Rainbow Falls designated historic site
Rainbow Falls Recreation Area was dubbed a historic site this week, a milestone in a years-long effort to restore a space plagued by vandals.
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to reclassify the 5-acre recreation area, which features a series of waterfalls just west of Manitou Springs near U.S. 24, making it the first ever countydesignated historic site.
As a historic site, the falls, previously closed from dusk until dawn, will be open to the public certain hours each day and supervised by staff or volunteers. Officials hope the oversight will prevent people from defacing the area, which has been nicknamed “Graffiti Falls” after years of vandals spray-painting on the bridge above the falls and surrounding rock.
“We’re trying to break that cycle,” said County Community Services Director Tim Wolken, who first proposed reclassifying the falls as a historic site at a public meeting in August. “This is a change of culture for Rainbow Falls.”
With the change in title, new signage and educational programs to teach visitors about the historic value of the falls are in the works, Wolken said.
After the area was severely flooded in 2013, the Colorado Department of Transportation worked on stabilizing the banks of Fountain Creek and repaired the access road and main trail leading to the falls. More restoration followed this year, when the agency finished a $1.8 million maintenance project on the bridge above the falls.
The county, city of Manitou Springs and CDOT have allocated $385,000 in funding for more improvements to the area.