Ute Valley Park

Colorado Springs harbors a wealth of lovely parks, putting us locals in the enviable position of having to choose which one to explore on any given day. Allow me to introduce Ute Valley Park, located in the northwest quadrant of our city. Even though it’s only about 13 miles from home, busy traffic corridors act as a deterrent, and I don’t visit as often as I would like, because it’s otherwise a very attractive destination, both with regard to scenery and wildlife.

Colorado Springs beheimatet eine Fülle reizender Parks, weshalb wir Einheimischen oft die Qual der Wahl haben. Erlaubt mir, Euch Ute Valley Park im nordwestlichen Teil der Stadt vorzustellen. Auch wenn er nur etwa 21 Kilometer von unserem Haus entfernt liegt, schrecken mich die Verkehrswege etwas ab, und ich besuche ihn weniger oft als gewünscht, weil er ansonsten sehr attraktiv ist, sowohl was die Landschaft als auch die Tierwelt angeht.

As the name implies, the area is nestled in a wide valley and characterized by rolling hills, rocky canyons, and sandstone formations, all of which are variously covered by grassy meadows, desert-like plants, shrubby vegetation, or piñon/juniper forest. The view west is dominated by Pikes Peak, which remains in sight from all but the most secluded trails. I never tire of gazing at our local fourteener, and am fascinated by its moods, which it wears on its sleeve, or its head, as it were. It does not pretend—shares a sunny smile when all is calm, but surrounds itself in a cloak when change is brewing—and in so doing, serves as our meteorologist.

Wie der Name andeutet, liegt das Areal in einem weiten Tal und ist durch sanfte Hügel, felsige Schluchten und Sandsteinformationen gekennzeichnet, die je nachdem mit Gras, wüstenartigen Pflanzen, Sträuchern oder Nadelwäldern bedeckt sind. Der Blick gen Westen wird von Pikes Peak dominiert, der von den meisten Pfaden aus zu sehen ist. Ich werde nie müde, mir unseren 4.000 Meter hohen Berg anzuschauen, und ich finde seine Launen faszinierend, die er offen auf seinem Angesicht zur Schau stellt. Wenn das Wetter mild ist, lächelt er, doch wenn sich etwas anbraut, umhüllt er sein Antlitz, und fungiert so als unser Meteorologe.

As is evident in my pictures taken mid-January, the ground is snowless, in all but the most shaded spots. After promising November and December snowfalls, most of our region has not had any precipitation for four to six weeks. While January is often a dry month, the absence of rain or snow serves as a sobering reminder that many parts of Colorado have been in a drought since the start of the new millennium. As of January 21, the drought monitor reports that 26. 4% of the state (Colorado Springs included) is abnormally dry, 37.4% is in a moderate, and 13.8% in a severe drought.

Wie meine Bilder von Mitte Januar zeigen, ist der Boden bis auf die schattigsten Flecken schneefrei. Seit einigen vielversprechenden Schneefällen im November und Dezember gibt es fast überall in unserer Region in den letzten vier bis sechs Wochen keinerlei Niederschläge. Auch wenn der Januar oft ein trockener Monat ist, dienen die Abwesenheit von Schnee und Regen als ernüchternde Erinnerung daran, daß viele Gegenden Colorados seit Beginn des neuen Milleniums unter Dürre leiden. Laut Trockenheitsmonitor vom 21. Januar sind 26,4 % des Staates (dazu gehört auch Colorado Springs) ungewöhlich trocken, wohingegen 37,4% von mittelmäßiger und 13.8% von starker Trockenheit betroffen sind.

The following photo shows a section of the Rampart Range. Instead of green trees, you might recognize their skeletons—silent witnesses of the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, which swept over the hill and burned not only forest, but also an entire residential area, tragically claiming the lives of two people and countless animals. With the heart-rending inferno in Australia and the memory of this and several other recent conflagrations still fresh on everybody’s mind, we are enjoying our sunshine while we urgently hope for some moisture from the sky.

Das folgende Photo zeigt einen Auschnitt der hiesigen Rampart Gebirgskette. Statt grüner Bäume ist es möglich, ihre Skelette zu erkennen. Sie sind stumme Zeugen des Waldo Canyon Feuers, das 2012 über den Hügel schwappte und nicht nur den Wald, sondern auch ein Wohngebiet verbrannte und tragischerweise zwei Menschen sowie unzähligen Tieren das Leben kostete. Das herzzereißende Inferno in Australien und unsere eigene Feuersbrunst sind uns noch frisch im Gedächtnis, und auch wenn wir die Sonne genießen, wünschen wir uns, daß der Himmel uns dringende Nässe spenden wird.

