Located on Colorado’s southeastern plains, the statutory town of Manzanola sits between Pueblo and La Junta on US-50 East, near Rocky Ford. The Arkansas River flows just 1 mile to the north of downtown.
There isn’t much in the small community apart from a general store and cafe. The Otero County town was incorporated on July 9th, 1900, and has had its own operating post office since 1895. It resides at 4,255 above sea level and as of 2020 is home to about 341 people.
An apple orchard close by the townsite gave Manzanola its name which is derived from Spanish and means “red apple”. Before that, it was called the Town of Grams Ranch, the Town of Apishipa, and the Town of Catlin, in chronological order.
- Lake Meredith Reservoir has a handful of first-come, first-served campsites on the northern shore. There are vault toilets and the sites sit right on the lake, so it’s great for a fishing trip or any other water recreation. Beware though, the area is prone to windstorms so it’s better to camp in self-contained units rather than in a tent.
- Right to the north at Lake Henry, there are additional primitive sites along the shores of the smaller lake. Visitors have access to vault toilets and each site is non-reservable and free to use.
- There are 4 primitive campsites in Comanche National Grassland with no facilities except a vault toilet. The scattered spaces are perfect for tent or RV camping. There is limited cell reception, so it’s best to plan your trip before you arrive.
- Head north on CO-207 to the Arkansas River, which is a coveted spot for catching brown and rainbow trout.
- Lake Henry and Lake Meredith are right next to one another and both offer boat and shore fishing. They are stocked with everything from saugeye to catfish and are peaceful places to cast a line.
- Most of the hiking in this area is east towards La Junta. Explore Bent’s Old Fort on the 1.5-mile interpretive trail to learn more about the interesting historic site. A lot of the trail runs along the Arkansas River, perfect for a warm day.
- About an hour south in the Comanche National Grassland you’ll find the Withers Canyon trailhead. This trailhead provides access to a trail system with several options for exploring the canyon depending on how far you’d like to travel. Visitors note that it is very dry and there is little shade in the area, so bring extra water even if the temperature seems mild.
While you won’t find accommodation options in Manzanola, there is a small Inn right up the road in Fowler. If you’re in the market for a larger hotel or just more options, 24 minutes to the east you’ll find all of the best hotels in La Junta.
The Majestyk Cafe – A hidden gem along the highway if you’re in need of a delicious breakfast or lunch. Their menu is full of made-to-order burritos, sandwiches, and pizzas along with their popular fruit trays if you want a little extra color in your meal.
Activities near Manzanola