Fountain Creek Nature Center
Care to dally awhile on the trails here? Only 15 minutes south of downtown, and yet it feels like you've entered another world with its ponds, marshes, meadows and cottonwood forests. I come here every summer, usually right before dusk, to look for owls, hawks, bullfrogs, great blue herons and fireflies. My desire is never unrequited. Daytime is no slouch, either, with loads of bird sightings and happy turtles sunning themselves on rocks. Ebird (ebird.org), a large online database of bird observations, reports Fountain Creek Regional Park is El Paso County’s No. 2 birding hot spot.
— Jennifer Mulson