Paint Mines Interpretive Park is Colorado’s BEST KEPT SECRET. Logan and I had the perfect weekend in Colorado Springs, driving around and exploring the unique area. Just under an hour drive east if Colorado Springs will take you to Colorado’s most unique open space. The Paint Mines are given their name for their beautiful, bright colorful clays. The clay was once collected by American Indians to make paint in various colors.
Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Colorado
Where do the paint mine colors come from?
The bright rainbow colored bands at the paint mines get their colors from oxidized iron compounds. The park contains evidence of human life dating as far back as 9,000 years ago! The parks geological formations are called spires and hoodoos, formed through various erosive actions. Creating gullies and layers of colored clay you see along the hike.
Where are the Paint Mines located?
29950 Paint Mines Road
Calhan, CO 80808
The park features beautiful wildflowers, colorful formations and is good for all skill levels. Paint Mines Trail is a 3.4-mile interpretive loop trail, that will take you through rainbow-colored spires and hoodoos. The best time to use the trail is from March until October. We visited in January; and enjoyed our visit very much.
How to get to the Painted Mines Park
Located in Calhan, Colorado the park is a little off the grid so to speak. You will want to plan for a day trip to visit the park. The Calhan Inn is the only hotel in the immediate area so I would recommend staying in Colorado Springs so you have more restaurant and activity selections to choose from. You will need your own vehicle to visit the park. There is no public transportation that will get you there. My recommendation is to pick up a rental car at Denver Airport for the weekend, so you can explore the area to the fullest.
Know Before You Go
- There is a restroom located at the main entrance of the park which is open year-round.
- The park is free to enter, and open dawn to dusk; a permit is available for those that want to take photographs at night.
- Paint Mines Informational Brochure and Map (PDF)
- Take nothing, and leave nothing behind.
The Paint Mines make a gorgeous location for all types of photography. Photographers may use the park for non-commercial portrait and landscape photography. Please follow all park rules including:
- Stay on designated trails at all times.
- Climbing and/or scrambling on Paint Mine formations is prohibited.
- Bikes, Pets, and horses are prohibited.
- Entering the Paint Mine formations is prohibited.
- All plants, wildlife, rocks, minerals, and historic artifacts within park boundaries are protected by law.
- Do not remove, destroy, or disturb any of these features.
- Practice the Leave No Trace Principles
Please stay on the trails at all times!
The people I captured in these next few pictures are breaking the above rules; by entering the paint mine formations and climbing/scrambling them.
You will still get beautiful pictures of the formations by following the leave no trace principles and park rules. Logan & I walked the trail through the formations, and then up to the top of the trailhead for a different perspective. There are so many ways you can get creative, and capture that perfect shot without damaging the formations.
There are trails like the one in the picture above and below that will take you throughout the rock formations. It can be very narrow at times, but with plenty of room to step to the side for fellow hikers. Witness a geological wonder within The Paint Mines Interpretive Park. When you visit, protect the park & please be considerate of the fragile formations. DO NOT stray from the trail.
Activities In The Area
For more activities in the Colorado Springs area, check out the options below. With so much to do in the area, I recommend stretching out your weekend with more days if you can. It will be worth it!
We lived in Colorado for 4 years and never visited the Paint Mines. We will add it to our list on our next trip back for sure!
Did you know about them when you lived there? They aren’t very well-publicized from what I’ve seen. I pinned a picture of them on my bucket list board 8+ years ago so I was glad I actually made it there.
This place looks SO COOL and your photos are beautiful! I’ve never heard of the Paint Mines before – will definitely keep it in mind when I make my way out to Colorado. thanks for sharing this amazing article.
This is the most incredible place. I was searching for things to do in the Colorado Springs area for the spring of 2021. Came across this post. Wow is this place beautiful. I kept saying to my husband that this place looks like a different planet. So glad we made it a point to visit.
That makes me so happy to hear that!! I’m glad that you were able to visit! What did you think? Do you have any tips or suggestions for me to aadd based on your experience?
The scenery looks spectacular! I love the rainbow colours!
We are looking for some fun things to do for the Labor Day weekend. Not sure how I have never heard of the Paint Mines, but they look fun to explore.
They are a hidden gem off the beaten path – highly recommend visiting them one day!
Thanks for the post. I lived in Durango, Colorado for years and love to read about the geologic wonders of Colorado. I so appreciate you reminder that beautiful photos and experiences can happen when we “leave not trace.” So important.
