Feb. 25: Star Drive In Theatre, Monte Vista CO

Panoramic look at the Star Drive-In marquee and screenIt’s Day 56 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. The drive across the Continental Divide, from Montrose to Monte Vista CO, was cold and took about three hours, but at least it was dry. I found myself at a place I’ve visited several times over the last few decades, the Star Drive In Theatre.

The Star opened around 1955 on the west side of little Monte Vista. In 1964, owner George Kelloff got the idea to build a motel along the back of the drive-in. He started with 14 units, and they’re up to around 60 now.

Long ago, just before my second-ever visit to Colorado, I heard about the Star and the Movie Manor. Coming from the southeast, I passed the Ski-Hi Drive-In in Alamosa and arrived at the Star just before the sun went down. There’s nothing like sitting in a motel room, turning on the dedicated speaker, and watching a first-run movie through a picture window.

My next time through the area, the Ski-Hi was gone, replaced by an multiscreen indoor theater, but the Star and the Movie Manor were just as nice as I remembered. In 2003, the Star added a second screen which can seen from most rooms from a tight angle. (You could drive over to watch, but what’s the fun in that?)

Of course, the Star was closed for the season; it typically opens in mid-May and closes around late September. Fortunately, the Movie Manor is a comfortable place to spend the night even when there isn’t a movie showing.

Miles Today / Total:  171 / 7244 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 37

Nearby Restaurant: The Movie Manor’s restaurant, now called Smokin’ Johnnys BBQ, is only open Thursday through Sunday, so once again I got lucky with timing. Great barbecue ribs, beer, and big-screen TVs to watch some sports on evening like this one without a drive-in movie.

Where I Virtually Stayed: That’s a no-brainer. Even with the drive-in closed for the season, I was happy to stay at the Best Western Movie Manor, same as always. The motel has been around for more than half a century, yet the folks here keep it modern. A few years ago, they converted one of the first-floor rooms into a workout area. And now, this was my first stay here that included a free continental breakfast.

Only in Monte Vista: Just south of town, the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge holds an annual Monte Vista Crane Festival each March when Sandhill Cranes spend their Spring Break in the San Luis Valley. That’s when “the cranes perform their courtship dance — leaping and bowing while raising and lowering their wings, and making a croaking sound to one another.” Sounds like Spring Break!

Next Stop: Fort Union Drive In Movie Theatre, Las Vegas NM.