La Junta rests on the plains of Colorado, in the south east, and can see the mountains in the horizon on a clear day. The spirit of La Junta has remained much the same as it was during pioneer days, and many of the local attractions are based on the history surrounding one of the nation’s first great trade routes, the Santa Fe Trail.
1. Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
© Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
For history buffs, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is the perfect visit filled with accurately recreated sights, sounds, and smells from the past. The adobe site is a reconstruction of a fur trading post from the mid 19th century, part of the Santa Fe Trail, and is staffed by historians who work hard to spread their knowledge of the location and time period to visitors. What was once a small trading post on the Mountain Branch, a location where trappers would bring furs, traders would peruse goods, and travelers would rest, is now a tourist destination filled with learning opportunities for the whole family.
35110 State Highway 194 E., La Junta, CO 81050, Phone: 719-383-5010
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2. Koshare Indian Museum
The Koshare Indian Museum tells the story of Native American tribes in the area through both exhibits as well as dance performances. This museum has a unique history in that it wasn’t founded by historians, but rather by a local Boy Scout troop during the beginning of the Great Depression. Over the course of fifty-four years this Boy Scout worked hard under the knowledgeable guidance of their Scoutmaster to collect and preserve Native American and Western arts, as well as regional artifacts that held historical significance. The museum is open for tours with varying hours, and performance schedules are best acquired by contacting the museum directly.
115 W 18th Street, La Junta, Colorado 81050, Phone: 719-384-4411
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3. Picketwire Canyonlands
© Tomasz Zajda/stock.adobe.com
Visitors to La Junta who are looking for an outdoor adventure filled with exercise, history, and beautiful vistas will want to spend time in the Comanche National Grasslands just south of La Junta. Within these grasslands are the Picketwire Canyonlands, which are home to one of the largest known and recorded set of prehistoric dinosaur tracks in all of North America. In addition to this the area is packed full of Native American rock art, settlements from early Hispanic travelers, and even a historic ranch for guests to explore. Biking, hiking, horseback riding, and general sightseeing are all recommended in the Picketwire Canyonlands. Browse our Weekend Getaways in Colorado guide for more ideas.
1420 E 3rd St, La Junta, CO 81050, Phone: 719-384-2181
4. Things to Do in La Junta: Otero Museum
© Otero Museum
Originally incorporated in 1984, the Otero Museum was established to document and illustrate the rich and diverse history of Otero County, in southeastern Colorado, a region of the United States once known as part of the “wild west.” The Otero Museum covers a wide range of exhibits and history, including transportation, military uniforms and tactics, postal offices and practices, agricultural tools and displays, various local businesses, schools and their curriculum, and many other aspects of pioneering life. Anyone interested in this time period will find items and history of great interest in the Otero Museum.
PO Box 223, 3rd & Anderson Ave., La Junta, CO 81050, Phone: 719-384-7500, (website link)
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5. Vogel Canyon
Originally carved out of the land by a tributary of the Purgatoire River, the Vogel Canyon now has three permanent fresh springs within its boundaries, at the bottom of the canyon. This canyon came into focus when it was included in part of the 1870s Santa Fe Trail, and was developed by the Barlow and Sanderson Mail and Stage Line as the quickest way to and from La Junta. The canyon is filled with plenty of flora and fauna for guests to view, and holds some of the locally rated best hiking in La Junta. Guests can walk the old stagecoach path while also seeing Native American rock art, wildlife, and more.
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6. Things to Do in La Junta: CrossRoads MarketPlace
Conscientious shoppers will definitely want to stop by the CrossRoads MarketPlace, as it is the primary thrift and fair trade gift shop in La Junta. This shop is a non-profit that is sponsored by the Mennonite churches of the Arkansas Valley to support children and families in need in lesser fortunate countries. Aside from being a thrift store, where they sell goods, clothing, and other items at a fraction of retail prices, the CrossRoads MarketPlace is also a center for donations. For visitors seeking fair trade gifts, guilt-free shopping, and a chance to support a local charity, a visit to the CrossRoads MarketPlace should definitely be in the itinerary.
211 Colorado Avenue, La Junta, Colorado 81050, Phone: 719-838-3458
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7. Jodi’s Grill
Jodi Hughes, the founder of Jodi’s Grill, is a local celebrity who had worked at two different local restaurants for a total of twenty-four years. Everyone knows Jodi, so when she decided to open her own restaurant it was met with great enthusiasm and success. In 2010 Jodi’s Grill officially opened in a 3,500 square foot building, capable of seating 100 people at once, and immediately drew in crowds to eat Jodi’s famous pepper steak and homemade blue cheese salad dressing. Jodi’s Grill is a local favorite, and anyone passing through this historic town will definitely want to stop and try Jodi’s cooking.
208 Santa Fe Ave. La Junta, CO 81050, Phone: 719-384-1408
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