I’m glad I did Colorado proudly! Colorado is such a fun state to explore outside so it is reallyyyy important people practice nature etiquette to keep it pristine for years to come 💜
The Paint Mines are beautiful! WOW! Thank you for sharing this!
Of course! I hope you make it there to visit if you’re ever in Colorado
What a beautiful park! I’m always in awe of how amazing nature is and Painted Mines shows why.
Right? Finding all the rainbows is a hobby of mine 🌈
i love that you highlighted the Do’s and Do Not’s- it’s such a pet peeve when people don’t follow instructions that are there for a very clear reason 😒
I agree. ESPECIALLY when it comes to our natural resources. Do you speak up when you see something like that? I never know if I should or just mind my own business lol
What a cool spot! I’ve never heard of the Paint Mines before. My husband occasionally works in Colorado Springs so I’ll look forward to checking these out during his next work trip!
You should! They are so pretty and not too far away from Colorado Springs. Certainly worth the visit.
What a beautiful park! I’ve never heard of this, so I so appreciate you turning me onto this place that I must visit! And I really appreciate all the tips (like where the restrooms are located!)
I hope you’re able to visit one day! It is very underrated, and it was nice because there was hardly anyone there.
Now this is a very unique landscape! I hadn’t heard of it before, but I would definitely love to go and get some photos – shame about the people climbing where they shouldn’t be!
I know! I hate it when people don’t follow the rules and degrade our natural resources just for a picture.
We have been to CO Springs dozens of times but have not made it here! It is on our list for sure
I saw a picture on pinterest YEARS ago, and wanted to go ever since. It’s not a far drive from Denver either!
Looks so nice! I’ve been to Denver, Aspen and Grand Junction, but would love to see this area of Colorado! 🙂
Thanks for including correct and incorrect ways to enjoy the paint mines! I lived near the Springs and got to see these in person, they are definitely worth he day trip out to enjoy their natural beauty.
I had no idea that this place existed! Thank you for spotlighting bad behaviour. It’s so important that people act accordingly to protect our nature!
::sigh:: Why can’t people follow directions? It looks like it’s just as stunning from the trails. Great photos!
I’m absolutely blown away by those rock formations! What a truly unique and incredible place.
This place looks SO COOL and your photos are beautiful! I’ve never heard of the Paint Mines before – will definitely keep it in mind when I make my way out to Colorado.
Colorado is such a beautiful state. I spent a couple days in Colorado Springs last year and never knew about the Paint Mines! I’m definitely gonna have to go back to check these out–I love the colors!
what stunning photos.. Loved going thorugh the blog .Paint Mines seems to be a nice place
Oh wow! This place looks stunning! It’s also great you have the correct and incorrect way to snag photos. It is always good to keep that in mind. I wish I knew about this when I went to Colorado Springs!
Wow! Your photos are stunning! I’ve been to Colorado before but haven’t heard of the Paint Mines. I can’t wait to visit, I’ll be pinning this to use for the future!
I cannot believe I didn’t know this exists – it looks beautiful! And it’s free! Thanks for writing this – adding it to the cross-country road trip itinerary (for when travel is safe again).
I love that you call out bad behavior on these geological wonders! We really need more people pointing out etiquette on visiting such places – some things are bigger than the ‘gram. 🙄
Wow, another new place to explore. Never knew this existed but the beautiful photos are compelling.
I have never heard of this place until now, but wow does it look incredible! When travelling is back to normal and safe, I definitely think that I need to plan a trip here! I can’t wait to explore it and take loads of photos!
Wow this looks like such a cool spot! I’d love to go here someday. Love your photos! 😁
Okay, this is too cool. I visited Colorado Springs a lot of years ago for a writing retreat, but I had no idea this existed. We’ll have to catch it next time we’re in the area. Thanks for the info and the great pictures.
Okay I had NO idea this existed! I’m traveling more of the US once we’re back to normalcy and adding it to the list <3
What an incredible place! Ahhh I can think of so many photographs to take! I love that your images display the scale of the area so well! I do hope in the near future to explore the states a bit more 🙂
I’ve been to Colorado but I’ve not heard of this place!! I can’t wait to get back and explore some more!!
I love places where natures gets this creative. Good to know. I am adding the mines to my Colorado travel list.
I had never heard of the Paint Mines before reading this. Your photos are beautiful and definitely inspire me to visit someday. Thanks for introducing a new, natural sight to see.