There are 41 state parks in the state of Colorado, all of which are outdoor playgrounds for residents and visitors. Many of these activity-packed gems are open all year round, giving you the opportunity to explore the state’s stunning wilderness during spring, summer, fall, or winter.
Some of the most common things to do at these parks are hiking, bicycling, rock climbing, wildlife viewing, boating, and fishing. There are incomparable camping opportunities while some of the parks also allow for seasonal hunting in designated areas. For something unique go jet skiing at Lathrop State Park, snowtubing at Mueller State Park, or sandboarding at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
1. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a 149,028 acre space that was established in 2004 to conserve a number of large sand dunes on the edge of the San Luis Valley.
It was originally designated in 1931 by President Hoover. The sand dunes are mesmerizing to see in person and are as tall as 750 feet high. They are the tallest sand dunes in North America and contain over 5 billion cubic meters of sand.
It is believed that the first historic people to occupy the area were the Navajo, Apache, and Southern Ute tribes. You can do your own research or accompany a local guide to learn a lot about the area as you explore it; be sure to enjoy sand sledding and sandboarding while you’re there. Details & Photos
2. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a 30,750-acre outdoor space which was established in 1999. The park received over 300,000 visitors annually, many of whom come to explore the beautiful park and view the 12 miles of the 48-mile long Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. You’ll be able to see some of the deepest and most dramatically beautiful parts of the canyon from the park. Though there are longer and deeper canyons across America, the combination of depth, narrowness, and darkness found at Black Canyon are incomparable - some parts of the gorge only see 33 minutes of sunlight a day.
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3. Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is a public park in Colorado Springs which was established in 1909 and was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971. The park comprises 1,367 acres and was first called the Red Rock Corral. You’ll be able to see some impressive rock formations as you explore the park - formations that are believed to have been created millions of years ago during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line. The rocks can be seen in all shapes and sizes, with one of the most prominent formations being the Lyons Formation. Native American people resided on the land around 250 BC and there are several petroglyphs around the park which tell the story of the creation of the formations, supposedly carved by Utes. Details & Photos
Address: 1805 N 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904, Phone: 719-634-6666
4. Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Cheyenne Mountain State Park was officially established in 2006, though the history of land goes back long before that. Spanning 1,680 acres, it is the only state park in all of El Paso County. There is a visitor center where you can learn all about the surrounding land through educational displays. The center also hosts several interactive programs and nature hikes throughout the year; these are perfect for visitors of all ages and skill levels. Other aspects include camping sites for tents and RVs and designated day-use picnic sites. Some of the wildlife you may come across are foxes, coyotes, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, cougars, and black bears. Things to Do in Colorado Springs
Address: 410 JL Ranch Heights Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80926, Phone: 719-576-2016
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5. Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument, locally known as “the monument”, is 20,533-acre natural space that was established in 1911. The desert land can be found high on the Colorado Plateau and is full of sheer-walled canyons and marvelous granite and sandstone rock formations. If you’re an ornithology aficionado then bring along a pair of binoculars as you’re sure to see ravens, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, and many more species of resident and migratory birds. You can choose to explore the area via a scenic drive or spend your time hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, or camping. Their visitor center also contains a museum dedicated to local natural history and a gift shop. Things to Do in Fruita
Address: Rimrock Dr, Fruita, CO 81521, Phone: 970-858-3617, (website link)
6. Colorado State Parks: Eleven Mile State Park
Getting its name because of its location eleven miles away from Lake George, Eleven Mile State Park is wonderful place to explore Colorado’s beautiful outdoors. The 7,662-acre park was established in 1970 and is home to a beautiful namesake reservoir. Facilities include a visitor center, which is the best place to start your adventure. There are also five miles of trails open to hikers and bicyclists and over 300 campsites. The park is a popular spot with anglers and houses many species of fish such as cutthroat, rainbow trout, northern pike, and its most famous fish, Kokanee salmon.
