The Picketwire Canyon has three levels of history. Some of the most distinct dinosaur tracks in Colorado (paleohistory), the history of indigenous Americans in the form of pictographs, and 19th Century western history in the form of homestead ruins, stagecoach stations, telegraph wires, a cemetery, and an historic ranch site. Wouldn't it be a shame to let the Army bomb it to rubble?
The current Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site is north of the Picketwire Canyon Rec Area, and stays north of the river, stretching west for some 20-30 miles. It's currently 235,000 acres. One map of the proposed expansion would make the site 415,000 acres.
The Commanche National Grasslands publish this map showing their managed rec area and the maneuver site to the north:
As I explored for epic loops, I assumed that anywhere north of the river, I might encounter fences marked no trespassing by order of the government. So I was watching for places where I could get across the river and head south. Down there it looks like this:
So as I headed on upstream to check out some of the other cool things, I kept my eyes peeled for a way to ford the river and go south into some of the side canyons up there.
Bury me not on the lone Prairee...
Plant me in this nifty canyon instead.
The dinosaur tracks are pretty cool. You can see where individual animals walked across some fudgy gumbo clay which then got dried and covered, and turned into stone:
The rock formation in which these tracks are laid just crumbles away at the downstream end:
The Army could help that process along with just a couple bunker busters. Kewl.
As I head upriver, I find no promising places to ford the river and head south into the maze of canyons. I check out a few faint doubletracks, but there isn't anything I'd follow into the unknown.
So I keep going on the road toward the historic Rourke Ranche site.
Sweeping view of the upper canyon, the ranch site visible in the distance.
Rourke Ranch Site.
From here, by the Commanche National Grassland map (above) it looks like I'm at the end of the line.