I was sitting at my apartment one weekend, looking at places to go explore within driving distance from my house and ran across the Painted Mines. I love art. I love color. And I love to hike. So obviously, I was intrigued.

The Painted Mines is this odd little bit of land that has been sculpted and shaped by prairie wind. The park has a 4 mile trail, is not terribly far from Denver (about 45 minutes) and from the pictures, it looked like a place I wanted to see in person. I packed some water and a few snacks and hit the road.

To get there, you have to pass through grass lands, which is odd when you think of Colorado, but there they were and through them I passed. Now this is where I give you a touch of advice: there is NOTHING around the Painted Mines, so bring anything you need for the day with you. Ok, ok, that was a little dramatic. There IS a Subway in a gas station and one Mexican restaurant that may or may not be open anymore (jury is still out on that one). But I definitely wished I had planned and just brought extra water/ a sandwich with me. Although the Subway gals were very sweet.

The hike around the Mines is definitely one of the easier hikes I have done. The elevation change is not drastic at all, maybe 500 feet. But the landscape is what makes it – the rocks are mostly sandstone and colored clay which gives them their shape and color. Note: they are definitely not climbing rocks as they break apart to the touch fairly easily. Here is an example of how life gets you, or me, when you try to break the rules: I decided that I COULD climb the rocks and of course started to fall immediately. I reached for the closest hand hold and gripped it, hard. Brilliant move on my part as I had chosen to put my hand directly on top of a cactus plant. Let me tell you, it’s just as bad as every cartoon you have ever seen. It hurts, it swells and you bleed. So lesson learned, stay on the path, don’t climb the rocks (especially because there are signs that say just that) and don’t put your hand in a cactus plant. PS my hand is just fine now.

Anyway, I didn’t spend a ton of time there – a quick walk around the park and I was out because …

About 10 minutes from the park is an animal reserve and at the reserve you get to hold baby white tigers. BABY WHITE TIGERS. The reserve has set times for tours and it just so happened that the time of my hike and the tour were aligning perfectly. I HAD to go, I mean .. Baby White Tigers … you understand.