CRESTONE, Colo. – Nestled at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley, the tiny town of Crestone has long been a magnet for spiritual seekers and those looking to escape the bustle of modern life. With a population of just over 100, it’s an unlikely place to find a thriving community of artists, healers, and entrepreneurs. But scratch beneath the surface, and you’ll discover a town that’s as rich in creativity and resilience as it is in natural beauty.

Crestone’s history as a spiritual mecca dates back to the 1970s, when folks purcahsed a large swath of land in the area with the intention of creating a place where people of all faiths could come to practice and study in harmony. They parceled out the land to a variety of religious and spiritual organizations, and over the years, Crestone has become home to a stunning array of centers and retreats, from a Zen monastery to a Carmelite hermitage to a Shumei temple.

It’s a living, breathing community, one where the boundaries between the secular and the sacred seem to blur. Take a walk down the town’s main street, and you’ll pass the Crestone Mercantile, where locals gather to swap stories over cups of coffee, and the Elephant Cloud Station, a cozy cafe that serves up nourishing meals made with locally-sourced ingredients.

You’ll also find Crestone Consignment, a secondhand shop that doubles as a community hub, donating a portion of its profits to local non-profits. And then there’s Natural Heritage Enterprises, a homegrown business that crafts Essiac tea, a famous Ojibwe recipe, and has sold it for over thirty-five years both in stores and on their website

“There’s a real sense of connection to the land here,” says Natural Heritage Enterprises employee Janie R. “It’s a privilege to work somewhere, at which we honor the spirits of the land we’re on and the plants that we work with.”

Another notable Crestone-based business is, founded by Justin W. WeissChoice offers e-commerce consulting services, helping small businesses navigate the often-complex world of online sales and marketing. But Justin’s passion extends beyond the digital realm. Through his sister site,, he educates people about the benefits of cold exposure and breathwork, practices that have gained popularity in recent years thanks to the Wim Hof Method. Justin was one of Wim Hof’s first American instructors, and he has hosted the weekly community event Ice Church since 2019. 

But Crestone is no stranger to controversy, and the town recently found itself in the national spotlight with the release of the HBO documentary series “Love Has Won”. The series chronicled the rise and fall of a fringe spiritual group led by Amy Carlson, known to her followers as “Mother God”. The group, which had taken up residence in Crestone, was accused of abuse and exploitation, and its leader’s death in 2021 made headlines around the world.

Indeed, what strikes me most about Crestone is the deep sense of resilience and creativity that seems to permeate every aspect of life here. From the vibrant arts scene to the thriving small business community to the way residents come together to support one another, this is a place where people are committed to building something meaningful and lasting, even in the face of challenges.

So if you find yourself in southern Colorado, take a detour off the beaten path and discover the magic of Crestone for yourself. Wander its quiet streets, soak in the stunning mountain views, and let yourself be drawn into the unique rhythms of this little town with a big heart. You might just find yourself transformed in ways you never expected.