Places: Penitente Canyon

By Chelsea McNerney-Martinez As regular readers may have already determined, I am an outdoor recreation novice, which is probably why I love Penitente Canyon so much. Although there are absolutely more challenges there than I will ever be prepared for, the canyon’s more than 25 miles of trails have hiking routes for every level of …

Read more

Five Obscure Hikes (You may not know about)

By Phillip Benningfield

Most of us, if fairly avid outdoors folks, have strolled along the Colorado Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the easy-to-get-to trails surrounding our little mountain towns. What we miss by taking the well-trodden routes – although these aforementioned trails are superb – is the personal gratification we find when our minds are fulfilled. We feel the need to see what is around the next ridge, what is over the next pass, what sublime view we might otherwise miss. The selections here are certainly known by the more adventurous who can’t get enough of Colorado’s fine offerings. If you have not seen the rock formations in and around La Garita or even further along the off-the-beaten path, then pack a lunch and dinner, take plenty of water and do not plan on getting home on time. A detailed road atlas and/or gazetteer will show all the necessary roads.

Read more

PENITENTE CANYON – Geology, Recreation and Legend

by Mike Rosso

A fascinating history, unique geology and extreme recreation can all be found in the recesses of Penitente Canyon, on the western edge of the San Luis Valley in Saguache County.

Located just outside the village of La Garita, the canyon was originally know as Cañon de Rajadero (Woodsplitter Canyon),  after a pit sawmill located there in the 1800s. (This involved a person standing in a pit operating one end of a two-handled saw with another standing above the log on the other handle.) Old wagon tracks can be also found embedded in the rocks within the colorful canyon — remnants of wood gathering activity from that time period. Lumber milled in the canyon was used to build the original Catholic church in La Garita which has since burned down.

Read more