Crack Cave, an opening in the rock walls along the Picture Canyon trail, is closed to hikers for most of the year. The cave is only opened for free tours on the days of the Spring and Fall Equinox, when thousand-year-old markings on the cave’s walls are briefly illuminated by sunlight.
Picketwire Canyon offers the most strenuous hiking in the Grasslands, with out-and-back options that stretch from two to 17 miles in length. The Picketwire Canyonlands are home to more rock art, but also more than 1,300 apatosaurus and allosaurus tracks left about 150 million years ago.
Getting there: To reach Picture Canyon, leave Springfield south on Highway 287. Reach the town of Campo after 20 miles, and turn right onto County Road J. Follow this for 10 miles, then turn left onto County Road 18. After five miles, turn right at the Picture Canyon sign and drive another mile to the trailhead.
To reach Picketwire Canyon, leave La Junta on Highway 109, and drive 13 miles. Turn left onto Vogel Canyon Road (County Road 802), and drive eight more miles. Turn left onto County Road 25, and follow this six miles to the Corral Parking Area. From here, drive or hike a high-clearance jeep road three miles to the canyon parking area.
Cover photo by Jeffrey Beall