Paint Mines by Lindsey Fisher 2 sunshine

The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is one of El Paso County’s most unique open spaces. The Paint Mines are named for their colorful clays that were collected by American Indians to make paint. Brightly colored bands, caused by oxidized iron compounds, are found in varying amounts throughout the many different layers of clay.

The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is located in the northeast section of the County near Calhan with approximately 750 acres. The paint mines have evidence of human life as far back as 9,000 years ago. The park features fantastic geological formations including spires and hoodoos that form through erosive action that creates incised gullies and exposed layers of selenite clay and jasper. The park includes a restroom facility, four miles of trails, interpretive signage, and many natural wonders.

  • Location:
    29950 Paint Mines Road
    Calhan, CO 80808
    The Paint Mines restroom is located in the main entrance parking area and is open year-round.
  • Paint Mines Informational Brochure and Map (PDF)
  • The Park is free to enter and is open year-round and does not close for holidays.
  • Park Hours:
    Dawn to Dusk
  • Driving Directions:
    Take Hwy 24 east from Colorado Springs to Calhan, turn south on Yoder Road/Calhan Highway, turn east on Paint Mines Road and look for the designated parking area.
  • Paint Mines Interpretive Park Management Plan
  • Parks Department:
    (719) 520-7529
  • Park Weather: NOAA
  • Pets, Horses, and bicycles of any kind are PROHIBITED.
  • Drones are PROHIBITED.
  • Stay on designated trails at all times.
  • Climbing and/or scrambling on Paint Mine formations is prohibited.
  • Entering the Paint Mine formations is prohibited.
  • All plants, wildlife, rocks, minerals, and historic artifacts within park boundaries are protected by law. Do not remove, destroy, or disturb any of these features.
  • Avoid gulches and gullies during wet weather.

Be prepared! Know before you go!

Water- There is no water available at the park. Make sure to bring enough water for your entire trip, including the car ride to and from the Park and your hikes into the park.

Shade- Shade is very rare in the park. Make sure to bring adequate sun protection.

Seating/benches- There are very limited places to sit down and rest once entering the park.

Uneven Terrain- All the trails in and around the park are made of dirt and gravel and may be unimproved. All of the area within the park is uneven terrain.

Dogs, pets, and horses- Dogs, pets, and horses are not allowed in the park. Owners will be asked to return their animals to their vehicles.

Drones- Drones are strictly prohibited.

County Dirt Road-The road to the park is a maintained county dirt road.

Calhan, Colorado- Calhan is the closest town to the park. Here you can find food, gas, and services.

  • Hiking trails
  • Interpretive Displays
  • Picnic Tables
  • Restroom
  • No Water on site
  • No pets, no horses, no bikes.

The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is a beautiful location for all types of photography. Photographers are welcome to use the park for non-commercial portrait and landscape photography.

Please follow all park rules including:

  • Stay on designated trails at all times.
  • Climbing and/or scrambling on Paint Mine formations is prohibited.
  • Entering the Paint Mine formations is prohibited.
  • The Paint Mines is closed at night, but a permit is available for those that want to take photographs at night.
  • Drone use on El Paso County Park Property is prohibited.

These rules are in place to preserve the natural beauty of the park and for the safety of visitors.

Commercial photographers and those that would like to do Astro-Photography will need a permit. (No film, movie or video shoots). Please visit the Paint Mines – Commercial Photography information link for additional information.

Contact the Parks Office for more information at (719) 520-7529 or Parks@elpasoco.com.

Guided Hikes

Registration for 2024 summer hikes has been delayed due to staffing issues. Please check back at a later time.

Thank you for your understanding

Paint Mines guided hikes will occur on select Saturdays and will cover topics such as the geology, ecology, and human history of the site. Our amazing interpreters will show you around the park and the fascinating rock formations while they share with you their vast knowledge of the area . They will even bring out some of the amazing artifacts and fossils that have been found and we have protected for everyone to see.

Space is limited and REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.

Please make sure to wear durable closed-toe shoes and bring a filled water bottle. These hikes will be approximately two hours in length and you will be walking up to two miles on uneven and unpaved surfaces for the entire length of the hike.
Hikes will meet and start at the information kiosk at the main parking lot. 29950 Paint Mine Rd.

