One of my Happy Places: Fountain Creek Regional Park

Do you have a “happy place” you return to time and again?

I have several, a circumstance I’m extremely grateful for. One of the places I have written about more than once, is Fountain Creek Regional Park. Situated in Fountain, a town just south of Colorado Springs, and along Fountain Creek, our major regional stream, it harbors a riparian corridor, a series of ponds with associated wetlands, stands of mainly cottonwood trees, and small patches of grassland, thereby providing habitat to a wide range of creatures.

By visiting year-round, I experience the changing seasons and concurrent changes in flora and fauna. Drought-stricken as we are, every bit of precipitation is appreciated, and a light snowfall at the end of November brought a first inkling of winter.

The park is home to Fountain Creek Nature Center, a striking structure whose attractive and informative interior displays educate about regional geography, history, and ecology, and whose staff and volunteers teach young and old about nature’s central, wonderful, and indispensable workings through lectures, workshops, and camps. El Paso County at present has a second nature center at Bear Creek Canyon near the foothills, and the plans for a third are being drawn up for the north end of the county, where much of the region’s growth is taking place.

From the Nature Center’s west-facing deck, the start of many of my visits, one’s gaze travels across a couple of ponds before it is inevitably drawn to Colorado’s Front Range in general, and Pikes Peak in particular, a scene I have captured in photo after photo, and did again in the featured image above. The same arresting view is provided from the inside of the building, thanks to its generous windows.

Fountain Creek Nature Center seen from beyond one of the ponds to its west

I always spend some time inspecting the site’s bird feeders and seeing a pair of gorgeous Cassin’s Finches there for the first time recently made me very happy. They spend most of the year high in the mountains but often grace us lowlanders with their presence during wintertime. These finches are slightly larger than our ubiquitous House Finches, have stronger beaks, and show more pronounced markings on their plumage. I have always admired men bold enough to wear pink, and my admiration extends to male Cassin’s Finches for the same reason.

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

Besides being an eBird hotspot, with 280 reported species thus far, the park’s environment accommodates other animals, including rabbits, squirrels, porcupines, White-tailed Deer, and bobcats. While I regularly see the former species, the latter has been elusive, even though entire families have been raised here, a fact I know from other visitors’ pictures. One of these days . . .

While this late in the year much of the vegetation has gone dormant, Artist Nature takes no breaks but creates endlessly on. Resorting to more muted hues for her paintings in general, on occasion she dips her brush into the pot with the magic substance that transforms the world into an icy, crystal-laden, sparkling alternate universe whose beauty is ephemeral and evanescent and which, consequently, is enjoyed and appreciated even more.

46 thoughts on “One of my Happy Places: Fountain Creek Regional Park

  1. I love the featured image. So atmospheric, it looks beautiful, although very, very cold! And the Nature Centre looks like a real asset, one that enables you to enjoy the views without freezing your toes off. My happy place in the UK is the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland. We’ve not been for several years due to Covid, but are planning a return trip in 2023. And our favourite place in the US is Yellowstone…oh, those moose, those bears, those wolves! 🙂 Wishing you every success in spotting a bobcat in 2023…your luck must change soon!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The view in the featured image is among my favorites in the entire region. And you are right about not wanting to freeze your toes (or tush 😊).
      I remember your blog posts about the Orkneys and it’s easy to see why you are in love with them. Unfortunately, they aren’t just around the corner for you. I hope you and Mrs. P will be able to visit again next year!
      And I will definitely keep my eyes open for the bobcat(s) at Fountain Creek Regional Park. If I see (and photograph) one, I’ll be sure to let you see it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful post! You are so right that Mother Nature takes no breaks. She is the ultimate artist, and her work never grows stale. Especially enjoyed seeing the fox squirrel, which we don’t have, and Cassin’s finches, which we don’t have either. Not hard to understand why Fountain Creek Regional Park is one of your happy places.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful place to return to once in a while. That featured picture is gorgeous.
    One of our “happy places” is our favourite town at the Texas Gulf coast, Port Aransas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful pictures, Tanja. They are beautiful, these mountain finches dressed in pink. Your description of nature’s art is apt. Moods arise in countless variations when the frost sets in
    I cross my fingers for snow or rain, so you can get rid of the drought.
    All the best,
    Hanna

