El Paso County Nature Centers' Mission is to connect people to their natural and cultural resources and inspire them to become stewards for the parks and our environment.
Bear Creek Nature Center is proud to be the first nature center to open its doors in Colorado, built in 1976. It was originally named The Solar Trails Center. The name was changed in 1980. The center became so popular that it was enlarged both in 1984 and 1994 to provide for the increasing numbers of visitors. In the early morning of May 20, 2000 Bear Creek Nature Center was destroyed by an arson fire. The current center opened its doors on May 14, 2002 where it was dedicated to the citizens of El Paso County during a grand opening on June 8, 2002. Visitors continue to learn about the natural and cultural heritage of Bear Creek Park and the surrounding area.
El Paso County Parks acquired the first parcel of the Fountain Creek Regional Park in 1985 and acquired additional parcels as recently as 2006. It is a spectacular location for introducing people to a plains/riparian/wetlands ecosystem in an otherwise dry and arid climate. Fountain Creek Nature Center was completed in 1992 by resolution of the Board of County Commissioners and is situated on a terrace overlooking the Fountain Creek floodplain. It offers a unique window into the park. Five biological communities, the creek, woodlands, meadow, marsh and pond are represented here and host a wide diversity of wildlife including over 280 species of birds.
When the El Paso County Fair started back in 1905 as the Calhan community potato bake, it was because of a bumper potato crop. In the farming community in and around Calhan, the most important thing was having a good crop each year. Having a county fair provided the farmers with an opportunity to share their knowledge about seed varieties they had grown and to show with pride their accomplishments of the year. When the first actual county fair was held in 1906, the tradition of agriculture exhibits began as an important aspect of the fair. In the early fair days, potatoes were the major crop grown in the area, followed closely by wheat. By 1915 potatoes were replaced by beans at the top, with wheat still holding its own as second most important crop.