Picket Wire Trail

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Winding through numerous natural, archeological, and historical wonders, the 17.6-mile Picket Wire Canyon Trail in southeastern Colorado will transport you into the past. You’ll see 150 million-year-old dinosaur footprints, prehistoric Native American rock art, ruins from the Dolores Mission and Cemetery, and the old Rourke cattle ranch.

Prehistoric Footprints

What Will I See?
  • North America’s largest assemblage of dinosaur tracks
  • A variety of animal species including bobcat, antelope, quail, bald eagles, and rattlesnakes
  • Rourke Ranch is an excellent example of the late 19th century blend of Hispanic and Euro-American adobe and jacal style architecture
About This Destination

Spanning approximately 443,765 acres in southeastern Colorado, the Comanche National Grassland is the result of the Forest Service’s rehabilitation efforts  on land once devastated by the dust bowl. Today, you will find a flourishing grassland ecosystem, managed to conserve and utilize the natural resources of grass, water and wildlife habitat and to protect prehistoric and historic areas.

What Should I Know?

Amenities: Vault toilets at trailhead, dinosaur tracks and Rourke Ranch

Operating Hours: Daylight use only; overnight camping is not allowed in the Picket Wire Canyonlands

Fee: (auto tour only) $15 per adult (13+), $7.50 per child

No potable water in the canyon. Carry at least one gallon of water per person.

Difficulty: Because of the trail’s length and difficulty, visitors should be in excellent physical condition. The trail descends 250 feet in elevation and crosses a shallow river. Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders are all welcome on the trail.

Tours: Picket Wire Guided Auto Tours are the only motorized access into the canyon. Visitors must provide their own 4-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle. The tour lasts from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check the schedule before making reservations.

Safety: Review the Picket Wire Canyon Auto Tour safety checklist.