Ah… A clear blue mountain pond on a sunny day in Colorado is always a feast for the eyes, but Gypsum Ponds are much more!
Gypsum Ponds is a State Wildlife Area, and an enjoyable “20 min” stop. Here you can enjoy not only the pretty moss-topped ponds, but a variety of birds and other Colorado critters. This area is home to Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Western Kingbird and other bird species. At certain times of the year you might even catch sight of an Osprey or Bald Eagle. This area is included on the Colorado Birding Trail.
To find the Gypsum Ponds, take exit 140 off I-70 and head south. Follow the traffic circle around to Trail Gulch Road. (It’ll be parallel to I-70). If you need to use the restroom, you can stop off at the Hi-Way 6 Store. Better yet, spend a few minutes at the 10th Mountain Whisky & Spirits. You can do a tasting of some of the best whiskey or spirits around. Because Colorado has such great water, distilleries & wineries thrive here! (10th Mountain is closed Mondays & Tuesdays).
From your bathroom stop, continue on Trail Gulch road until it stops. There you can leave the vehicle (yes there are spots for turning around), and walk down the river to the Ponds. You’ll find benches for a picnic-on-your-lap, and trails to walk around and take some photos.
In the background you’ll see a Gypsum mine. Gypsum is the key ingredient in drywall and is a type of salt. It’s known to mineral collectors as selenite or desert roses; to sculptors as alabaster; and to kids everywhere as “Plaster of Paris.” Gypsum has some unusual properties that make it like ‘mother nature’s reusable glue’. If you heat gypsum, it easily bonds to water and cures to a solid state.
Next time you’re at Home Depot or Lowe’s, take a peek in the drywall section. More than 80 percent of their drywall is made here in Colorado! We produce so much drywall that it’s exported by truck and by rail to many western and Midwestern states. The American Gypsum Company produces it so fast that it could pave a lane of I-70 from downtown Denver to Glenwood Springs in 24 hours!
Enjoy your stop, and make sure to do a little bird watching!
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