What’s not to love about Colorado Springs in south-central Colorado?
The city is home to two of the world’s most incredible wonders—Garden of the Gods, an inner-city park composed of stunning red sandstone formations that reach up towards the sky, and the tallest mountain on the southern Front Range of the Rockies—Pikes Peak.
The 14,115-foot colossal mountain stands sentinel over the foothills and prairie; no matter where you are in Colorado Springs, the prominent peak is never out of sight.
Known by locals as “The Springs,” this city has a cozy small-town feel, a temperate year-round climate, and a high quality of life. The emphasis here is getting outside and enjoying the great outdoors.
There’s plenty to explore, from visiting Old Colorado City touring the United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum. There’s no end to the diverse options for dining, arts and culture, museums, and entertainment.
Map of State Parks Near Colorado Springs, CO
Here is a map of the state parks in Colorado covered by this post:
List of State Parks Near Colorado Springs
With so many beautiful (and heavenly) natural wonders, Colorado Springs is revered as a fun and lively Colorado city to visit and an entry point to the area’s spectacular outdoor opportunities.
There are many state parks within proximity, and they are a wonderful way to get to know the region. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) oversees the system, and each park has something unique to offer.
Join us on a journey to discover the state parks nearby that get you outside to explore the natural beauty of Colorado.
Eleven Mile State Park is an hour and 10 minutes west of Colorado Springs and precisely 11 miles from the small community of Lake George, thus the name. The park, home to Eleven Mile Reservoir, is popular (but not excessively) for camping, fantastic fishing, and perfect (and consistent) conditions for sailing.
The campsites are nestled around a bouldered shoreline, forested in places, and there are hiking and biking trails, bird watching, and year-round water activities from kayaking to iceboating. The wide-open space on the reservoir and within the park leaves visitors feeling like there is plenty of room to play.
A word about camping in state parks, all campsites in Colorado State Parks require a reservation; there is a 24/7 online reservation site, or you can call 1-800-244-5613. Same-day reservations are possible if space is available.
Helpful tips: Check out the nearby Eleven Mile Canyon Auto Tour, a 17.8-mile drive highlighting the South Platte River and the Granite Canyon. Driving through the canyon and seeing the towering walls of Pikes Peak granite and the scenic river is awe-inspiring.
Location: 4229 County Road 92, Lake George, CO 80827
Spinney Mountain State Park, just west of Eleven Mile State Park, is a seasonal, day-use only park and is how you access the “Dream Stream,” a section of the South Platte River famous for its runs of large fish.
Cutbow and Rainbow trout run in the spring, and Brown Trout and Kokanee salmon in the fall.
The park typically opens from April 15th (or when the ice melts) to November 15th. Besides superb angling, there’s boating, picnicking, and birding. Gusty winds, 30-40 mph, are typical and make for great sailboarding.
Helpful tip: Spinney Reservoir is rated as one of the western US’s best still water fishing sites. While it’s prized for excellent fly fishing, it’s also renowned for its trophy northern pike population.
Lake Pueblo State Park is a vast reservoir just under an hour south of Colorado Springs with 4,600 acres of surface water and 60 miles of shoreline.
The lake is a water sports haven for sailing and boating. There are public boat launches and two marinas for jet ski, pontoon, and sailboat rentals.
Fishing, hiking, and biking are other popular activities; you can wade in the lake, but there’s no swimming because the reservoir is a vital water source.
Below the dam, on the Arkansas River, is Rock Canyon Swim Beach, a special swimming spot, and you can also partake in whitewater rafting and kayaking on the river.
Lake Pueblo has 400 camping sites and 348 picnic tables throughout the park; reservations are required no matter what time of year you plan on camping. Some sites are open throughout the winter, with limited facilities.
Interesting fact: There is a pinyon-juniper woodland on the north side of the park with juniper trees that are hundreds of years old. Gathering plants or cutting wood is prohibited to ensure that future generations also have the opportunity to enjoy plant life.
Location: 21045 Highway 67 South, Divide, CO, 80814
About 40 miles west of Colorado Springs is Mueller State Park; the park consists of alpine and conifer forests and the occasional pond that break up the wooded landscape.
Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders can explore over 5000 acres of pristine meadows, forests, and massive rock outcroppings of Pikes Peak granite.
Mueller State Park has cabins, and camping, equestrian, RV, and backcountry sites available, and the park offers limited winter camping options.
The area’s natural beauty and the abundance of wildlife make the park popular for wildlife watching and photography. Known as a “Watchable Wildlife Area,” leashed pets are welcome everywhere except on hiking trails and in the backcountry.
This increases the odds of seeing the many different animals, from black bears and elk to birds and smaller mammals who call the Mueller Park home. The visitors center has a Watchable Wildlife Kiosk that tells you what neighbors you just might see out and about.
Helpful tips: Speaking of black bears—bears reside in the park. Chances are you’ll never see one; however, it’s important to arm yourself with the bear facts; here’s a handy guide Bear Aware from the CPW.
Location: 410 JL Ranch Heights, Colorado Springs, CO, 80926
Just 10 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, the Cheyenne Mountain State Park is Colorado’s newest undeveloped Front Range territory acquisition.
The park encompasses the transition from the plains to the peaks, offers diverse flora and fauna, and has gorgeous views of Cheyenne Mountain and Colorado Springs.
Cheyenne Mountain has 28 miles of hiking and biking trails, an archery range, camping with ten unique walk-in sites, picnicking, and a visitor’s center.
There are designated trails for equestrian use, and to protect the fragile nature and diverse wildlife of the park, dogs are welcome, but not everywhere.
Interesting facts: The Dixon Trail takes you to the top of the mountain, opened for hiking in 2018. The one-way trail is rated difficult to extreme, and the elevation gain is 2,500 feet, the views though — well worth the effort.