Vogel Canyon on the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway

The information and photographs below were provided by the U.S. Forest Service Comanche National Grassland. Phone: (719) 384-2181 for more information or visit http://www.fs.fed.us/ to find out more current information about the site and public access.

22 miles of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail can also be found at the Comanche National Grassland. During the 1870s, a spur off the Santa Fe Trail (Las Animas to Trinidad) was developed by the Barlow and Sanderson Mail and Stage Line. Sections of the stage coach road and ruins of the station can still be found. American Indians lived in the canyon 300-800 years ago and left rock art which is visible on the canyon walls. Geologically scenic Vogel Canyon is a tributary of the Purgatoire River drainage.



Two permanent springs in bottom of the canyon help support wildlife, which can best be seen early in the morning or just before sunset. Four hiking trails take you to the canyon bottom and mesa top, while walking through short grass prairie and juniper trees.






The rock art is situated on vertical rock faces, often in shallow rock overhangs. Look for petroglyphs in abstract designs and symbols. One large animal figure is prominent in the northern overhang. This rock art may have been created by the regions first farmers more than 1000 years ago.







From La Junta, Colorado drive south on Highway 109 for 13 miles. At the Vogel Canyon sign turn right (west) for 1 mile, then turn left (south) for 2 miles to parking lot.

Hiking Trails

Hiking Trail distances are round trip, beginning at the parking lot.

Overlook Trail: Length is 1 mile, easy hiking, highlight is canyon overlook.

Mesa Trail: Length is 2 1/4 miles, moderate hiking, highlights are ruins, juniper woodlands, and short grass prairie.

Canyon Trail: Length is 1 3/4 miles, easy hiking, highlights are ruins, overlook, spring and rock art.

Prairie Trail: Length is 3 miles, moderate hiking, highlights are stage tracks, juniper woodlands, and short grass prairie.


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