La Junta, Colorado
Looking west along East 1st Street
Looking west along East 1st Street
Official seal of La Junta, Colorado
Location of the City of La Junta in Otero County, Colorado.
Location of the City of La Junta in Otero County, Colorado.
La Junta is located in the United States
La Junta
La Junta
Location of the City of La Junta in the United States.
Coordinates: 37°58′53″N 103°32′51″W / 37.98139°N 103.54750°W / 37.98139; -103.54750Coordinates: 37°58′53″N 103°32′51″W / 37.98139°N 103.54750°W / 37.98139; -103.54750
CountryUnited States
CountyOtero County[2]
CityLa Junta[1]
IncorporatedApril 23, 1881[4]
 • TypeHome Rule Municipality[1]
 • MayorJoseph Ayala
 • City ManagerRick Klein
 • City AttorneyPhil Malouff
 • Police ChiefG. Todd Quick
 • Total3.18 sq mi (8.24 km2)
 • Land3.18 sq mi (8.23 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.01 km2)
Elevation4,078 ft (1,243 m)
 • Total7,322[3]
Time zoneUTC−7 (Mountain (MST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP code[7]
Area code719
FIPS code08-42110
GNIS feature ID0204829

La Junta is a home rule municipality in , the county seat of, and the most populous municipality of Otero County, Colorado, United States.[8] The city population was 7,322 at the 2020 United States Census. La Junta is located on the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado 68 miles (109 km) east of Pueblo.


La Junta (Spanish for "the junction")[9] was named for the fact it rested at the intersection of the Santa Fe Trail and a pioneer road to Pueblo.[10] The town developed near Bent's Fort, a fur trading post of the 19th century.

During World War II, La Junta had an Army Air Force Training Base outside town. An Air Force detachment of the Strategic Air Command remained there until modern flight simulators developed in the 1980s rendered live flight unnecessary for pilot training maneuvers. At least one military aircraft crashed close by during such training maneuvers.[11]

Geography and climate

The area is high plains terrain, dry with short grass prairie and sagebrush, and is part of the Southwestern Tablelands ecological region. This area of Colorado is often the warmest. Summer brings numerous days above 100 °F (38 °C). On July 20, 2005, many cities in this region broke or tied heat records. La Junta reached 107 °F (42 °C) with an overnight low of 87 °F (31 °C).[12] However, the all-time record high for La Junta occurred on July 20, 1998, with a temperature of 113 °F (45 °C).[13]

Climate data for La Junta Municipal Airport (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 45.5
Average low °F (°C) 17.4
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.28
Average snowfall inches (cm) 3.3
Source: NOAA[14]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[15] 2020[3]
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There were 7,568 people, 2,977 households, and 1,964 families residing in the city.[when?] The population density was 2,652.0 inhabitants per square mile (1,023.9/km2). There were 3,277 housing units at an average density of 1,148.3 per square mile (443.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.22% White, 1.22% African American, 1.77% Native American, 0.86% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 18.33% from other races, and 3.48% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 43.60% of the population.

There were 2,977 households, out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. 30.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 27.1% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 24.6% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,002, and the median income for a family was $36,398. Males had a median income of $26,325 versus $21,324 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,928. About 16.8% of families and 21.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.4% of those under age 18 and 10.0% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Tourists come to see tarantulas who are looking for mates during the cooler weather in September and into October each year.[16] Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, an important trading post along the Santa Fe Trail, is northeast of La Junta. The Koshare Indian Museum, housed at Otero College, holds a collection of Native American artifacts. The Koshare Indian museum hosts a unique Boy Scout/Explorer program which trains the Scouts in both Native American dance and building traditional outfits. The Scouts give dance performances during the summer and also host Scout troops from other areas. Purgatoire River track site, one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America, is south of La Junta.

The Caboose is the drive-through for the State Bank, which was established in 1893. The bank has been remodeled with antiques, including a teller line from the late 1890s.[citation needed]


The city is served by the daily newspaper The Tribune-Democrat. The city is also served by a local radio station that broadcasts in AM and FM. They are KBLJ 1400 AM and KTHN 92.1 FM.[17]


This railroad caboose serves as the drive-up window for The State Bank.
This railroad caboose serves as the drive-up window for The State Bank.


See also: La Junta (Amtrak station)

La Junta, until recently, had a railroad yard for assembling freight trains for the climb over Raton Pass. BNSF runs freight trains between Denver and Kansas/Texas via La Junta. The sole remaining major train crossing Raton Pass today is the daily Southwest Chief, in both directions, between Los Angeles and Chicago.

U.S. Highway 50 travels through La Junta, approaching from Pueblo to the northwest and continuing eastward towards Lamar and into Kansas. U.S. Highway 350 begins at La Junta and travels southwest before reaching Trinidad. State Highway 10 also begins at La Junta and travels west-southwest before reaching Walsenburg.

The city operates a public bus system with one route that circles the city.[18] Intercity transportation is provided by Bustang. La Junta is part of the Lamar-Pueblo-Colorado Springs Outrider line.[19]

The former military airport, located 5 miles (8.0 km) north of La Junta, has 77 acres (31 ha) of tarmac and two runways. One runway (east-west) is 6,851 feet (2,088 m) long and the other is 5,800 feet (1,800 m). [1].

Health care

The city and region are served by the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center, located in La Junta.

Notable people

Main article: List of people from La Junta, Colorado

Notable individuals who were born in La Junta include novelists William Charles Anderson[20] and Ken Kesey,[21] baseball pitcher Tippy Martinez[22] and U.S. Army Col. Wendell Fertig, who led a guerrilla force against the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II.[23]

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Local Government. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  2. ^ "Colorado Counties". State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Local Government. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "La Junta city, Colorado". Retrieved 2021-10-13.
  4. ^ "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. 2004-12-01. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  5. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  6. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  7. ^ "ZIP Code Lookup". United States Postal Service. Archived from the original (JavaScript/HTML) on November 4, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
  8. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  9. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Government Printing Office. pp. 179.
  10. ^ Dawson, John Frank (1954). Place names in Colorado: why 700 communities were so named, 150 of Spanish or Indian origin. Denver, CO: The J. Frank Dawson Publishing Co. p. 30.
  11. ^ "Bomber Crash", Los Angeles Times, 28 September 1987
  12. ^ "Local Weather Forecast, News and Conditions | Weather Underground". Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Local Weather Forecast, News and Conditions | Weather Underground". Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  14. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 4, 2013.
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 7, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  16. ^ Puleo, Mark (September 22, 2021). "The great tarantula migration is underway in Colorado". AccuWeather.
  17. ^[user-generated source]
  18. ^ "Transit Brochure" (PDF). City of La Junta.
  19. ^ "Bustang Schedulse". RideBustang. CDOT.
  20. ^ Oliver, Myrna (2003-05-29). "William Anderson, 83; WWII Pilot, Author of 'Bat*21'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  21. ^ "Ken Kesey". Archived from the original on 2014-12-20. Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  22. ^ "Tippy Martinez". Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  23. ^ "Wendell W. Fertig". Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved 2016-06-24.