It’s been over a month since the last time I posted. Everything just got so hectic (as it always does) at the end of the semester with finals–it took over my life! But now that we’re all settled into summertime, I’m back in the saddle, ready to dedicate lots of time to cultivating my blog!
During my hiatus I was able to sit back and ask myself what it was that I wanted to focus on this summer, blog-wise. My first instinct was travel, travel, travel, since it’s my biggest passion, and the summer is everyone’s favorite time to do so. However, I won’t be doing any big trips this summer since I’m in the process of saving up money to move to France for a semester in December! As tough as it is for me to wait that long to do any traveling, I know it’s going to be so worth it in the long haul.
So! Instead of focusing on any sort of domestic and/or international travel, I decided to shift my focus more locally. Colorado is plein with national parks and natural wonders; we are home to some pretty unique geographical and ecological areas, and people travel from all over to see this wonderful state!
All of that is to say I’ve decided to start a series highlighting some of these fabulous and interesting places. This post is the first installment of my Colorado Summer Series, and I hope it will inspire you to visit my beautiful state and/or get out and explore your own local area, wherever that may be! 🙂 Let’s get started.
My sister, pictured above, is currently visiting from Kansas. Her and I decided to take a trip to the Paint Mines Interpretative Park at the suggestion of our dad. I’m a Colorado native, but I’d never heard of this place before. It turns out neither had he, despite how many years he spent living here, as well. According to the article he sent me, this place is still a bit of a hidden gem.
The park is located pretty much due east of Colorado Springs in El Paso County, just outside of a small town named Calhan. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Colorado front range area, it’s about an hour and forty minute drive from Denver, making it perfect for a day trip.
The area is pretty unique from an ecological standpoint, as it is an intersection of prairie, badlands, and wetlands. It’s also a protected area in Colorado, due to its archaeological significance: they’ve found evidence of humans living there from 9,000 years ago! It’s also believed that the Native Americans used to heard buffalo into these rocky channels as an easier way of hunting them. You can read in more detail about the park here, though the website isn’t the greatest.
There are about four miles of trails throughout the park, and it’s mostly flat, which makes it an excellent option for families. We decided to take the trail that headed straight for the rock formations, cuz that was the entire reason we were there. The trail quickly turned into white sand surrounded by low growing grass, bushes, and other assorted flora. It didn’t take us long to reach the impressive rock formations at all, maybe about a quarter of a mile into the park.
The first formations we stumbled upon were stark white. Their unique shape is thanks to literally millions of years of erosion.
It wasn’t until we got a little deeper into the park, however, that the real awesomeness commenced. The alien-like shapes of the hoodoos (pictured above) combined with the yellow and pink coloring of the rock was like anything we’d ever seen before! Pair that with the Jurassic-feel of the surrounding environment, we felt like we’d stepped onto another planet.
The naturally occurring (yes, really!) hues of pinks and yellows is due to the selenite clay, jasper, and limestone that has been revealed via the erosion. It’s really incredible to see in real life!
In comparison to other parks and trails in Colorado, this one does seem to remain fairly unknown. We saw around ten people the entire time we were there, which is minimal compared to other popular places, such as Rocky Mountain National Park.
Overall the trip is well worth the drive. The easy hiking and the eerie ethereal beauty of the formations create an incredibly enjoyable experience any time of day or year.
Pro-tip: there’s minimal shade available as there aren’t any trees, and the rock formations essentially form a wide-mouthed canyon. Bring LOTS of water, a hat, sunglasses, and more sunscreen than you think you’ll need, especially if you’re fair-skinned!
I’d love to know what you guys think about this article and starting this series! Have you ever been to this magical place? What are your travel plans for the summer? Let me know in the comments down below! 🙂 Please join me on my journey, let’s become friends on Instagram: @aubsaintlaurent
Until next week! Bisous xox