On Walkabout At: Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Colorado

Basic Information

  • Name: Paint Mines Interpretive Park Trail
  • Where: Calhan, Colorado
  • Distance: 3.35 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy (243 feet of elevation gain)
  • More Information: El Paso County website

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Map of the Trail:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Narrative

I have previously posted here about my Christmas time visit to Paint Mines Interpretive Park and now here is a posting about my summer time visit to this great park located out on the rolling prairie to the east of Colorado Springs.  The park is well known in the area for its hoodoo rock formation.  The park is easy to find by traveling 30 minutes east of Colorado Springs on Highway 24 to Calhan, Colorado.  While driving through the small village of Calhan a sign pointing the direction to Paint Mines is visible on the eastern end of the city.  The right hand turn off of Highway 24 eventually leads to a dirt road that travels the short distance to the park.  The drive on the dirt road to the park features views of the vast eastern plains of Colorado:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

The park entrance is quite easy to spot due to the large sign pictured at the top of this posting being easily visible.  From this trailhead hikers have the option of either making a short walk to the rock formations or take a loop hike through the park that crosses through the prairie land included with the park before heading to the rock formations:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Since I had already walked the extent of the park this past winter I walked over to the rock formations instead with my three year old daughter:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

The colorful rock formations are quite impressive since they standout so much among the dull colors of the prairie:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

The closer we got to the rock formations known as hoodoos, the more this place looked like a mine instead of the natural rock formation that it is:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

The trail along the way had various markers that described the geology and history of the park.  The various rock formations are caused by clays that were deposited in the sandstone over 55 million years ago by an ancient rain forest that once covered this land.  Erosion over the centuries exposed these clay deposits known as hoodoos which the Native-Americans used for paint and making pottery for approximately 9,000 years.  It is also believed that the Native-Americans used the park as a hunting ground since antelope and bison would have a difficult time escaping the hunters if they roamed out of the prairie and into the park.  As the Native-Americans were driven from the land settlers began to use the prairie around the park for grazing.  Some parts of the park was actually mined for clay bricks in the early 1900?s.  The local Freeman family is credited with working to preserve the land:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

I am for one glad this land was so well preserved because it really is an impressive place to visit:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

My 3-year old daughter loves visiting this park because she can climb up some of the small rocks and feel like a mountain climber:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Besides rock there are also plenty of wildflowers to be seen as well:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Here is a picture of the trail leading to another section of rock formations in the park:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

These rocks are pretty cool to check out as well, but I did not think they were as impressive as the first ones we saw:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

My daughter and I walked around and checked them out and since there was no good small rocks for her to walk up she wanted to go back to the first rocks we saw:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

After spending about 2 hours checking out the rocks my daughter eventually ran out of energy and was ready to go back to the truck.  So we went back to the truck and here is a picture I took of the hoodoos from the dirt road that travels above the park:

Picture from Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Conclusion

Overall, we had a great time at the park.  This is not a must see location for people visiting the area, but if you live in the Colorado Springs area this is a park that is well worth checking out.  If you have little kids they will likely enjoy playing on the rocks like my daughter did.  If you go in the summer make sure to bring sun screen because there is little to no shade at the park and it gets very hot there.  Do not let the heat stop you from visiting this hidden gem of a park in the Colorado Springs region.

This entry was posted in America - West and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>