Colorado Gators started as a natural garbage disposal. Now it’s one of the state’s most unusual tourist attractions. | VailDaily.com
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Colorado Gators started as a natural garbage disposal. Now it’s one of the state’s most unusual tourist attractions.

Jay Young’s San Luis Valley oasis offers tourists close-up encounters with gators, snakes, turtles and lizards

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun
Jay Young, the owner of Colorado Gator Reptile Park, interacts with a young alligator on Nov. 22, 2021, in Mosca.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

MOSCA — As Jay Young rolls his pants up and wades into the murky pond, Elvis emits a guttural hissing. It sounds like a pressurized water hose cleaning out a barrel.

Young taps the 12-foot-long, 600-pound alligator’s snout and the gnarly armored creature lunges forward, toothy maw wide.

“He still wants to eat me after all these years,” says Young, deftly dodging Elvis, a gator his father acquired in 1987 as a wee thing to help eat piles of fish guts.



Elvis was among the first residents of the Colorado Gators Reptile Park, a geothermal oasis in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristos. The San Luis Valley attraction ranks among the oddest on Colorado’s trophy shelf of tourist draws, luring about 40,000 visitors a year to one of the nation’s only alligator refuges outside of the South and Texas.

Read more via the Colorado Sun.




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