20 Colorado State Parks

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The western U.S. state of Colorado, also known as the Centennial State, is an incredible place to discover the state park system. With so many awe-inspiring national parks, Colorado’s state parks are sometimes overshadowed, but if you take the time to explore them, you will find many hidden gems worth visiting.

Of the 42 state parks scattered around the state, this is a list of our picks of the best Colorado state parks to visit. Colorado has all the state parks you could wish for, from canyons to mountains and creeks and lakes.

Colorado State Parks

You may like to visit some of the best national parks on the 8-Day Tour Of The National Parks In Colorado.

20 Best State Parks In Colorado

1- Roxborough State Park

rock hill and blue sky in Roxborough
Take your pick of Colorado state parks for fresh air and nature. Pictured here is Roxborough State Park.

Roxborough State Park is like a landscape from another world, yet it’s only around a 40-minute drive from Denver. 

The park covers nearly 4,000 acres (1618 ha) and has dramatic red sandstone formations.

These tilted sandstone rocks stick out of the ground at a 60-degree angle and were formed from billions of years of erosion and surface uplift.

The park has around 15 miles (24 km) of trails for hiking.

The South Rim Trail is a three-mile trail that provides visitors with amazing views of the Fountain Lyon and Dakota rock formations. Or head along the Carpenter Peak trail which is more than six miles long.

In winter, activities in this Colorado state park include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

It’s a great state park to visit for the day if you are also visiting Denver.

Roxborough State Park is at 4751 Roxborough Dr, Littleton, CO 80125.

2- Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Cheyenne mountain at dusk
Enjoy the ethereal landscape of Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado.

Just 15 minutes drive outside Colorado Springs is Cheyenne Mountain State Park, a wonderful place to connect with nature and breathe fresh air.

Grab your backpacks and hit the 28 miles (45 km) of trails, with designated trails for horse riders and biking too.

With so many trails to explore, you can make this trip an overnight one by staying at one of their 52 full-service campsites.

For some extra fun, an archery range is located at the entrance at Highway 115 and Pine Oaks Road.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park is at 410 JL Ranch Heights Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80926.

3- John Martin Reservoir State Park

John Martin Reservoir State Park is an oasis in southeast Colorado and is all about fun on the reservoir.

It is the second-largest body of water in the state by capacity, with fishing, plenty of space for boating and a diverse amount of wildlife.

This is the spot if you want a quiet Colorado state park to enjoy in summer.

John Martin Reservoir State Park also offers 109 electric campsites and 104 non-electric sites.

If you are a bird-watching enthusiast, the area is full of different species.

Bent County, in general, has documented more than 400 different species of birds.

John Martin Reservoir State Park is at 30703 County Road 24, Hasty, CO 81044.

4- Golden Gate Canyon State Park

highway through the mountains with rock on the left and pine trees on the right
The stunning Golden Gate Canyon State Park in Colorado.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a 45-minute drive outside Denver and a great escape close to the city.

There are 152 campsites at Golden Gate Canyon State Park, so it’s an ideal destination for an overnight trip but if camping isn’t your thing, there are six cabins, two yurts and a guest house.

The park is home to 35 miles (56 km) of trails, some accessible to mountain bikers and horseback riders.

Keep an eye out for moose, which are not uncommon in the park and potentially seeing these majestic creatures is reason enough to visit the park.

Other wildlife includes bighorn sheep, black bears, beavers, foxes and Golden eagles.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is at 92 Crawford Gulch Rd, Golden, CO 80403.

5- Castlewood Canyon State Park

rocks and bushes in Castlewood Canyon State Park Colorado
Rock landscape of Castlewood Canyon State Park in Colorado.

This Colorado state park is between Colorado Springs and Denver.

This day-use park provides incredible views of the surrounding often snow-capped mountains.

This state park in Colorado is situated within the extension of the Black Forest and covers 2,136 acres (864 ha).

When visiting the canyon, there is an excellent waterfall hike you must try.

The Creek Bottom Trail leads you into Cherry Creek and is an out-and-back trail.

Other activities in the park include rock climbing, picnicking and checking out the exhibits at the visitor centre.

Castlewood Canyon State Park is at 2989 CO-83, Franktown, CO 80116.

6- Mancos State Park

Mancos State Park is in the southwest corner of Colorado, close to Mesa Verde National Park.

The park’s biggest draw is Jackson Gulch Reservoir, where during spring, summer and fall people enjoy canoeing, kayaking and taking out their wakeless power boats.

Head to this state park in winter, and you can cross-country ski, snowshoe and ice fish if the conditions are right.

