The geological masterpiece that is Red Mountain Open Space is at its best in the springtime. The prairie grasses are as green as they’ll ever get and contrast beautifully with the red earth for which the area is so famous. Once traversed by F. E. Warren’s vast cattle herds, the area is even better known for its pre-history, where Folsom tribes lived and hunted the Bison Antiquus, a bison so large, the males could weigh up to 3,500 pounds and stand seven feet tall at the hump.
The easiest route to get to the site from Fort Collins is to head north on Taft Hill Road (CR 19), head east at the roundabout, (CR 70) and north at CR 15, where there is a sign posted for both Red Mountain and the Soapstone Prairie open spaces. The paved road ends and and the dirt road continues past herds of cattle and massive power line structures, on and on until the trailhead appears, complete with shaded picnic tables, toilets, maps and other informational material. Dogs are not allowed, leashed or not.
Some of the most spectacular scenery in the area is on the Bent Rock Trail just west of the picnic ground and parking lot. In the canyon, prime cave man real estate lines both sides of the trail and Sand Creek runs through the center. This is a good place to consider bringing elderly or disabled visitors as the trail is short and easy, offering some of the best views in the entire site only minutes from the picnic ground.
The trails open up outside of the canyon. There are few trees and almost no shade. The Big Hole wash usually runs a shallow flow but crossing can be difficult after a big rain. The summertime can be unbearably hot and visits are best made in the early morning or late afternoon.
It is tempting to search for artifacts but they are to be left alone, as are the teepee circles found on the Stone Circle Trail. Anyone lucky enough to find a Folsom point, arrowhead or any other possible artifact is instructed to take a photo, mark it on a map or take GPS coordinates and contact Larimer County at (970) 619-4570.
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