Photo by David Wright


The Crestone End of Life Project is a non-denominational, non-profit organization promoting informed end-of-life choices and supporting their fulfillment for Saguache County residents.

The Crestone End of Life Project’s Mission is:

  • To provide practical support to individuals in making informed end-of-life choices.
  • To educate community members about the required end-of-life documents and offer assistance in filling them out.
  • To offer mindful and compassionate care for the body of the deceased.
  • To assist family and friends in planning meaningful memorial ceremonies and rituals.
  • To establish and maintain a Natural Burial Ground.
  • To establish and maintain a permanent and legal open-air cremation site in the Crestone area.
  • To train individuals in providing skillful service to others during the final transitions of death.
  • To support other communities in developing their own end-of-life organizations.
Photo by David Wright
Photo by David Wright

7 Useful Things to Know About CEOLP

We like to think that if we’re registered with the Crestone End of Life Project (CEOLP), when we die we’ll be honored and celebrated by our family, friends, and community with an open-air cremation in the sacred circle of the pyre site or a natural burial in the peaceful gently rolling sand hills of the Natural Burial Ground. That’s the intention held to the highest standard by the volunteers who do the work of making that goal a reality for every registrant who dies.

The reality on the ground, however, occasionally means it’s not possible for a cremation or natural burial to take place. Here are some reasons a cremation or natural burial might not be able to happen and how these decisions are made, plus other things that are good to know if you’re mortal:

1. CEOLP’s aim is to serve any registrant if at all possible. In a severe drought like the current one, however, even if there is no local fire ban in place, the CEOLP facilitator always must receive permission from the Baca fire chief before even considering a cremation. Other factors that can come into play: extreme wind, snow, or other weather conditions that would make a cremation or natural burial dangerous or not possible.

Also, it is rare but can happen that too few volunteers are available—due to travel, illness, family or work responsibilities or other factors—to perform all the functions required for a cremation or natural burial. Without enough volunteers for all the teams, including facilitator, family liaison, care of the body, fire or grave digging team, site preparation, parking, and hosting, a cremation or natural burial cannot take place.

Occasionally other circumstances may preclude or delay a CEOLP cremation or natural burial, including disagreements within the deceased’s family, unclear or incomplete registration documents, or circumstances surrounding the death such as contagious disease or a mandated autopsy. Factors such as these, beyond the control of CEOLP volunteers, must be taken into consideration in determining whether a cremation or natural burial can take place. All this is why we ask you to select an alternative disposition choice.

2. Who decides? When a decision must be made, it is done by the combined boards of CEOLP and IFC (Informed Final Choices, the educational outreach branch of CEOLP.) Both boards are made up of local residents who are active volunteers with experience in facilitating cremations and natural burials. The boards’ highest considerations are always the wishes of the deceased registrant and family, the wellbeing of the community, and adherence to state and county requirements without whose authorization CEOLP could not continue to operate.

3. Communication with CEOLP is essential. If you are a family member or friend of a registrant who dies, and if you’re involved with planning a home funeral (lying in state), it is critical that you call or text CEOLP right away. This can prevent extra work, minimize confusion about who is taking care of what, and allow everyone involved to be informed. At times like this, the more smoothly things go, the less stress and distress there is for those already suffering from a painful loss. CEOLP can be reached by text as well as phone: (719) 588-7415. With cell reception as it is around here, texting is sometimes more reliable than phone and voice mail.

4. What everyone needs to do. Whether you are registered with CEOLP or not, there are some simple, very important things you should do, regardless of your age or health, to make things easier for those who love you: Talk with those close to you about your choices for end of life care, medical intervention, disposition, and ceremony. (The 5 Wishes booklet, available through CEOLP, can help with this.) Make a list of important people and their contact information, including your physician if you have one.

Fill out a vital statistics form in the CEOLP registration packet, which can be downloaded from the Registration section of this website. You do not need to register to download these documents. Also in the downloadable packet is a page listing useful additional information you may want to compile. This includes things like where you keep important keys, documents, bank account information, and passwords that will be needed by those in charge of your estate, or even just your Facebook page, when you’re gone. Good resources are available for help with planning, like the Peace of Mind Planner, from Peter Pauper Press (available on Amazon).

5. Speaking of Facebook: If you hear about a death in the community, out of respect and human courtesy, please refrain from announcing it on social media in any way until or unless you have received express permission from the family of the deceased.

6. Explore our websites, and! You’ll learn not only about CEOLP and its services, you’ll also find a wealth of fascinating and helpful information—links to articles, videos, books, and other valuable resources related to end of life issues, caregiving, advance directives, disposition choices, and changing cultural attitudes about dying and death.

7. Learn more. Join us! CEOLP holds open public meetings once a month and everyone is invited to come, listen, ask questions, and if you feel compelled, volunteer in any capacity that suits you. The meetings take place the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. Monthly CEOLP/IFC meetings are always on Zoom and often hybrid, Zoom and in-person. In-person meetings are held in the Fellowship Hall of the Little Shepherd in the Hills Episcopal Church in downtown Crestone. To receive meeting notifications, agenda, and Zoom link, please sign up to be added to our email list by providing your email address at the bottom of this page. Volunteer Trainings are held periodically and as you learn you will have the opportunity to shadow an experienced volunteer in the role that interests you.

Directions to the Cremation Pyre Site and Natural Burial Ground

From Rte 17:

  • At Moffat, turn onto County T Rd, towards the mountains.
  • 8.5 mile, turn LEFT onto the dirt road with the large angular POA sign and the small “Pyre” sign.

From Town of Crestone, or from Camino Baca Grande:

  • Turn onto County T Rd., away from the mountains.
  • 3.8 miles, turn RIGHT onto the dirt road with the large angular POA sign and the small “Pyre” sign, at 68575 County T Road.

The Site is .3 miles on the dirt road which forks to the right.

Please follow directives of the Parking Team, who will be present at the entry.