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Picketwire Canyon

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Encompassing more than 440,000-acres, Comanche National Grasslands fascinates with a varied terrain of shortgrass prairies, rugged canyons and pinion-juniper forests, home to pronghorn, burrowing owls, badgers, and roadrunners. It’s hard to imagine that 150 million years ago, this area was a vast lake and dinosaurs roamed along its shoreline. At Picketwire Canyon, observe the largest dinosaur tracksite in North America boasting over 1,500 Brontosaurus and Allosaurus footprints. If you have your own four-wheel drive or high clearance vehicle, you can register for an 8-hour guided tour to Dinosaur Tracks hosted by the National Forest Service. It’s the only motorized access into the canyons, and you will be rewarded with a fascinating peek into the paleontology, history, and geology of the canyons. Tours are offered Saturdays and some Sundays in May, June, September and October. Advance reservations highly recommended. You can also hike, bike, or horseback ride to Dinosaur Tracks, but keep in mind that the roundtrip is 11.3 miles. Beginning at the Withers Canyon Trailhead, leave early in the morning as summer temperatures can reach over 100 degrees. Carry ample water and the 10 essentials. Though relatively flat, due to the distance and heat this is considered a moderate to strenuous hike. Along the way, you’ll see the ruins of an old Mexican mission and settlement, Native American rock art, and if you continue past the dinosaur tracks, an early 19th century ranch. Note hiking to the ranch adds another 7 miles to the roundtrip. Please enjoy and take photographs — but do not touch or damage the sites.

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