Five Colorado state parks close to Denver that should be on your summer to-do list

Steven Bonifazi
(Peter Pryharski/Unsplash)

By Steven Bonifazi

(COLORADO STATE, Colo.) Whether you prefer walking trails and scenic overlooks or picnic areas and wildlife, there is no shortage of breathtaking state parks in Colorado.

Here are five state parks close to Denver that you should visit before the warm weather disappears:

Cherry Creek State Park: 4201 S Parker Rd, Aurora

Established in 1959 and open year-round, Cherry Creek State Park is located in Arapahoe County and features a natural prairie, a wetland and an 880-acre reservoir. The reservoir is open seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and is often filled with powerboats, sailboats and paddleboats.

There are group camping areas, but campsites require reservations. There is additionally a dog park open that is open from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. just like the park. Park passes are required to enter, and group sizes are limited to 10.

The park is currently holding a photo contest that started July 1 to celebrate the park as the great natural resource it is. Proceeds will help the park through raised funds.

Barr Lake State Park: 13401 Picadilly Rd, Brighton

With a 2,715-acre park with 12 miles of trails, fishing and boating, suffice to say there is something for every type of outdoor person at Barr Lake State Park.
Barr Lake State Park, Colo.(Intricate Explorer/Unsplash)

The park was established in 1977 and offers bike-riding, hiking and horseback riding on its 8.8-mile multi-use trail that circles the lake. The park also offers weekly events, including Friday Nite Bites this Friday, Summer Drive-In Movie Night "Toy Story" Saturday and overnight adventure kids camp Saturday.

The park also features boardwalks, gazebos and benches and an archery range with 12 shooting lanes. The park is open everyday from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Unfortunately, there are currently toxic algae present, so the lake itself is closed to full body contact, meaning there are no pets, drinking, swimming, water skiing, jet skiing or paddle boarding allowed at the current time. Nevertheless, boating and fishing are permitted as long as boats avoid algae mats and fish are rinsed well and have their guts discarded.

Roxborough State Park: 4751 E Roxborough Dr, Littleton

Known for its red sandstone formations, Roxborough State Park is one of the shortest drives, being nearly 20 miles south of the Mile High City.

Featuring a 3,339-acre park, Roxborough was established in 1975 but was not recognized as a National Natural Landmark until 1980. The park is filled with distinct communities of plants and is home to a variety of wildlife including black bears and mule deer.
Roxborough State Park, Roxborough Drive, Littleton, Colo.(Intricate Explorer/Unsplash)

There are no pets, drones, camping, mountain bikes, horses, rock climbing, fires or marijuana allowed at the park to preserve the natural resources of the park. Nevertheless, there is a dog world located at the entrance of the park that offers daycare at a discounted price for those who have a park pass.

The park additionally holds events such as the meditative walk in nature on Saturday, featuring a 90-minute meditative hike in the park and rox revealed: butterflies of willow creek trail Saturday educating people about the butterflies of Roxborough Park.

The park is open every day from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Eldorado Canyon State Park: 9 Kneale Rd, Eldorado Springs

Located in Boulder County near Boulder, the Eldorado Canyon State Park features two areas, the Inner Canyon and Crescent Meadows.

With 885 acres and a variety of recreation opportunities from hiking atop sandstone cliffs and picnicking along South Boulder Creek to climbing the golden walls, Eldorado Canyon State Park is truly a hidden gem. The parks hours of operation are Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The park also offers weekend events, such as the junior ranger geology walk on Saturday, offering children ages 6 to 12 to head out to Fowler Trail and take a guided geology walk.

Unfortunately, the park is experiencing heavy usage and reaches capacity throughout weekends. Vehicles will be denied entry when parking capacity is reached. There is a shuttle service that runs on weekends and holidays through Sept. 7.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park: 92 Crawford Gulch Rd, Golden

Whether it's hunting, hiking or camping, Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers a multitude of summer activities for anyone looking to get outdoors.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Golden, Colo.(Lionello DelPiccolo/Unsplash)

The park is situated in both Gilpin and Jefferson counties and features a 12,119-acre Front Range park. Established in 1960, the park offers horse and bicycle travel on 27 miles of its 42 miles of hiking trails.

There are car share services such as Uber and Lyft that drop customers off at the park but do not pick customers up. The infamous panoramic point overlook deck is currently closed for maintenance and will re-open on July 30.

The park is open every day from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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Denver, CO

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