Address: 4229 Co Rd 92, Lake George, CO 80827, Phone: 719-748-3401
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7. Barr Lake State Park, Colorado
Established in 1977, the 2,715-acre Barr Lake State Park has many features and amenities which the entire family would enjoy. You are invited to hike or bike through the 12 miles of trails, including an 8.8-mile trail that circles the lake and offers stunning views of your surroundings. The park has been separated to allow fishing and boating on the northern side while focusing on being a thriving wildlife refuge on the southern side. There are several wildlife viewing stations there from which you’ll be able to see an array of wildlife and over 350 species of bird including bald eagles.
Address: 13401 Picadilly Road, Brighton, CO 80603, Phone: 303-659-6005
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8. Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Established in 1960, Golden Gate Canyon State Park spreads over nearly 12,000 acres in northwest Colorado. Start your visit at the park’s Visitor Center, where you can learn all about the historic area and all there is to see and do. You can spend your time hiking, biking, or horseback riding on the 36 miles of trails which can be found there. Other facilities include over a hundred designated picnic sites and campsites. Some of the most commonly seen wildlife at the park are black bears, mountain lions, mule deer, elks, turkey vultures, and the occasional moose. Things to Do in Golden
Address: 92 Crawford Gulch Rd, Golden, CO 80403, Phone: 303-582-3707, (website link)
9. Castlewood Canyon State Park
Castlewood Canyon State Park is a beautiful outdoor space which spans 2,621 acres and was established in 1964, though its history goes back long before that. Visitors will be able to see the remnants of Castlewood Canyon Dam, a unique part of Colorado’s history. The dam was active for many years before it burst in 1933, which resulted in a 15-foot water of water flooding all the way to Downtown Denver. Another historic feature of the park which you’ll be able to see is Cherry Creek Bridge, a concrete arch bridge which was built in 1948 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Activities you can partake in while at the park include hiking, rock climbing, and picnicking.
Address: 2989 S State Hwy 83, Franktown, CO 80116, Phone: 303-688-5242
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10. Harvey Gap State Park
Harvey Gap State Park is a popular place for visitors to go boating or fishing. It is home to the Grass Valley Reservoir, which spans 190 acres, and allows fishing all year long. Anglers will be able to catch northern pike, crappie, catfish, rainbow trout, perch, and smallmouth and largemouth bass in the reservoir. Other aspects of the park include a day-use area, designated and shaded picnic areas, a small swim beach, and boating for small boats. You’ll be able to see tons of flora and fauna at the park such as lush cedar and cottonwood trees, migratory waterfowl, and much more.
Address: Silt, CO 81652, Phone: 970-625-1607
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11. Highline Lake State Park, Colorado
Home to the Mack Mesa Lake and its namesake lake, Highline Lake State Park is a well-known wildlife area with locals and visitors. It was established in 1967 and is one of the smaller parks in the state at 563 acres. Don’t get put off by its smaller size though as the park is one of the best places to go birdwatching and is home to an array of residential and migratory birds and wildlife. There are several overlook kiosks scattered throughout the park which allow you to see stunning views of white pelicans, great blue heron, and whooping cranes among others. Fishing is open to the public all year long; during the winter, you can also spend time at the park snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
Address: 1800 11 8/10 Rd, Loma, CO 81524, Phone: 970-858-7208, (website link)
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12. Lathrop State Park
Lathrop State Park is Colorado’s first state park; it was established in 1962 and comprises 1,594 acres. The park was named after Harold Lathrop, the first director of state parks. Over 100,000 visit Lathrop State Park annually as there’s so much for visitors to see and do while they’re there. There are two lakes, Horseshoe Lake and Martin Lake, both of which are perfect for boating or fishing for bass, trout, catfish, and other species of fish. Other activities you can partake in include picnicking, wildlife viewing, hiking, water skiing, jet skiing, wind surfing, and camping. One of its most renowned features is the park’s very own nine-hole golf course which overlooks the National Natural Landmark Spanish Peaks.
