Near the Great Sand Dunes National Park along highway 17 there are a few “signs” that are shaped like alligators. These “signs” point the way to the Colorado Gators Reptile Park. The reason that signs is in quotation marks is that – according to an employee – they are not allowed to put up signs along the road. They can display art. Thus the alligator “signs”.
As we drove down the road toward this place we were just planning on stopping by out of curiosity. We were not even planning to take a tour. The signs are all handmade and the buildings look like barns.
There are many handmade signs throughout the parking lot, entrance way, and within the park. This one summarizes the history of the park. The gators started out as garbage disposals.
There is nothing fancy about this park. This is the front door entrance to the gift store / ticket counter / tour entrance. We did not get a picture of the inside as it was a bit dark. It has a similar décor as the outside.
As I mentioned we were not planning on taking a tour but they hooked me in with the promotion. If you buy a T-shirt you get admission for free. Since they had a tie-dye shirt I got the shirt and my wife just paid the admission. The shirt was $23 and adult admission was $15. Children 5 and under and adults 80 and over are free. Older adult (65-79) are half price.
They do have a great sense of humor about their signs. The tortoise fences are real.
One of the first things they have you do (if you choose) is to hold a baby alligator in your hands. You can get their picture printed out for an extra fee or they will take pictures with your camera. Unfortunately the pictures they took were too blurry. Hint: check the pictures they take quickly.
As we waited to hold the baby alligator, we were talking to one of the employees about the place. It turns out that this is the place were many reptiles (alligators and other reptiles) end up once they are found or captured by some authorities. It is a wildlife refuge for reptiles. They take in creatures from all over the country.
This is why the have tortoise fences throughout the park. The fences are 2″x6″ pieces of wood that swing out of the way if needed or you can step over them. My wife was using her wheelchair and we were able to maneuver pretty well. we did have some issues in the soft dirt areas out back. Good thing she was able to get out and walk at that time.
They had quite a few reptiles on exhibit before we even left the building. Above are only a couple of the dozens of reptiles on hand.
Once outside of the reptile room you come to the first of many alligator ponds. We were totally blown away by the number of alligators that this park had on hand. I remember seeing a few at the Dallas Zoo but nothing close to the numbers we saw here.
They have small ones and big ones like Elvis above.
This one was waiting for something (or someone) to fall into the water from a viewing platform. I think he learned this from the movies.
They had gators that lived in slim covered water. These two seemed to like each other as they rested in the shade.
Just when you think you’ve seen as many alligators as you thought possible, you come across this pond filled with more. This is my worst nightmare going close to the waters edge.
This place has so many gators that they are doubling the size of the park soon.
One of the nice things about the park is that it attracts other wildlife as well. There are birds, frogs, chickens, cats, and even emus that call this place home.
And in case the kids get bored – as kids do – they have a playground. I’m pretty sure the playground is gator-free but then again we did not see any kids around.
It looked as though this might be the end of the tour but I remembered that there were albino alligators on display somewhere. Look for an obscure sign near the re-entry door to the gift store. The albino gators, caiman, and Nile crocodile are in a secluded area off of the gift store. Check out photos in the gallery below.
Don’t let the crude signs fool you. This was a pretty fascinating place to visit and in the end we were very glad that we did take the tour. I love my Colorado Gators T-shirt even though I get lots of questions about what sport they play.
This is a pretty good place to take the kids that love animals – especially creepy crawly types. It may be a bit difficult for those that are wheelchair bound in certain “rural” areas but the staff is friendly and may be able to help.
For more information check out their website: