HUERFANO — Alright, the above headline is not exactly accurate. Red Rocks will stay right where it has been for the past 290 million years or so, just west of Denver near the town of Morrison. However, the same geologic formation (known as the Fountain Formation) that makes up the Boulder Flatirons, Red Rocks Park, Roxborough State Park and Garden of the Gods can also be found right here in Huerfano County. For a taste of these unique red rock formations, simply head west of La Veta out the Sulphur Springs Road for about nine miles, where an option to take a right hand turn avails itself. Take it! Even before taking the turn off, one will see the Fountain Formation off to the right as the Indian Trailhead approaches. High red shelves of stone can be spotted along with an occasional cougar resting on this lofty perch. After taking that right hand turn and dropping down into Tracy Canyon, youwill discover the wide variety of shapes and sizes of sandstone pillars and knobs. About a half a mile down, the forested road opens up into a large meadow with an intermittent stream running through the middle. Straight ahead (looking east) the East
f Spanish Peak juts skyward. Off to the right gentle forested hills rise slowly towards Raspberry Mountain, which is not visible quite yet. To the left back, the Fountain Formation emerges. This opening of the meadow is a great place to park. Get out and play! If you cross the narrow stream to your left, a steep ridge is clearly visible complete with towering ponderosa pines, fir trees, scrub oak, aspen and those pesky thorny locusts. Red dirt, cliffs and smaller formations are present, but the cool stuff requires a short steep hike more to the west. Head west/northwest and the terrain quickly rises in elevation. There are no formal trails here, but game trails provide several routes up the ridge. Note that in this part of the San Isabel National Forest there are no facilities/services and with that – no fees. This is what the United States Forest Service calls a dispersed camping area. Which means use previously created sites or make one of your own. (A few old campsites dot the northern end of the meadow.) Use no-trace camping techniques and pack out what you pack in. As you head up hill be sure to take a break looking back to the east. Now both of the Spanish Peaks are in view along with Raspberry Mountain. However, the allure of the aforementioned red rock formations will urge you to keep heading west. This part of your hike can be rough going and long pants are recommended due to the lack of a trail and heavy underbrush. But, heck, enjoy the bushwhacking! This entire western ridge hosts several red rock towers, short cliffs, and mushroom shaped blobs of sandstone. You could stay busy for days exploring the various taller formations and happily stumbling upon shorter ones hidden in the scrub. But let’s head back to the meadow. After you return to the meadow, you will notice that the road continues downhill easterly and dead ends in 7⁄10 of a mile. Along this short drive, the creek runs to your left and numerous great camping spots are found a short distance to your right. Tracy Canyon is home to deer, elk, cougars, black bears, western rattlesnakes and wild turkey. Exercise caution when camping there. The area has something for everyone such as rock climbing, two-track mountain biking (stay on the roads please), picnicking, and hunting. Or just go there to enjoy nature in a unique setting. Directions: From La Veta take Colorado Hwy 12 south 1.5 miles to County Road 420. (This road is also USFS Road #421 and locals refer to it as the Sulphur Springs Road or the Indian Creek Road). Turn right and follow the road for five miles as it cuts through Sulphur Springs Guest Ranch. Proceed another two miles to the Indian Creek Trailhead. From this point on, a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed. Continue for another mile and turn right onto USFS Road #421. This is the Tracy Canyon Road. Follow it for .5 miles to the canyon floor and meadow. Suggested maps: USGS quads Cuchara and McCarty Park, San Isabel National Forest map.