Comanche National Grassland FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

Camping:

  • Do you have RV facilities? We do not. We have primitive camping and two picnic areas that have vault toilets and picnic tables, but no facilities. There is an RV campsite just as you get into Springfield, right before the railroad tracks.
  • Where can I camp on the Comanche National Grassland? Technically, you can pitch a tent anywhere on the Comanche National Grassland except for Picketwire Canyon. You can camp at the Picketwire Corrals or the trailhead, but not down in Picketwire. We have some picnic areas that have vault toilets and picnic tables, but no facilities.
  • Is there a KOA in town? Not in Springfield. The free “Camp Colorado” guide is a good resource for KOA’s in Colorado.
  • Do you have information on camping in Colorado? The free “Camp Colorado” guide is a good resource for camping in Colorado.
  • What kind of facilities do your campgrounds have? We have what is referred to as “Primitive Camping.” There are vault toilets and picnic tables available but no drinking water or facilities.

Forest Service/ Comanche National Grassland:

  • How big is the Comanche National Grassland? We have over 440, 000 acres between the two units. The Springfield area has the majority with around 300, 000 acres and the remaining 100,000 is in the La Junta area.
  • Where can I camp on the Comanche National Grassland? Technically, you can pitch a tent anywhere on the Comanche National Grassland except for Picketwire Canyon. You can camp at the Picketwire Corrals or the trailhead, but not down in Picketwire. We have some picnic areas that have vault toilets and picnic tables, but no facilities.
  • Are there OHV/ ATV/ Off Road trails? At this time, the Comanche National Grassland does not have OHV access.
  • Do you give tours? There are guided auto tours for the Picketwire Canyon and those can be reserved by contacting the office in La Junta at 719-384-2181. There are not regularly scheduled tours for Picture Canyon. If staff is available, we can give tours to Picture Canyon for school groups. Why is the Comanche National Grassland so checker-boarded on the map? The Comanche National Grassland was formed when the Government bought land from the homesteaders during the Dust Bowl. Farmers could not make a living anymore and wanted to get out of the area. So the land is limited to that which was bought by Government and was eventually formed into the 20 National Grasslands.
  • What does the Forest Service do? The Forest Service has a mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
  • How can I tell what land is Forest Service and what is private? The best way to tell which land is Comanche National Grassland is to purchase a detailed map. It is broken down into square miles and is color coded for Federal, State, and private land. When you are out on the grassland, there is no clear way to determine if the land is private or Federal. Some allotments have signs, but not every pasture does.

Dinosaurs:

  • What happens if I find a dinosaur bone? If you happen to find something that looks like a dinosaur bone, you may contact our Zone Paleontologist at the La Junta office at 719-384-2181.
  • Where are the dinosaur tracks in Picture Canyon? At one time dinosaur tracks were found on top of the canyon wall. However, they were not excavated and have been covered by dirt and sand as time went by.
  • Where are the dinosaur tracks? The Comanche National Grassland has the longest set of dinosaur tracks in North America. These are located at Picketwire Canyon. For information, contact one of the offices at 719-384-2181 or 719-523-6591.
  • Do you take volunteers for digs? Volunteers are a vital part of the Forest Service and can participate in “dinosaur digs” or PIT projects. Information and applications can be found at www.passportintime.com.
  • What kind of dinosaurs made those tracks? There are several types of dinosaurs that made the tracks in Picketwire. Although we can not say which particular dinosaur made the tracks, we can say what type of dinosaur made them. Primarily there are two types: Allosaurus and Apatosaurus.

Hunting:

  • Can I hunt on the Comanche National Grassland? As long as you are legal with the State of Colorado, you can hunt for all game animals during their respective seasons. Additionally, we have a list of private landowners who tend to let people hunt for prairie dogs and/or coyotes.
  • Can I hunt prairie dogs? As of 08/25/2006 a licensed Colorado hunter may hunt prairie dogs on public lands during the seasonal dates set by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. For more information, read the PDF document from the CoDOW (64 KB) or contact the local DOW office.
  • Do you sell hunting licenses? The Comanche National Grassland manages the land whereas the Division of Wildlife manages the animals. You would need to purchase a license from the Division of Wildlife or an authorized dealer.
  • What kind of deer do you have? Mule deer are the more popular species on the Grassland, but the occasional white tail has been seen.
  • How are the numbers for elk? Deer? Grouse? For specific numbers of wildlife or for population densities, we refer you to the Division of Wildlife. The nearest office is in Lamar at 719-336-6600.
  • Can I use my ATV to retrieve game? As long as you are not causing resource damage, you may use the ATV to retrieve down game, utilizing the established public access roads.  We have copies of the MVUM (Motor Vehicle Use Map) in each office for public use. Be aware that heavy rains make the ground very soft and can be easily damaged.


