5 Amazing Experiences in La Junta - Colorado Unexpected

1. Outdoor Recreation

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.

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 September and October.


 

2. Santa Fe Trail

 

Between the years 1821 – 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was America’s first international highway.  Celebrating 200 years in 2021, the Santa Fe Trail Bicentennial is a commemoration of a living part of the American Experience.  The Trail remains crucial to American history in all its many forms:  connecting people in commerce, conflict, and culture. 

The keystone event of the 200-year celebration will take place in La Junta, September 22 – 26, 2021. Living history, tours and speakers will tell the story of the trail. For more information and to register visit www.2021sfts.com

The 2021 Bicentennial of the Santa Fe Trail Symposium, September 23-26, 2021, celebrates 200 years of commerce and cultural connections. The event will include speakers, tours and living history. The fort will host a multi-day living history effort set in the year 1843.  There will be special presentations on-site during the week that is free to the visiting public.


 

3. History

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.

The 2021 Bicentennial of the Santa Fe Trail Symposium, September 23-26, 2021, celebrates 200 years of commerce and cultural connections. The fort will host a multi-day living history effort set in the year 1843.  There will be special presentations on-site during the week that is free to the visiting public.

Visitors can hike the mile and a half Bent's Old Fort Hiking Trail that winds its way through the cottonwood trees alongside the Arkansas River. The marsh is home to several species of birds. Interpretive exhibit signs tell the story of the river ecosystem, Santa Fe Trail and Bent's Fort.


 

4. Community Theatre

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.  Picketwire Players performed their first play in 1968, and they have had a show or season of shows every year since that time. 

 

 

 


5. Tarantula Migration

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

For species that are present in Southeast Colorado the migration of the adult males take place from late August through September (into early October) and it is at this time of the season when Colorado tarantulas are most often observed.

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.