National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

  • By: Joseph Benson
  • Time to read: 13 min.

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National and state parks in Colorado, Colorado has 41 state parks, all of which are outdoor playgrounds for inhabitants and tourists. Many of these adventure-packed jewels are accessible all year, allowing you to experience the state’s gorgeous wilderness in the spring, summer, autumn, or winter.

Hiking, biking, rock climbing, animal watching, boating, and fishing are some of the most popular activities in these parks. There are unrivaled camping options, and some parks even permit seasonal hunting in selected locations.

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Go jet skiing at Lathrop State Park, snow tubing at Mueller State Park, or sandboarding at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve for something out of the ordinary.

Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or need reservations in advance. Currently, some eateries only provide pickup. Hours and availability may have varied.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is one of Colorado’s national parks.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a 149,028-acre site created in 2004 to protect a series of enormous sand dunes on the outskirts of the San Luis Valley.

President Herbert Hoover first recognized it in 1931. The sand dunes are breathtaking to witness in person and may reach heights of 750 feet.

They are North America’s highest sand dunes, containing nearly 5 billion cubic meters of sand. The Navajo, Apache, and Southern Ute tribes are said to have been the first to inhabit the region.

You may conduct your own study or join a local guide to learn a lot about the region while you explore it; while you’re there, make sure to enjoy sand sledding and sandboarding.

National Parks in Colorado: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, created in 1999, is a 30,750-acre recreation reserve.

Over 300,000 tourists visit the park each year, many of which come to explore the magnificent park and witness the 12 miles of the 48-mile long Black Canyon of the Gunnison River.

From the park, you’ll be able to witness some of the canyon’s deepest and most stunningly breathtaking areas.

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Though there are longer and deeper gorges in America, Black Canyon’s mix of depth, narrowness, and blackness is unparalleled – certain portions of the gorge get just 33 minutes of sunshine every day.

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National and State Parks in Colorado

The Gods’ garden

Garden of the Gods is a Colorado Springs public park that was founded in 1909 and was named a National Natural Landmark in 1971. The park is 1,367 acres in size and was once known as the Red Rock Corral.

As you tour the park, you’ll see some amazing rock formations that are said to have formed millions of years ago during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line.

The rocks come in many forms and sizes, with the Lyons Formation being one of the more visible.

Native Americans lived on the site approximately 250 BC, and there are various petroglyphs around the park that explain the narrative of the formations, which were allegedly etched by Utes.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park is one of the best parks in Colorado.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park was created in 2006, although the land’s history dates back far. It is El Paso County’s lone state park, spanning 1,680 acres.

There is a tourist center where informative exhibits teach you all you need to know about the surrounding countryside.

Throughout the year, the center also conducts a number of participatory activities and environmental treks that are suitable for guests of all ages and experience levels.

Other features include tent and RV camping areas, as well as dedicated day-use picnic areas. Foxes, coyotes, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, cougars, and black bears are among the species you may encounter.

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National and State Parks in Colorado

National monument in Colorado

Colorado National Monument, often known as “the monument,” is a 20,533-acre natural area created in 1911.

The arid terrain is located high on the Colorado Plateau and is characterized by sheer-walled canyons and magnificent granite and sandstone rock formations.

If you’re an ornithology fan, bring a pair of binoculars since you’re certain to spot ravens, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, and a variety of other resident and migratory birds.

You may take a lovely drive across the region or spend your time hiking, biking, horseback riding, or camping. There is also a museum devoted to local natural history and a gift store in their tourist center.

National and State Parks in Colorado

Eleven mile state park in Colorado

Eleven Mile State Park, so named because it is eleven miles from Lake George, is an excellent site to experience Colorado’s lovely outdoors. The park, which spans 7,662 acres, was founded in 1970 and is home to the park’s eponymous reservoir.

A visitor center is available, and it is the perfect spot to begin your journey. There are also five miles of hiking and biking routes, as well as over 300 campsites.

