Just north of Cañon City is a wonderland of fossils, pinon pines, and towering red rocks in Red Canyon Park. The starting point for this adventure is on the northern edge of town, where Field Avenue meets Red Canyon Road. Red Canyon Road, the old route taken by Lt. Zebulon Pike in 1806 as part of his exploration of the Southwest, then heads north, and after eight miles, you’ll see the Cleveland Quarry Recreation Area on your right, with picnic tables and access to Fourmile Creek. Here, you’ll be in the heart of the Garden Park Fossil Area—renowned as the place where the world’s most complete stegosaurus skeleton was found. On the left, Marsh Quarry Trail heads off into the hills for your hiking pleasure.

At the 10-mile mark, you’ll see Red Canyon Park’s entrance on the left. Bring your hiking boots or your mountain bike to explore the 600 acres of pinon, sage, and red rock formations.

Further on, Red Canyon Road turns into Shelf Road, which is a one-lane road blasted into the cliff face. Originally used to transport supplies from Cañon City to Cripple Creek during the gold rush, it now boasts access to cliffs favored by rock climbers.