Crystal Park is an area closed to the general public, but if you are lucky enough to know someone who lives there, you can get easy access to the adjacent National Forest. A few years ago I struck up a conversation with Terry, a hiker who lives in Crystal Park. He was very gracious and said anytime I want to go rock hounding with a friend(Bob) to give him a call and he will grant me access to the area. Crystal Park is a gated community, so this limits rock hounding access of the adjacent national forest area. With a name like Crystal Park, I've always thought the crystals should be easy to find, but that has not been the case.
After passing through the access gate you take a winding road about 8 miles or so from a starting elevation of about 6800ft to the top near 8500ft. I have seen a lot of wild life in this area including bears, so I am always a little more keyed into my surroundings by upping my situational awareness. Never had any problems though, as the only part of the bear I usually see is the back end running the other way. There are other ways to hike into the area, but you start at about 6500ft. Since most of the pegmatites are above 8000ft, and have to walk a few miles. Still the rockhounding from Crystal Park is not easy as trails are limited to game trails which don't usually go in the direction you might choose. So my digging buddy and I spent about 4 hours prospecting and digging without much success. Perhaps we have to hike into the forest further. We've climbed Cameron's Cone (west of Crystal Park) and had more success than hiking southward to Sentinel Rock, however, the hike up Cameron's Cone is quite arduous. It was a beautiful day and I did find some interesting specimens and took a few pictures. Next time I may have to give Cameron's Cone a try, but it will have to be a cooler day.
|Crystal Park is in the foreground|
|Looking down on Garden of the Gods|
|Smoky float cluster|