Gators in Colorado? One roadside attraction brings giant reptiles to the Rockies

Every summer, a majority of Americans hit the road and take a trip to a unique place or simply go on vacation. For those who find themselves driving through Colorado, there is one place that is a must stop.

The Colorado Gator and Reptile Park, located in the San Luiz Valley three hours south of Denver, has more than 300 alligators and 500 reptiles on site. Not only can visitors touch and hold the reptiles, they can also learn all there is to know about them.

But how do alligators survive in Colorado? It's thanks to a geothermal well that produces 87 degree water year-round. 

“If it weren’t for the geothermal water it wouldn’t even be possible," said park General Manager Jay Young. "Because of the geothermal water our alligators are actually warmer here in the winter time then they are in Florida.” 

Young’s parents started the park back in the 1970s as a tilapia farm. Then, in the late 1980s, residents started dropping off reptiles they couldn’t take care of anymore. From there, it snowballed into a gator and reptile park.

Out of all the unique reptiles on the property, there is one alligator that has made a name for itself in Hollywood. Morris the alligator has been in Happy Gilmore, Doctor Doolittle 2, Interview with the Vampire and even made an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. 

Beyond the memorable experience visitors make at the park it’s also a place where education allows people to conquer their fears, Young says.

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