Magazine article Sunset

High Plains Drifter

Magazine article Sunset

High Plains Drifter

Article excerpt

For a spring fix-and some peace-head out to the prairie

Southeastern Colorado's plains are America's steppes, a land with a rich history and oceans of windswept grass. Spring weather can be iffy here, but on a sunny May day the plains near La Junta stretch bright green-with splashes of yellow prairie sunflowers-to the horizon, where herds of antelope graze.

LaJunta is a classic farming town, with silos, a working train depot, and a downtown that looks as it did when the Big Band Era was in full swing. The town's biggest surprise is the Koshare Indian Museum (10-5 Tue and Thu-Sun, 10-9 Mm and Wed; $4; 115 W. 18th St.; 719/384-4411). Inside the pueblo-style building, you'll see basketry, katsinas, and a replica kiva (a ceremonial chamber). But the museum's real riches are a collection of iconic Southwestern art, including San Ildefonso pottery by Maria Martinez and paintings by Taos Society of Artists giants like Oscar Berninghaus and Ernest Blumenschein.

Take a lunch break at family-run Felisa's ($; closed Sun; 27948 Frontage Rd.; 719/384-4814), which offers American and Mexican fare, including the house specialty: potato burritos with green-chile sauce.

About 6 miles east of town, drive down a sleepy side road to another gem, Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site (9-4 daily; $3; 35110 State 194 E. …

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