Situated on the far southeastern edge of Colorado Springs, near the city’s airport, Bluestem Prairie Open Space is a popular spot for hikers, mountain bikers, and birdwatchers alike. Teeming with wildlife and native plants, this open space is truly an oasis in the surrounding plains.
The Open Space
The Big Johnson Reservoir sits in the middle of Bluestem Prairie and, although technically not part of the open space, is a resource for the abundant wildlife. While the reservoir has been emptied in recent years, there is talk of allowing it to re-fill in the near future.
The land surrounding the reservoir makes up the Bluestem Prairie Open Space, which mainly consists of a recreational trail loop. Visitors are advised to stay on the trail to avoid impacting the fragile environment.
Hiking and Biking
There are two trails in Bluestem Prairie Open Space, with two points of trail access.
The Big Bluestem Trail is a linear trail that skirts the reservoir and meets up with Meadowlark Loop, a nearly 5-mile trail loop that explores the northern portion of the open space. Meadowlark Loop can also be accessed from the northwestern trail access entrance.
Whichever trail you choose, be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks- with few trees and no shelters, hiking through Bluestem can wear out even the most experienced hikers.
Birdwatching and Wildlife Viewing
Over 200 bird species have been recorded in the Open Space, making this an absolute haven for birdwatchers throughout the region.
The migratory shorebirds attracted by the once-full reservoir may be harder to spot now, but the tiny burrowing owls who make their nests underground are obvious to the keen-eyed visitor. Red-tailed hawks swoop overhead, and mountain plovers make their presence known.
Aside from the avian residents, herds of pronghorn often bound through the Open Space, leaving clouds of dust in their wake. Among the most vocal of the Open Space’s inhabitants are the prairie dogs, whose mounds can be seen dotting the entire landscape.
Next time you’re in Colorado Springs and looking to explore the great outdoors, make sure to stop by the Bluestem Prairie Open Space. With plenty of space for hiking, biking, and bird watching, you are sure to have an adventurous afternoon.
Address: 6254 Goldfield Dr, Colorado Springs, CO 80911
Pets: Not Allowed ( due to the abundance of native wildlife)