Colorado has its fair share of exquisite mountains, rivers, prairies and forests, and nowhere is this better showcased than within its 42 state parks.
Spread across the state, these parks vary in elevations. Incorporating some that are anywhere between 3,800 feet around its eastern plains, to 10,000 feet up in the mountains.
Collectively they offer wonderful opportunities to engage in a range of outdoor pursuits on both land and water. Which include everything from fishing, hiking and biking, to swimming, white water rafting and horseback riding.
In addition, there are plenty of fabulous scenic spots for a picnic, and points of historical and cultural interest that you should become aware of.
For those of you who live in or near the city of Durango, many of these parks are within easy driving distance of you.
So if its been a while since you spent some time in the heart of nature, why not check out these five great destinations?
Map of State Parks Near Durango, CO
Here is a map of the state parks in Colorado covered by this post:
List of State Parks Near Durango
These five state parks near Durango can all be reached within a 4 hour drive of the city.
Presented in order of geographical distance, with the closest one being first, they all provide varied camping accommodation options for those who want to stay a few nights.
Location: 42545 Road N, Mancos, CO 81328
Just a 40 minute drive northwest of Durango lies the historic Mancos State Park.
Close to the Mesa Verde National Park, this fascinating place is known to have been a dwelling place for Ancestral Puebloans, who lived in the area from around AD 1 to 1300.
Today, it is a popular spot for kayakers, canoeists, paddleboarders and other boating enthusiasts who enjoy the sparkling waters of the Jackson Gulch Reservoir. While angling is also a popular activity too, with rainbow trout and yellow perch being in abundance.
In terms of camping options, Mancos has two main campgrounds, the Main and the West. These are set near a picturesque ponderosa forest and span two sides of the reservoir. Together they feature 32 campsites overall, which have toilets, fire pits and picnic tables.
At the main campground you will find drinking water too, but unfortunately no electrical hookups. The west campground has neither.
As an alternative to RV and tent camping, two yurts are also provided for visitors.
Location: 1526 County Rd 982, Arboles, CO 81121
Attracting over 300,000 visitors every year the Navajo State Park is a popular public recreational space to visit in the southwest of Colorado.
Only a 50 minute drive southwest of Durango, the main drawcard of this 2,100-acre park is the Navajo Reservoir which extends south for 20 miles into New Mexico.
With more than 15,000 surface-acres to play with, this park is a haven for those who love water based recreational activities. Boating, jet skiing, SUP, kayaking and canoeing are all regularly practised here. Whilst fishermen are presented with lots of opportunities to get trout, pike, bluegill, catfish, crappie and both small and large mouth bass.
If you’d prefer to stay on dry land, there are several hiking trails you can explore, as well as scenic spots to enjoy a picnic.
Overall, Navajo’s three campgrounds have 138 campsites between them, as well as three cabins. Most of which remain open throughout the year. Flush toilets and showers are available in all three campgrounds, and a dump station is available in one of them.
Location: 28555 Highway 550, Ridgway, CO 81432
A 2 hour drive north of Durango will take you to the Ridgway State Park.
Known for its spectacular mountain scenery, the park has been called the ‘Switzerland of America’ and is a photographers dream.
It also contains a reservoir that stretches for five miles long, as well as several recreational areas that are universally accessible. This makes it a popular spot for fishing, swimming, boating and SUP, as well as family picnics too.
The park has a diverse range of flora and fauna which you can explore via a number of hiking trails. Along some of which you might encounter mountain lions, deer, coyotes, elk and rabbits. You will even find a swimming beach too, which is a lovely spot to sunbathe and relax.
During the months of April to October, some 258 campsites are made available for tents, trailers, RVs, campervans and motor homes.
In the remaining months of the year, only 20 RV sites and 15 walk-in tent sites are available at this dog-friendly campground.
Location: 40468 CO-92, Crawford, CO 81415
At 3 hours and 30 minutes it will take you a bit longer to drive to Crawford State Park than the other, parks on this list. But this southbound journey would be well worth it
As the park is close to The Black Canyon of the Gunnison you should get a fair indication of how spectacular the scenery is.
Once you are here you will also get to enjoy a plethora of outdoor recreational pursuits including fishing, hiking, motor boating, jet skiing, water skiing, scuba diving, kayaking, SUP and canoeing, that take place around it.
Recently renovated, the park offers two campgrounds that have 66 individual sites. Many of which are full hook-ups with electricity and water.
Amenities at these campgrounds include hot showers and flush toilets.
Location: 70 Co Rd 502, Walsenburg, CO 81089
The Lathrop State Park is situated a lengthy 4 hour drive east of Durango. But it is worth the drive there on account of it being Colorado’s first state park.
Encompassing 1,460 acres, the park is overlooked by the stunning Spanish Peaks in Southern Colorado.
With two shimmering lakes within its borders, it is a haven for those who enjoy water based recreational activities like swimming, kayaking, canoeing, SUP, water skiing, and sail boating. While fishermen can snare plenty of bass, catfish, trout, walleye and blue gill.
The park’s two campgrounds offer 103 sites between them, with several basic and improved accommodation options for tents, trailers and motor homes.
The improved options of which come with 20/30/50 amp electricity, but no water or sewer hookups.