Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Did you know prickly pear cactus was a tasty treat for Native American Utes? Or that this cactus has unique adaptations to survive in the high desert environment? The cactus has shallow roots to gather desert rain; thick pads to store precious moisture; and spines that protect the plant from both wind and animals. Despite the sharp spines, if the nocturnal ringtail can’t find rodents or lizards for dinner, it will eat the cactus fruit.

The Ute Garden Interpretive Trail is dotted with signs filled with such interesting trivia. The signs feature plants and animals that were important to Utes living in the area now known as Colorado National Monument.

The interpretive trail signs offer fascinating tidbits about the relationship between the plants and animals of the region and the Utes. One intriguing sign highlights the Yucca plant. A native of desert regions in the Southwest, its spiny leaves are arranged like a funnel to catch water and send it to the long taproot. The Utes pounded the roots to make shampoo and soap. In addition, the Yucca seeds feed the larvae of the Yucca Moth, which becomes the plant's sole pollinator.

As you hike this informative trail, look for the plants featured on the signs and watch for the animals or spot their tracks on the sandy path. Be sure to venture to the Ute Canyon overlook, where you’ll have an extraordinary view of the canyon.

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

National or state forest pass

Pros

Interesting plant and animal facts. Short walk. Scenic canyon view.

Cons

Only some plants identified.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Features

Bird watching
Wildlife
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Geologically significant
Backcountry camping
Family friendly

Location

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