A popular recreation area west of Manitou Springs will remain closed for three months while the site is upgraded.

Rainbow Falls Historic Site, which was set to reopen this month, will now reopen in July, El Paso County officials said in a news release last week.

The site, just northwest of Manitou Springs off Serpentine Drive, has been nicknamed "Graffiti Falls" because it's long been a popular spot for spray painting. The county estimated it attracted more than 300 visitors each day last summer.

Its opening has been delayed because of a change in the upgrades the county had planned that required putting a contract for the work out to bid a second time, said County Community Services Director Tim Wolken.

Those renovations include trail work and a plaza near the falls that will offer seating for visitors.

The site's small dirt parking lot also will be expanded and paved, Wolken said.

A $308,000 grant from Colorado Department of Transportation and about $37,000 in county park fees will pay for the improvements, he said.

Plans for a footbridge over Fountain Creek were put on hold because the county couldn't afford it in this round of improvements, Wolken said. The county still hopes to build the bridge, he said.

Officials are also considering options for cleaning up the graffiti covering the U.S. 24 bridge and much of the surrounding rock, Wolken said.

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Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108

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