Summer 2017, Day 21: Picket Wire Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite

We woke up to a warm day in Eastern Colorado:

Summer2017_Day21_001

Here at Picket Wire Canyon, there are wild sunflowers everywhere:

Summer2017_Day21_002

Summer2017_Day21_003

Summer2017_Day21_004

Summer2017_Day21_005

Summer2017_Day21_006

We unhitched the truck and drove to the trailhead for the 12 mile round-trip hike in the canyon:

Summer2017_Day21_007

Summer2017_Day21_008

As we walked, we startled dozens of grasshoppers to flight.  They’re pretty big, and all the swatting slowed our progress:

Summer2017_Day21_009

The canyon is dotted with abandoned homesteads:

Summer2017_Day21_010

Summer2017_Day21_011

Ants create strange cones of debris around their holes, maybe for flood protection?

Summer2017_Day21_012

Summer2017_Day21_013

Summer2017_Day21_014

Summer2017_Day21_015

Summer2017_Day21_016

Summer2017_Day21_017

Summer2017_Day21_018

There are remarkable variety of grasshoppers here:

Summer2017_Day21_019

Another canyon dweller:

Summer2017_Day21_020

Ruins of a 19th century church and cemetery:

Summer2017_Day21_021

Summer2017_Day21_022

Summer2017_Day21_023

Summer2017_Day21_024

Summer2017_Day21_025

A Dung beetle taking home his prize:

Summer2017_Day21_026

The “rock” on the left is a recreation of a dinosaur fossil found here:

Summer2017_Day21_027

Summer2017_Day21_028

At last we arrived at our goal for today, the Purgatoire River track site.  It’s the largest dinosaur track site in North America.  Portions of the track site were discovered as recently as 2014:

Summer2017_Day21_029

The tracks are so well preserved that it’s easy to imagine this meat-eating Allosaurus roaming the area, hunting for prey:

Summer2017_Day21_030

Glad they’re not here now:

Summer2017_Day21_031

We had to ford the Purgatoire River to see the rest of the tracks.  The river was flowing fast enough that I was worried we would be swept off our feet:

Summer2017_Day21_032

Summer2017_Day21_033

This side of the river has tracks left behind by the massive plant-eating Apatosaurus.  It was neat to follow the tracks and imagine these lumbering beasts wandering the river bank:

Summer2017_Day21_035

Summer2017_Day21_036

Summer2017_Day21_037

Summer2017_Day21_038

This interpretive sign shows the tracks as seen from the air:

image

We made our way back across the river.  I used a branch as a brace to prevent being knocked off my feet by the current:

Summer2017_Day21_039

Summer2017_Day21_040

Summer2017_Day21_041

We spotted this Horned lizard on the way back:

Summer2017_Day21_042

We picked up the pace on our return trip.  Thunderstorms were closing in on us from behind with sporadic lightning, and we were the tallest feature on the trail, so we wanted to get back to the truck before the storm reached us:

Summer2017_Day21_043

Summer2017_Day21_044

Summer2017_Day21_045

Summer2017_Day21_046

We got back to the truck as it started to rain and drove back to the RV:

Summer2017_Day21_047

Summer2017_Day21_048

We drove north to La Junta, Colorado to overnight at the Walmart there:

Summer2017_Day21_049

See the alternating light blue line on the trip map for today’s drive.

Summer 2017, Day 20: Driving the Alpine Loop
Summer 2017, Day 22: Bent’s Old Fort NHS, Amache, Sand Creek Massacre NHS, Monument Rocks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>