Friday, September 27, 2013

Picket Wire Canyonlands La Junta, CO

I headed into Southeastern Colorado in a continuing effort to dodge the rainy weather.  Contained within the Comanche National Grasslands in southeastern Colorado, Picket Wire Canyonlands offer great hiking and photo opportunities to the adventuresome.  Some 350 feet deep and rimmed by substantial cliff faces of sandstone, these canyons offer truly great hiking opportunities where access is permitted. One such place is the Picket Wire Canyonlands area, located about 11 miles south of La Junta.  There is a small six campsite spot at the trail head to
Picket Wire where I camped for three days for free.
 
The Tank at the Picket Wire trail head campsite.
There is no fresh water or facilities at the trail head campsite beyond a vault toilet so it's necessary to pack in everything you need.
 
Picket Wire Canyon from the top rim.
There are about 17 miles of trails through the Canyonlands so my original thought was to ride Wally the mountain bike until I saw this sign at the beginning of the trail.
 
"Beware of flats!"
So I decided to hoof it.  The initial trail down into the canyon from the trail head was really rough with a lot of loose rocks just waiting to turn an unsuspecting ankle.
 
One false step and you're on crutches.
There was a helpful sign that listed the mileage to the three main attractions in the canyon.  As it was 94 degrees I chose to visit the Delores Mission.
 

The trail to the mission was basically a two-track that was easy to walk along.
 
The path to the Delores Mission.
The Dolores Mission and Cemetery was built between 1871 and 1889 by Mexican pioneers settling the Picket Wire valley. Partial remains of the Mission and Cemetery are still visible. This site is about 3.7 miles from the trail head.
The remains of the Delores Mission.
 I made a planning mistake by only bringing a one liter water bottle for the hike.  I had a backpack back at the Tank that I should have loaded up with at least two more liters.  The instructions at the trail head said to bring one gallon per hiker and it's good advice.
 
8.42 miles round trip! 
I recommend Picket Wire Canyonlands both as a camping site and a great hiking location.  You'll love it!

Thanks for reading!