I realize it’s been awhile since I’ve gone hiking or blogged about a hike. With Hunter coming home, one of the things he wanted to do when he got home on leave was to go hiking. Originally, I was going to take him to Rampart and hike to the fire watch tower at Devil’s Head. However, the night before there were some serious thunderstorms in that area and I decided hiking that area in mud and wet granite wasn’t a good idea. Besides that, my mother had mentioned being out at the Arsenal and it piqued my interest.
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal has not always been a wildlife refuge. Back in the early 40’s, it was privately owned farm land (there’s still a couple of farm houses out there). In 1942, the Army purchased (forced the purchase) of the land to build the Arsenal with the intent of manufacturing weapons. Including chemical weapons. It was also used at one point to house WWII POWs. It was also used to decommission munitions, as well as a testing ground for private companies.
Then in the early 80’s, the Arsenal was decommissioned by the Army and it was turned into a Superfund site, one of two in the Denver area. As part of the reclamation project, it was discovered it had become a wild life refuge naturally. In 1992, Bush Sr signed a bill making the Rocky Mountain Arsenal a wildlife refuge under Fish and Game.
Hiking and driving
The hiking portion of the park is relatively easy. It’s a flat hike, and we opted to hike around the lakes. We saw some pelicans, geese, and a number of birds. The trails are all gravel/dirt and flat. The worse part of the hike was the sun as there is limited shade. This isn’t a place I would hike in the Summer time on a hot day. From the car, we walked about 3 miles or so. There were other trails we could have hiked as well, but it was getting warm and decided to just head back to the car.
While we were already there, and had time to kill, I decided to drive the 11 mile nature loop. Most of it is flat prairie and unremarkable. In one area with trees, we saw a number of deer resting in the shade. There was also a bunker left out there to check out. We finally found the Buffalo towards the end of the loop. So we watched them for a bit, but the novelty wore off as they just stood there looking at us, look at them.
For me personally, it was kind of interesting. I remember cutting across the Arsenal as a kid with a family friend who worked out there in ’81 or so. I remember being able to almost touch a deer that was standing near the road. Which, when you are a kid, is a life long memory.
The next time I go out there, I’ll be sure to check out the visitor center. I’ve been told there is a bunch of information on the history of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal inside.