Anglers flock to the park, which is home to a variety of fish species including cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, northern pike, and the area’s most renowned fish, Kokanee salmon.

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National and State Parks in Colorado

State park of barr lake

Barr Lake State Park, which was established in 1977, offers several attractions and facilities that the whole family would enjoy.

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You are welcome to trek or bike the 12 miles of trails, which include an 8.8-mile loop that around the lake and provides spectacular views of your surroundings.

The park has been divided such that fishing and boating are permitted on the northern half while the southern part focuses on becoming a healthy wildlife sanctuary.

There are various wildlife viewing stations where visitors may watch a variety of animals and over 350 different bird species, including bald eagles.

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National and State Parks in Colorado

State park golden gate canyon

Golden Gate Canyon State Park, located in northwest Colorado, was established in 1960 and spans over 12,000 acres.

Begin your tour at the park’s Visitor Center, where you can learn all there is to know about the historic region and everything there is to see and do.

You may spend your time there hiking, bicycling, or horseback riding on the 36 miles of trails. There are also over a hundred authorized picnic and camping areas.

Black bears, mountain lions, mule deer, elks, turkey vultures, and the odd moose are among the most typical animal sightings in the area.

National and State Parks in Colorado

State Park of Castlewood Canyon

Castlewood Canyon State Park is a stunning outdoor environment that encompasses 2,621 acres and was founded in 1964, however its history dates back much farther. The ruins of Castlewood Canyon Dam, a unique aspect of Colorado’s history, will be visible to visitors.

The dam had been in operation for many years until it ruptured in 1933, resulting in a 15-foot flood that flooded all the way to Downtown Denver.

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Cherry Creek Bridge, a concrete arch bridge erected in 1948 that is now on the National Register of Historic Places, is another historic element of the park that you will be able to witness.

Hiking, rock climbing, and picnics are among the activities available in the park.

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National and State Parks in Colorado

Harvey gap state park is one of the best Colorado state parks

Harvey Gap State Park is a great spot for boating and fishing. It is home to the Grass Valley Reservoir, which covers 190 acres and provides for year-round fishing.

In the reservoir, anglers will be able to capture northern pike, crappie, catfish, rainbow trout, perch, and smallmouth and largemouth bass.

A day-use area, dedicated and covered picnic sites, a tiny swim beach, and boating for small boats are among features of the park.

The park is home to a diverse range of flora and animals, including lush cedar and cottonwood trees, migrating ducks, and much more.

National and State Parks in Colorado

Highline lake state park is one of the best Colorado state parks

Highline Lake State Park, which includes Mack Mesa Lake and its namesake lake, is a popular wildlife area for both residents and tourists. It was founded in 1967 and, with 563 acres, is one of the state’s smallest parks.

Don’t be fooled by its tiny size; the park is one of the greatest locations to go birding and is home to a diverse range of resident and migratory birds and fauna.

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There are various viewpoint kiosks dotted around the park that provide beautiful views of white pelicans, great blue herons, and whooping cranes, among other species.

The park is available all year for fishing, and in the winter, you may spend time snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

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National and State Parks in Colorado

Lathrop state park is one of the best Colorado state parks

Lathrop State Park, Colorado’s first state park, was founded in 1962 and covers 1,594 acres. Harold Lathrop, the first director of state parks, inspired the park’s name.

Over 100,000 people visit Lathrop State Park each year because there is so much to see and do.

Horseshoe Lake and Martin Lake are two lakes that are ideal for boating or fishing for bass, trout, catfish, and other types of fish.

Picnics, animal watching, hiking, water skiing, jet skiing, wind surfing, and camping are some of the other activities available.

One of the park’s most well-known attractions is its own nine-hole golf course, which overlooks the National Natural Landmark Spanish Peaks.

National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

Snowmass wilderness – maroon bells

Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness, located in central Colorado’s Elk Mountains, is a wonderful recreational environment that was created in 1980.

The wilderness area is 181,535 acres in size and contains more than 100 miles of trails. No matter what time of year you visit, Maroon Bells is a stunningly magnificent and breathtaking location.

