Colorado State Parks Activities
Campsites in Colorado are quick to fill up due to the state’s beautiful natural landscapes and well-kept public areas. The 1,000-acre Ridgeway State Park is a particular favorite with out-of-state visitors who flock to the park’s lakeside campgrounds. The Pa-Co-Chu-Puk site, specifically, is extremely popular as it is situated in a cool and shady ponderosa glade.
The Piñon Flats Campground, located within the Great Sand Dunes National Park, is also in high demand. The nearby Medano Creek often flows above the ground, creating shallow pools that campers love to splash in. Be sure to get in your reservations early, though. This campsite is often over-booked due to this beach-in-the-mountain attraction!
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Explore Colorado’s incredible nature scenes by going on one of the many hiking trails found within the state! Golden Gate State Park has plenty of routes to choose from; one of their most popular ones is the Blue Grouse Trail, a short 1.6-mile route perfect for a short day hike that is especially beautiful in autumn. Plenty of wildlife, from birds to deer, may be spotted along the trail.
The park’s Horseshoe Trail is also another crowd favorite. It’s a bit more challenging at 3.6 miles, but the views are unmatched.
Rattlesnake Gulch Trail at Eldorado Canyon State Park may sound terrifying and off-putting, but the route’s beauty is indescribable. Hikers will get a stunning view of the Continental Divide, as well as plenty of cliff-top views and cascading waterfalls.
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The Continental Divide Loop, a backpacking route found within Rocky Mountain National Park, is a bucket-list adventure for many! Traverse 27 miles of valleys, glaciers, and marshy meadows, and keep your eyes peeled for the many waterfalls and lakes that can be seen along the route. The loop takes at least five days to complete, although first-time backpackers may opt to take on a partial loop instead.
If you’re unsure about the trail, Wildland Trekking offers guided backpacking tours throughout the summer.
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The warm summer days in Colorado are perfect for extended fishing trips! One of the best fishing holes in the state is Chatfield Reservoir, located within Chatfield State Park in Littleton. Considered an angler’s oasis, the smallmouth varieties found in the reservoir’s warm waters attract fishing enthusiasts from all over the country.
The luminous blue waters of the Blue Mesa Reservoir at Curecanti National Recreation Area also makes for an ideal fishing trip. After an exciting day of catching brown trout and yellow perch, anglers can unwind on the beautiful beaches of the reservoir.
Those who want to try their hand at night fishing will love the opportunities offered at Lake Pueblo State Park, which has plenty of catfish and walleye. Test your fishing skills in the park’s many small side ponds where bluegills may be caught and released as a practice run.
You’d be surprised to find out just how many geocaches are hidden all over! Jackson Lake State Park, in particular, is an underrated geocaching location with plenty of spaces to hide and seek caches. Try to locate the cleverly-concealed “Butterfly Remembers Jackson Lake” cache within the park’s lush greenery.
At State Forest State Park, snow-covered pine trees mean that finding geocaches is a bit more challenging. The park also allows visitors interested in the sport to rent GPS devices at their Moose Visitor Center. GPS units may also be rented at Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
There are plenty of other locations in Colorado where geocaching can be done, including Lathrop State Park and Ridgway State Park, although these do not offer GPS rentals, so make sure to bring your own device.
There are many hunting opportunities in Colorado, whether you’re interested in pursuing a small game or the more challenging elk and deer. Hunting season in the state tends to get a bit crowded, though, so those interested should reserve their spot and make plans early on.
Boyd Lake State Park has three different “Red Zone” areas where waterfowl hunting is permitted. Hunting waterfowl, as well as bigger games, may also be done at Crawford State Park, although there are stringent regulations on the distance that hunters must remain from other visitors and campers.
In Eldorado Canyon State Park, the Crescent Meadows area is perfect for hunting both small game and big game. Take note, though! Only archery and muzzleloaders are allowed inside the park.
Day Use Areas
The picnic grounds in Eldorado Canyon State Park are considered to be the best in the state with its breathtaking views of the canyon and the tranquil waters of the nearby South Boulder Creek. Due to its popularity, the park can get a bit crowded during the weekend, so try going on the weekday for a more peaceful experience.
Castlewood Canyon State Park also boasts of beautiful picnic areas. Some may find the park challenging to access, but the six picnic areas found inside are worth every effort.
If you want your whole family to get into biking, then look no further than the Mary Carter Greenway trail that culminates at Chatfield State Park! The eight-mile route winds through scenic views that include the South Platte River and the Hudson Gardens. The concrete path is especially perfect for those with young kids. Don’t forget to put on sunscreen as the route can get a little sunny at times.
Intermediate bikers, on the other hand, might prefer to go to Cheyenne Mountain State Park, which has over 20 miles of trails that vary in technicality and difficulty. Whether you want to practice your skills or take it to the next level, the park’s routes will definitely be for you!
