Anyone who is a dog person…that would be a person who is owned by a dog…wants what is best for said dog. That means letting the dog run and play with other dogs. Socializing. Sniffing out stuff you and I would never want to sniff. Just as one would do with one’s kids, only without the sniffing part. We’re not talking about doggy day care, which costs money. This is not to say that doggy day care is a bad thing. Doggy day care is for the person so busy, some time just cannot be taken out of the day, or week for that matter, to let Fido play with others of their ilk. Ilk is meant in the most loving way. Unlike doggy day care facilities, dog parks are outside.
More and more, dog owners are becoming concerned about pet-friendly establishments in their cities. With that in mind, Colorado Springs, Colorado, has stepped up to the plate. We have no less than seven dog parks. Yes. Seven. Now, the phrase dog park is used loosely here. As you read, you will understand. While some of our parks are the mundane, the old recycled baseball field, others are so nice you might even want to go just for the scenery.
The old recycled baseball field is just that, an old baseball field. Some parks were set up deliberately as a dog park and are usually square or rectangular. They are fenced with a double-gated entrance. Some dog parks are part of a state or regional park, some fenced and some not. Chatsfield Reservoir, east of Littleton, Colorado, has a separate area just for dogs!
There are some things to look for in a dog park. There should be containers to hold poop bags, also known as grocery bags or newspaper bags. Most people watch their dogs and have a bag handy, but still. If it’s a two-bag operation… There should be several containers in the park. Most visitors bring some to help replenish the containers. What else is one to do with all those plastic grocery bags or the blue bags your newspaper comes in? There should be a container to deposit the poop bags. There should be a water source and a container to hold said water. Not all parks have a water source, and those that do turn it off in the winter. Many visitors bring their own water. If the area is not fenced, there should be at least one sign saying dogs are allowed off-leash. If there is no sign, you can assume your dog must be on a leash.
Rules of Etiquette are posted at most parks. It is the owner’s responsibility to adhere to them. You can and will be held liable if your dog is involved in an incident. Children under 16 are not allowed unattended. I don’t recommend bringing small children for a couple of reasons. First, they do not look where they are running, and, although it is one of the Rules of Etiquette, not everyone picks up after their pet. Second, most dogs do not know their own strength. One nudge of the nose, and the young-one goes tumbling down. And, lest we forget that when they are running at full-tilt, dogs can send an adult flying. They simply do not think about these things when they are playing. If your dog is known to be aggressive, she must wear a muzzle. Personally, if your dog is known to be aggressive, leave her at home. Do not bring her if she is in heat. All shots must be up-to-date, and she must have a current license. Puppies under four months are not allowed as they are not completely inoculated.
Josie, the black Labrador/Weimaraner I share my home with, allowed me to accompany her as she sniffed out each park in Colorado Springs. You will find her comments for each park below. The parks are listed in alphabetical order and not by how she felt about them.
Visit each park. You and your dog(s) will enjoy the experience. Just remember: Pick up after your pet. Make sure she behaves appropriately. No one likes to be picked on by a bully. And, let her play. Expecting her to mind you in the midst of frolicking with a new-found friend when she hasn’t done anything wrong is a lesson in futility. She is busy having fun. Let her be.
Enclosed Dog Parks
The following parks are enclosed in some way, most commonly by a chain-link fence. Entry is made by a double-gated vestibule. On or off leash, no more than one dog (unless they are yours) should be in the vestibule at one time. Some dogs, while they generally play well with others elsewhere, get testy in tight spaces.
Bear Creek Dog Park is an off-leash area where your dog must respond to voice commands. The park is enclosed, but it is a large area.
Location: From I-25 take Hwy 24 (Cimerron St) west. Turn left on 21st St. Follow it for 1.05 miles. Turn right at Rio Grande into the parking lot.
This is a voice command park. While it is an enclosed area, if your dog does not respond to you and runs off, there is no telling where she’ll end up. At Bear Creek, we saw two fences. I’m sure there are others, but for all intents and purposes it is an open area. There are many amenities. However, aside from Bear Creek, there is no water source. If the park wasn’t so nice, the lack of a water fountain or other drinking water source would be a deal-breaker.
One woman said her dog got sick after drinking the creek water. I could find nothing about it from the U.S. Geological Survey, who conducts quality tests on the water. This same woman said she got sick just like her dog. I’m willing to bet she didn’t drink the creek water. Just in case, keep an eye on your pooch. If she does become ill after drinking the water, see your vet if this occurs. Josie often sticks her snout in the water. I’m not sure what she’s trying to bite, but it sure is cute. I don’t know if she swallowed any water, but she didn’t become ill.
Since running and playing is hard work, be sure to bring some water and a bowl. The parking lot is close enough that you can leave those in the car and take your friend outside the gate for refreshments.
This park has a second park inside for dogs 25 pounds or less, although they are welcome in the other areas of the park.
Cheyenne Meadows Dog Park. It took us two days to find this one. Colorado Springs’ website said “Cheyenne Meadows Park (south portion). Native grass area off Charmwood Dr. and Canoe Creek Dr.” Both references to the park are wrong. Well, I suppose it is off Charmwood and Canoe Creek.
Location: Cheyenne Meadows Dog Park is actually located at Coolcrest and Charmwood. Take I-25 to S. Academy headed toward Ft. Carson. Take Exit 135. At the stop sign (Westmeadow Dr.), turn right. Take the next right, Eastmeadow Dr., and follow it to Coolcrest Dr. Turn left. Follow Coolcrest to the end (Charmwood Dr.). Cheyenne Meadows Dog Park is straight ahead. It is far enough from the road so that if you don’t know what you’re looking for you might miss it.