Address: 70 Co Rd 502, Walsenburg, CO 81089, Phone: 719-738-2376
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13. Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness
Located in the Elk Mountains of central Colorado, Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness is an amazing outdoor space that was established in 1980. The wilderness area comprises 181,535 acres and has over 100 miles of trails within its boundaries. Maroon Bells is such a beautiful and scenic area, no matter what time of the year you find yourself there. Hike through the breathtaking glacial valley as 14,000-foot-high mountains tower around you and vast fields of wildflowers lay ahead of you. It’s an extremely popular camping site because of the surroundings it offers; there are no showers or RV hookups at any of the sites.
Address: Co Rd 13, Aspen, CO 81611, Phone: 970-945-3319
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14. Mesa Verde National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and a designated American national park, Mesa Verde was established by President Roosevelt and Congress in 1906. The park occupies 52,485 acres and has over 5,000 sites, including 600 cliff dwellings; the Cliff Palace structure is considered one of the largest cliff dwellings in North America. In 7500 BCE, the location was inhabited by nomadic Paleo-Indians; they constructed the massive dwellings circa 12th century. You’ll also be able to see some of the most well-maintained Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites in the entire nation during your visit to Mesa Verde National Park. Things to Do in Mesa Verde
Address: 35853 Rd H.5, Mancos, CO 81328, Phone: 970-529-4465, (website link)
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15. Mueller State Park
Spanning over 5,000 acres southwest of Colorado Springs, Mueller State Park offers several outdoor activities for residents and visitors. Because the park is open all year long, hiking or biking on the 55 miles of trails is beautiful in any season. Other activities you can partake in include horseback riding, hunting, camping, and sledding, snowshoeing, and snowtubing in the winter. The flora and fauna at Mueller State Park has flourished since it was established in 1988. Some of the wildlife that you may come across includes black bears, elk, bighorn sheep, eagles, and hawks.
Address: 21045 CO-67, Divide, CO 80814, Phone: 719-687-2366
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16. Ridgway State Park, Colorado
Established in 1989, Ridgeway State Park is a 3,201-acre outdoor space that is home to an array of flora and fauna. As you explore and hike through the lands, you’re sure to come across wildlife such as rabbits, coyotes, deer, and elk. You’ll also be able to see great views of the San Juan Mountains and the Cimmaron range from the nature and hiking trails. Other facilities and activities available at the park include mountain biking, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, and camping. Campsites are suitable for tents and RVs; some of them are also wheelchair accessible. There are yurts and cabins available for rent as well.
Address: 28555 Highway 550, Ridgway, CO 81432, Phone: 970-626-5822
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17. Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado
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The stunning beauty of Rifle Falls State Park has attracted tourists, nature lovers, ornithology experts, wildlife photographers, and movie directors from all across the nation since it was established in 1966. The area’s unique scenery includes cascading waterfalls, lush greenery, towering trees, and mysterious limestone caves. It is an extremely popular camping destination and has seven walk-in campsites and 13 drive-in campsites, many of which are fitted with electric hookups and other amenities to make your stay easier. You’re sure to come along an array of flora and fauna including elk, mule deer, coyote, and golden-mantled ground squirrel.
Address: 5775 Highway 325, Rifle, CO 81650, Phone: 970-625-1607
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18. Rocky Mountain National Park
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One of the nation’s most famed natural spaces, the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is full of stunning alpine lakes, wooded forests, and towering mountains. The 265,461-acre park was established in 1915 and was designated as one of the first World Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 1976. It is the third most-visited park in the nation with more than 4.4 million recreational visitors exploring the park annually. There is a network of trails and paved paths which are suitable for hikers of all experience, including several off-trail routes for backcountry hikers. Other activities you can participate in include mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, rock climbing, fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and much more.