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The clear alpine waters of the 350-acre reservoir at Rifle Gap State Park make for the perfect boating excursion. Those who crave incredible nature scenery amid peaceful seclusion will find this park to their liking.
Boyd Lake State Park is also a popular boating destination. Enjoy the diverse wildlife who have made their homes on the shores of the lake, as well as the wide-open stretches of crystal-clear water. The park’s marina also offers several boat ramps, slip and mooring rentals, and fuel, making it an all-in-one stop for boating enthusiasts everywhere.
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The Centennial State has hundreds of different bird species and hosts thousands of migrating flocks from mid-February until May. Birders from all over the United States try to make it a point to visit Colorado at least once in their lives. Residents recommend getting up at sunrise for a glimpse of the state’s unique bird species. So instead of hitting that snooze button, grab your binoculars and head out on an early moring birding adventure.
To observe bald eagles in their natural habitat, head on over to Barr Lake State Park. It is one of the most famous spots for finding these powerful birds. If you’re interested in participating in Birdwatching events, check out the park’s annual Bald Eagle Festival.
Eleven Mile State Park is also popular with those who are after American peregrine falcons and white pelicans.
On the other hand, Birders who want to learn more about how data on migrating birds are tracked and collected can visit a station run by the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies at Chatfield State Park. Be sure to register with the organization if you’re planning to visit with a large group or during the weekend.
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Cool off from the scorching summer in one of Colorado’s many lakes and swimming holes! The reservoir at Chatfield State Park is one of the best swimming destinations in the state, with over 1,500 acres of water, a beautiful beach, and plenty of water recreational activities.
The same can be said for Cherry Creek State Park, which features a bigger reservoir and a tiki-bar for those who want to relax while sipping on some tasty cocktails. The park also offers plenty of recreational activities, which is why it is extremely popular with teenagers and young kids.
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Risk-loving climbing enthusiasts will love the many routes found within Colorado! At Castlewood Canyon State Park, climbs vary from twenty feet to sixty feet and some even feature rope lines and crack climbing options. The park is perfect, whatever your skill level or your climbing preference. Take a look at our best rock climbing shoes for beginners’ page to help you get started.
The granite rocks found at Rocky Mountain National Park are also popular with many rock climbers. The park even offers guided tours to beginners and those interested in taking up the sport. Intermediate climbers may also avail of these guided tours to figure out a route that best fits their abilities, fitness level, and goals.
Explore the incredible wilderness of Colorado through the 60 miles of ATV trails found at Colorado State Forest State Park. The park offers beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife, so a trip down this route is an unforgettable experience!
A popular destination for golfers visiting Colorado is the Walsenburg Golf Club at Lathrop State Park. The nine-hole course is wide and spacious and can be played at a very affordable price. Golfers can enjoy phenomenal views of the Spanish Peaks and the surrounding nature while going through the course.
Equestrians of all skill levels will enjoy riding through the East Inlet Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park, which passes through many thundering waterfalls and offers great views of Lone Pine Lake and Lake Verna. This trail is made for those who want the full Colorado experience!
Recreational Equipment Rentals
Equipment for all kinds of water activities may be rented at Arkansas Headwaters State Park, but the park’s main highlight is whitewater rafting! With over 150 miles of rapids that range from lazy to hair-raising, the park is made for rafting enthusiasts of all levels.
For those who want a non-challenging caving excursion, the limestone caves found at Rifle Falls State Park are perfect for you! The caves are located above the triple waterfall found inside the park, which makes for an awe-inspiring and unique experience.
Winter sports enthusiasts will love the many recreational activities offered by nearly all of the parks in Colorado. Rocky Mountain National Park, in particular, offers dog sledding, snowshoeing, and backcountry skiing, making it the go-to snowy destination for kids and adults alike.
Nicknamed the “Switzerland of America,” Ridgeway State Park is ideal for those who want to go on peaceful winter hikes through snow-filled landscapes. The park also offers visitors the opportunity to camp in a sizeable heat-controlled yurt – a winter experience like no other!
Those who enjoy ice fishing will want to visit Eleven Mile State Park during their annual statewide ice fishing tournament. Watching experienced anglers compete against one another should be on everyone’s bucket list. Colorado can get cold so having the best heated jacket can keep you nice and toasty for your winter adventures.
Scuba Diving or Snorkeling
The deep waters of the Blue Mesa Reservoir at Curecanti National Recreation Area are made for scuba diving! Divers can catch glimpses of crayfish and submerged roads underneath the state’s largest lake. Those who are up for a challenge can also try ice diving during the winter season.
Those who want to improve their map and compass-reading skills can do so with the orienteering opportunities offered by Rocky Mountain National Park. This fun and challenging experience is undoubtedly a must-try for everyone!