Welcome to La Junta
Welcome to La Junta

The “Smile Hi” City

Welcome to La Junta, Colorado! First time visitors are surprised to find so much to see and do in this exciting town located on the Arkansas River in Southeast Colorado. In fact they sometime wonder how this historic town, sixty miles east of Pueblo on US Highway 50, has remained one of Colorado's best kept secrets. That is until now. With all that La Junta has to offer why not take your next vacation in your own backyard? Come explore La Junta; then stay and play awhile in the "Smile Hi" city.

Any Questions About Your Visit? Feel Free to Contact:
Pam Denahy

Director of Tourism & Events

office: (719) 384-5991
ext: 241
E-mail: La Junta Events

Free Lodging and Meals in La Junta!!!

Warning: We take out of town visitors "Hostage"!
It's not that bad though because we provide your lodging and meals and a guest spot at the Wake-Up Breakfast.

If you plan to be visiting La Junta around the third Tuesday of the month and are interested in being our hostage contact Ron Davis. He's very good at arranging your "Arrest "!

La Junta Wake-Up Breakfast

La Junta Wake-Up Breakfast

La Junta residents are a friendly bunch and get together every third Tuesday morning between the months of April through October to have breakfast and catch up on all the community news. The Wake-Up La Junta Breakfast is one full hour of food, fun, information, entertainment, recognition awards, and a chance to meet new people.

Otero Junior College Student Center
Doors open and breakfast is served at 6:27.

La Junta's Exciting Past

La Junta at the Turn of the Last Century

In late 1875 as the railroad pushed further west along the old Santa Fe Trail, a small settlement was established along the south bank of the Arkansas River. What would someday become La Junta began as a construction camp for the Santa Fe Railroad. The town, if it could be called as such, was a motley collection of tents and hastily built clap board structures. As with many of these "end of the line" railroad encampments of that time, the camp was quite lively, with no lack of "watering holes" and entertainment emporiums. The town was nearly forsaken after the railroad moved on in 1877; however, the Santa Fe Railroad recognized the value of the location, and built a depot and roundhouse there and by 1879 the Santa Fe RR shops had been established. This once rowdy town became the headquarters for the Santa Fe Railroad's Colorado Division.

On May 15, 1881 the residents of this small railroad supply town incorporated and formed "The City of La Junta." The name "La Junta" is Spanish for junction or meeting place, and is pronounced "La Hunta". La Junta was truly the place where the rails and roads met and diverged to the mountain passes or the wide plains. Legend maintains that a herd of pronghorn antelope ran down what passed for Main Street back then, prompting the city fathers to use pronghorn antelopes on the city seal - where they can still be seen today.

Colorado Ave and 3rd Street in the Early Twentieth Century

By the turn of the 20th century La Junta was a town of substance with brick and stone buildings replacing the old wooden clap board structures. It was obvious, even back then; La Junta was here to stay. Today, La Junta may be considered a small town but it has amenities that are missing in much larger towns. The city of La Junta boasts not only Otero Junior College, but the Koshare Indian Museum & Kiva and the Koshare Dancers, the Picketwire Players and Theater, and Otero Museum. La Junta is located on historic U.S. Highway 50, the "Coast to Coast Highway," in the heart of Southeast Colorado's farming and ranching country. Some of the finest melons in the world are grown in Otero County - the Rocky Ford cantaloupes. During the summer months the Farmer's Markets in the La Junta area offer fresh produce from their stands along Highway 50.

La Junta Livestock

Between the La Junta Livestock Commission and Winter Livestock, La Junta is the second largest market for feeder cattle and calves in the country behind Oklahoma City. Take in a live cattle auction while you are here. It is a once in a lifetime experience to some, but a weekly way of life for a great number of ranchers in the Arkansas Valley.

Turn of the Last Century Architectural Treasures

La Junta has many Architectural Treasures.

La Junta Chosen as a Best of America Choice Community!

Best of America Riders
Best of America Riders

Friday June 12th, 2009 the Best of America Riders visited La Junta and presented our community with the "Best of America Choice Community" award. The riders were working their way to Canada from the Mexico border and were stopping at small communities along the way. They were so impressed with La Junta that they spent a few days exploring and seeing all that La Junta has to offer. Take some time and visit La Junta too!