As for the park. I saw three people walking their dogs. Not one entered the park. It has two containers to hold plastic bags (minimal by my standards). Granted, this park is not as big as others, but for an enclosed area, one should not have to walk across the enclosure to get a bag. It had a refuse container. It did have a water bowl but no water fountain. Having one, but not the other is sad, but acceptable. Again, bring a container of water. I find old gallon milk or water containers work well.
I asked one woman walking her German shepherd about anyone using the park. She said, “I like to walk.” When I asked about anyone using it, she said, “Oh, all the time.” I had to wonder. This park is in a residential neighborhood. It’s not like they have to go very far.
Josie said don’t bother visiting this park. It is a sad day when a dog (Josie) tries to get out of a dog park. No kidding. We walked around the perimeter. I went to sit to make her notes, and she made a bee-line to the gate. Not a good sign.
The next day, we decided to give it a second chance. At first there was no one there. After a few minutes, a couple came with their two pit bulls. Now, don’t frown. Not all pits are bad. These two were very playful and friendly. A while later, a woman came with her two small dogs. I didn’t recognize their breed. Anyway, a good time was had by all.
So, while Josie was not enamored on the first day, she had a good time the second time around. Well, after she got over running into the fence. She was so excited that others were coming to play, she didn’t notice the fence in front of her. She favored her right leg for a bit, but once the others were in the enclosure, she forgot about it.
Palmer Park Dog Park. This is an enclosed park, possibly the most popular enclosed park in Colorado Springs.
Location: Palmer Park is located a quarter of a mile west of Academy Blvd. on Maizeland Road. Turn right on to Paseo Road into the park and travel .34 miles to the dog park (located on the right).
Aside from Bear Creek Dog Park, this is the busiest dog park Josie and I have been to. No matter the time of day or the weather, if you arrive to an empty park, wait five or ten minutes, and someone will show up.
Rampart Dog Park. Rampart is an enclosed dog park.
Location: Rampart Dog Park is located in Rampart Park just north of Rampart High School. It is located north of the intersection of Union and Lexington, just past the high school.
This park is very similar to Palmer Park Dog Park. Josie prefers the patrons of Palmer Park, but she had a good time at Rampart as well. As with Cheyenne Meadows, this park doesn’t seem as popular as Palmer Park.
Open Area (or Open Space) Dog Parks
Open area dog parks allow your dog to experience nature. There are not fences to keep your pet inside. That being said, it is important to remember that Colorado Springs is in the Rocky Mountains; therefore, you must be aware of your surroundings. Mountain lions, coyote, and bears inhabit this area. Just keep your eyes open, and enjoy the scenery.
Garden of the Gods Park. This was as a difficult park to find. Not Garden of the Gods, but the dog park.
Location: Take Hwy 24 west to 31st Street. Turn right. Turn left on 30th Street (there is no way to get on 30th Street from Hwy 24). Follow 30th Street for about 1.46 miles. Garden of the Gods is on the left, the visitor center is on the right. When you turn left into the park, the dog park is on the left (the park map shows it on the right).
This park is not really conducive to off-leash roaming unless your dog responds very well to voice commands, as 30th Street runs along one side. This is a very busy road. Also, this area is frequently used for community activities.
Leashed dogs are allowed throughout Garden of the Gods park, and the scenery is fabulous.
Palmer Park Open Area Dog Park. This area is in Palmer Park, but it is an open area and not to be confused with the enclosed dog park. The Colorado Springs website says this area is located at Yucca Flats. It is actually located at Ute Crest.
Location: Enter Palmer Park as you would to go to the enclosed dog park. About a half mile past the enclosed park, you will come to a fork. Take the right road. About .10 miles later, you will come to a turn off that says Lazy Land and Ute Crest. Turn in there. Another .09 miles later you will come to another fork. This one will sayLazy Land. Take the left road. About .17 miles later you will come to the turnout.
This area is frequented by coyote. Have a care with them, but enjoy the experience. If one happens to attack your dog, spray the coyote with pepper spray or some other deterrent. While Josie enjoyed this area immensely, I have no desire to meet up with a coyote, so I’m not sure we will return.
Red Rock Canyon Open Space. This is an open area consisting of hiking trails; however, there are two dog loops where you can let your dog run off-leash.
Location: Take Hwy 24 to Ridge Street. Take a left on Ridge. About .09 miles you will make a left turn (it has no name, it’s sort of a by-pass) to High Street which will lead you to a parking lot.
From the edge of the parking lot, take an almost immediate right up a trail. At the trail head, there is a post that reads Mesa Trail. About .15 miles up you will find a gate with a post that reads Lower Dog Loop. Another .15 miles up you will find another gate with another post that reads Upper Dog Loop. These are the only two areas where you can let your dog run off-leash. Dogs must respond to voice command. However, as I learned with Josie, who responds well to voice command, when she reached the open gates, she decided it was time to go and kept on going. Luckily, she never wanders far and behaves well around people and other dogs. We are also lucky that no one complained and no rangers were about.
Dogs are allowed on all other trails, but they must be leashed. This, to me, seems strange, as the open gates don’t keep the dogs in the loops, so, really, what’s the point.
A couple of other notes to ponder. You may want to reconsider this area to walk your dog unless you are in shape and enjoy hiking. Just the short jaunt to the Lower and Upper Loops made me forget that I had quit smoking in March. The second thing is this is open country. It is in the Rocky Mountains where wild animals do exist. Mountain lions live here, so have a care when you climb.