Picturing the Past at Comanche National Grassland

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Roughly 443,000 acres of southern Colorado are swept with golden prairie, rugged canyons, and lush juniper forests within the Comanche National Grassland. Tucked away in this diverse landscape is the historical cave art and Jurassic tracks unique to the area.   

Within the park, Picket Wire trail unveils new chapters of Colorado’s history throughout the winding steps of the 17.6-mile journey. Travel back 150 million years into a world roamed by plant-eating Brontosauruses and carnivorous Allosauruses. The website covers many sights among the grassland, including the 1,400 individual dinosaur tracks left behind where paleontologists are able to collect insight on the dinosaurs’ behavior.

Fast forward from the Jurassic period to 1,500 years ago and the rock art pecked and painted throughout the canyon walls tell the stories of the original human settlers. The creations among the rocks depict the traditions of the early Native American people, including spiritual values and successful hunts. 

The next stop on the journey lands in the 19th century among abandoned homesteads and the Dolores Mission and Cemetery. A peek into the life of early settlers can be imagined where covered wagons rolled along the Santa Fe Trail as pioneers packed up their families in search for a life out West. 

Comanche National Grassland also teems with life. The animal species found within the landscape include bobcats, antelopes, quail, golden eagles, bald eagles, pronghorns, coyotes, hawks, burrowing owls, wild turkeys, badgers, prairie dogs, turtles, roadrunners, lizards, Lesser Prairie Chickens, the Swift Foxes and more. 

The area is open to all ages and physical levels. Some hiking and picnicking areas such as Vogel Canyon are wheelchair accessible. Hiking areas such as Picket Wire Canyon is recommended for all hikers, bikers and horseback riders in excellent physical condition due to the length and intensity of the trail. A guided auto tour is also available for the Picket Wire Canyon trail. 

Summer and early fall temperatures can crest 100 degrees. It is advised to dress and pack accordingly for the weather and be aware of flash floods and potential encounters with rattlesnakes. 

-Natasha Lovato