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The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is a must-see near Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Paint Mines are about an hour northeast of Colorado Springs and are well worth the trip! The Paint Mines are colorful rock formations filled with towering rock formations called hoodoos and spires. This park is an easy hike with ample areas to explore, climb, and admire.
The formations were made over millions of years and had layers of shale, clay, selenite, jasper, iron, and sandstone. The oxidized iron content causes beautiful colors throughout the rock formations in the park. While there are no inhabitants now, there are clues that humans used this area as far back as 9,000 years ago. The Native Americans who lived in the area used the oxidized iron from the rocks for paint, and artifacts were found from these Native tribes throughout the region.
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When To Go
The Paint Mines are open year-round, but there are definitely certain times that are better than others. If possible, try to go in the spring or fall. Unfortunately, there isn’t much (or any) cover, so the summer months get HOT!
Also, try to go earlier or later in the day to avoid the midday sun. For out-of-towners, remember that you’re likely at a higher altitude than usual, making you more susceptible to heat and dehydration.
What To Bring
While you don’t need to bring a lot when visiting the Paint Mines, you’ll want some essentials. I recommend wearing good hiking shoes. While you won’t be scrambling up many formations, you can climb over a few spots to reach the caves. The rocks are very smooth, so having footwear with a good grip on the bottom is best.
You’ll also want to bring lots of water, even more so if you’re visiting from somewhere at a lower altitude. I’m obsessed with this LifeStraw water bottle as it cleans any water to make it safe for drinking. Colorado is a desert climate, so you’ll get dehydrated much quicker. You’ll likely spend an hour or two here, so bring enough water to last a few hours.
Also, as silly as it sounds, if you’re an out-of-stater visiting Colorado, you are closer to the sun, so be sure to wear sunscreen and bring a hat. I absolutely LOVE this cooling hat – pour water on it, and it will keep you cool for hours. The sun can be brutal, especially if you’re visiting in the summer and there is no overhead cover to shade you.
Lastly, ensure your camera or phone is fully charged, as you will take tons of photos of this gorgeous place!
How to Get There
The Paint Mines are located about an hour northeast of Colorado Springs.
There are two parking lots – the main entrance and the upper parking lot. I suggest parking at the main entrance lot, as this is where the restrooms are located.
The upper parking lot gives you more of an aerial view of the Paint Mines, but there are no restrooms here.
At the Paint Mines
From the main parking lot, you’ll find a path that starts your hike. You’ll find a fork in the trail pretty quickly. If you choose to go left, you’ll find yourself taking a peaceful walk through the prairie land. If you have extra time to explore, I’d say go ahead and check it out, but I would save it for last. If you go to the right at the fork, the path will take you up and down a few hills to finally get to the fantastic Paint Mines.
While in the Paint Mines, there are a few things to remember. First, pack it in, pack it out. Meaning – whatever you brought in, bring it back out with you. This includes trash, food wrappers, gum, etc. Always try to leave a place cleaner than when you arrived. Also, please don’t climb on the formations. There are certain areas where you can scramble, which is allowed, but climbing on the hoodoos or spires is strictly forbidden.
During the summer months, guides are available throughout the park to give directions and answer any questions about the park. You can also sign up for a guided hike through the parks’ official website. You are encouraged to go at your own pace, explore, and enjoy the beauty of the Paint Mines.
At a Glance
Address: Paint Mines Interpretive Park, 29950 Paint Mine Rd, Calhan, CO 80808
Hours: Dawn to Dusk, Year-round
Facilities: Restrooms are located in the main entrance parking area and are open year-round. These are ‘outhouse’ style, so be aware that you might need your own toilet paper and/or hand sanitizer. They were out of both when I went!
What to Bring:
I have had the travel bug since I was young. Living in Colorado, and my parents being from New York, gave us lots of opportunities to go visit family back East. In my professional career as an event planner, I’ve had many experiences in other states, cities, and even other countries. I have been blessed with the ability to see so many different places, people, and cultures.