Hike through a breathtaking glacial valley surrounded by 14,000-foot-high mountains and vast fields of wildflowers.

Because of the surroundings, it’s a very popular camping spot; there are no showers or RV connections at any of the sites.

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Mesa Verde National Park is one of the best national parks in Colorado.

Mesa Verde, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a designated American national park, was created in 1906 by President Roosevelt and Congress.

The park covers 52,485 acres and comprises about 5,000 sites, including 600 cliff homes, including the Cliff Palace complex, which is one of the biggest cliff dwellings in North America.

The area was occupied by nomadic Paleo-Indians about 7500 BCE, who built the huge homes in the 12th century.

During your visit to Mesa Verde National Park, you’ll also be able to explore some of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites in the country.

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National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

Mueller state park

Mueller State Park, which spans over 5,000 acres southwest of Colorado Springs, provides residents and tourists with a variety of outdoor activities.

Hiking or bicycling on the 55 miles of trails is spectacular in any season since the park is open all year.

Other winter activities include horseback riding, hunting, camping, and sledding, snowshoeing, and snow tubing.

Mueller State Park’s vegetation and animals have thrived since its establishment in 1988. Black bears, elk, bighorn sheep, eagles, and hawks are among the fauna you may encounter.

National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

Ridgway state park is a state park in Colorado

Ridgeway State Park, which opened in 1989, is a 3,201-acre recreational park that is home to a diverse range of plants and animals.

You’re certain to see species like rabbits, coyotes, deer, and elk as you explore and stroll around the plains.

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The nature and hiking paths also provide excellent vistas of the San Juan Mountains and the Cimarron Range.

Mountain biking, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, and camping are among the other amenities and activities accessible in the park.

Campsites can accommodate tents and RVs, and some are handicapped accessible. There are also yurts and cottages available for rent.

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National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

Rifle falls state park is a state park in Colorado

Since its inception in 1966, Rifle Falls State Park has drawn visitors, nature enthusiasts, ornithology specialists, wildlife photographers, and film makers from all over the country.

Cascading waterfalls, rich foliage, towering trees, and intriguing limestone caverns are among the area’s distinctive features.

It is a popular camping spot with seven walk-in campsites and 13 drive-in campsites, many of which include electric connections and other amenities to make your stay more comfortable.

You’re certain to see a variety of flora and animals, such as elk, mule deer, coyotes, and golden-mantled ground squirrels.

National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

Rocky mountain national park is a national park in Colorado

The Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is one of the country’s most famous natural areas, with gorgeous alpine lakes, lush woods, and towering mountains.

The 265,461-acre park was founded in 1915 and was declared by UNESCO as one of the first World Biosphere Reserves in 1976.

It is the third most-visited park in the country, with about 4.4 million recreational visits each year.

There includes a network of trails and paved walkways appropriate for hikers of all skill levels, as well as various off-trail options for wilderness hikers.

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Mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, rock climbing, fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and many more activities are available.

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National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

Roxborough state park is a Colorado state park

The almost 4,000-acre Roxborough State Park is a National Natural Landmark and one of the state’s most visible natural treasures.

The outdoor environment is home to a variety of plant groups, stunning red-rock formations, and animals including mule deer and black bears.

There are routes for all skill levels, and hiking or biking along them will take you through many of the park’s geological treasures.

Begin at the Visitor Center and make your way through the Fountain Valley Overlook, Lyons Formation, Dakota Hogback, and a number of other stunning rock formations and park viewpoints.

National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

State park of St. Vrain

St. Vrain State Park, formerly known as Barbour Ponds, is a magnificent outdoor environment that is particularly popular as a campground throughout both the summer and winter seasons.

There are 87 campsites with utilities such as power connections, sewage hookups, and water hydrants that are suited for tent and/or RV camping.

In addition to year-round camping, ornithology enthusiasts come there year-round to witness a variety of local and migratory birds, including songbirds, ducks, and even the rare bald eagle.

