Most outdoorsy folk have heard of Red Rocks. So imagine our surprise when we got to Colorado Springs with our loose excuse for an itinerary, and saw “Red Rocks” on Google Maps about 5 minutes down the road from the restaurant we were sitting in! Naturally, we finished our brunch, hopped in the truck, and scooted down the highway – at which point we discovered Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
Why Red Rock Canyon is so cool
This place is, in many ways, a crossroads. It’s a migration path for local wildlife, was once a strategic point of defense for local Utes, and was home to gypsum mines and a quarry during the more recent development of the Colorado Springs area.
Boyfriend Perspective: The quarry section is always visually alluring to me – it’s just one of those out-of-place things I find interesting. The wall of this formation was made when it was drilled and blown out with dynamite, leaving what looks like giant brick and mortar steps.
And now? Industry in this area has given way to community use. Volunteers and community members keep the area clean and chart new trails through its over 2,000 acres of red rocks formations (some natural, some man-made) and vegetation.
Climbers can get permits to scale many of the larger red rocks, and hikers, walkers, cyclists, and horseback riders have free rein (Luke’s not the only one with jokes) over everything else. The recreation area is also dog-friendly (just be sure to bring the proper clean-up supplies) and the trails are generally gentle enough and full enough of educational plaques to be kid-friendly.
Our visit to the Red Rock Canyon Open Space
Don’t you love that feeling when you walk into a restaurant or other attraction in a new place and find yourself surrounded by locals? Well, when we pulled into the parking lot, it was surprisingly packed – since we hadn’t heard much about it in our previous reading, our assumption was that we’d actually stumbled on just such a place. And we were right!
Once we found a place to park the behemoth pickup truck Enterprise had “upgraded” us to, we headed over to what looked like the trailhead to study the signs. We found that most of the trails were very clearly marked, both at the beginning and along the way.
Once we got to walking, we found the grounds incredibly clean and well-maintained. Most of the paths are still dirt or natural rock, but they’re packed down enough that you don’t need to worry about tripping. And thank god for that because, bear in mind, we were two tired people who had just a few hours ago arrived on an early flight, and only a few moments prior, bolted down a HUGE, tasty brunch – so we were walking SLLOOOOWWWWWLLLYYYYYYY and probably not paying great attention as we tried to stay awake AND pull up our collars against a pretty stiff fall breeze.
But another thing we noticed, even through the brunch coma haze, was that, though we shared the trails with a few other groups toting cameras, we were also surrounded by runners, a few cyclists, several people strolling with dogs, and one or two more serious-looking photographers. Oh, and at least one couple on a somewhat awkward date.
And as for the scenery? The photos really don’t do it justice, especially when you consider that, just like much of Colorado Springs, this park is right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Red Rock Canyon Open Space is without a doubt a perfect place to spend a calm few hours, enjoying nature and a lovely walk.
Boyfriend Perspective: I know I’m supposed to say something about the park, but Meagan had to go talk about brunch at the beginning… and what a brunch it was! I’m drooling just thinking about it, and I do consider flying to Colorado Springs just to have that brunch again.
For more information, visit the Red Rock Canyon Open Space website.
What’s your favorite urban park? Let us know in the comments!
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