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The San Luis Valley, Colorado

Here we are looking down on the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado.  I’ve never been on the ground here, but I’ve flown over this valley a few hundred times.  This view is out the left window, looking south.  We are headed towards Los Angeles.  As you can see in this picture, the San Luis Valley is farmed pretty heavily.  There are more irrigation circles here than I’ve seen anywhere else in the country.  Each one of those circles is a mile across.  The top of this frame is 45 irrigation circles wide.  That should give you an idea of the scale of this operation.

I highlighted a few areas and posted the 100% crops below to help you get a better view of this dusty valley.

1)  Here are some runoff ponds.  Using the crop circles as a scale I am guessing both of these ponds are about a mile across.  I wonder if they put these lakes in the tourist brochures?

2) I realize this stuff isn’t as interesting as it was pre-google maps satellite view, but I still think it’s cool to see the scale of these giant circles when compared to these farm buildings.  What’s this farmer’s water bill?  Oh yeah, they get their water for free — directly out of the aquifer.  “This land is your land this land is my land”

  3) Here’s what the San Luis Valley looks like minus the irrigation.

4) Look hard at the left side of this image.  That’s a town mixed in between the irrigation circles.  I wonder what the high school kids do there on a Friday night?

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11 Responses

  1. Julie Theriot

    Hey there Captain Dave, how interesting the contrasts…this is an excellent post!!!!
    I love looking at maps and comparing before’s and after’s as well!!!
    you get a Gold Star!!!!

    keep up the Great work, again, I appreciate it!!!!


    May 31, 2011 at 9:24 pm

  2. Absolutely fascinating and thank you for this info. I have always been curious about such oddities viewed from the air and I have some photos I took – they are brown circles, brown squares, somewhere in Nevada I think.

    Great photos, heartbreaking subject but I suppose this is the price we pay for year round supermarket salad.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm

  3. Gary

    Most pivots (including the ones shown, are 1/4 mile long (many shorter). Your cirles are 1/2 mile diameter, not 1 mile.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:51 am

    • Thanks. I am no farmer… A couple guys I fly with swear the circles are a mile wide. I’ll have to edit with your new info.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:25 am

      • Kevin Hart

        Did not see this post, but you are correct sir.

        December 3, 2011 at 11:20 pm

  4. Gary

    No sweat. There are a few longer ones, I think. But, have a look at Google Earth in the San Luis Valley area and use the measure tool.

    That really is quite an irrigation area. I wonder if your radar altimeter would drop if they all turned on at the same time. :o)

    June 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm

  5. Nice … I’ve looked at these a few times now. Very cool.

    June 4, 2011 at 3:14 pm

  6. … what do HS kids there do for fun … idk, but those lanes between the circles seem to be begging for some speed activated dust …

    June 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm

  7. There’s plenty to do. Look at all the swimming pools! JK =D

    August 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm

  8. Tom Swoboda

    I drove thru the San Luis Valley in April 2005 while returning home to Illinois from my daughter’s wedding in Las Vegas, NV. I thought the views were stunning. The valley is at 8000 feet, very wide and long and surrounded on four sides by mountains. I don’t like being in the mountains because I feel they block the view but here you have the view of the mountains in the distance all around you. It’s gorgeous. If I were to live in Colorado this is the place I’d want to be. Unfortunately my memory cards were full and I got only one or two shots in the valley.

    October 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm

  9. Kevin Hart

    I live in the valley. Those crop circles are not 1 mile by 1 mile, they are actually 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:19 pm

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