La Junta is the seat of southeast Colorado’s Otero County.
The town was founded in 1881, and though it’s got just 7,000 residents, it’s the most populous municipality in the area.
The state’s southeast portion is part of the Great Plains that stretch into the neighboring states of Kansas and Oklahoma, and there is an abundance of activities for visitors to choose from.
Day trips to Colorado Springs and Pueblo are popular options, but for those who choose to stay closer to home, there are plenty of historical attractions, as well as state and national parks close by.
Below are 15 things to do in La Junta, Colorado.
1. Koshare Indian Museum
Long before it was officially settled, Colorado was home to a number of Native American tribes. The Koshare Indian Museum on West 18th Street in La Junta is the perfect place to learn about them.
The museum is different than many of its contemporaries in that it was founded by civic and history-minded local Boy Scouts in the years of the Great Depression.
Under the tutelage of their scout leader, the group set about amassing an impressive collection of Native American artifacts that tell a remarkably complete story of the culture’s fascinating histories.
The museum also hosts special events that include traditional dance and artwork and regularly scheduled guided tours.
2. Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
The Bent’s Fort National Historic Site is located on State Route 194 in La Junta. It is a must-visit attraction for history aficionados with a few free hours to spare.
The site features an accurately reconstructed adobe structure that was once a fort and flourishing trading post in the mid-1800s, when the area was even more rugged and isolated than it is today.
The facility is staffed by knowledgeable locals who are great resources for those visiting the area for the first time. It’s especially popular with children, who tend to marvel at the dress, customs, and living conditions of those who lived in the area nearly two centuries ago.
3. Picketwire Canyonlands
Colorado’s majestic and mysterious canyons and mountains are some of the most scenic in the American Southwest.
Picketwire Canyonlands is an amenity-packed attraction that offers visitors outdoor recreation, stunning vistas, and a lesson or two in the area’s natural and human histories.
The Canyonlands also boasts one of the most impressive collections of fossilized dinosaur tracks in North America. There are Native American hieroglyphs and pictographs adorning many of the canyon’s walls too.
Mountain biking, backpacking, and horseback riding are great ways to experience the natural wonder, but it’s wise to stop at the visitor’s center before heading out on your own.
4. La Junta Municipal Golf Course
Golf is a great way to experience Colorado’s wonderful climate, but for many harried travelers with limited time, 18 holes are about nine too many.
La Junta Municipal Golf Course features nine scenic holes. Unless you happen to be playing on a particularly busy day, it’s common to squeeze in a round in justly slightly more than a few hours.
The course’s amenities include multiple practice areas, a pro shop, and food and drink concessions, and previous guests have noted that it’s got a noticeably more laid-back feel than many larger courses.
Greens fees are inexpensive, and tee times don’t usually need to be reserved in advance.
5. Lucy’s Tacos
Unlike its traditional brick and mortar contemporaries, Lucy’s Tacos is a food truck that generally caters to the takeaway crowd.
As their name implies, Lucy’s is best known for its tempting tacos that come in a wide variety of options with plentiful toppings.
They even offer tacos made from beef tongue, which tastes a lot like pot roast for those who can get past the realization that they’re actually eating part of a tongue.
Their carnitas, burritos, guacamole, and beans and rice are popular as well. For those who’d rather eat on-site, there’s a tiny indoor seating area.
6. Annual Tarantula Migration
Those with an aversion to hairy, hand-sized arachnids would be wise to avoid southeastern Colorado from the end of summer through October.
The region is home to an amazing but downright creepy annual event that’s more like the plot of a cheesy horror flick than a real-life happening.
The annual tarantula migration begins in the grasslands of neighboring Oklahoma and ends with a breeding frenzy in Colorado. For those with nerves of steel, it’s a truly amazing sight to behold.
The area around Comanche National Grassland is a perennial hotspot for witnessing the spectacle, and several guided tour options are available.
7. Vogel Canyon
Vogel Canyon has a storied past that includes its creation over eons by the forces of wind and water, as well as its location along the historic Santa Fe trail, which was a major thoroughfare for mail and supplies for much of the 18th century.
The canyon is cut deep into the surrounding rock and includes Native American pictographs and a surprising abundance of plant and animal life considering the harsh environment.
Active explorers can follow the trail leading into the canyon. For those looking to capture the essence of the southwest by camera, there are few better places to do it.
