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You do hoodoo?

My discovery was a well-kept secret ó you wonít find the location listed in the ìbest places to seeî tourist brochures or web sites. But, shhhh ó thatís just the way I like it. I was completely alone, except for the occasional rabbit startled by the crunching of my boots on fresh snow.Have you visited the Indian Paint Mines? Itís hard to believe that after living here more than 20 years, Iím still finding new trails in the Pikes Peak Region, especially gems like this, 30 miles east of Colorado Springs.The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is in a hollow that is cut from the rolling high plains of eastern El Paso County. The rip in the prairie land opens up to 4 miles of trails featuring spectacular hoodoos, caprock formations, sculpted walls, gullies and brightly colored clay deposits. Hoodoos are oddly shaped pinnacles of weathered rock. They create an otherworldly landscape like something from a sci-fi movie.Named for the colorful clay striations ó bands of yellows and oranges, grays, tans, rose pink and purplish mauve ó the park is quite striking. Native Americans used the deposits for ceremonial paints and pottery. Euro-American settlers in the 1800s mined the clay to make bricks for buildings in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.The spires and hoodoos look like solid rock, but these formations are actually quite fragile. An information brochure with map and park rules is available at the small parking lot entrance. I tried to follow all the rules. I didn’t remove, destroy or disturb any of the features (I wasn’t even impolite to any of them). I didnít bring in any alcoholic beverages (little early in the morning for that). I didnít discharge firearms or paintball guns, nor did I set off fireworks or explosives (although, tempting).If I did break a park rule, it may have been the one about staying on the designated trails. With the snow cover, I probably strayed a bit, uncertain exactly as to what was trail and what wasnít. We’ll keep that our little secret.If you would like to see my photos from this area, please go to Duren Jones spends time in the Colorado wilderness as often as possible. He has hiked hundreds of trails, completed the nearly 500 miles of the Colorado Trail, and has summited all 54 of Coloradoís 14,000-foot peaks. He loves the outdoors. He hates snakes.

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