Rock Art in Southeastern Colorado

After a long drive across Oklahoma, we were ready to stretch our legs. We selected three rock art areas to explore in southeastern Colorado: Picture Canyon, Vogel Canyon, and Hicklin Springs.

rock art


Picture CanyonPicture Canyon

We parked the RV at Campo and took the Jeep on a gravel road to Picture Canyon located in the Comanche National Grassland. We arrived in the parking lot and strapped on our day packs. None of the visited website or book guides said exactly where to find the rock art, so we started down the Arch Trail.

Our first stop was exciting and unexpected. A small pond near the trail was filled with huge bullfrogs.



rock art southern coloradoWe headed through an open area then up to the top of the canyon. After a long hike across slick rocks and across another open plateau area we became discouraged. We hadn't seen any rock art. We decided to turn around.

On our hike back toward the Jeep, we walked along a cliff and finally found a cavern with rock art.

Although we enjoyed a great hike in a beautiful canyon area, we were a little disappointed by the rock art. Although there are a few excellent drawings (at top of page and on right), there were many areas that had been defaced. Hopefully this is not representative of the other two sites we plan to visit tomorrow.

Drive to La Junta

We drove the Jeep back to our RV parking area and hooked up to complete our drive for the day. We experienced a minor mishap driving the back roads of Highway 160 toward La Junta (southeastern Colorado). A nasty wind caught one of the awnings and it began unrolling. The lock must have vibrated out of position as we traveled. The narrow two-lane road didn't have a shoulder so we had to stop on the road. Luckily the highway was very flat and had little traffic, so we could get out and try to roll up the awning. After many attempts we decided it was just too windy and dangerous. We opened the side window and Annette held the awning while we limped to an intersection (160 and 109) where we could turn away from the wind and fix the problem.... the joys of RVing!

Vogel Canyon

After spending the night at the La Junta KOA, we were ready for another adventure. The trail through Vogel Canyon was great and included a variety of plant and animal life.

butterflies and flowers southern colorado lizard

We found the ruins and rock art at Vogel Canyon better than Picture Canyon. Although this location also showed signs of vandalism, the rock art was much better and more plentiful.

In addition, we explored the ruins of old ranch buildings.

vogel ruins

We particularly enjoyed photographing the lizards playing in the rocks.

southern colorado lizardlizard

After leaving Vogel Canyon, we traveled back roads east across ranch country for our final stop. Just south of Las Animas we smelled something awful and soon realized that we'd found the hog confinement farms. Yuck! We were glad to continue east away from the smell.


Hicklin Springs

The highlight of our explorations in this region was our stop at Hicklin Springs. This area is not found in most guidebooks or websites. It's off the beaten path and involves a very bumpy dirt ranch road south of the John Martin Reservoir. We had a great time climbing around the boulders looking for hidden artwork.

Jeep and rock art southern coloradorock art southern coloradolarry and rock art southern colorado


rock art southern colorado

Filled with wonderful rock art, we could have spent days working our way along a long rocky area. In addition to ancient artwork, some people believe there are inscriptions left by Vikings at this location.

The photos below show Annette crawling through a crack in the rocks to find a wonderland of rock art on the side of a ledge. She sat on the ledge and had a great time photographing and sketching.

hicklin springs annettehicklin springs annette

hicklin springs annettehicklin springs annette

The walls were filled with a wide variety of subjects including plants and animals.

rock art southern coloradorock art southern colorado


Drive Back

On the drive back toward La Junta we encountered a number of snakes in and along the gravel roads. The day had warmed up earlier but mid-afternoon brought dropping temperatures and blowing winds. It must be the beginning of snake season!


We had hoped to visit Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site; however, when we pulled in the parking lot we realized that they were closing for the day. We'll have to save this for this next time.

On the way back into town, we made a quick decision to eat at the Hog's Breath Saloon in La Junta. We had a fantastic prime rib dinner!

Created by Annette Lamb, 5/05.