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Explore nature

May 18, 2013
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photo - A hiker makes his way along the dunes as sun sets over the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on Tuesday, May 16, 2006. The dunes have grown to enormous heights, in part because of prevailing southwesterly and northeasterly winds that recycle the sand and continually shape the dunes. Photo by Kristin Goode
A hiker makes his way along the dunes as sun sets over the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on Tuesday, May 16, 2006. The dunes have grown to enormous heights, in part because of prevailing southwesterly and northeasterly winds that recycle the sand and continually shape the dunes. Photo by Kristin Goode 

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Nature's forces built the tallest sand dunes in North America, blowing sand from the San Luis Valley against the barrier of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. You can step into an alien world by climbing the dunes or explore the adjacent foothills and mountain valleys, which offer a diversity of wildlife. nps.gov/grsa

 

Fountain Creek Nature Center

The wetlands south of Colorado Springs offer some of the better and more varied wildlife viewing in the region. Depending on the time of year, you'll see deer, lizards, snakes, toads, frogs, beavers, muskrats, arthropods and plenty of different birds - some pelicans were spied there recently. tinyurl.com/d7ndsro

 

Lost Creek Wilderness

This national forest wilderness area 50 miles from Colorado Springs is a hiker's paradise, with 119,000 acres and more than 130 miles of trails. It's quiet, booming with wildlife and the area boasts some of the more spectacular rock formations in the Rocky Mountains, twisted spires and huge granite domes. tinyurl.com/d8ogmue

 

Castlewood Canyon State Park

You'll appreciate the diversity of the plains and the wonder of these hidden canyons on hikes in this state park. It's also a good place to take measure of one effort to harness and contain nature, at the ruins of Castlewood Dam, which burst in 1933 and sent a 15-foot wall of water rushing into Denver. tinyurl.com/ceje336

 

Colorado National Monument

On the Western Slope, this national park is a wondrous landscape of 2,000-foot-high mesas, deep canyons and inspiring rocky monoliths, in a desert of pinyon pines and junipers that will make you forget you are in Colorado. The park is home to numerous bird species, bighorn sheep and packs of coyotes. nps.gov/colm

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