For a unique and unforgettable family experience, tour the Picket Wire Canyonlands. Located on the Comanche National Grassland south of La Junta, Colorado, these rugged and remote canyons are home to the largest dinosaur tracksite in North America! Guided auto tours are the easiest way to experience Picket Wire Canyonlands and learn about its amazing, colorful past. During the tour, knowledgeable guides will show you difficult to find dinosaur tracks, as well as share the history of the early pioneers and their historic ranches and homesteads, some of the rich Native American history, and the beautiful natural features of the canyons. This auto tour truly does offer something for everyone and is the only motorized access into the canyons.
You must provide your own 4-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle (e.g., truck or SUVs only). All-wheel-drive vehicles, ATVs and UTVs are NOT allowed to participate in the tour. The tour visits remote areas that are not within reasonable distance of a gas station or a place to purchase food or beverages. There is no drinkable water in the canyon. The shale on the access roads can cause flat tires, and because of this your vehicle must also contain a functional spare tire. Cell phone service is typically not available in the canyon.
This tour lasts eight hours. You must provide your own lunch, water, snacks, hat, sunscreen, water shoes, a full tank of gas and a good functional spare tire.
Please read the Picket Wire Canyonlands, Guided Auto Tour Safety Checklist shown below for important tour and safety information.
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All tour participants 18+ years old must read through the safety checklist. Visitors on the tour are responsible for providing their own 4-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle. ALL-WHEEL-DRIVE, MINIVANS, RVs, SEDAN TYPE, ATV and UTV VEHICLES ARE NOT ALLOWED . Tours are limited to a maximum of 40 people and are conducted by a U.S. Forest Service tour guide. Please meet at the U.S. Forest Service, Comanche National Grassland office (1420 E. 3rd St. La Junta, CO 81050) at 8 a.m. the day of the tour. Plan for a full day; from 8 a.m. to about 4 p.m. You must stay with the tour group for the full duration of the tour. It is not possible to participate in a partial tour or leave the tour early due to access restrictions. Tours may be subject to cancellation due to adverse weather or road conditions. If a tour is cancelled for this reason, every attempt will be made to reschedule.
Be aware of the potential risks and to take safety precautions at all times while on the tour. Children under the age of 18 are the COMPLETE responsibility of their accompanying adults/guardians. THERE MUST BE ONE ADULT FOR EVERY 5 CHILDREN. Please do not let your children wander away from the tour.
NO PETS ALLOWED.
Drinking water is not available on the tour. Bring a minimum of 2 quarts of water per person. Carry extra water in your vehicle.
Restrooms are available at the office (morning), at the dinosaur tracksite (noon), and at Rourke Ranch (last stop of the day at about. 3:00 p.m.).
High-top hiking boots are recommended. --- Bring WATER SHOES or old sneakers for crossing the river at the dinosaur tracks. --- BE PREPARED FOR EXTREME WEATHER! Wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellent and loose breathable clothing for hot weather and layer clothing for cold or changing weather conditions. --- Bring rain gear. It is often at least 10 degrees warmer in the canyon than on the plains above.
Reptiles and insects live in the canyon. AVOID TALL GRASS , and WATCH WHERE YOU SIT AND PLACE YOUR HANDS AND FEET. --- Deer flies, mosquitoes, gnats and bees are common. Bring insect repellent and an EPI-PEN if you are allergic to insect stings. --- Trails in the canyon have loose rocks, wire, cactus, and animal burrows. WATCH YOUR STEP. --- Be prepared for changing weather conditions and high winds. If the weather looks like rain, the tour may leave the canyon early. --- Bring all medications needed for a 24-hour period. --- Bring a first aid kit.
Be aware - the river may look shallow but may have sudden deep drop-offs and the water can have a swift current especially after rains. --- Tour guides will determine whether or not the river is safe to cross based on its depth and current. You assume your own risk if you choose to cross the river. --- FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY CHILDREN MUST BE SUPERVISED AT ALL TIMES.
Four wheel drive, high clearance vehicles and an experienced driver are required for the tour. --- The tour follows a narrow dirt road that may be extremely bumpy, please use 4-wheel drive if the tour guides request it. Your vehicle may scrape vegetation, have a flat tire, or have damage to your axle or frame if not careful. --- Sharp and blind curves exist. PLEASE DRIVE SLOWLY AT ALL TIMES . --- Be aware that hikers, horse and bicycle riders, and wildlife share the road. Stop your vehicle only in flat locations.
Cell phone service is typically unavailable in the canyon.
It is critical to respect the health and safety of yourself and others. Please practice social distancing among people outside of your own vehicle passengers. Everyone is required to wear a mask even if vaccinated due to the rapidly evolving Delta Variant in the following instances: when inside a U.S. Forest Service building, when in proximity to others outside of your vehicle.