Contact the USDA Forest Service in Springfield at 719-523-6591 for information.
The US Forest Service, Comanche National Grassland will be closing the Lesser Prairie-Chicken viewing Area during March through May, 2008. The viewing area is typically open for the public to watch the mating dances of the male prairie chicken on the lek each spring. Because the number of Lesser Prairie-Chickens was down significantly during last years mating season, the decision was made to temporarily close the site. The winter storm of 2006 likely caused the estimated 50% drop in prairie-chicken numbers from the year before on the Comanche National Grassland. The US Forest Service will not be allowing the public, including bird tour groups, to utilize the site until bird numbers have increased. The area of closure is along FS Road 545, between County Road C through G, approximately 12 miles east of Campo, CO. The Cimarron National Grassland near Elkhart, KS plans to have two Lesser Prairie-Chicken Viewing Areas open to the public where more birds survived the winter storm.
The east fork of Carrizo Creek flows through this small canyon dotted with juniper and cottonwood trees. An easy 1/2 mile loop trail takes you along the creek and back to the picnic area. Look for prehistoric Indian rock art on the canyon walls. Look for images of mountain sheep and elk or deer with fantastically-branched antlers. Perhaps these panels are a record of successful hunts or were used in rituals to increase the prowess of hunters. A variety of wildlife, especially birds, can best be seen early in the morning or just before sunset.
Carizzo creek campground is 21 miles west of Hwy 287 on Road M.
From Springfield, Colorado drive south on Highway 287 for 17 miles. At County Road M Turn right (west) and continue for 22 miles, then turn left (south) at Forest Service Road 539 for 1.9 miles to parking lot.
From La Junta, Colorado drive south on Highway 109 for 58 miles, then turn left (east) at Highway 160 for 18 miles. At County Road 3 turn right (south) for 7 miles, then turn left (east) at County Road P for 3 miles. At County Road 6 turn right (south) for 2 miles, then turn right (west) at County Road M for 1 1/2 miles and then turn left (south) at Forest Service Road 539 for 1.9 miles to the parking lot.
As you enter this area, please remember that you are the guardian of this unique canyon. For thousands of years it was unchanged. Today vandalism is a continuing problem in this fragile area. Rock Art is particularly sensitive. Please photograph but do not touch or apply any photographic enhancing or replication materials. These sites on public lands are protected under federal law. We thank you for observing the rules for this area and for helping us to preserve this valuable resource. Please be part of the solution, not part of the problem.