Colorado's Paint Mines Interpretive Park is one of the coolest places in the state, but it's getting ruined and it makes me mad.

The Colorado Paint Mines Interpretive Park, located in El Paso County near the town of Calhan,  northeast of Colorado Springs, features some amazing geologic formations, spires, and hoodoos, and extremely colorful clay.  Four miles of trails cover the 750 acres in the park, along with interpretive signage and natural wonders. Unfortunately, vandals and careless visitors are destroying the beauty of the park.

According to Our Community Now, large crowds have caused erosion and damage to trails and some of the formations have been completely knocked over by people climbing on them, an activity that is prohibited and strongly discouraged. Even worse, perhaps, is the intentional damage being inflicted on this natural wonder. Vandals have spray-painted rocks and even carved initials in the rock formations.

Of course, catching people in the act is one of the challenges, even though the park's contents are protected by law. Any markings, modifications, or vandalism is punishable by fines up to $500.

To prevent further damage to the park, officials are now putting up fences in the overlook areas and to block off unofficial trails. A major improvement project is underway in the Paint Mines Park which should be completed in February of 2021. I've thought about visiting the park for several years but so far haven't made it over there. I'm thinking this is a Bucket List 2021 item in the coming year.

While many people have great respect for nature, there are those that don't - and that ruins it for everyone else. It makes me mad that some people feel the need to leave their mark on the land and have no regard for how their actions may impact a park, such as the Paint Mines, and other people who want to enjoy its beauty.

We've seen vandalism like this here in Western Colorado on some of our beloved hiking trails and on the Colorado National Monument. What is wrong with people? We are blessed to live in the beautiful state of Colorado and too many times we take it all for granted and we maybe don't appreciate it and respect it the way we ought to.

This is a good reminder to all of us to take care of our natural resources and the beauty we enjoy across the state whether it's the Grand Mesa, the Monument, the Riverfront Trail, or any of the other many wonders we enjoy here in Colorado. We want to preserve what we have for future generations, but we would also like to be able to enjoy Colorado's beauty right now.


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