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Stories from Canyons & Plains

Sneak Peak! New Canyons & Plains Driving Loop

This blog post offers a sneak preview of the NEW, BEAUTIFUL Canyons & Plains driving loop that is coming soon! Complete details of the driving loop will be shared in the coming weeks… until then, enjoy a sneak peak at the main attractions of the new driving loop.


The Canyons & Plains Driving Loop takes visitors along portions of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic & Historic Byway, the nation’s first international commercial highway. You’ll visit several National Historic Sites , historic landmarks and museums to gain a deeper understanding of the history of Colorado through the many important people who have called the Canyons & Plains home. Learn from significant historic events such as the Sand Creek Massacre, Ludlow Massacre, the Dust Bowl and the Amache Relocation Center. Each of the seven counties on the Canyons & Plains Loop offers museums and heritage centers that set the stage for an in-depth exploration of the history that shaped Colorado and the west. You’ll discover that nearly every significant historical event in Colorado has a connection to the Canyons & Plains… plus there is amazing outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing to be had all at the same time!


So, buckle up and get ready to enjoy some must-see attractions! 

This driving loop explores the best of Southeast Colorado’s 7 counties!

The Full Canyons & Plains Loop

You can start the Loop from anywhere in Colorado, our loop starts and ends in the Front Range, and visits:

Kiowa County → Prowers County → Baca County → Las Animas County →

Otero County → Bent County → Kiowa County → Crowley County

A 5-day visit is suggested to experience the Full Canyons & Plains Loop. Make sure to check back in the coming weeks for the full details of the Loop! 

Until then… below is a sneak peak of some of the big attractions you’ll see in each of the seven counties visited on the driving loop!

Kiowa County
Kiowa County, a sparsely populated county in Southeast Colorado, is home to the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. This area preserves the site of a tragic event in U.S. history where American troops massacred  more than 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people composed mostly of women, children, and the elderly. 

Prowers County
Prowers County is known for its friendly communities and outdoor recreation opportunities. Historic points of interest include the Amache National Historic Site, a World War II Japanese internment camp, and the Madonna of the Trail, a Santa Fe Trail monument.

Baca County
Baca County is known for its wide-open spaces and stunning landscapes. While there, check out the Native American petroglyphs in Comanche National Grassland or the tranquil waters at Two Buttes Reservoir and Turks Pond.

Las Animas County
Las Animas County is the largest county in Colorado and home to a wide range of attractions. Trinidad is home to one of the most preserved historic downtowns in Colorado or check out the historic town of Cokedale, which has been preserved as a living museum of the once thriving mining industry. If you’re seeking outdoor adventures, check out Trinidad Lake State Park or the newly created Fishers Peak State Park.

Otero County
Otero County is home to the Comanche National Grassland. In this area, you can explore 440,000 acres of petroglyphs, abandoned homesteads, abundant wildlife and the Purgatoire River track site – the largest dinosaur track-site in North America.

Bent County
Bent County is located at the confluence of the Arkansas and Purgatoire Rivers. Bent County is a gem of Southeastern Colorado’s Canyons & Plains, boasting a number of historic sites and recreational activities for the family. Start your visit at one of the many historic sites such as the Boggsville Historic Site, Fort Lyon, the Memorial Kit Carson Chapel or the Santa Fe Trail. If you’re looking for outdoor activities, check out the John Martin Reservoir State Park.

Crowley County
Crowley County is home to some of the best water-based recreation and stargazing in Southeast Colorado. Bring your binoculars and a camera and you won’t be disappointed. If you like to get the wind in your hair, there are miles and miles of quiet country roads for touring by motorcycle or bicycle. If you’re a cyclist, check out the TransAmerica Trail that goes from Virginia to Oregon and bisects Crowley County, offering some amazing scenery and hospitality.

Comanche National Grassland

Stargazing in Crowley County

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