Register by creating an account on our registration website by clicking the button below.

If you wish to cancel your registration, please do so at least five days before the hike so that we can allow others to register instead.
For more information or to cancel a registration, please call (719) 520-6977 or email ryandorough@elpasoco.com

Paint Mines Interpretive Park Field Trips

29950 Paint Mines Road
Calhan, CO 80808
719-520-6977

Celebrating human history, life sciences, and the processes of nature.

Archaeological studies indicate that humans have inhabited the Paint Mines for nearly 9,000 years. The plants, animals, and colorful clays encouraged prehistoric people to return to the area, year after year, for centuries. The Paint Mines are considered significant in the prehistory of the area, and this park is listed as an Archaeological District in the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to the peoples that have used the site, native wildlife and plants flourish at Paint Mines Interpretive Park, making it a fantastic place for people of all ages to learn about and experience nature. Newley added in 2022, Paint Mines field trips and educational programs will cover Colorado academic standards for grades three through six. Options include grade-specific oriented trips, or choose from a list of lessons and activities to create the perfect experience for your teaching and learning goals.

Program Dates: Fall 2024

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only starting August, 2024, and ending October 20, 2024

Capacity

-30 students & 4 adult chaperones/teachers MAX per trip.

Scheduling Information

Call 719-520-6977 or email ryandorough@elpasoco.com

To enhance everyone’s experience and prevent overcrowding, all groups must schedule their visits.

Please have the following information available: preferred and alternative dates,
number of students, grade level, teacher contact information.

Fees

$4.00 per student. We accept VISA, MC, Discover, cash & checks. Adults
and chaperones are free at a 10/1 ratio. $4 for each additional adult chaperone.

$60 reservation deposit due at time of booking. Reservation deposit is applied towards the final cost, due on the day of your trip.

Minimum of 15 students, or $60 per visit.

Booking hours

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday (Closed Sunday & Monday)

Additional Information

Picnic and playground facilities are approximately 2 miles away, at the El Paso County Fair and Events Complex.

To prevent food litter, we request that all field trips eat on the bus, or at the El Paso County Fair and Events Complex.

  • 3rd Grade

    While exploring the plains ecosystem surrounding the amazing rock formations, students will play a game to learn about the different species of plants, animals, and the many differences in their life cycles. Once in the formations, students will be able to learn about the many groups of humans to pass through and use Paint Mines for human survival and the expansion of the newly forming United States of America.

  • CO State Standards Correlations: 3rd Grade Standards: History(1) 1.2 & 2.2, Life Science(2) 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, & 2.4
  • 4th Grade

    Take a trip back in time to discover the natural process that have shaped and formed the amazing formations known as Hoodoos. Starting all the way at the top of Pikes Peak and ending here at Paint Mines Interpretive Park, discover how water, erosion, and time have caused this landscape to be what it is today. Mix in a little new with the old and learn about how common weather patterns prevalent to the area make this a great place for generating energy for the Front Range communities. How do these new process affect the wildlife at Paint Mines? Join us to find out!

  • CO State Standards Correlations: 4thGrade Standards: Earth and Space Science (3) 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, & 3.4
  • 5th Grade

    The plains are alive and constantly transferring energy from one organism to another. Learn about how the biotic and abiotic factors of the plains ecosystem interact with each other to create an amazing place for animal and human activity. Speaking of human activity, Paint Mines has a vast history of it. In this program students will learn about the various groups of people that have come through the area over a course of around 9,000 years.

  • CO State Standards Correlations: 5th Grade Standards: History(1) 1.2, Life Science(2) 2.1 & 2.2, Earth and Space Science(3)3.3

Make a donation specifically to Paint Mines Interpretive Park through the “Trust for County Parks.”

Secure donations can be made using PayPal by clicking the icon below.

Thank You Next Era Energy and El Pomar Foundation

Partner in the Park for Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Thank you, Lyda Hill Philanthropies!

Paint Mines- How-To

Explore Our Parks

Paint Mines Interpretive Park