Nestled in the heart of southeastern Colorado, La Junta is a charming town that often goes unnoticed by travelers. However, this hidden gem has much to offer for those seeking a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience. From historical landmarks to outdoor adventures, La Junta has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll explore the top things to do in La Junta, Colorado.
- Koshare Indian Museum: Begin your journey by delving into the rich Native American history at the Koshare Indian Museum. This unique museum showcases an impressive collection of Native American artifacts and artwork. The highlight of the museum is the Koshare Indian Kiva, a round room adorned with vibrant murals depicting Native American culture. Visitors can also enjoy live performances and demonstrations that provide insight into the area’s indigenous heritage.
- Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site: History enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to Bent’s Old Fort, a meticulously reconstructed trading post that once played a crucial role in the 19th-century fur trade. Costumed interpreters bring the fort to life, offering a glimpse into the daily activities of traders, trappers, and Plains Indian tribes. Guided tours provide fascinating insights into the region’s history and the importance of the fort as a cultural crossroads.
- Picketwire Canyonlands: For outdoor enthusiasts, Picketwire Canyonlands is a must-visit destination. This expansive area offers hiking and biking trails with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The real highlight, however, is the dinosaur tracks. Picketwire Canyon is home to one of the largest and most well-preserved sets of dinosaur tracks in North America. Guided tours take visitors through the canyon, providing a unique opportunity to connect with the prehistoric past.
- La Junta Raceway: Adrenaline junkies will find their haven at the La Junta Raceway. This local racetrack hosts various events throughout the year, showcasing everything from stock car races to motocross competitions. Check the schedule and plan your visit to experience the thrill of high-speed racing in a vibrant community atmosphere.
- Otero Museum: Dive deeper into the history of La Junta at the Otero Museum. Housed in a historic building, this museum offers a comprehensive look at the development of the region, from the early pioneers to the present day. Exhibits include artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays, providing a well-rounded perspective on the cultural evolution of La Junta.
- Lunch at a Local Eatery: After a day of exploration, recharge at one of La Junta’s local eateries. From classic diners to cozy cafes, the town offers a variety of dining options. Sample local flavors and savor the hospitality of this close-knit community.
- John Martin Reservoir State Park: Nature lovers will find solace in the scenic beauty of John Martin Reservoir State Park. This expansive park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, hiking, and birdwatching. The reservoir is known for its diverse bird population, making it a prime spot for bird enthusiasts. Pack a picnic, enjoy the serene surroundings, and perhaps try your hand at catching some of the region’s freshwater fish.
- Rock Art Sites: Explore the rich cultural heritage of the area by visiting the rock art sites scattered across the region. These ancient petroglyphs and pictographs provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives and beliefs of the indigenous people who once inhabited the area. Local guides can lead you to these hidden gems, offering insights into the symbolism and significance of the rock art.
- Arkansas Valley Windmill Museum: Gain a unique perspective on the agricultural history of La Junta at the Arkansas Valley Windmill Museum. This museum showcases a collection of beautifully restored windmills, illustrating their role in providing water for farming in the arid climate of the region. Visitors can learn about the technology and innovation behind these iconic structures, as well as their impact on the local economy.
- Community Events and Festivals: Check the local event calendar for community gatherings, festivals, and celebrations. La Junta hosts various events throughout the year, bringing the community together in a lively and vibrant atmosphere. From cultural festivals to fairs, these events provide an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and connect with residents.
- Golf at La Junta Golf Club: Enjoy a leisurely round of golf at the La Junta Golf Club. This well-maintained course offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape and provides a relaxing way to spend a day outdoors. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a casual player, the La Junta Golf Club welcomes enthusiasts of all skill levels.
- Stroll through Downtown La Junta: Take a leisurely stroll through the charming streets of downtown La Junta. Explore local shops, boutiques, and galleries that showcase the town’s unique character. Admire historic architecture, and don’t forget to stop for a coffee or ice cream at one of the quaint cafes.
Conclusion: La Junta, Colorado, might not be the first destination that comes to mind, but it’s certainly a place worth exploring. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor adventures, or simply enjoying the warmth of a small town, La Junta has it all. Take the time to uncover the hidden gems of this charming community, and you’ll be rewarded with a memorable and enriching experience.