Mountains are great, but the prairie is just as fun
By Liz Jurkowski; photos courtesy of the PCC website
True enough, the mountains of Colorado are majestic and adventurous. Vacation seekers, locals, and skiers all flock west for the abundant winter fun found in the small towns and resorts scattered through the Rockies. Few, however, give a slight look east. The Colorado prairie is packed with adventures waiting to happen and why not begin at the Plains Conservation Center (PCC), less than a forty-minute drive away?
If you have kids like mine, a day trip involving Native Americans, cowboys, old log cabins, and tipis is like hitting the jackpot! The PCC covers all of the above, and lets the kids play around a little in the dirt too.
Located at 21901 East Hampden Avenue in Aurora, the PCC website states, “The Plains Conservation Center is a true-to-life homestead stretching across 8,894 acres of dedicated open space. Historic ranch houses, a schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop and barn, plus an heirloom garden and chicken coop, and a Cheyenne camp with tipis bring the experience to life.”
Along with the Cheyenne camp and homestead sites, the facilities include a museum and nature center, a kid’s hands-on area where “Children can investigate like a scientist, dig like a prairie dog, pump water like a pioneer, engineer like a beaver, and build like a Plains Indian.”
The PCC is, in fact, a land conservation effort. It aims to conserve the natural prairie habitat for the local flora and fauna, like rattlesnakes and cactus, among others.
There are interactive programs, wagon rides, tours, and seasonal programs available. Check the website and plan a morning of fun and adventure down on the prairie and be home by lunch.
To get there, travel east on E-470. Exit at Quincy, then turn right. Turn left (north) on Gun Club Road, then turn left (west) on Hampden. The PCC will be on the right side.
To learn more, visit www.plainscenter.org or call 303-693-3621 to plan your visit. It is open year-round, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4p.m. There is no admission fee.