Visiting the Paint Mines in Colorado
Updated August 2023, Visiting the Paint Mines in Colorado was originally published in November 2022
With small rolling hills and a bank of windmills on the horizon, we were a little confused about where these colorful hoodoos we had heard about were actually going to be and then we arrived at the main parking lot for the Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Down in a depression, we could see down into where colorful rocks lie exposed in what might be Colorado’s most rainbowy destination.
Need Travel Insurance and Evacuation Services for Colorado?
Start shopping for travel insurance plans over at IATI Insurance. Readers of the Adventures of Nicole get a 5% discount off your plan.
The Adventures of Nicole partners with Global Rescue to offer the world’s leading medical evacuation and security advisory services. To travel with peace of mind, shop evacuation coverage at Global Rescue.
Practical Info About Colorado’s Paint Mines
- Entry to Paint Mines Interpretive Park: Free
- Opening hours: Sunrise to sunset (but there are no official hours)
- Location: 29950 Paint Mines Road, Calhan, El Paso County, Colorado 80808. There are three parking lots, with the North Parking Lot being the main one with restroom facilities. There are also the South Parking Lot and West Parking Lot
- Restroom facilities: Located in the main parking lot
- Prohibited: Bikes, dogs/pets, horses, drones, camping, climbing/scrambling on the rock formations, or removing any rocks, plants, or historical items
Where are the Paint Mines Located?
The Paint Mines are relatively easy to get to, located near the town of Calhan, Colorado. The park lies about 45 minutes east of Colorado Springs and about two hours southeast of Denver by car.
How Did the Paint Mines Form?
The Paint Mines are in a somewhat unexpected location in the Eastern Prairies of Colorado. They’re set in a ravine that was formed by erosion over thousands of years that eventually exposed colorful layers of rock and sediments and carved the funky hoodoos and spires that litter the landscape of the Paint Mines today.
The name given to this area derives from the colorful clays that were collected here by Native Americans who called this part of Colorado home and ground into powders to create different colors of paint. Evidence suggests that human activity in the Paint Mines area dates back to at least 7000 BC.
Hiking Around Paint Mines Park
Roughly 4 miles of trails navigate around the 750 acres of land that comprise the Paint Mines. All the paths are easy walks that are mostly flat aside from the gentle downhill that brings you down from the parking lot(s). There are four main paths to explore around the Paint Mines.
Paint Mines Trail
3.4 miles | 300 feet elevation gain
The main Paint Mines Trail creates a loop around the entire park, beginning from the North Parking Lot.
Paint Mines Interpretive Loop Trail
2.2 miles | 200 feet elevation gain
The Interpretive Loop Trail begins from the North Parking Lot as well but takes a turn to the right to explore the southwest of Paint Mines Park, taking in some of the most colorful scenes in the area.
1.2 miles | 0 elevation gain
Starting from the South Parking Lot, the Green Trail connects the southern reaches of Paint Mines Park with the Paint Mines Trail and the Paint Mines Interpretive Loop Trail.
Paint Mines Overlook
900 feet | 0 elevation gain
Not a hike per se, but if you don’t want to or just can’t do one of the previously mentioned walks or hikes, the Paint Mines Overlook will give you sweeping views of the colorful hoodoos of the park from the West Parking Lot.
Have any questions about visiting Colorado’s Paint Mines?
Ask in the comments section below.