Anglers will be able to catch yellow perch and rainbow trout.

Mancos State Park is a great camping location, especially if you are planning on visiting nearby Mesa Verde National Park or the San Juan Skyway.

Mancos State Park is at 42545 Road N, Mancos, CO 81328.

7- Cherry Creek State Park

aerial view of lake and grass in Cherry Creek State Park Colorado
One of the state parks in Colorado near Denver is Cherry Creek State Park.

Cherry Creek State Park is in Aurora on the outskirts of Denver.

Due to its close proximity to Denver, this is a popular park to visit, so it’s always good to get there early.

The park covers 4,000 acres (1618 ha) and has a modern campground open year-round.

This is a beautiful place to enjoy both water and land activities and, most importantly, kick back and enjoy nature and mountain views.

The reservoir is popular for sail boating, kayaking, and canoeing, and you can moor your boat at Pelican Bay Marina.

There are 35 miles (56 km) of multi-use trails open to runners, horse riders and cyclists, so bring all your gear and have a fun-filled day of activities.

Cherry Creek State Park is at 4201 S Parker Rd, Aurora, CO 80014. 

8- Elkhead Reservoir State Park

This state park is along the southwest banks of the Elkhead Reservoir in northwestern Colorado, 10 miles outside Craig.

This is a lovely state park if you are searching for somewhere to go with the family.

With reservoir activities like boating, fishing, and land activities, there’s something for every nature enthusiast.

The reservoir has its own beach, which you don’t often see in landlocked Colorado.

There are also 15 basic campsites if you plan on staying the night and park fees are less than $10 for the day, making it an affordable day trip destination.

Elkhead Reservoir State Park is at 135 Co Rd 28, Craig, CO 81625.

9- Eldorado Canyon State Park

Entrance to Eldorado Canyon State Park, Colorado
You’ll be impressed with Eldorado Canyon State Park in Colorado.

Eldorado Canyon State Park is best known as a fantastic rock climbing spot because of its wonderful sandstone rock faces.

Around 20 minutes from downtown Boulder this is another great state park if you are visiting Colorado’s big cities.

The park is at the base of the Rocky Mountain foothills, so you can only imagine the spectacular views that greet you upon entering the park.

Rock climbers will love the vast array of more than 600 routes as you make your way up the 700 feet (213 m) high wall.

If traversing a rock face isn’t your thing, take in the ground views, walk through the canyon and relax by the stream.

Eldorado Canyon State Park is at 9 Kneale Rd, Eldorado Springs, CO 80025.

10- Barr Lake State Park

fall leaves along a walking trail and a bench
If you’re looking for Colorado state parks with lakes, try Barr Lake State Park.

Another of Colorado’s lake state parks is Barr Lake.

Fishing enthusiasts and those at home on a boat will enjoy Barr Lake State Park.

There are 8.8 miles of multi-use trail that circle the lake offering visitors a brilliant way to explore.

As you walk, you will come across several wildlife viewing stations where you can try and spot some of the 350 bird species in the park.

Before you head out on your walk, be sure to check out Barr Lake’s Nature Center, where you can have your questions answered by expert naturalists.

Barr Lake State Park is at 13401 Picadilly Rd, Brighton, CO 80603.

11- Boyd Lake State Park

13 miles (21 km) south of Fort Collins is Boyd Lake State Park at the foot of the mountains of the Continental Divide.

This is a place where fun can be had in abundance with friends, family, the kids and your pets. It’s fun for everyone.

Lake activities include boating, fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking, hiking and biking.

The park itself is interesting as Boyd Lake is on the right of the park but it also backs onto Horseshoe Lake.

On the northeast side, there is a wonderful swimming beach and pavilion.

If you wish to camp, you can checkout Cottonwood Campground.

Boyd Lake State Park is at 3720 N County Rd 11c, Loveland, CO 80538.

12- Eleven Mile State Park

An hour and 20 minutes drive northwest of Colorado Springs is Eleven Mile State Park.

The vast reservoir at Eleven Mile is in superb contrast with the pale colours of the mountain backdrop.

Eleven Mile is a superb fishing spot with rainbow trout, brown cutthroat, pike and kokanee all available to catch.

Five miles (8 km) of scenic hiking and biking trails are just waiting to be discovered.

You will be treated to spectacular and sweeping views the whole time you walk.

Eleven Mile State Park is at 4229 Co Rd 92, Lake George, CO 80827.

13- Lake Pueblo State Park

Head to Pueblo County to explore the 60 miles (97 km) of shoreline at Lake Pueblo State Park, which is set up for recreational water activities.

