Visiting the Painted Mines in Colorado
Visiting the Painted 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 Painted 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.
Practical Info About Colorado’s Painted Mines
- Entry to Painted 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 Painted Mines Located?
The Painted 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 Painted Mines Form?
The Painted 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 Painted 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 Painted Mines area dates back to at least 7000 BC.
Hiking Around Painted Mines Park
Roughly 4 miles of trails navigate around the 750 acres of land that comprise the Painted 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 Painted Mines.
Painted Mines Trail
3.4 miles | 300 feet elevation gain
The main Painted Mines Trail creates a loop around the entire park, beginning from the North Parking Lot.
Painted 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 Painted 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 Painted Mines Park with the Painted Mines Trail and the Painted Mines Interpretive Loop Trail.
Painted 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 Painted 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 Painted Mines?
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