For an unforgettable experience, explore Picketwire (Purgatoire) Canyonlands on the Comanche National Grasslands south of La Junta. These primitive canyons are home to the largest known set of dinosaur tracks in North America, Native American rock art, early Hispanic settlements and a historic ranch. A variety of wildlife inhabits the area, including deer, antelope, coyote, snakes, lizards and birds.
150 millions years ago, this area was part of a large, shallow lake and was teaming with Brontosaurs and Allosaurs. As these massive beasts plodded along the muddy edge of this lake they left their footprints in the mud, which were eventually buried and turned to stone. Today, over 1,300 of these footprints, extending on a 1/4 mile plain, are exposed at the Picketwire Canyonlands dinosaur track site. Forty percent of the tracks were left by the Brontosaurs, a massive, four-footed plant eater. Parallel trackways indicate that several younger Brontosaurus were traveling as a group heading west along the shoreline, which is the first evidence of social behavior among younger brontosaurs from the Morrison Formation. The remaining sixty percent of the tracks were left by the Allosaurus, a two footed, ferocious, meat eating scavenger who possibly hunted in packs and left three toed footprints behind.
Native American Rock Art can be found in Picketwire Canyon. Very little is known of the prehistoric Native Americans of this area, but archaeologists suspect they were nomadic hunter-gatherers whose visits were short as they followed migrating game. Some of the rock art in this area may be 375 to 4500 years old. Please do not touch or disturb rock art in any way.