Things to do Near Colorado Springs - Off the Beaten Path - Paint Mines Interpretive Park
Off the Beaten Path - Paint Mines Interpretive Park
Off the Beaten Path is our feature that highlights local, outdoor, family-oriented activities in the area of Colorado Springs and El Paso county that showcase lesser known parks and trails.
Instead of going to a replica of Native American Cliff Dwellings, why not take an hour drive east on Highway 24 to the Paint Mines Interpretive Park and wander through an actual archaeological preserve with amazing geologic formations that include spires and hoodoos? Since it is a part of the El Paso County Park System, it is also free!
Take Highway 24 East to Calhoun and just south of there, on the eastern Colorado plain, is the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, a unique blending of geological, archaeological, historical and ecological resources(the site has also been recognized as an Archaeological District by the National Park Service!). The landscape has fascinated people for thousands of years, and continues so to this day. Located on the Colorado eastern plain, the area transitions from wetland, to short-grass prairie, to badland topographies. Wildlife seem to enjoy the surroundings as much as humans do – mule deer, coyote, falcons, hawks and an adventuresome mountain lion or two have been spotted there as well as a multitude of birds which make the park a popular place for birdwatchers.
Archaeological surveys have revealed prehistoric and historic American Indian occupation including stone dart tips, arrow heads, and petrified wood used in tool manufacturing. The local clay was mined for use in ceremonial paint as well as pottery making. A homestead site also confirms the use by settlers in the 1800’s. Used by hikers, birdwatchers and as an outdoor laboratory by geology students, the site has come under the protection of the El Paso County Parks Department. A recent SHF grant has gone toward funding a master plan to balance the legitimate public uses and to address threats such as “pot hunting” and vandalism.
While the trail is not always stroller friendly, it is mostly gentle and easy for children to navigate. There are restrooms and picnic tables as well as interpretive signage. Pack a lunch or snacks and plenty of water and don’t forget the sunscreen!
For more information and directions visit Paint Mines Interpretive Park.
Photos by Denise Nelson.
Bits and Bites - R&R Coffee Cafe in Black Forest
Thought necessarily on the way to the Paint Mines, be sure to check out the R&R Coffee Cafe in Black Forest. Not just a roasterie serving finely crafted coffees and teas but an honest to goodness, down home cafe serving top notch food. It is open for breakfast and lunch only. Focusing on locally sourced ingredients and served with a generous portion of neighborhood friendliness, this place is well worth the trip from anywhere in the area. Coffee and tea drinks are even brewed to order and all baked goods and pastries are made from scratch daily.
In the mood for a bit more than coffee? No worries… A full menu awaits. And I do mean FULL! What’s good on the menu? Literally everything. For breakfast the biscuits and gravy has been voted Best in the Region by the editors of the Colorado Springs Independent (And you can never go wrong with biscuits and gravy) but the Cinnamon Roll French Toast is a plateful of heaven. Worthy options are the Baked Oatmeal and the Breakfast Burrito is as flavorful and hearty as it is big. For lunch, try the R&Reuben (House brined pastrami!) or the scrumptious Beef & Bleu sandwich… All at a reasonable price.
Check out the R&R Coffee Café in Black Forest at 11424 Black Forest Road.