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Colorado Native Plant Master: Garden of the Gods

July 25 @ 8:00 am - August 8 @ 12:00 pm

A three week series of classes on native plant identification in the field. We will identify 40-60 plants throughout the course.

Schedule: July 25, Aug 1 and Aug 8 from 8:00AM-12:00PM. Participants must attend all three classes for course completion.

Park Description: This is a field class. There are no bathrooms open at the visitor center at the time of the class, or on the trails, so please plan accordingly. Garden of the Gods is a popular destination, known for its rock formations and picturesque views of Pikes Peak. Once a basecamp of the Ute due to it’s abundant plant life and water, the park is still home to an array of native plant species.

We will introduce you to 40-50 plants, using family features and a botanical key to help identify species. Ecological relationships, human connections and the potential to use some of these plants in your landscaping will be discussed. In addition, we will emphasize understanding noxious alien plants and the challenge they present to our native environment.


Michele Ritchie became a Colorado Native Plant Master in 2022 and is the Food Systems and Natural Resource Specialist for CSU Extension El Paso County.

Pam Cooley has always loved plants & nature. She has a background in wildlife and conservation biology (CSU & DU). She completed her Colorado Master Gardener training in 2020 and her Native Plant Master training in 2023. She has been caring for local gardens for over 20 years now, as well as a school garden in Monument. She loves cooking, camping, skiing and spending time with her family.

Prerequisite: A basic botany class is suggested for those who would like to refresh their botanical knowledge and is highly recommended for those who have minimal background.

A basic botany class is suggested for those who would like to refresh their botanical knowledge and is highly recommended for those who have minimal background. There will be two free Zoom classes taught by Lenore Mitchell covering Basic Botany and Plant Families, offered by the Foothills to Plains NPM Program in April, which you can register for at the link below, to satisfy this requirement:

Basic Botany-April 4, from 4:00-7:00pm

Register in advance for this webinar:


Plant Families-April 11, from 4:00-7:00pm

Register in advance for this webinar:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Native Plant Master: Participants who pass three NPM courses will receive a Native Plant Master Certificate. This 12 hour class fulfills 1/3 of the 36-hour coursework requirement towards certification as a Native Plant Master. Courses should be taken in different months and/or vegetation zones. Learn more here.

Required Textbook: Flora of Colorado by Jennifer Ackerfield. (The 2nd edition (2022) is preferred if you need to buy this book, but the 1st edition (2015) is OK because students will be given a list of changes between the 1st and 2nd editions for plants studied during the course.) Available through the Colorado Native Plant Society bookstore (https://conps.org/conps-store), local and online retail outlets, and the publisher (800-621-2736).

When/Where to Meet: Meet at the Rock Ledge Parking Lot. Class will begin at 8:)0am sharp. On the first day, please arrive 15 minutes early. Google Maps pin: https://goo.gl/maps/qrvN2w4y9KuKduxg9

What to Bring: Flora of Colorado by Jennifer Ackerfield; hand lens (10X or greater) available through https://conps.org/conps-store; daypack; bug spray; water; sack lunch; rain, sun, wind protection; personal restroom items.

Special Instructions: Please come prepared for moderate to strenuous walking on hot, cold, windy, snowy or rainy days. Class will meet regardless of weather conditions.

Location Address: 3105 Gateway Rd, Colorado Springs, CO, 80904

Contact Irene.shonle@colostate.edu with questions.


July 25 @ 8:00 am
August 8 @ 12:00 pm


Garden of the Gods (Rock Ledge Ranch Parking Area)
3105 Gateway Rd
Colorado Springs, CO 80905 United States