Paint Mines Interpretive Park
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.
The bright rainbow colored bands get their colors from oxidized iron compounds. The Paint Mines Interpretive Park contains evidence of human life from as far back as 9,000 years ago! The parks geological formations are spires and hoodoos, formed through various erosive actions. Creating gullies and layers of colored clay you see along the hike.
Stay in Colorado Springs
Located in Calhan, Colorado the park is a little off the grid so to speak. You will want to plan for one day to visit the park. The Calhan Inn is the only hotel in the immediate area. I would recommend staying in Colorado Springs so you have more restaurant and activities selections to choose from.
The park features beautiful wild flowers, 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 hoo doos. The best time to use the trail is from March until October. We visited in January; and enjoyed our visit very much.
Paint Mines Location
29950 Paint Mines Road
Calhan, CO 80808
How to Get There
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
- Their 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 ALL TRAILS!
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!