USFS Starts Spring Tours of Picketwire Canyonlands


Excavation Work


LA JUNTA, Colorado – March 23, 2018 – The U.S. Forest Service will offer guided tours into Picket Wire Canyonlands south of La Junta on the Comanche National Grassland. Spring tours begin Saturday,  May 5 through June 30, 2018. Tours take place on Saturdays during May and June.

These primitive canyons are home to the largest documented grouping of dinosaur trackways in North America. Apatosaurus and Allosaurus are two types of dinosaurs that left prints along the muddy lake shore 150 million years ago. Over 1900 prints in 130 separate trackways can be viewed during the tour. Tour guides will also point out hundreds of tracks that have recently been exposed.

Other stops during this unique day trip include visits to a rock art site created by Native Americans who thrived in this canyon many years ago. The Dolores Mission and cemetery was built by Hispanic settlers in the late 1880s and donated to the Catholic Church in 1889. In 2007, the Catholic Church donated it to the U.S. Forest Service.  Rourke Ranch, established by Eugene Rourke in 1871, was one of the largest and most successful ranches in southeast Colorado that lasted for over 100 years.  Rourke Ranch Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Guided auto tours are the easiest way to experience Picket Wire Canyonlands and learn about its rich and colorful past. During the tour, knowledgeable guides will highlight interesting paleontological, prehistoric, historic and natural features of these canyons.  All day tours (8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) are offered on Saturdays in May, June, September and October for a fee.  Due to rough roads, visitors will need their own four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle.  To make reservations go to: or call 877-444-6777.

For additional information about Picket Wire Canyonlands or the Comanche National Grassland, call the U.S. Forest Service at 719-384-2181 or visit the web site at:

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