Garden of the Gods might be the most recognizable park-with-big-red-rocks, but Red Rock Canyon Open Space is where the locals go. It’s located just south of the much-more-famous Garden (at Highway 24 and High St.), and has some of the same types of rock formations but feels much more “wild” and “Colorado”. No paved sidewalks here!
The canyon has a colorful history prior to its purchase by the city in 2003. Did you know that parts of the park used to be everything from a rock quarry to a landfill? You can read more about its history from Friends of Red Rock Canyon. You can still see remains of the quarry and landfill in small parts of the park.
There are lots of hiking and biking trails here, including a short one for hiking only. There’s also a dog area (Upper and Lower Dog Loop), where your dog can roam free (but that’s the only place that they aren’t required to be on a leash). The Red Rock Canyon Trail is gravel, but rated as ADA-accessible and takes you between some nice rock formations to the pond pictured above. It’s a nice walk if you just want something quick and easy.
This is the place that we tend to go for the members of our family’s first “real” mountain biking ride (as opposed to the trails we ride in Black Forest – see Section 16 and Black Forest Regional Park), and we like to follow the Red Rock Rim Trail to Roundup Trail for an easy-ish loop around four miles. There’s everything from super-easy to extremely-advanced biking trails here.
There’s also a small bike park with various beams, ramps, bumps, and drops for some fun practice. Credit goes to Stacy Gery for the above photo of me from a “Rocks and Drops” clinic I took with her at this bike park last year!
There’s a huge number of trails at Red Rock, so I would strongly encourage you to download an app like MTB Project or Trail Forks so that you can orient yourself in the park. You can also download a map here.
Red Rock Canyon Open Space is located at 3550 W High St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904. If the main parking lot is full (and it often is on peak days during the summer), head east on the drive and you’ll find another parking area. There’s also a parking lot on 31st Street, which provides faster access to trails on the east side of the park. Regardless of where you park, don’t leave valuables in your car – break-ins at trailheads are all too common and you’re much less likely to be a target if you don’t have anything of value visible.
You can see more photos of Red Rock Canyon Open Space below, but my lackluster photography skills don’t do it justice. Get out and enjoy this beautiful gem! There are plenty of winter days that are plenty warm enough to get out and enjoy God’s creation!