Las Animas County, Colorado

Towns and Villages in
Las Animas County

Attractions in
Las Animas County

Huerfano County, Colorado

Towns and Villages in
Huerfano County

Attractions in
Huefano County


Southern Colorado
Your Guide to Las Animas County and Huerfano County in Southern Colorado

Photo courtesy of Trinidad Graphics

Picketwire Canyonlands

Explore the traces left by Brontosaurus and Allosaurus, left behind as they walked along the muddy shoreline of an ancient shallow lake 150 million years ago. Today visitors to Picketwire Canyonlands can see these footprints in the Morrison rock formation. The Picketwire Canyonlands contain the longest documented longest dinosaur tracksite in North America. The trackways parallel the Purgatoire River for one quarter mile and contain 1,300 visible dinosaur tracks that comprise about 100 different trackways.

40% of the tracks were left by Brontosaurs, massive four-footed plant eaters. Parallel trackways indicate that several younger Brontosaurs were travelling as a group heading west along the shoreline of the old lake. This evidence of social behavior among young Brontosaurs is the first of its kind from the Morrison Formation.

60% of the tracks were left by Allosaurus, a two-footed, ferocious, meat eating scavenger, who possibly hunted in packs and left three-toed footprints behind.

There are a number of pieces of Rock Art (images carved or painted onto stone surfaces) found along the trail in Picketwire Canyonlands. Due to lack of research, little is known of the prehistoric American Indians of this area. Archaeologists think they were a nomadic, hunter-gatherer people whose visits to the area were short as they followed migrating game.

Some of the Rock Art in this area is estimated at 375 to 4500 years old. Further study of the area should yield more information about the artists.

The Dolores Mission and Cemetary was built sometime between 1871 and 1889 when Mexican pioneers first began permanent settlements in the valley. Partial remains of the mission and cemetary are still visible.

The Rourke Ranch, also known as the Wineglass Ranch, was a cattle and horse ranch founded by Eugene Rourke in 1871. Three generations of the Rourke family lived and worked on the ranch ensuring its survival over one hundred years. When the ranch was sold in 1971, it was known throughout southeast Colorado as one of the oldest and most successful local enterprises, expanding from Eugene's oristevel settlement of 40 acres to well over 52,000 acres.

Approximate mileages (one way):
Bulletin Board to Pipe Gate - 3.0 miles
Bulletin Board to Purgatoire River - 4.0 miles
Bulletin Board to Cemetary - 6.7 miles
Bulletin Board to Dinosaur Tracks - 8.3 miles
Bulletin Board to Rourke Ranch - 11.7 miles

Access is limited to hiking, nonmotorized bicycles and horseback.
Usage is heavy in spring and fall, moderate in summer and light in winter.

The Canyonlands is only open from dawn to dusk and there is no overnight camping.

Photo courtesy of Trinidad Graphics

For more information...

Comanche National Grassland. 1420 E. 3rd Street, La Junta, Colorado 81050. Phone: 719-384-2181.

Cities and Towns near Picketwire Canyonlands

Branson.  Branson is located on the plains of eastern Las Animas County.

Trinidad.  Trinidad, Colorado is the county seat of Las Animas County. Located between exits 11 and 15 on the I-25 at the foot of Fisher's Peak (elevation: 9,665 ft.)

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

Photo courtesy of Trinidad Graphics

Photo courtesy of Trinidad Graphics

Photo courtesy of Trinidad Graphics

Photo courtesy of Trinidad Graphics

Photo courtesy of Trinidad Graphics

Photo courtesy of Trinidad Graphics

Photo courtesy of Trinidad Graphics

Photo courtesy of Trinidad Graphics
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