Maybe not a ’20 min’ stop off of I-285, but the Colorado Gator and Reptile Park is more than worth the effort if you have an hour or so and an extra $20 per person (discount tickets are sold at the UFO Watchtower)!
Traveling south on I-285, watch for CO 112. When you arrive at the turn off, go left and head east on CO 112 for 14 miles (about 20 min). Then turn right going south on CO 17 for 3 miles. You can’t miss the signs for the Colorado Gator and Reptile Park, and the parking is great!
The Gator Park was initially established in 1977 as a tilapia fish farm. They brought in the gators as garbage disposals for the dead fish, which now number over 100. Since then the park has adopted many reptiles, birds and other critters, and has also acquired a number of rare albino gators. The park has also become home to Morris the Movie Star Gator from ‘Happy Gilmore’! Owners Erwin and Lynne Young take on unwanted exotic pets, teach the public about owning these types of reptiles, and take them to schools for educational purposes.
There are picnic tables, a restroom and a gift shop here. There is even a food truck that comes by on Wednesdays. I might forego eating here as it is a little smelly. The smell was only a little bit of a deterrent for me, though. I am a reptile lover and am disturbingly fascinated by gators.
Enjoy a little time wandering around the park, and maybe you’ll get a chance to feed a tortoise. If you hold a Caiman, you will be presented with a Bravery Certificate complete with a ‘stamp’ from the Caiman itself!
To return to I-285, just re-trace your steps. It’s best to go back the way you came so that you don’t miss the next stop!
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