DescriptionThis was once la junta—the junction—where the main and southern routes of the old Santa Fe Trail divided. Bent's Fort, a major trading post, was just to the east. In 1875, with the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad, La Junta (HUN-ta) became a major hub on the route, and the hoot of the locomotive replaced the rumble of wagon wheels.
La Junta is still a junction, but the term now refers to the numerous state and federal highways that converge in the town. One of these, US 50, is part of the scenic and historic Santa Fe Trail route that continues on as US 350 heading southwest out of La Junta. La Junta also is a major cattle- and produce-shipping center for the lower Arkansas Valley.
Nearby Holbrook Lake provides a setting for water skiing, fishing, boating and camping. The northern unit of Comanche National Grassland lies southwest of town. Vogel Canyon, 13 miles south on SR 109, then following signs, is within the grassland. Several trails beginning at the parking lot lead to scenic overlooks and rock art.
Also part of the grassland is Picket Wire Canyonlands where, in addition to rock art, one of the nation's largest known set of dinosaur tracks (more than 1,300 footprints) can be seen. Picket Wire Canyon is about 13 miles past Vogel Canyon. Note: Only experienced hikers in good physical condition should attempt the trek to Picket Wire Canyon. Guided full-day auto tours are offered on Saturdays in May, June, September and October; participants must have their own high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle. These tours are the only way cars may be taken into the canyon. Contact the Comanche National Grasslands office, 1420 E. 3rd. St. in La Junta, (719) 384-2181, for information and reservations.
Visitor InfoLa Junta Chamber of Commerce 110 Santa Fe Ave. LA JUNTA, CO 81050. Phone:(719)384-7411
Things to SeeBent's Old Fort National Historic Site