About Us

The Plains Conservation Center is an outdoor education facility and state-designated natural area consisting of two sites totaling approximately 8,894 acres. The 1100-acre Aurora site is located at 21901 E. Hampden Avenue. The West Bijou site, purchased in 2001 and added to in 2006, is located near the Arapahoe County/Elbert County line along West Bijou Creek, south of Strasburg, CO.


The Plains Conservation Center exists to bring the natural wonder of the prairie into the realm of personal experience by: PRESERVING a remnant of the eastern Colorado High Plains, EDUCATING the public about its natural and cultural heritage, and NURTURING sound conservation and environmental ethics.


We believe that discovering the prairie’s unique cultural and natural resources facilitates respect for the prairie, enjoyment of our cultural, historical and environmental heritage, and a desire to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, no matter where you live.


Fran Blanchard

The land that is now the Aurora site of the PCC was originally owned by the railroad. It was purchased by the city of Denver in 1933 and later became federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. 

In June 1950, the Aurora site land was deeded to the West Arapahoe Soil Conservation District (WASCD, now West Arapahoe Conservation District, or WACD), and the land was formally christened the Plains Conservation Center. 

In the late 1980s, it became evident that this remnant had become an island, encircled by development and human pressures too great to ignore. The WACD began a lengthy process to secure the resources needed for the Center to continue its mission. 

Finally, in 1997, 1100 acres of the prairie lands at the Aurora site were sold to the City of Aurora to remain as passive-use open space, with the PCC continuing to manage the land and offer programs through a long-term lease.  The funds from this sale became the seeds for acquiring new lands for the Center. Additional funds came from the 2001 sale of 468 acres of the Aurora site’s southwestern corner for residential development.

Mary Ann Bonnell

New lands for the Plains Conservation Center were purchased in 2001 and added to in 2006. This second site features breath-taking vistas, wide-open spaces, flowing streams and craggy ravines. Straddling Arapahoe and Elbert counties, the new site is presently 7,960 acres bisected by West Bijou Creek:, no public roads or other developments intrude. The size of the site, over seven times larger than the Aurora site, allows the dynamic process of the prairie ecosystem to continue as will the mission of the Plains Conservation Center.

In addition, in September, 2002, the WACD purchased a conservation easement on 934 acres of rangeland in Arapahoe County. The parcel adjoins the Plains Conservation Center – West Bijou site at the northeast corner, extending the wildlife habitat and increasing the amount of West Bijou Creek that is protected from development. This brought the total contiguous acreage of the West Bijou site to 8,894 acres.

Facilities at the Aurora Site

The Front Range building serves as a nature center with displays, live animals, and a resource library of over 800 titles.  It serves as a classroom for visiting school students during the week and is open to the community on Saturdays.

Wells Crossing, our historic farm consists of 2 replicated homesteads, a schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop and a barn. Furnished with actual antiques and replicas of the pioneer lifestyle, the buildings remain the center of the pioneer experience at the PCC. An heirloom garden, chicken coop, solar restrooms, and a picnic pavilion are also featured.

Fran Blanchard

The Cheyenne Camp, comprising four Cheyenne-style tipis furnished with replicated artifacts, provides visitors with a glimpse into the Cheyenne way of life in the 1830s.

The PCC offices are located in the Arapahoe Building, a two-bedroom brick home that was moved onto the property in 1982. 

Other facilities include the Prairie View picnic shelter building, a metal barn/garage storage building, and the Centennial Pavilion picnic pavilion. The Colorado Grange Museum owns and leases the ground for the barrack-style building east of the Prairie View shelter.

Currently, money to operate the PCC comes from fees charged to visitors, memberships, donations, grants, and fundraisers.

Fran Blanchard

Facilities at the West Bijou Site

At the present time, there are no facilities at the West Bijou site. All visitors must be escorted by PCC staff for safety and security reasons. Check the programs and events or calendar page for specific dates that are open to the public (usually in late spring/early summer and in the fall).

Phylis Hyndman




Dave Showalter

Visitors Welcome

We welcome drop-in visitors Monday – Saturday year-round. Monday - Saturday hours are 8 am - 4 pm, no admission fee.  Reserved programs will be offered year-round, please see “Calendar of Events & Activities” for upcoming programs.   



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