By Claire Cleveland / NewsBreak
(Denver, CO) Colorado is turning 146 on Aug. 1.
To celebrate, Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers free entry into all of the state’s parks on the state’s birthday, Colorado Day.
Colorado officially joined the Union on Aug.1, 1876, when President Ulysses Grant signed the state into existence. That was 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, which is why Colorado got the nickname “The Centennial State.”
Colorado Day isn’t an official state holiday, but as Denverite has reported, the first Colorado Day celebration was in 1907. A group called the Sons of Colorado campaigned for the holiday, and in March of that year, the state legislature passed an act making it an official holiday.
In 1907, the event was “one of the biggest and grandest celebrations … that has ever taken place in the state,” according to an article in the Littleton independent from July 26 of that year. You can check out the document for yourself, which the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection preserved.
The holiday changed in 1985 when Colorado started celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. day instead.
What better way to celebrate the holiday than to visit one of Colorado’s 42 state parks with free entry. With so many options to choose from, Colorado Parks and Wildlife highlights some of their favorite parks.
State Forest is a 71,000-acre “high-country jewel”, according to CPW, and is number 1 on their list of places to visit. The park is full of rugged mountains, alpine lakes, spectacular scenery and countless outdoor recreation.
In the summer, hiking, horseback riding, biking and four-wheeling are all options for visitors. State Forest State Park has four campgrounds, dispersed campsites and backcountry camping as well as cabins and yurts.
Boaters, jet and water skiers, sailors and canoeists alike will find great recreation in Stagecoach’s 3-mile long reservoir with views of the Flat Top Mountains in the lush Yampa Valley. There’s also eight miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding and biking.
It’s a gold mine for anglers who will find cold-water fishing in the lake which is known for rainbow trout and northern pike. There’s also more than two hundred bird species including white-faced ibis, American white pelicans and mountain bluebirds.
This premier park offers fishing, camping, picnicking, trail and boating opportunities. CPW describes it as “one of the true jewels of Colorado,” and says Steamboat Lake State Park has something special for everyone.
The park sits at 8,100 feet elevation and boasts more than seven miles of trails that connect to the surrounding Routt National Forest. Wildlife waters might see sandhill cranes, bald eagles, osprey, elk, bears, coyotes and more.
You can use the CPW park finder to begin your Colorado outdoor adventure.