Making Crestone’s Green Cemetery Even Greener

The Crestone Cemetery is probably the only active cemetery in Colorado that made it all the way through the 20th century without requiring embalming, caskets, concrete vaults, and/or monuments. It is in pinon-juniper open woodland with sand and native ground cover and a spectacular view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Now that many people want green burial without these restrictions, some are traveling to Crestone for cemetery lots.

The cemetery is a 1911 forty acre federal land grant restricted to use as cemetery or park only. Six acres are fenced and platted into 20′ x 20′ lots. The other 34 acres have never been developed and are planned for future use as wilderness burials. Because Crestone is geographicaly isolated and 50 miles from the nearest commercial mortuary, most funerals over the last 100 years were at home or in the old school. Probably less than a quarter of the burials were embalmed, and there are no known concrete vaults.

This summer the Town Trustees designated one little used section for green burials only. It will serve those who would like not only a green burial, but one not close to other graves with metal caskets or embalming chemicals. As needed, the large six grave plots will now be subdivided into 10′ x 10′ lots to accommodate one full burial and an unlimited number of cremains. The native vegetation and semi-arid mountain climate provide a beautiful and natural setting that eliminates wasteful and expensive watering, mowing, and requiring concrete vaults to keep the lawn level.

Many municipal cemeteries have separate rates for residents and non residents. The Crestone Cemetery will now define local as either the purchaser of the internment rights or the person to be buried having or having had primary residence in either the Crestone (81131) or Moffat (81143) zipcodes.

The Town cemetery does not have grave-digging equipment. A $250 deposit is required for a burial permit, and names of private residents with digging equipment are provided. The deposit is returned if there is no damage repair or cleanup required. Municipal cemeteries are not required to dedicate 15% of proceeds for perpetual care, but the Crestone Cemetery will use these 15% for maintenance and improvement.

Downtown Crestone has lodging, restaurants, and basic shopping to accommodate visitors.


If you have further questions, please contact:
Leanna Bradbury, Deputy Clerk
Town of Crestone
PO Box 64
Crestone, CO  81131