There are two fully serviced marinas to launch your boats from and fishing is a popular lake activity.

Despite being one of Colorado’s most popular state parks, its size means it never feels overcrowded.

Surrounding the lake are views of the arid Colorado landscape, so bring your camera as the views are fantastic.

All kinds of campers are welcome at Lake Pueblo, from tents to motorhomes. There are more than 400 campsites within the park.

Lake Pueblo State Park is at 640 Pueblo Reservoir Road, Pueblo, CO 81005.

14- Ridgway State Park

Ridgway State Park is a truly spectacular state park, 50 miles (80 km) north of the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado.

The moment you approach Ridgway State Park, you will be captivated by the stunning views of the Sneffels Range, also known as the “Switzerland of America”.

This state park offers camping, hiking, paddle sports, fishing and boating.

There are also 15.6 miles (25 km) of hiking trails and 14 miles (23 km) of trails for bikers to explore.

In winter, hit the trails with snowshoes or go cross-country skiing.

Ridgway State Park is at 28555 Highway 550, Ridgway, CO 81432.

15- Rifle Gap State Park

Head to Garfield County and the municipality of Rifle and you’ll find another of Colorado’s incredible state parks.

The crystal clear waters of Rifle Gap attracts many to the park’s 350-acre reservoir, which offers some of the state’s best water sport activities.

Go paddleboarding, water-skiing, kayaking, canoeing and windsurfing.

Anglers can expect to catch rainbow and German brown trout, walleye, pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass, as well as yellow perch.

In winter, you can see fishermen brave the cold for a spot of ice fishing.

Rifle Gap State Park is at 5775 CO-325, Rifle, CO 81650.

16- Trinidad Lake State Park

Trinidad Lake State Park is on the northern shores of Trinidad Lake in southern Colorado.

This place is excellent for a Colorado state park with fewer people.

Anglers head to the lake hoping to catch rainbow and brown trout, largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye, crappie and bluegill.

People wanting to launch boats will appreciate the vast open space.

It is also a peaceful place to go camping, with 73 campsites with electricity, showers and laundry facilities.

Trinidad Lake State Park is at 32610 Colorado 12, Trinidad, CO 81082.

17- Chatfield State Park

Chatfield State Park is in both Douglas and Jefferson counties.

The park’s main feature is the 1,423-acre (575 ha) Chatfield Reservoir, fed by the South Platte River.

The rolling foothills provide a breathtaking landscape.

This is a go-to place for water sports enthusiasts for sailors, kayakers and canoers in a Colorado paradise.

If you don’t have your own boat, rent one from the marina.

There is also a unique floating restaurant at Chatfield State Park that is well worth visiting.

Chatfield State Park is at 11500 N Roxborough Park Rd, Littleton, CO 80125.

18- Steamboat Lake State Park

Head to northern Colorado, and you will find Steamboat Lake State Park just under eight miles north of Clark.

If you are looking for excellent places to camp in northern Colorado, head to Steamboat Lake.

Camping in this state park is like heading back to nature. There’s nothing but silence on an evening, and it’s a truly remarkable experience.

There’s a full-service marina and swim beach at Steamboat Lake, open for water activities from May to November, depending on conditions.

Head to Steamboat Lake State Park in winter for snowmobiling, ice fishing and cross-country skiing.

Steamboat Lake State Park is at 61105 Rcr 129, Clark, CO 80428.

19- St. Vrain State Park

The area where you can find St. Vrain State Park is a network of reservoirs and ponds. St. Vrain State Park is on the banks of the Blue Heron Reservoir.

This family-friendly destination offers visitors peace and quiet in beautiful surroundings.

This state park is perfect for fishing, camping, birdwatchers, walkers and photographers.

With the addition of modern camping facilities and a fishing pier, more people are heading to this Colorado state park for fun and outdoor enjoyment.

St. Vrain State Park is at 3785 Weld County Road #24.5, Longmont, CO 80504.

20- Staunton State Park

Staunton State Park is six miles (9.6 km) west of Conifer and around 70 miles (112 km) from Breckenridge.

This 3,908-acre (1581 ha) park opened in 2013 and is known for its dramatic rock formations and waterfall.

This state park is a mix of grassy meadows and imposing granite cliffs.

The park’s varied geology and rich biodiversity has made it popular for outdoor recreational activities.

With many interesting walks, this has become a popular place for a hiking day trip.

Staunton State Park is at 12102 S Elk Creek Rd, Pine, CO 80470. 

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!