45 minutes east of Colorado Springs away off from the mountains, in the small town of Calhan, is an incredible natural treasure that is an absolute must-see in Colorado. A true testament to the beauty of “Colorful Colorado”. And, nope, it isn’t found in a picturesque Rocky Mountain town. It’s the Paint Mines Interpretative Park– a unique and vibrant grouping of colorful, natural rock formations, tucked away in the middle of what I can only describe as a prairie-type of landscape. Looking up pictures before this trip, I saw large, gorgeous rock formations. So naturally, as we are driving out to the park, I’m pretty confused as to how flat the landscape appears, not expecting these huge rock formations to suddenly appear in a setting like this. I had thoughts of Laura Ingalls and her little house on the prairie as I looked around. Where could these rock formations be? They had to suddenly pop up, right? Are they hidden away somewhere? I actually had a moment where I thought maybe we had put in the wrong address in the GPS!
Eventually the GPS directs us to follow a winding dirt road, a pretty rough road too. Are you sure GPS, is this really where it is? The road seems to lead to nowhere specific except to a farm. The GPS tells us we are here as we turn into a small parking lot. I look around, no rock formations, just flatlands, some rolling hills and occasional farms. But, luckily, I see other cars there and other hikers, so obviously there’s a site nearby somewhere. We start following another group of hikers, surely they can lead us to the goods! As we walk over a rolling hill, we start to see something. Ahhh! Rock formations! They’re actually here! Who would’ve thought these incredible formations would be tucked away in the middle of what seemed like only farmland?! Like a beautifully kept secret. And that’s what I love about this park- it makes you EARN its beauty; makes you work for it. It doesn’t give it all away up front to you, it makes you get out of the car and explore, you have to walk a while until you reach the destination. Some other places you can just stay in your car and see the gorgeous view- no need to make a real effort. But this park leads you on a journey. The further you go into this park, the more amazing and vibrant the views get. It’s like it’s playing hard to get, forces you to get to know it better, to make the effort to really see and appreciate the beauty. It forces you to keep going, how much more beautiful can it get? It surely can’t get better than this view and yet it does with every step and turn you take!
The colors are exquisite! The rocks are all types of pastel colors! There wasn’t a color I couldn’t find. Not just purple, but different shades of purple- lilac, lavender and violet. Oranges, yellows, greens, pinks… It looks like God splattered the most beautiful watercolors on a canvas for us to enjoy and appreciate. This place is proof that Nature/God/Universe/Spirit (whatever your personal persuasion spiritually or religiously) is the greatest of all artists, and this is a true masterpiece! It’s places like this that really remind us how marvelous this world truly is, the wonder and enchantment that is around us if we only get out of our phones and technological devices and look up, get out and explore.
It’s places like this that connect me to my spiritual side. It proves Nature is greater than us. We are a part of it, and we need to respect and appreciate it. There’s no better way to appreciate Nature or God’s masterpiece than to look at it, explore it, get up close and take it fully in. It humbles me that something so divine and gorgeous is unpretentiously tucked away by nature in the middle of Colorado farmland. It feels like a gift to us, for us to discover. It goes to show, things are not always what they seem and sometimes the most beautiful places are in the most unsuspecting and modest locations. This place is a hidden treasure. When we think of Colorado and its beautiful settings, we often think of the more mountainous areas, but here, far away from the mountains, is this remarkable place!
My favorite part of this park is when you climb to the tops of the formations and you look down, it’s like a swirling sea of color. A perfect watercolor painting. The ideal ombre if you will! It doesn’t look real. For me, the only other place I had seen colors like this was Death Valley, California. As you walk through the formations, you find yourself getting lost in these colors, walking through these crevices that eventually open up to this natural “cathedral” of light and color. There are so many places you can go off and sit by yourself enjoying the view, alone with yourself and nature for as long as you want. For anyone who struggles with meditation, this a place you can do so very naturally and with ease. I could sit with these formations all day and be in a pure state of bliss. It reminds me of the quote by Henry David Thoreau, “heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” Anytime you can discover a natural place that brings you to a natural state of bliss and peace it reminds that this IS our natural state, here alone with nature. That’s who we are all meant to be- in a state of bliss and peace 😊. Whatever natural setting brings you to that place, whether it be the beach, the mountains, the forest, etc, keep chasing that feeling!