81 miles NE of Trinidad, 64 miles E. of Pueblo, 274 miles NW of Amarillo, Texas

Situated in one of Colorado's fruit-growing pockets, this busy little town has several surprises for visitors, including some of the best American Indian art in the country and a nearby handsome reconstruction of a historic fort.

Once the hunting and fishing grounds of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute tribes, and visited briefly by Spanish soldiers in the 17th and 18th centuries, this area did not become known to white Americans until Zebulon Pike led his exploratory expedition into the Arkansas River valley in 1806. Trappers and traders followed, creating the Santa Fe Trail, and brothers William and Charles Bent built Bent's Fort in 1833 as a trading post and the first American settlement in the region.

La Junta was founded in 1875 as a railroad camp, and named La Junta -- Spanish for "the junction" -- on completion of rail links to Pueblo and Trinidad in 1877. The town flourished as a farming and ranching center. Today it produces a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and wheat. The population is a bit over 7,500, and the town sits at an elevation of 4,052 feet.