In stark contrast to the rolling high plains of eastern El Paso County, the Paint Mines rip the prairie open in a shocking display of hoodoos, caprock canyons and brightly-colored clay.
Southeast of Calhan, Colorado, an exurb of Colorado Springs, this El Paso County park (one of the newest on the roster) provides 750 acres of fresh air, open skies and wonder to residents and visitors alike.
"The mines have evidence of human life as far back as 9,000 years ago. The colorful clays were used by American Indians for making pottery and ceremonial paints."*
Four miles of trails wind the visitor through these other-worldly badlands and also offer a birds-eye view of the Paint Mines. At interpretive stations scattered throughout the park, visitors may be lucky enough to hear old timers reminisce of Easter Sunday family post-brunch traditions at the Mines, or giggle recalling late-night beers and budding young romance under the starlit sky.
*El Paso County Parks
The Paint Mines sit just a few miles southeast of Calhan, Colorado, in Eastern El Paso County. Calhan is northeast of Colorado Springs.
From Colorado Springs:
- Take Hwy 24 east
- Go through the small town of Calhan
- Head south on Yoder Road
- Head east (turn left) on Paint Mines Road
- Follow Paint Mines Road for approximately 1 mile
- The trailhead will be on your left
Visitors enjoy the trail as it mazes through Paint Mines.
As an El Paso County park, visitors must adhere to a large body of regulations. Here is a document detailing El Paso County Parks Regulations
. Below is a summary of key rules governing visitation to Paint Mines:
Sign at entry to parking area.
1. Please do not climb on or deface in any way the fragile clay spires, canyon walls and formations.
2. Keep your pet leashed and clean up after your pet.
3. Standard El Paso County Parks hours of operation are 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM.
4. Do not litter.
5. Geocaching is forbidden.
6. No gambling, use of drugs or consumption of alcohol
7. My personal favorite: "It shall be unlawful for any person to launch or
fly rockets or model airplanes, or to propel objects such as arrows, javelins, golf balls, stones, or other missiles in any park except in designated areas set apart for such forms of recreation. The playing of games such as football, baseball or horseshoes is prohibited except on fields, courts or areas provided for them."
There is no camping permitted at Paint Mines Interpretive Park. There is little or no lodging available nearby; this is primarily a rural or semi-rural residential area.
Only a few hours are required to enjoy all four miles of trails in the Paint Mines. Area residents will find a visit to the Paint Mines makes a nice half-day outing from home. Visitors to the Colorado Springs area can either visit Paint Mines as a half-day excursion from their lodging near Colorado Springs, or stop by the Paint Mines on their way into our out of Colorado Springs.