2.5 miles north of Hooper, Colorado, on Colorado 17, 719/580-7901, www.ufowatchtower.com
The largest (and oddest) alpine valley on the planet, the San Luis Valley is rife with legends. Some of the stories claim the valley is an interdimensional nexus frequented by demons and demigods. Others describe buried treasure, sifting sands, and crystal skulls. Others yet relate unexplained animal deaths—UADs, for short, referring to surgical livestock mutilations in the 1960s and 1970s—and black helicopters supposedly ferrying federal agents engaged in extraterrestrial cover-ups.
Travelers with a special interest in the latter category should make a point of visiting the UFO Watchtower, where about 40 sightings have been reported since it opened in 2000. This ordinary metal platform is in the middle of nowhere, free of urban light pollution, and also offers a few bare-bones campsites, a “vortex” called the Healing Garden, and a must-visit gift shop.