Saturday, March 10, 2018

Unique ways to experience Colorado's public lands

Nearly 40 percent of Colorado is comprised of federal public land. That includes four National Parks and eight National Monuments, 41 state parks, as well as hundreds of regional parks and open spaces. Public land provides outdoor recreation, wildlife habitats, clean air and water. All of that makes the state’s landscape breathtaking and lifestyle appealing.
Outstanding landscape of Colorado National Monument
by Beverly Burmeier
Colorado Public LandsDay is May 19, 2018, a perfect opportunity to experience outdoor recreational activities or check out different voluntourism events.

Regardless of your skill level or experience, there are plenty of recreational opportunities for everyone in Colorado's public lands.

Experience a canyoneering adventure in the Uncompahgre National Forest.  Local outfitter, Canyoning Colorado, offers canyoning/canyoneering descents and trainings in the quaint mountain town of Ouray, where there is an abundance of canyons and waterfalls. Adventurers can explore eight canyons in the Uncompahgre National Forest outside of Ouray on these expeditions. Tours and trainings are available to persons with no prior experience. Experienced climbers can take on more challenging tours or learn to canyoneer on their own.

Wildflowers growing near Boulder's flatirons
by Matt Inden
Catch a glimpse of wildlife on the Colorado Birding Trail. The Colorado Birding Trail is comprised of outdoor recreation sites, hiking or walking paths, both public and private, along a designated driving route across the state. Each driving route offers unique trail names and is composed of several watchable wildlife sites including the Bobolink Trailhead in Boulder, a reliable nesting site for species along the Front Range or the Prairie Canyons Trail just south of La Junta, where visitors can see horned lizards, Cassin’s Kingbirds, roadrunners and more.

The Great Sand Dunes with the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the background
by Matt Inden
Cool off in the brisk water at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. Medano Creek in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is something of a mystery. Each spring it emerges from the mountains behind the sand dunes to form a wide, shallow and gently flowing stream. Visitors wade into it to cool hot feet after tromping around the dunes, build sandcastles, or boogie board and splash around in its rhythmic waves before it retreats into the mountains just as quickly. The ideal combination of sultry desert and refreshing water is not the Alamosa-area park’s only charm — the dunes themselves are quite bewitching as well.

Marvel at the masonry of Colorado’s ancient people at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. So adept were the construction skills of the ancient Ancestral Puebloans who lived in southwest Colorado, that parts of their structures still stand more than 700 years later. Those who tour the area’s mesas and canyons today are left to speculate about the purpose of the multistory brick towers. Archeologists think they could have been homes, storage silos for crops, defensive forts or ceremonial structures. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument near Cortez, contains the highest known archaeological site density in the United States, with rich, well-preserved evidence of native cultures.

Whitewater froth on the Cache La
Poudre River
by Andrea Golod
Raft the tumbling rapids of the Cache la Poudre River. Located west of Fort Collins, Colorado’s only nationally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Cache la Poudre, carves through Poudre Canyon flanked by alpine mountainsides and natural rock cliffs. The triumph of paddling over a rapid named Devil’s Staircase is second only to the views and the chance to spot bighorn sheep and deer scampering along its rocky hills. Rafting outfitters guide groups to rapids of all difficulty levels, so everyone gets the right amount of adventure. 

Walk in dinosaur footprints in Comanche National Grassland. Standing in Picketwire Canyon with your foot swallowed by a three-toed impression left in the bedrock by a brontosaurus 150 million years ago, one can imagine what it might have looked like when dinosaurs inhabited the area. The canyon was home to a lake during the Jurassic period, and the brontosaurus you’re tracking now used to frolic along its shores. The footprints are reached after a flat five-mile hike, bike or horse ride.
Comanche National Grassland is one of the last short-grass
prairies in the world
by Matt Inden

Information and photos courtesy of Kirstin Koszorus, Colorado Tourism Office


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