indegnous teachings, Sufism and Muslim beliefs are just a few of the sects represented and observed in this deeply ethereal valley. Practitioners, retreatants and residents model coexistence on a daily basis and regularly support one another, not in spite of, but rather because of their individual devotional practices. Nowhere is this more clear than at the Universal Ashram, where figures of the Virgin Marly can be seen resting beside those of the Buddha and various Hindu gods throughout the property. Inside the entrance to the ashram, a sign reads, "See God in Others."
Informal sanctuaries for meditation and prayer are dispersed throughout the mountains and forests surrounding Crestone as well. Archeological finds, faded and weathered prayer flags shrug between trees and makeshift stone benches build beside creek beds, exist as evidence that sacred ceremonies have performed here for hundreds of years.
A visit to Crestone would encompass a day to visit a handful of spiritual centers in the area, or a more personal retreat and study. To get there from Colorado Springs, follow US 24/285 west and south 139 miles to CO-17 in Saguache County. Travel 14 miles on CO-17. Just past the town of Moffat, take County Road T east for 12 miles to Crestone. Visitors are typically welcome between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but calling ahead is encouraged as some centers are closed for spiritual retreats during certain times of the year.