Just outside Crestone in Saguache County is the Baca Grande, a private community made up of almost 4,000 properties encompassing 80 square miles. Thanks to several large spiritual centers, it is considered by many to be the home of spiritualism in Colorado
In 1977 Maurice Strong and his partners purchased a large ranching operation consisting of two million acres including two parcels totaling 146,000-acres in Colorado - the Luis Maria Baca Ranch and the Baca Grande Development.
Strong and his family were planning to relocate to Phoenix, but his wife Hanne said she couldn’t live there as she didn’t feel a connection to the area. They visited several different places across the country including the recently acquired parcels in the San Luis Valley. “I instantly recognized the land, felt its spirit and felt the sacred mountain welcome us,” she says on the Manitou Foundation website, the non-profit set up to support in-house environmental and educational programs, land conservation initiatives and the development of programs and projects being developed on land donated or sold to various spiritual and educational organizations in the Baca.
In 1979, Hanne invited several organizations to move to the Baca after she was visited by Glen Anderson, a man known in the area as a mystic and prophet. The organizations included the Lindisfarne Association; the Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies; the Charmelite Order (Spiritual Life Institute); a Tibetan Order of Buddhists; the Village Group (an alternative community); and Rediscovery-Four Corners (a camp for Native American Indians). More religious and spiritual centers have been added since.
Here is an overview of a few of the religious and spiritual centers in the Baca.
DHARMA SANGHA - CRESTONE MOUNTAIN ZEN CENTER
This Zen Buddhist monastic practice and retreat center offers training in Zen meditation and practice under the guidance of head teacher Zentatsu Baker Roshi and resident teacher Zenki Dillo Sensei.
KARMA THEGSUM TASHI GOMANG
This buddhist temple was founded by His Holiness the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism after he foresaw a place where the Tibetan culture could survive.
THE NUR ASHKI JERRAHI SUFI ORDER
The Nur Ashki Jerrahi community is an order of dervishes that welcomes seekers and students of all religious and non-religious paths.
SHUMEI INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE
Inspired by the philosophy of Mokichi Okada, the Shumei International Institute helps people of the world realize that they are world citizens able to act for the common good.
CAMINO DE CRESTONE
And that’s not it. There is also the Camino de Crestone, a week-long pilgrimage that is intended to promote religious unity and diversity. During the week (this year the walk takes place Sept. 29 - Oct. 4), pilgrims will visit several spiritual centers with a view to learning about each one.
THE CRESTONE END-OF-LIFE PROJECT
And then there is the The Crestone End-of-Life Project (CEOLP). This non-denominational community group promotes “informed end-of-life choices” for Crestone and Saguache County residents or property owners.
Among the services CELOP offers is open-air cremation. In fact, CELOP operates one of the only legal, open-air cremation sites in the state. Said to return the body to its original fire and air elements, the process involves a pyre, a half-cord of wood, a wooden stretcher and a shroud.
Many of these institutions welcome visitors for the day or for retreats of various kinds. Some offer overnight stays. There are a few accommodation options in Crestone, too.