Things to do in La Junta

La Junta Special Events

Circus Comes to La Junta

There seems to be something going on in La Junta all the time. This is not a new phenomena though. Since the early days, La Junta has had special events. This old photo from the turn of the last century shows the warm welcome the residents of La Junta gave to the circus when it came to town.

Stay up-to-date with current La Junta events:

La Junta Events Calendar

La Junta Early Settlers Day

La Junta Early Settler's Day

We love a get-together here in La Junta and what better way to bring the community together for fun than host an Early Settler's Day Parade and day of entertainment? La Junta has been celebrating Early Settler's Day for nearly a century!

Early Settler's Day events include a pancake breakfast, parade, live entertainment, food venders and specialty booths. Why not come and join us this year?

2016 Early Settler’s Day

Saturday, September 10, 2016
For More Information: (719) 384-7411

La Junta Early Settler's Day Parade

La Junta's Annual Early Settler's Day Parade 2008.

Picketwire Theater

Picketwire Theater

La Junta has a special affection for the performing arts and the Picketwire Theater proves that. Utilizing local stone quarried from nearby locations the WPA built this historical theater during the height of the depression. The theater has been serving the community of La Junta and the surrounding area for more than 60 years. Special concerts and theater productions are performed here throughout the year, and the Picketwire Players, a local community group, call the theater home.

For a schedule of performances and ticket information visit the Picketwire Theater web site or call (719) 384-8320. Make sure to bring the family to see the performances put on by the talented actors and actresses year round. Picketwire Theater 802 San Juan, La Junta, CO 81050

Kids Rodeo

The Kid's Rodeo, over 50 years old and still going strong, is held at the Kids Rodeo Grounds at the La Junta Industrial Park. The rodeo is open to students from age 5 – 18 and has been the starting point for many participants going on to compete in the little britches rodeo. Numerous world famous professional cowboys and cowgirls have gotten their start at the Kids Rodeo.

For more information visit: La Junta Kids Rodeo

La Junta Raceway

The La Junta Industrial Park is home to the La Junta Raceway and is used by various race-car clubs for exciting oval track racing. The track hosts groups like Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing (RMVR), Sports Car Club of America (SSCA), Alpine Porsche Club (APC), National Automotive Sports Association (NASA) and the Mercedes Club (MC). These races are open to the public and most admission is free.

Outdoor Activities

Southeast Colorado is one of the best kept secrets of the state. Around the La Junta area outdoor enthusiasts will find miles of trails and rural roads just right for hiking, biking or plain exploring - all within minutes of the city.

Dinosaur Track Bed

The area abounds with natural beauty. From the red hued cliffs and steep bluffs of the Purgatory River to the open high plains of Comanche National Grassland you can get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life and slow down a bit. Bird watching expeditions, wild flower excursions, or historic journeys back in time are yours - all within a short distance from La Junta.

Picketwire Canyon is located just 20 miles from La Junta, and is open for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Picketwire Canyon contains one of the largest dinosaur track beds in the world, ruins of an old Mexican mission and settlement, Native American Rock Art, and an early 19th century ranch, now preserved by the Comanche National Grassland.

Vogel Canyon is just a short drive from La Junta, beautiful Vogel Canyon is always a popular destination because it has something for everybody - from a short hike to a quiet picnic. Four hiking trails take you to the canyon bottom and mesa top. The park provides picnic grounds and hiking trails with a variety of difficulty and length.

The Santa Fe Trail & Bent's Fort

Bent's Old Fort

La Junta is located on the heart of the Mountain Branch of the Old Santa Fe Trail. In the early 1800s, the area that would someday become La Junta was the staging ground for some of the most exciting events in American history. These were their favored buffalo hunting grounds of the Arapaho and Cheyenne. Because of this the Bent Brothers, William and Charles, established a fort along the river in 1833. Bent's Fort became the Southwest's most important outpost and a stopping place along the Santa Fe Trail for travelers, trappers, and explorers.

Today you can easily travel and explore the old Santa Fe trail by car. History is evident all throughout the area. Faint traces of the old wagon ruts can still be seen just outside of La Junta and along Highway 350 to Trinidad at various locations.