Address: 1000 Highway 36, Estes Park, CO 80517-8397, Phone: 970-586-1206
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19. Roxborough State Park
The nearly 4,000-acre Roxborough State Park is a National Natural Landmark and considered one of the state’s most prominent natural jewels. The outdoor space is home to a number of distinct plant communities, dramatic red-rock formations, and an array of wildlife such as mule deer and black bears. There are a series of trails for every level of hiker; hiking or biking through them will lead you through a number of the park’s geological wonders. Start from the Visitor Center and work your way through the Fountain Valley Overlook, Lyons Formation, the Dakota Hogback, and several other beautiful rock formations and park overlooks. Things to Do in Littleton
Address: 4751 Roxborough Dr, Littleton, CO 80125, Phone: 303-973-3959, (website link)
20. St. Vrain State Park
Formerly known as Barbour Ponds, St. Vrain State Park is a marvelous outdoor space that is extremely popular as a campsite during both, the summer and winter. There are 87 campsites suitable for tent and/ or RV camping as it includes amenities such as electric hookups, sewage hookups, and water hydrants. In addition to offering year-round camping, ornithology lovers also flock there no matter the season to see several species of local and migratory birds; you’ll be able to see songbirds, waterfowl, and even the occasional bald eagle. Other activities you can participate in while at St. Vrain State Park are hiking, biking, and fishing.
Address: 3785 Weld County Road 24.5, Firestone, CO 80504, Phone: 303-485-0186
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21. Stagecoach State Park
Stagecoach State Park is a 1,641-acre park that houses a 771-acre reservoir; the park was established in 1965 and is home to wetlands, riparian areas, and montane shrub communities which you can explore. The entire family will be able to participate in a number of activities picnicking, hiking, camping, and boating. Amenities include state-of-the-art campsites suitable for tents and RVs, boat ramps, a marina, several designated picnic sites, and nearly eight miles of paved trails. You’ll also be able to see a number of flora and fauna such as deer, elk, mule, coyote, badger, and red fox.
Address: 25500 Co Rd 14, Oak Creek, CO 80467, Phone: 970-736-2436
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22. State Forest State Park
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Established in 1970, State Forest State Park is one of the most popular places to spend the day outdoors while in Colorado. The park stretches for over 70,000 acres and is absolutely beautiful to explore. Not only is it one of the larger state parks, but it also has a several number of amenities and features for visitors to enjoy. Start your trip with a stop at the visitors’ center so you can get an idea of all that is available there and the flora and fauna you may come across. Facilities include designated picnic sites, 187 campsites for tents and RVs, rental cabins and yurts, boat ramps, and nearly 100 miles of hiking trails.
Address: 56750 CO-14, Walden, CO 80480, Phone: 970-723-8366
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23. Staunton State Park, Colorado
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Due to the rare geology and climate at Staunton State Park, the beautiful outdoor space is home to a rich diversity of wildlife and unique plant communities. The park is a recent addition to Colorado’s many natural areas and gives visitors the opportunity to explore soaring granite cliffs and high grassy meadows. Other panoramic views you should take the time to see are flowing streams, a waterfall, dramatic outcroppings, and lush forests. You’ll be able to participate in several activities as you explore the 3,828-acre land; these include picnicking, hiking, biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and stream and pond fishing.
Address: 12102 S Elk Creek Rd, Pine, CO 80470, Phone: 303-816-0912
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24. Vega State Park
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Vega State Park is a playground in the mountains, located right above the historic town of Collbran. Open to the public all year long, the park is a gem situated right beside the Grand Mesa National Forest and is filled with activities for the entire family to enjoy. The main feature of the park is the azure lake situated high in the mountains at 8,000 feet and surrounded by greenery. You can partake in several activities, some of which are seasonal, like picnicking, hiking, fishing, boating, wildlife viewing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. Be sure to bring your camera along because you’re sure to come across deer, foxes, elk, marmots, and several species of migratory birds.
Address: 15247 North 6/10 Road A, Collbran, CO 81624, Phone: 970-487-3407
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25. Yampa River State Park
Located alongside a stunning river of the same name and in the beautiful Yampa Valley, Yampa River State Park is a gorgeous outdoor space for you spend time at while in Colorado. There are several activities you can participate in while there such as hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, boating, fishing, camping, and so much more. Explore the surrounding natural habitats, rock formations, riparian zones, and river canyons within the state park. There are 13 access points for boaters to utilize and adventure down the Yampa River; if you’d prefer to stay on land, utilize one of their 50 campsites which are suitable for both tens and RVs.
Address: 6185 US-40, Hayden, CO 81639, Phone: 970-276-2061
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