Eastern Mojave Vegetation County Road 33 “La Garita Road,” Rio Grande County, and County Road 38A, Saguache County, Colorado  

Tom Schweich  

Home Page  Generally north and south along the west edge of the San Luis Valley.

Other articles:
• County Road G:   at CR 38A;  

Junction: County Road G, County Road 41G

Other articles:
• County Road 40G:   at CR 38A;
• Field Notes:  20 Sep 2017;
Full Size ImageInterpretive panel for Penitente Canyon  

Junction: County Road 40G, to Penitente Canyon.

Penitente Canyon: Special Recreation Management Area
A place of solitude ... a place of mystery .. a place with a spirit of its own ... Penitente Canyon
In the mid-1980s, rock climbers discovered the Penitente canyonlands. Today the BLM manages the area primarily for climbing, though mountain bikers, hikers and people drawn to its sense of peace and history also make their way to the canyons.

Ancestors of the Utes, Jicarilla Apaches and Puebloans have all left evidence of time spent hunting and camping here, along with explorers and trappers. The valley's first settlers were Hispanic farmers and sheepherders who migrated from northern New Mexico.

Virgin of Guadalupe

It's said that in the mid-20th century a few men from the local community painted the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that's still visible today. Local legend has it that they sat in tires and were lowered over the cliff on ropes to complete the painting. The words above the Virgin read “Consuelo y Spiritu” or “Comfort and Spirit.”


Penitente Canyon is home to many varieties of plants including chokecherry, wild rose, fringed sage and aspen; and wildlife including black bear, mountain lion, raptors, various lizards and prairie rattlesnakes.


Always watch where you are stepping or reaching; don't reach where you can't see. If you encounter a snake, leave it alone and back away. Parents should always keep a close eye on their children in snake country.

Stay Safe

Safety is your responsibility. Know your limits and come prepared for the area's changing weather. All recreational activity is at your own risk.

  Junction: County Road E39, west along La Garita Creek.
  Elephant Rocks
  County Road 38A, Saguache County above
County Road 33 “La Garita Road” below

Other articles:
• Colorado Highway 112:   at La Garita Rd;  

Junction: Colorado Highway 112
If you have a question or a comment you may write to me at: tas4@schweich.com I sometimes post interesting questions in my FAQ, but I never disclose your full name or address.  

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Date and time this article was prepared: 4/7/2024 4:56:39 PM