Ute Valley Park
In 1969, Ute Valley Park was donated to the City. Over the decades, additional parcels have been dedicated and acquired through the City’s Parkland Dedication Ordinance, expanding it to 338 acres. A master plan for the original portion of Ute Valley Park was completed in 1991. In 2013, 200 acres of the Hewlett-Packard property were purchased with a combination of private funding, a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) (Lottery) grant, and Colorado Springs’ Trails Open Space and Parks sales tax (TOPS) funding. These properties contain significant natural, historical and cultural resources that merit protection and preservation.
Ute Valley Park is home to diverse wildlife, vegetation, and rich archeological features. The rocky-forested hogback formations are an integral part of the in Colorado Springs, El Paso County, CO backdrop, a place of important historical, environmental, scenic and recreational value. Ute Valley’s proximity to civilization makes the park a likely place to view wildlife, from squirrels to mule deer. In the summer, the park is electric with wildflowers. Sunflowers and similar golden beauties bloom along the park’s official and unofficial trails. Mariposa Lilies, Prickly Pear Cacti, and Faerie Trumpet also call Ute Valley home. Their attractiveness is easily matched by the park’s sandstone hoodoos and burnt-orange pebbles, especially along Beaver Trail.
The 538-acre Ute Valley Park is situated in Northwest Colorado Springs. Bordered by suburbs and Eagle View Middle School, the park is a slice of Front Range ecology; a mix of gambel-oak shrubland, pine forest, and sandy grasslands. A craggy, hogback ridge located along the western boundary is among the park’s key terrain features. Ute Valley Park has several miles of soft- and hard-surfaced trails, and most unusually for an area of the country that gets less than twenty inches of rain each year, a genuine natural wetland. Visitors to the park are asked to stick to the trails as part of continuous erosion relief efforts. The sandy soil is prone to erosion and official trails are hard to differentiate from the social trails. This is in the process of changing as Ute Valley is in the beginning stages of the park’s master plan, including the recent purchase of additional acreage bringing the park’s size to the above-mentioned 538 acres.
Ute Valley Park’s central feature, ironically, is not a valley at all, but rather a Hogsback ridge, a high narrow shelf of stone that divides two valleys. This interesting geological feature adds interest to the trails that weave through the wetland and hillside areas of the park, while still being easy to climb so as to enjoy the spectacular views of the lands around. The Ute Valley Park Loop begins from the park’s main trailhead off of Vindicator Dr, incorporating Bobcat Cutoff, Beaver, Bear, Scrub Oak, & Pine Ridge Trails. This route is fairly well marked and makes a very short diversion to see a naturally-formed, sandstone arch., The route can be easy to lose in the valley along Beaver Trail, because of the many social trails. Also, there are no signs marking Bear Trail.
Just be aware that Ute Valley is surrounded by humanity, making getting lost ultimately very difficult, but that doesn’t mean one can’t get turned around a bit. The mountains are to the west of the park, while Eagle View Middle school is located on the park’s northeast boundary and the distinctive, red-brick building atop a ridge is on the park’s far-east boundary. Bicycling is also a welcome activity on many of the trails at Ute Valley Park., except Beaver Trail, which is limited to foot traffic only.
The park is open from 5 am to 11 pm from May to October, and from 5 am to 9 pm the rest of the year. Admission is always free.
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