Believe it or not, there used to be a nuclear weapons production facility 16 miles northwest of Denver in an area known as the Rocky Flats. In fact, it was so close to the city that there has been an ongoing debate regarding whether or not its presence has increased cancer rates in certain suburbs, leading to protests about the site until the early 2000s. Experts claim that tests have determined the site poses no risk, though naysayers still exist.

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In 2001, Congress passed the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge Act, which led to a lot of the land once controlled by the Department of Energy being transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Surface in 2007. This meant that nearly 4,000 acres once home to a nuclear production plant (it’s been deactivated) became a site for preserving Colorado’s beauty.

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After cleanup was said to be completed in 2005, wildlife studies went into full swing, revealing over 600 different plants in the area, along with larger mammals such as elk. The terrain in the Rocky Flats is very diverse, made up of grasslands, wetlands, and shrublands.

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Soon the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge will be open to visitors, as guests facilities on the premise are still being built. The expected opening date is 2018.

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Guests will be able to soak in amazing views of the 5,000-acre refuge on a sprawling trail system.

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