A Tranquil and Treasured Place

Ever since my inadvertent discovery of Colorado’s Roxborough State Park more than five years ago, I have harbored the wish to introduce it to my husband. Its location near Denver, about 65 miles north of Colorado Springs, had been a slight deterrent because of the attendant drive and traffic, but we finally made the journey in mid-July.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover the cursor over it.

We are enthusiastic devotees of Colorado’s State Parks and, for years, have happily invested the $70 fee for an annual pass that allows access to all forty-two parks, save one. A mere ten visits per year amortize the investment, and we typically far exceed that number. As the parks are scattered throughout the state, those that remain to be explored outnumber the ones we are familiar with, among them our nearby favorites, Cheyenne Mountain and Castlewood Canyon.

Roxborough State Park, fringed by the plains in the east and the Rocky Mountain foothills in the west, is one of the least developed parks. It is open only during daytime, does not offer picnic or camping facilities, and only allows human foot traffic. If this sounds restrictive, it is done in the noble attempt to limit visitation and minimize impact on its fauna, which includes 181 recorded bird species, plus multiple mammals, among them deer, elk, fox, black bears, bobcats, and mountain lions. When I recently published a post about our rare encounter with a rattlesnake, little did I know that soon afterward, we would run into another – at Roxborough. Again, this individual was not aggressive, and slithered away into the tall grass lining the trail. Shortly thereafter, we nearly stepped on another snake, and were jolted to attention when it hissed and curled. Fortunately, the bullsnake, albeit of impressive size, is not poisonous, and merely wanted to alert us of its presence.

Roxborough’s most outstanding features are geologic. Slanting red sandstone slabs form several parallel ridges along the park’s north-south axis, like the spinal columns of so many slumbering dinosaurs. The rocks are representative of the Fountain Formation. These oblique rubicund walls are even more remarkable when one comprehends that they originated as the bottom of an ancient inland ocean before its uplift some 300 million years ago. This is where my comprehension ends. As much as I hate to admit it, my geologic grasp is miniscule. Each time I read about rocks and minerals and millions and billions of years, my eyes glaze over, despite repeated attempts to remedy my ignorance. Ignorance does not equal inattention or inappreciation, but not everybody can be a rock hound.

Contrasting and complementing verdure, stimulated by several streams, creates a far lusher appearance than we are accustomed to from the otherwise geologically similar Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. The versatile flora comprises tallgrass species and wildflowers, but our nearly decade-long regional drought has temporarily suppressed the number of flowering plants. The entire American West hopes for more summer rains.

This exquisite jewel of a refuge has attracted humans for eons. Evidence of local activity dates back nearly 12,000 years, and those Paleo-Indians were followed more recently by Utes, and, to a lesser extent, by Arapahoe. The locale owes its name to Henry Persse, a New York transplant. In 1903, he built a stone house on the north end of the valley, originally called Washington Park, before he rechristened it after an ancestral Scottish location. He intended to transform the area around his summer home into a resort, replete with hotel, golf course, and guest cottages. Mercifully, this plan never materialized, and his and some surrounding property amounting to a total of about 3,300 acres came into the possession of the state of Colorado, and was opened as a park in 1987.

Despite its proximity to the greater Denver metropolitan area with its three-plus million inhabitants, and despite the doubling of the annual visitation from 75 to 150 thousand in the last four years, when managing to avoid weekends and holidays, it is still possible to experience transformative tranquil time at this treasure trove.

49 thoughts on “A Tranquil and Treasured Place

  1. Oh those rock formations are beautiful! It’s great that you make full use of your annual park pass, Tanja. It sounds like there’s a great outdoor culture in Colorado. The bullsnake looks pretty similar to the rattlesnake that you posted last time.. but then what do I know about snakes 😛 I wouldn’t able to tell them apart and both would spook me definitely hehe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Pooja. We think the parks pass is a good deal, and it supports the infrastructure of our parks.
      There are obvious differences between the snakes which are helpful to know about, but I try to keep a healthy distance between myself and any snake! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So in addition to the fauna you mentioned we can add the rock hound.

    I can’t keep all the geological eras straight, either, but they are fascinating. Like Colorado, Texas once lay under a shallow sea. Limestone is quarried in various places in the center of the state, and it’s common to see the imprints of shells, or even actual shells, in the faces of blocks of quarried limestone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful place, wonderful hills and nature. What a pity you had a drought, too. It was very warm and dry here, too and lots of trees and plants dried out. Thanks for sharing. Hope it will rain soon. Regards Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “He intended to transform the area around his summer home into a resort, replete with hotel, golf course, and guest cottages. Mercifully, this plan never materialized, . . . ”

    Just what the world would have needed: another hotel and another golf course!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The $70 annual fee sounds very reasonable to me. What a good idea! I think Illinois could do that although with the state’s history of corruption I don’t suppose the parks would be allowed to keep the funds.
    What a mercy that so much land was saved so near Denver. I’m like you~I can try all I want to read books about rocks, and I get nowhere. Oh well. They are very cool, and we can still appreciate them when we see them! 😀 ….love your sketch.

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  6. Was für eine traumhafte Landschaft. Die Felsen sind toll und die Tier- und Pflanzenwelt sind auch wieder ausgefallen schön 🙂 Ich liebe diese amerikanischen Sonnenblumen und Stauden der Prärie. Diese Parks und die Jahreskarte sind eine tolle Sache. So kommt ihr ganz schön rum! Ich finde das sehr positiv, weil man sonst häufig weit in die Ferne reist, aber sein eigenes Bundesland kaum kennenlernt. Wieviele Naturparks gibt es hier, die ich immer noch nicht kenne. Eine schöne SAche! (wenn ich etwas wirr schreibe – ich bin schon zu müde 😉 LG, Almuth

    Liked by 1 person

    • Herzlichen Dank, liebe Almuth. Auch wenn wir gerne andere Staaten erkunden, lieben wir unsere “staycations” sehr. Wir sind sehr verwöhnt, weil wir so viele schöne Ausflugsziele in der Nähe haben.
      Schlaf gut und genieße Deinen Sonntag.
      Liebe Grüße,

      Liked by 1 person

      • Da habt ihr wirklich ein großes Glück, aber ich denke, man guckt oft nicht so genau hin, was es in der näheren Umgebung gibt, weil man auf die fernen Ziele fixiert ist, die meist reizvoller erscheinen. Ist ja auch schön, aber vor der Haustür findet man eben auch Schönes 🙂 LG, Almuth

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing Tanja. It ‘s nice to know that the habitat for the critters is being protected and preserved. Sometimes people don’t appreciate nature’s beauty. I love the entire area, it reminds me of the old west hills and mountain ranges. Really beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

      • You are right Tanja! We People, when caught up in a moment can be so careless. I get upset seeing drinks or food wrappers on grocery story shelves. This indicates that a person was shopping, drinking and eating. And when he was done or didn’t want anymore, sat or placed the eyesore in an intimidating place..the shelve next to food. I feel that alarms or sirens should go off when people violate the environnment.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Tanja – Another lovely post. I love the photos. I took geology in college and enjoyed learning about rocks. However, I am no rock hound and can understand how intimidating and boring the information can be. I think you handled it quite well in this post. -Jill

    Liked by 1 person

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