Skip to content

Tourist Trap or Family Fun? – Colorado Gators Reptile Park

    In the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, you’ll find a working farm filled with alligators.

    Alligators. In Colorado. Those two things don’t seem to go together, do they?

    While the location is surprising, Colorado Gators Reptile Park is a great stop with kids and is a short 22-mile drive from the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Your family can visit both in one day.

    Colorado Gators History

    Almost 50 years ago, after learning about the geothermal water resources in the area, Erwin and Lynne Young moved their four children to the area from Texas to start a tilapia farm. Thirteen years later they bought 100 baby alligators to help dispose of dead fish and the remains of filleted fish from the farm. The alligators loved the warm geothermal waters and thrived.

    As you can imagine, the locals were intrigued by alligators in the area. In 1990, the farm was opened to the public.

    Exotic Pet Sanctuary

    Over the years, the farm has accepted exotic pets such as alligators, tortoises, pythons, iguanas, and birds that the owners are no longer able to care for or manage. To help educate the public, each enclosure rates the inhabitant on how well it would rank as a pet. Many do not make good pets.

    Alligators, Snakes, Iguanas, and More

    Today, the working tilapia farm is still in the Young family. However, the number of reptiles has grown. Your kids will enjoy seeing them all up close whether they’re reptile enthusiasts or not.

    The tour starts with an area filled with tortoises. Mind you, you’re in their way and not the other way around. Take a few minutes to feed them and pet their shells.

    The first building holds various snakes, iguanas, and exotic lizards.

    Stop here to hold a small alligator for a pic.

    The path continues on to the outdoor alligator enclosures. Alligators are divided up by size, sex, age, and demeanor.

    Gators enjoying the warm Colorado sun.

    The next enclosures include ducks, geese, and emus. Careful, the geese demand to be feed, and to be safe, remind your little ones not to touch the fence.

    Morris worked in the movie industry for over 25 years. His credits include “Happy Gilmore” and “Dr. Dolittle 2”

    The last areas include albino alligators, a couple of alligators who have been in movies and commercials, and a tank of turtles and baby gators.

    Just a few days before our visit, the farm had its first gators hatch in 16 years.

    Check out the alligator hatchlings’ yellow color.
    Don’t let the budget-friendly signs fool you, this isn’t a tourist trap but good family fun.


    Admission is $10 for kids and $20 for adults aged 16 and over. Visit the Colorado Gators website for a 20% discount coupon. Plan on spending 1.5-2 hours here.

    We recommend this stop as part of a 6-day Southwest Colorado Roadtrip. You’ll explore Colorado’s breathtaking mountains, beautiful forests, high plains, spacious mesas, stunning canyons, plateaus, rivers, and desert lands. Enjoy stops at Garden of the Gods, Chimney Rock National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

    Theresa Jorgensen

    Theresa Jorgensen

    Theresa Jorgensen is a mother to four children including twins. She recognized the necessity for a comprehensive resource of hotels that cater to big families with rooms and suites for 5, 6, 7, or 8 people in a single room while traveling with her own family. In 2008, she established SixSuitcaseTravel to compile a database of such hotels. Over time, the website has grown to include travel advice, itineraries, road trip suggestions, national park guides, and more. Theresa takes pleasure in assisting other big families in creating unforgettable travel experiences.