Jobs:


Miscellaneous:

  • Can I hunt for arrowheads? The collection of projectile points, pottery, or any other archeological resource or artifact is not allowed (36 CFR 261.9 (h) without a permit. Projectile points include ‘arrowheads’ and any prehistoric human-modified stone. Archeological resource means any material remains of prehistoric or historic human life or activities, which are at least 50 years old, and includes the physical site, location, or context in which they are found (36 CFR 261.2). For a complete list of “Rules on Rockhounding” see the official handout.
  • What are pet regulations? Pets should be leashed at all times as there are cacti and snakes on the Grassland.
  • How do I get a cattle/ grazing permit? The Comanche National Grassland has four Grazing Associations: Timpas, Kim, Pritchett, and Campo that have permits for grazing. You would need to contact the local office for your area.
  • Can I bring my horse? The Grassland is a nice area to horseback ride. If you visit Picture Canyon, be aware the trail does have a horse cut-off that is safer for horse traffic. Any feed brought onto the Comanche National Grassland should be certified weed-free. Windmills and tanks are available throughout the Grassland for stock drinking water.
  • How much are the National Park passes and can I buy one? We have available the Golden Passport passes or similar. We do not have the temporary National Park passes. Contact the National Park you plan to visit for regulations.
  • Can Smokey Bear come visit the kids at the school? Smokey is available to spread the message of fire safety. Contact the local Fire Management Officer for detail, 719-523-6591.
  • What are those big windmills north of here? The big windmills are called turbines and generate electricity for various areas of the US. Each one can generate enough energy to run the town of Springfield. For for information, contact the Lamar Chamber of Commerce.
  • Can I harvest seed on the Comanche National Grassland? Seed harvesting is a possibility. Speak with the Range Management Officer for details, 719-523-6591.

Prairie Dogs:

  • Can I hunt prairie dogs? As of 08/25/2006 a licensed Colorado hunter may hunt prairie dogs on public lands during the seasonal dates set by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. For more information, read the PDF document from the CoDOW (64 KB) or contact the local DOW office.
  • Do you take relocated prairie dogs? We do not take relocated prairie dogs.


Rock Art:

  • Where is the rock art in Picture Canyon? I can tell you there is rock art in Picture Canyon; however, part of the adventure is finding it on your own. Vogel Canyon, near La Junta, has interpreted sites of Rock Art.
  • Where else is there Rock Art? Vogel Canyon, near La Junta, has interpreted sites of Rock Art.
  • Someone in my party is disabled and can’t walk to the rock art; can’t you give me a key to get in the gate? Forest Service policy prevents us from providing keys to the public. Accessible rock art is available at the Vogel Canyon picnic area.

Traveling:

  • What is the fastest way to Denver? If you travel to Denver through Lamar, Eads, and Limon, on Hwy 287, one can make it in 4 hours. This knocks off an hour’s driving time.
  • What is the most scenic way to La Junta? Hwy 109 from Kim to La Junta is a beautiful drive. The land turns into canyon lands and on a clear day, you can see the mountains in the distance.
  • How long a drive is it to _____________?
    • Lamar-45 minutes
    • La Junta- 2 hours
    • Pueblo – 3 hours
    • Colorado Springs – 4 hours
    • Denver- 5 hours via Pueblo, 4 hours via Limon
    • Elkhart, KS – 1 hour
    • Boise City – 1 hour
    • Amarillo – 3 hours
    • Trinidad – 2 hours
    • Black Mesa – 2 hours
  • Isn’t there a back way to get into Black Mesa? Driving time to Black Mesa is 2 hours whether via Boise City or via back roads. For the “back way”, and from Picture Canyon, travel North to Rd G (~ 4 miles), turn West on Rd G, travel 5 miles to Rd 13, turn South on Rd 13, travel ~15 miles to OK325, turn West on OK325 to Kenton (~10 miles). Contact the Black Mesa State Park for further details.
  • How are the roads to Picture Canyon  Other than Hwy 287 and Hwy 160, our roads are well traveled dirt roads. They are wide enough for traffic to pass, but can get very slushy during wet weather. If you happen to be at one of the recreation areas and get caught in a bad rain storm, wait it out and the wind will usually dry out the roads pretty quickly.

Wildlife:

  • When do the birds come? With over 250 species of birds spotted at various times on the Grasslands, the Comanche National Grassland is a popular area for birding. Typically, birds migrate through the area or breed in the area. That means early spring is a good time to start seeing the majority of birds. March-April is a typical time, especially to view the Lesser Prairie Chicken breeding ritual. Other birds reside here year-round.
  • What kind of bird do you have? Because the Comanche National Grassland is on threshold of two unique eco-systems, we are fortunate enough to experience overlapping bird species. The short grass prairie eco-system provides unique opportunities to see Lesser Prairie Chicken, Mountain Plover, Long-Billed Curlew, Burrowing Owls, Scaled Quail and various prairie raptors. The canyon land eco-system provides us with species which require more woody vegetation such as woodpeckers, thrushes, Eagles, falcons, jays, and bluebirds. With over 250 species of birds spotted at various times on the Grasslands, the Comanche National Grassland is a popular area for birding. A complete bird list is available online.
  • When do the wildflowers begin to bloom? Typically one can begin to see wildflowers in March or April. The Forest Service has a great wildflower program; watch for it in the spring.
  • There is a downed bird in my yard, can you come get it? The Division of Wildlife manages the animals on the Grassland. We can contact the local officer or you may contact them.
 

 

 




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