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the compliment and the good wishes, Hanna. You are so right about the various moods created by frost, no two are alike, and it gives us many motifs for our cameras.
      Best wishes back to you,
      Tanja

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  5. The hanging little ice formations in “Nature’s frosty creations” closely resemble the ones I saw in Great Hills Park this past February when we had a freeze. (Great Hills Park is also an answer to your opening question, in part because it’s only half a mile from home and therefore always easily available.) Your dark, branching crack in the ice makes for a nice abstraction. It’s good to hear your county has a third nature center in the works.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always in awe to discover differently shaped “icicles,” if that’s what these structures are. They are reminiscent of glass blowers’ creations.
      I’m glad you also have a favorite destination nearby. I find it immensely satisfying to get to know a place throughout the seasons and years, especially if it’s protected from human development.
      The third Nature Center will be a boon to all the people living at the northeast end of town and I look forward to it.

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  6. That’s one heck of a happy place you have there, Tanja! How wonderful to have it nearby. I can’t imagine being able to look out and see that fantastic mountain. Funny thing though, the building overlooking the land reminds of similar buildings on Cape Cod, only they are overlooking the ocean instead of mountains.
    Cheers,
    Julie

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love looking out the window in the morning and seeing the mountains, Julie, even if the view from our house isn’t quite as spectacular as that from the Nature Center. Even though I love the Rockies, I have to admit that I miss the ocean and I wouldn’t mind spending some time at the Cap Cod building you mentioned! 😊

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  7. Wonderful photos as usual! How wonderful to have that happy place to visit again and again. I suppose mine is the garden, but as far as a big natural area, my happy place would probably be Point Reyes National Seashore and specifically the Bear Valley Trail.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lisa. I can relate to your love for your garden, especially since you are able to enjoy it by simply walking out your door. It would be a dream to create our own garden with such varied habitats, but for most of us, that’s not realistic.
      Point Reyes National Seashore sounds like an amazing destination and I will put it on my wish list to visit. 😊

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  8. Wunderschön, Dein Happy Place. Ich mag es immer wieder gerne, im Winter an die Nordsee zu fahren, wenn die Menschen überwiegend weg sind und die Vögel das Revier übernommen haben. Plane ich für demnächst.
    Momentan ist es saukalt hier, Ich friere 😉
    LG
    MAren

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that the Brazoria refuge has been my ‘happy place’ for years, although it’s changed somewhat over the past two or three years. The changes haven’t necessarily been bad, but the kind of maintenance that’s required to provide good habitat for wildlife isn’t always aesthetically appealing to humans! No matter. There are plenty of other places around, and I suspect that by spring it will be more appealing as regrowth begins.

    I have seen bobcats at Brazoria, although they were quick glimpses, and I saw them only twice. Because it is primarily prairie and marsh, alligators take the place of your deer, and I’ve yet to see a squirrel there. If I want squirrels, all I have to do is look out my window; I have a nice mix of Fox and Eastern Greys that manage to share the peanuts at the feeder.

    I liked the last photo especially. It looks like a ganglion, or a dendritic system of veins — maybe even an tree! It’s a great affirmation that nature’s alive even when the time for winter rest has come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brazoria sounds like an amazing place, and if I ever make it to Texas, I hope to be able to visit there. I have to admit to preferring deer to alligators, but seeing one (or some) of those reptilians–from a safe distance–will be part of the experience.

      Thank you also for sharing your thoughts about the last photo. I thinks it’s fascinating to learn how we perceive and interpret certain structures. I always think of a river system with its many tributaries seen from above when I come across a frozen pond showing such markings.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Sounds like a wonderful place, will definitely file that away for the next time I’m lucky enough to be in that region. The Cassin’s Finch is still left unchecked on my birding list – the pink really pops in the winter. It will not be long now until I get a chance to visit some of my favorite Texas locations – Illinois is currently giving me a cold sendoff ha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please let me know when you are in the neighborhood and I might be able to take you to some of our birding hotspots!
      I hope by the time you’ll make it to Texas, this Arctic blast will have moved on. It brought freezing temps to some parts of Texas also!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Du hast in deinen stimmungsvollen Fotos die besondere Atmopsphäre ganz wunderbar eingefangen, liebe Tanja. Es scheint, als könnte ich die Stille, die Kälte und die friedliche Ruhe in deinen Bildern spüren.
    Wunderschön!

    Liked by 1 person

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