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PEÑA COLORADA SPRINGS. Peña Colorada Springs is a group of springs 4½ miles south-southwest of Marathon in Brewster County. The name, Spanish for "colored rock," comes from that of the Rainbow Cliffs, a famous nearby landmark. Prehistoric peoples long occupied the springs, which later became a rest stop on the Comanche Trail into Mexico. In 1859 Lt. William Echols camped there with his experimental train of camels, and from 1879 to 1893 Camp Peña Colorado was located there. The rich, deep grasses of the area sustained abundant populations of pronghorns and bighorn sheep, until intensive grazing by cattle disrupted the natural environment. The springs flow from gravel deposits, and the water comes to the surface where Peña Colorada Creek crosses the hard Caballos novaculite. Many of the springs are now underwater in a lake. In May 1976 the rate of flow was twenty-one liters per second.

Gunnar Brune


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Gunnar Brune, "PENA COLORADA SPRINGS," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.