Hiking, motorcycling, and fishing are some of the other activities available at St. Vrain State Park.

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National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

Stagecoach state park is a state park in Colorado

Stagecoach State Park is a 1,641-acre park with a 771-acre reservoir; it was founded in 1965 and has wetlands, riparian habitats, and montane shrub communities that you may explore.

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Picnics, hiking, camping, and boating will all be available for the whole family to enjoy. There are modern campsites for tents and RVs, boat ramps, a marina, many designated picnic areas, and over eight miles of paved paths.

There will also be a variety of flora and animals to witness, including deer, elk, mule, coyote, badger, and red fox.

National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

State forest state park is a state park in Colorado

State Forest State Park, established in 1970, is one of Colorado’s most popular destinations to spend a day outdoors. The park has over 70,000 acres and is very stunning to visit.

It is not only one of the bigger state parks, but it also offers a variety of facilities and attractions for tourists to enjoy.

Begin your journey by visiting the visitors’ center to get a sense of what is accessible and the flora and animals you may encounter.

There are designated picnic areas, 187 tent and RV campsites, rental cabins and yurts, boat ramps, and approximately 100 miles of hiking paths.

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National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

Staunton state park is a Colorado state park

Staunton State Park’s lovely outdoor environment is home to a vast variety of species and unusual plant groups due to its peculiar geology and climate.

The park, which is a new addition to Colorado’s various natural regions, allows visitors to explore towering granite cliffs and high green meadows.

Other panoramic vistas worth seeing include flowing streams, a waterfall, stunning outcroppings, and lush woods.

Picnicking, hiking, bicycling, rock climbing, horseback riding, and stream and pond fishing are among the activities available as you explore the 3,828-acre property.

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National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

State park Vega

Vega State Park is a mountain playground situated just above the old village of Collbran. The park, which is open to the public all year, is a hidden treasure located just next to the Grand Mesa National Forest and is packed with activities for the whole family to enjoy.

The turquoise lake, located high in the mountains at 8,000 feet and surrounded by flora, is the park’s major attraction. Picnicking, hiking, fishing, boating, animal watching, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing are just a few of the activities available.

Bring your camera since you’re certain to see deer, foxes, elk, marmots, and various types of migrating birds.

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National and State Parks in Colorado | Great Sighting

State park on the Yampa river

Yampa River State Park is a magnificent outdoor environment in Colorado that is located beside a picturesque river of the same name and in the beautiful Yampa Valley.

Hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, boating, fishing, camping, and many more things are available while you are there. Explore the state park’s natural ecosystems, rock formations, riparian zones, and river canyons.

There are 13 access spots for boaters to use and explore down the Yampa River; if you’d rather remain on land, one of their 50 campsites, which are appropriate for both tents and RVs, is available.

National and State Parks in Colorado

End of the line

These parks will offer you a range of things to do and places to visit. Whether you are looking for an adventure or simply want to enjoy the beauty of nature, Colorado U.S. National and State Parks have plenty to do and see no matter your purpose of visiting.

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Colorado has a wealth of National Parks and State Parks that are just waiting to be explored by you. Be sure to take advantage of Colorado’s open space and learn more about our unique heritage.

The details of each park are elaborated in this article, including hours of operation and directions.

Colorado is one of the most beautiful and pristine states in the country, but did you know that there are fifty-eight National Parks and Wild and Scenic places controlled by the United States government?

You can drive to many of them from Denver or any point in Colorado. There are also twenty-seven State Parks to explore all within as close as an hour or two from Denver. The National Park Service has a link to help you find them all here . 

Hopefully you will find this website useful and informative when planning your next Colorado vacation, vacation home search, or just getting away from it all on a weekend getaway.

Whether your interests are hiking, fishing, camping, boating, water sports or just resting with family and friends on a pretty lakeside or picnic bench beneath the shade of old ponderosa pines and aspen trees.

Colorado State Parks has something for you and most likely an area within close proximity to wherever you happen to be in the state of Colorado.

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