8. Copper Kitchen
Previous diners at Copper Kitchen on Colorado Avenue have commented that the restaurant’s attentive staff, efficient service, and fresh, made-to-order food were benchmarks which most other restaurants can only hope of achieving.
Copper Kitchen features booths, tables, and a traditional bar like those found in classic diners. Though their menu is simple, it includes all the breakfast favorites early risers have come to expect.
In addition to their ample portion sizes and reasonable prices, Copper Kitchen also has fresh baked goods and hot coffee, making it a perfect early stop for those heading out for a day of exploration.
9. Knapp’s Farm Market
Knapp’s Farm Market is a local market dedicated to bringing Colorado’s best produce and products to savvy buyers who’d rather avoid the long and costly distribution chains that add lots of cost and little value for local farmers and entrepreneurs.
Knapp’s is located on Highway 71 in nearby Rocky Ford and is open seasonally from July through October.
They’re particularly well-known for their cantaloupes and watermelons, but also have tons of other varieties of fruits, vegetables, and prepared food items like cider and honey.
It’s a great stop for healthy eaters while en route from one attraction to the next.
10. John Martin Reservoir State Park
John Martin Reservoir State Park offers lovers of the great outdoors a variety of year-round activities, of which bird watching is one of the most popular.
The Lower Arkansas River Valley in which the park resides is home to hundreds of species of unique birds, and many of them are relatively easy to spot from the park’s trails.
The park’s centerpiece is the John Martin Reservoir, which is one of the largest humanmade lakes in the state; it’s a hot spot for regional anglers too.
During the summer months, kayaking, paddleboarding, and sunbathing are big draws, and there are some campsites.
11. Buell Children’s Museum
The Buell Children’s Museum is located on North Santa Fe Avenue in Pueblo and is consistently ranked as one of the region’s best museums that caters primarily to kids with inquisitive minds.
The museum is chock-full of interactive exhibits that touch on a variety of topics, including history, art, and the natural world. It’s the perfect place for traveling families to spend a few hours when the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor activities.
In the summer, the museum is open from Tuesday until Saturday from 11 AM to 5 PM, with slightly reduced hours on Sunday. Admission is dirt cheap.
12. Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center
The Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center is Pueblo’s premier multi-use entertainment venue, and it was founded nearly five decades ago.
The center hosts the local ballet and symphony, as well as productions from a number of area theater companies.
The site is free to visit for those just looking to stretch their legs and take a look around, but to catch a performance, you’ll need to buy tickets.
Tickets to popular shows often go quickly, so it’s a good idea to check out the calendar of events on their website and buy them in advance to avoid a sold-out situation.
13. Arkansas Riverwalk
The Arkansas River runs right through downtown Pueblo. In a place more known for its regal mountains and vast prairies, a casual stroll by a beautiful stretch of water is a pleasant distraction.
The Arkansas Riverwalk features a promenade that not only offers impressive vistas of the natural and humanmade worlds, but also historical, dining, and live entertainment venues that are worth checking out as well.
During the summer, the Riverwalk is a popular live music attraction. It’s usually sparkling with lights and abuzz with visitors enjoying the warm weather while it lasts.
The Riverwalk is free to visit, and boat tours are available as well.
14. Union Avenue Historic District
The Union Avenue Historic District is located in downtown Pueblo along Union Avenue and is full of historic attractions, shops, restaurants, and buildings with unique architecture.
The district is home to nearly 90 buildings, and many of them are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There’s also quite a bit to learn about the epic flood that swept through the city in 1921.
The area hosts many annual fairs and festivals in the spring and summer, including arts and crafts, food, drink, and lots of local entertainment.
Self-guided walking tours are a great way to check it out.
15. Weisbrod Aircraft Museum
For lovers of military history and aviation, the Weisbrod Aircraft Museum definitely warrants a few hours of valuable vacation time.
The museum is located on Magnuson Avenue in Pueblo and features an extensive collection of both military and civilian aircraft, and many of them harken back to the early days of flight.
The aircraft are definitely the stars of the show, but the museum’s collection includes historic artifacts, aviation equipment, and uniforms, and tons of information about how aviation has played significant roles in the wars the country has been involved in over the years.
Admission is inexpensive, and most guests stick around for an hour or two.