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The sprawling villa complex of Celebrations has a resort-esque vibe. The premise is draped in greenery and features gazebos, artificial streams and rock structures. Celebrations is a foodvilla featuring multiple venues. Cascade, at the base level, is a popular spot for a buffet. Diaspora on the first floor is a quiet, a la carte restaurant. Horizon is a rooftop bar. And finally, Balloons is a banquet hall. Maintaining a large space with significant verticality is always going to be a challenge, and the shortcomings in the upkeep become fairly evident once you step into Diaspora or Horizon. The food on offer is rather generic and does not have much to please a gastronome. However, it is affordable and executed well enough to appeal to the wider palate. Grab a seat at Horizon for a splendid view of the entire property.
I visited on 11-1-18 early in the day which was quite crisp and clear. I was an hour early but was admitted to the site by a very kind park staff member. I hiked the easy trail to the monument and overlook and observed the tree lined creek and massacre sites. There are two mounted observation devices to use for a closer view. The visitors Center is small but has plenty if information with a great selection of books concerning the massacre. The Ranger and staff were very helpful and kind. Not hard to find but be aware that the last eight miles to get there are on dirt and gravel roads.
We were greeted by a friendly ranger as we got out of our car who gave us an introduction to the site. He took the time to respond to all of our questions and made sure that we were aware of the rattlesnakes and insects off the path at the site. There is not a lot of signage at the site to explain what happened. A large portion of the area is sacred to First Peoples so you can't roam around too much. Paths are well maintained. The road to the site is NOT paved but appears to graded frequently. Bug spray is a must, as biting flies are numerous.
I knew a little of the massacre from being in Boulder, where we re-named one of our dorms to Cheyenne-Arapapho . But the brutality of the attacks were not known, and the betrayal of the trust of the natives by "US" forces is unforgivable. What I did NOT learn was whatever happened to any of the perps--were they sentenced to be hung, or what? I know one of the whistleblowers was gunned down in the street. I need to look this up online. But to the point: the ranger came out of the trailer and gave me a little talk and opened the door for me to ask more questions. I made the short walk (1/2 mile each way) up to the viewing site--you can't actually get to the massacre site as its active native religious ground. But I swear I could hear people living there. The one thing I did NOT care for was the almost cartoonish depiction of a native in the commemorative stonework (pic attached). I enjoyed being here, getting here was not that convenient, but for me, worth it to think and ask for peace for the people who were murdered so savagely.
During our drive to Great Sand Dunes we planned to stop for picnic, we arrived late and missed it, gate was closed. We did stop and look around for a few minutes. We also attempted to stop in town which has an off-site office (we were late too). It will remain on our list for next time...
This site is way off of the beaten path, but worth the drive. It reminds us of how our government hides what it doesn't want us to see. Before the two letters were found this story was not part of our history. The site is remote and getting there is by dirt road, it is worth the trip if you want to know about how some of our military leaders at the time regarded all Native Americans and what happens to those in the military who opposed the outright killing of women and children The letters are graphic in detail and are written by two military officers who along with their company's refused to take part because they knew the tribes and knew they were peaceful.