Many people haven’t heard of Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan, Colorado. But don’t mistake its secrecy for unimportance. These clay hoodoos and spires, which were once the source of Native American pottery, will take your breath away.
Calhan is two hours southeast from Denver. This little town is littered sparsely with farms and livestock, and the road to the Paint Mines are dirt!
There are two hiking trails in the park, the North Loop & the South Loop. Collectively the loops are 3.6 miles long, and have a very small elevation gain, making it a very easy day of exploring. There is even an overlook you can drive to so that you can view the formations without having to hike to them.
My recommendation is to walk to the formations. It isn’t far, and you can weave in and out of this natural mini-canyon, just make sure that you do not climb on anything! The clay is fragile and it is not safe to climb on, plus it escalates erosion and we want to preserve this park for as long as possible.
However, just because you can’t climb on the rocks doesn’t mean you can’t get up close and personal with them!
There is no shade on this trail, so if you are going in the summer be sure to wear sunscreen and bring water! Even though the hike is not strenuous, being exposed to the sun can be very tiring on your body. Especially because the terrain is so white, it can be very reflective and warm!
If you have the time, take half a day and go explore this beautiful park! It is definitely worth the drive. Happy exploring!