If you have had the opportunity to visit the Picketwire Canyonlands, at least once, you would understand why hundreds of families come here to spend their holiday each year. Time spent in this historic place is always a charm.
Hikers, historians, and writers who want to craft a good research paper about dinosaurs, should visit the Canyonlands on a regular basis. It features the largest dinosaur tracks in Norht America, plus prehistoric rock art and ancient ruins.
Activities at the Picketwire Canyonlands
Hidden, yet easily accessed in Southeast Colorado, Picketwire is located within the Comanche National Grassland, close to La Junta. There are many side attractions and things that will make you become a regular visitor to the Canyonlands.
Besides dinosaur tracks, there are incredible Spanish expeditions, ancient ruins, restaurants, that make this site worth visiting. Before visiting, it’s good to know more about the Picketwire Canyonlands to help you plan your trip.
Here are the top activities to explore when you finally visit this historical site.
1. Ancient Dinosaur Tracks
You can join hundreds of visitors to check out the footprints of dinosaurs in the mud of the Canyonlands, which are over 150 million years old. Explore more than 1300 tracks left by early dinosaurs in 100 different trackways. A trip to this location with your family will help them acquire more knowledge about dinosaurs, from existence to extinction. The dinosaur track site sits on the bank of the famous Purgatoire River in southeastern Colorado.
The footprints left on the mud are that of the Allosaurus and Brontosaurs. And they are the reason the Picketwire Canyonlands is a national treasure as far as dinosaur prints are concerned. A significant portion, about 40 percent of the total tracks left in this region are from the Brontosaurs, known as the plant-eating dinosaurs.
Tips for incredible dinosaur track experience:
- Make sure you follow the instructions of tour guides to learn more about the place. Scientists have been able to get more information about dinosaurs’ social behavior through this track site.
- Tour guides will show you how to identify smaller dinosaur tracks in the area. You will also be able to tell if the footprint belongs to a carnivorous theropod or dinosaur.
2. Rock Art Images from Prehistoric People
The dinosaur tracks aren’t the only things that make the Picketwire Canyonlands a treasured tourist destination. There are plenty of artwork, stone tools, pottery and relics left behind by prehistoric visitors. In fact, the kind of artwork and materials you will find in this region will marvel you.
If you are planning to view the rock art images in the park, let the tour guides take you there. These paintings on rock surfaces are somehow difficult to find. It’s easy to fall in love with the artwork created by those from the past.
Tips on the rock art tour:
Rules are governing this area. So when you get here, you have to abide by them, so you don’t get on the wrong side of the law. Here are a few tips:
- Do not damage or remove any item you find on this site. Moving or damaging evidence can destroy scientific evidence for other future visitors.
- Do not touch, or apply any material to enhance the appearance of the rock art. These arts are highly sensitive and could wear out when continuously touched.
- Report anyone you find defacing, vandalizing or stealing any material to the appropriate authority. The US forest service is always open to persecute those who violate such lands protected under the federal law.
- Visitors are allowed to take pictures but forbidden from disturbing or touching the rock art.
3. The Historical Rourke Ranch – Wineglass Ranch
You’ll be amazed when you visit the Rourke Ranch, which was used primarily to raise horses and cattle. This ranch was founded in 1871 by Eugene Rourke and was named one of the most successful businesses in southeast Colorado at the time of its selling in 1971.
The Rourke Ranch occupies an impressive 52,000 acres of land, grown from an original 40 acre settlement, and is among the oldest in the region. The interesting thing is even after many years, ranching still serves as a significant source of livelihood for in this area.
Things allowed into the Rourke Ranch:
According to My Paper, there are dos and don’ts which visitors to the ranch are expected to follow.
- Hiking and using non-motorized bicycles in this area is allowed.
- Visitors are also permitted to do horseback riding in the area.
- Close the gate when you enter and exit the ranch.
- Ranching remains a significant source of livelihood in this place, so avoid disturbing the livestock.
4. Guided Auto Tour
The US Forestry Service provides guided auto tours to visitors by appointment. These tours are the only motorized access into the canyons, providing the easiest way to see these incredible sights. They usually operate during May (cancelled for 2020), June, September as well as October.
Experience guides will lead you to the dinosaur tracks and explain their history. You’ll also get a knowledgeable tour of the prehistoric canyons other manmade and natural landmarks.
- Cost for adults – $15
- Cost for children – $7.5
Tips for Visiting Picketwire Canyonlands
From the dinosaur tracks scattered around the famous Purgatoire Valley to the eye-popping rock arts left by the prehistoric hunters and nomads, you will enjoy every bit of your stay in the Picketwire Canyonlands. You can visit the area with your family members, but ensure you follow the rules guiding the area.
Safety tips for Picketwire Canyonlands:
- Do not exceed your limit or that of the weakest person in your group while hiking.
- It is extremely dangerous to go hiking alone. Try to inform someone of your routine before embarking on your solo hiking trips.
- Prepare yourself for the heat during the summer period or sudden weather change. Temperate could range from 90 F – 150 F in this region. And you would walk under the sun throughout your trip.
- Restrain your pets or avoid carrying them along.
Follow the tips in this post to explore everything the Picketwire Canyonlands has to offer.