48 thoughts on “Ute Valley Park

  1. What a wonderful park to have in your backyard, though I’m shocked to read about the extent of the drought. When we were on our Yellowstone trip in September 2018 we were struck by how low the waters were in the Utah salt lakes, and I although they are a long way from your location in the outskirts of Colorado Springs I guess it’s all part of the same phenomenon?

    Incidentally, I love the German for American Robin. I put it into Google Translate, which came up with Wandering Throstle [Thrush], which sounds so much more interesting than the common English language name. And more accurate too: American it might be, but a robin it most certainly isn’t! 🙂

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    • But robin tells a tale, too. Here’s the etymology given in the American Heritage Dictionary: “Short for Robin Redbreast, from Middle English Robin, personal name, from Old French, diminutive of Robert.” If we go back further, Robert coalesced from Germanic hrod, which meant ‘fame’, and berht, which is akin to English bright.

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    • The entire American Southwest is affected by the drought, and has been throughout centuries. It is thought that drought was one of the reasons the Ancestral Puebloans had to leave places like Mesa Verde. So even if it’s not a new phenomenon, it doesn’t make it any less concerning.

      And as far as the robin, you are correct, the European and American Robins have very little in common. I agree, the German “Wanderdrossel,” or “wandering thrush” is a far better name. Steve has added some interesting information about the etymology of the word robin.

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    • I think you are not alone with that notion, Steve. Many people associate Colorado with the Rocky Mountains, but a vast portion of the state occupies the foothills, plains and western slope, and those are the areas hit hardest by the drought. Fortunately, the high mountains have been receiving average snowfall, which assures the water supply for a few years, but as you know, the Colorado River has not reached its delta for many, many years.

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    • Danke der Nachfrage, liebe Christa. Das mit dem Verkehr und der Distanz ist natürlich alles relativ, aber wenn ich die Wahl zwischen einem näheren Park habe, der auch noch leichter zu erreichen ist, dann entscheide ich mich oft für den letzteren, besonders weil ich auch versuche, nicht so viel Auto zu fahren. Wie gesagt finden wir uns in der glücklichen Lage, ähnlich schöne Orte in der näheren Umgebung zu haben.
      Sei nett gegrüßt,
      Tanja

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a gorgeous space, Julie, but there are actually residential areas between the hogback formation in the park the photos show, and the mountain chain that is home to Pikes Peak. It was one of those neighborhoods that burned in the fire.
      But in some sections in the park one can still get some sense of wilderness.

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  2. Ich wünsche euch von Herzen Regen, liebe Tanja. Zur Zeit könnte ich dir welchen abgeben, obwohl unsere Bauern sagen, dass die tieferen Bodenschichten noch Wasser benötigen.
    Gestern in Hagenbecks Tierpark lief mir das Wasser jedenfalls aus den Schuhen.
    Schön ist es dort wo du jetzt deine Heimat hast. Wunderschön!

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    • Dankeschön, liebe Brigitte. Manchmal denke ich, es wäre schön, wenn wir den Regen gleichmäßig über die Erde verteilen könnten, doch natürlich würde sich die Menschheit auch darüber streiten. Es bleibt zu hoffen, daß sich das irgendwie selbst reguliert, aber danach scheint es nirgendwo auszusehen.
      Aber unsere vielen wundervollen Oasen genießen wir trotzdem noch.
      Sei herzlich gegrüßt,
      Tanja

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  3. Hello Tanja,
    I finally had a chance to read and enjoy this post! Such a wonderful place, and even better to know it is not too far a distance. I agree, it’s great to be away from other humans sometimes. Thank you for sharing some of the beautiful views. Wishing you and your husband a good week ahead.

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  4. I wondered if the system that just dumped so much snow in Texas might have provided some for your area, and it seems that it has. I’m certainly glad. Even without snow, I enjoyed your photos. As majestic as the mountains are, I’m rather fond of the grasslands, and your area shows some of their charm, too. I’ve visited the Cimarron grasslands in southwestern Kansas, and made it into southeastern Colorado, but I’d love to visit the Comache grasslands one day, and perhaps the Pawnee grassland as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am happy to report that our region DID receive some precipitation, anywhere from 3 to 7 inches, which is nothing to scoff at.
      I share your fondness for the grasslands, which started when I learned about its avifauna. But I have also come to love its remarkable flora and am grateful for any efforts that attempt to restore some of the native vegetation.

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  5. A wonderful introduction to a park we’re fortunate to have. I’m glad you mentioned the Waldo fire in your post, as Ute Valley Park narrowly escaped destruction from downwind spot fires during that catastrophe. It’s thanks to alert firefighters that we can still enjoy this bit of nature.

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