Colorado Unexpected - Five Amazing Experiences

1. Comanche National Grassland

The first time visitor to the Comanche National Grassland is usually surprised to find such a varied landscape from rolling short grass prairies to rugged canyons rimmed by pinion-juniper forests. The Comanche National Grassland is responsible for the management of 443,764 acres of range lands and 300 different species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, & mammals. Not only that but the Comanche National Grassland encompasses a fascinating landscape that reveals the history of the region in its exposed rock layers of prehistoric sea bedsand ancient lake shores rift with dinosaur tracks.

Picketwire Canyon is located just 20 miles from La Junta, and is open for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Picketwire Canyon contains one of the largest dinosaur track beds in the world, ruins of an old Mexican mission and settlement, Native American Rock Art and an early 19th century ranch, now preserved by the Comanche National Grassland.

Vogel Canyon is just a short drive from La Junta; beautiful Vogel Canyon is always a popular destination because it has something for everybody - from a short hike to a quiet picnic. Four hiking trails take you to the canyon bottom and mesa top. The park provides picnic grounds and hiking trails with a variety of difficulty and length.

Visit the Comanche National Grassland during the yearly tarantula migration when tarantulas appear en masse in Southeast Colorado.

Guided auto tours are the easiest way to experience Picket Wire Canyonlands and learn about its rich, colorful past. During the tour, knowledgeable guides will show you difficult to find dinosaur tracks, and the interesting prehistoric, historic, and natural features of the canyons. All day tours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) are offered on Saturdays in May, June, September, and October.

2. Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site features a reconstructed 1840s adobe fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail where traders, trappers, travelers and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes came together in peaceful terms for trade.  Today, living historians recreate the sights, sounds and smells of the past with guided tours, demonstrations and special events.

Living History Encampment - June 7 - 8, 2019 The Park's main living history event for the year will feature historic interpretations of Santa Fe Trail traders, travelers, U.S. Army soldiers and Plains Indians. Experience the hey-day of the trail through ongoing demonstration.

Kids' Quarters - July 13, 2019
Children ages 7 to 11 get to "step back in time" and experience the life of a trader, trapper, carpenter, blacksmith, laborer, trail traveler or cook. Pre-registration is required.

3. Koshare Museum

On November 11, 1949, the Koshare Museum opened its doors to the public. The dream of this museum began well before the official opening; it began at the bottom of the Great Depression when a group of young Boy Scouts became interested in Native American lore.  This club would be the foundation of the Koshare Dancers, the group whose efforts would build and expand the Koshare Museum.

A tour of the museum not only provides visitors with the opportunity to view a significant and noteworthy collection, but it also presents an incredible lesson on the importance of believing, cheering, and supporting the young dreamers residing in our communities; it provides a lesson in the potential each child has when given a chance, a helping hand, and the belief they are capable of realizing an extraordinary feat.

From live performances to painting parties, guided tours, food samplings, and engaging hands-on activities, events at the Koshare Museum bring to life a world full of inspiration, artistic expression, and educational exploration.

Join the Koshare Dancers for interpretive Summer Performances -Saturdays in June and July.

4. Picketwire Center for the Performing & Visual Arts

Picketwire Center for the Performing & Visual Arts, recognized by the State of Colorado as the longest, continuously running community theatre remaining in Colorado that owns its own building, celebrated 50 years of live community theatre in the Arkansas Valley in July 2018.

The Picketwire Players 2019 season includes productions of "Mamma Mia!" in July, "The Crucible" in October and "The Christmas Story" in December.

5. Farm Markets

Arkansas Valley farmers work hard on their farms all season to grow a wide variety of produce – corn, watermelons, cantaloupes and much more. La Junta and the Arkansas Valley are famous for its fresh vegetables and melons. Farm markets are typically open between July and October to the delight of residents and visitors alike seeking the good bounty from this fertile land.  The Farm Markets are such an important tradition in Southeast Colorado.

The Rocky Ford Growers Association was formed in 2011 by the growers of Rocky Ford Cantaloupe™ to strengthen and protect the reputation of the world famous melons. The Rocky Ford growing region has now been defined as Otero County and Crowley County South of the Colorado Canal.