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A relatively easy trail to one of the largest dinosaur trackways in the world.

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4,634' 1,412 m


4,317' 1,316 m


262' 80 m


475' 145 m



Avg Grade (1°)


Max Grade (12°)

Dogs No Dogs

E-Bikes Unknown

No camping in the canyon.

Need to Know

Cell phone reception is spotty on the canyon rim and not existent in the canyon. Be cautious when riding and do not take unnecessary risks. Medical assistance could be 1 to 2 hours away.

Camping is allowed on the canyon rim but camping in the canyon is not allowed. Dogs are not allowed in the canyon. There are no services in the canyon except a pit toilet at the Rourke Ranch and the dinosaur trackway. Water can be filtered from the river but it is highly bitter and unpalatable.

Preventions against flats is highly encouraged whether that be tubeless tires or liners or Slime or some combination of all three. This area is infested with goatheads.

Rattlesnakes are common in the canyon. Take any necessary precautions and be cautious when walking in tall grass or near rocks.

Do not deface nor harm petroglyphs nor dinosaur tracks.

June, July, and August are uncomfortably hot for riding.


Located south of La Junta, Colorado, this ride is not a difficult mountain bike ride...except for the first half mile and last half mile. The ride in the canyon floor is flat and slightly sandy. There are a few short climbs and short downhills. However, the bicycle ride isn't the main reason for doing this ride.

Within the canyon, there is a dinosaur trackway that, in addition to being one of the largest in the world, has helped us understand dinosaur behavior. The trackway contains over 1,000 footprints from approximately 125 individual dinosaurs. The trackway is split by the Purgatory River (Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatório). Bring wading shoes.

The canyon has evidence of human occupation for the last 4,000 to 5,000 years. Petroglyphs pecked into rock from the Fremont era of Native Americans exist up and down the canyon. Evidence of a large Hispanic settlement from the 1880 to early 1900 is also present as are the remains of an 1800s to 1970s working cattle ranch.

The canyon is so filled with history that the ride often takes several hours to complete. It's not hard, but you are easily distracted. The trip is an out-and-back for a total distance of 18 miles.


Shared By:

Stuart Black

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 8 votes


  4.4 from 8 votes
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in Colorado


21 Views Last Month
1,921 Since Jun 8, 2018



Horned lizard petroglyph
Jun 8, 2018 near La Junta, CO
Dinosaur tracks along Purgatory River
Jun 8, 2018 near La Junta, CO
Bike down! Bike down!
Feb 11, 2021 near La Junta, CO
Purgatory Canyon from petroglyph site
Jun 8, 2018 near La Junta, CO
Down in Picketwire Canyon by the old cemetery.
Feb 11, 2021 near La Junta, CO
Climbing back up to Withers Canyon Campground.
Feb 11, 2021 near La Junta, CO


Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Mar 21, 2023
Ryan Hickman
Sep 21, 2022
L Jones
The dinosaur tracks are amazing, and seeing them is definitely worth the effort to get in and out of the canyon. Fit slime-filled inner tubes!!!!!!! 10mi — 2h 00m
Oct 4, 2020
Asher David
We brought the kids to bike to the dinosaur tracks. Trail was sandy and very thorny. Bring extra tubes and liners and slime and patches. Lots of them. 12mi — 5h 00m
Jul 27, 2020
Owen Toalson
It had rained hard the day before and canyon floor was muddy and hard to ride across. Made it to mission. Unseasonably cool, 82 degrees in canyon. 9mi — 5h 00m
Mar 21, 2020
Noli E
only went to dinosaur tracks 11mi
Oct 11, 2019
Mark Schwartz
Dec 21, 2018
Justin Klein
Beautiful ride through a canyon where you won’t see another person the whole time. 25mi
Oct 10, 2015
Stuart Black
Ride time is total time in canyon. Done the ride many times. It's not that long a ride but there is a lot to look at which impacts the ride time. 17.8mi — 8h 00m