Posts From The Road: Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Colorful Formations: Colorful formations featuring shades of red, yellow, and orange are seen on these formations at Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan, Colorado. Various tints of these colors as well as grays, blacks and white rocks and soil are seen within the park. Photo by Gary Warren/

Overview: While driving to the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, one may think he is in the wrong area until arriving at the eroded landscape featuring formations and colors that are out of this world. The area is typical of eastern Colorado with rolling hills, grasslands, farming and ranching. Photo by Gary Warren/ 

Formerly of Los Alamos

Paint Mines Interpretive Park is a 750-acre park located in Calhan, Colo. which is about 35 miles east of Colorado Springs. The park is unique in multiple ways as it features geological, archaeological, historical, and ecological assets.

There is evidence on the property, such as arrowheads, that Native Americans occupied the area as long as 9,000 years ago. The colorful geological clays were used by the natives to make paint and after seeing the area, it is easy to see how many of the historic southwestern color schemes were derived from the various colors of the clays and soils.

The unique geological formations and colors are the main attraction of the park for most visitors today. The area features a badlands area that includes spires, hoodoos, and other fantastic geological formations in various sizes and colors.

Also within the park’s boundary are grass lands and wetlands which attract wildlife and birds to the area. Many songbirds as well as hawks and falcons frequent the area and wildlife include deer, coyote, and many smaller animals.

Paint Mines Interpretive Park is open daily from dawn to dusk. The park has about four miles of trails that allow visitors both an overview of the area as well as a chance to hike among the formations and grass lands. There is no charge to visit the park and enjoy the wonderful colors of nature.

Editor’s note: Longtime Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren and his wife Marilyn are traveling around the country and he shares his photographs, which appear in the ‘Posts from the Road’ series published in the Sunday edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post.

Vertical Formations: These vertical formations feature horizontal layers of color which are seen throughout the geological wonderland. All the coloring, both the red hues and yellow, is a result of oxidized iron in the soil and clay. Photo by Gary Warren/

Layers: Another scene at Paint Mines Interpretive Park show the various layers of the formations and the how the color appears in horizontal layers as well. Photo by Gary Warren/ 

Hoodoos: Hoodoos at Paint Mines look like their big brothers at Bryce Canyon National Park. The stark white coloring gives contrast to the other colors seen around the area. Photo by Gary Warren/

Vibrant Colors: The colors seen in the formations at Paint Mines Interpretive Park range from rosy pinks to deep burgundy and from creamy yellow to deep and darker golds and oranges. Also seen in this view is the layers of gray rock that make up much of the formations. Photo by Gary Warren/

Pure White: With all the emphasis on color, there are areas where the formations are almost solid white. This scene shows whites and noticeably light grays with almost no other coloring. While this park is not huge, it is a good size to hike around and enjoy the variety of landscapes ranging from the prairies and grasslands to the badlands and unusual geological formations. Photo by Gary Warren/

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