Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Geology Park & Hiking Area

Photo of the Paint Mines

About the Park

Relentless prairie winds, sandstone-capped spires and hoodoos, colorful hues of clay, prairie hawks riding the currents, and distant coyote calls beckon visitors to this quiet landscape. As hikers venture from the trailhead, the Paint Mines offers a journey through time, past fascinating geological formations and remnants of human history, in a unique ecological setting within the rolling plains of eastern El Paso County. The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is a rare, geologically fragile, and ecologically rich landscape of labyrinthine gulches and monoliths, perennial wetlands, and native grass meadows. The park contains unique geological, archeological, historical, and ecological resources that are all interrelated with significant educational, scientific, and interpretive value.

The park covers 750 acres and has approximately four miles of trails. The hike is appropriate even for beginners, although the overall rise in elevation is over 500 feet. There are a couple of rules to follow while exploring the Paint Mines. One is that there is no rock climbing in this fragile environment. Also, everything is protected by law, including artifacts, rocks, plants, and animals, so leave the beautifully colored rock fragments that litter the paths where they are for others to enjoy!

Paint Mines Interpretive Park also has a great historical significance. Researchers have found evidence of human habitation in the area for as far back as 9,000 years ago. These people are believed to be ancestors of the first humans to cross the Bering Strait land bridge. In more recent years, the Native Americans considered the area a cache of natural resources. The selenite clay was used to make arrowheads and the beautiful colors of the sandstone were used as pottery paint. To make hunting easier, the channels were used to run buffalo into so that hunters sitting at the end of the gulches above could shoot them with bow and arrow.

In the spring, the park is full of flora like the Indian Paintbrush and Buffalo grass along with many other native wildflowers and grasses. Wildlife that can be seen in the area includes horned toads, antelope, coyotes, hawks and many varieties of song birds.

Hours

Open all year, dawn to dusk

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