Discover 5 State Parks near Denver

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: July 16, 2022
© Larry Barrett/
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If you live in the Denver area, or are visiting, you are in luck when it comes to State Parks to visit near the Denver, Colorado area. Maybe you want to go rock climbing in the sandstone rocks or spend the day at the lake, swimming, fishing and boating. What about hiking to a secluded waterfall? There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails and mountain bike trails just waiting for you! Let’s discover 5 state parks near Denver!

1. Cherry Creek State Park

trout fish
Right in Denver, Cherry Creek State Park offers hiking trails, a campground and some great trout fishing!

©Paul Winterman/

Located in Denver, in the SE corner, you will find a 4,200 acre park with a lake, trails and campground. The Cherry Creek reservoir is a favorite spot for locals and visitors to boat, paddle and swim (well, when the waters warm up!). There are 35 miles of trails for hiking, biking or pushing a stroller. What is stopping you from taking a long lunch and bringing your fishing gear out to try to catch some trout, walleye, bass or crappie? Plan ahead for a nice weekend camping trip, right in the city. Spend some time exploring downtown restaurants and shops then head back to your campsite for some s’mores!

Cherry Creek State Park
LocationRight in Denver, SE corner of the city
CampingYes! 133 campsites
Lake/River/WaterYes, 850-acre Cherry Creek reservoir
Hiking Trails/Mountain Bike Trails35 miles of multi-use trails
Wildlife to watch forDeer, fox, coyote
Pet FriendlyYes
What makes it greatCentrally located mix of city and country life!

2. Eldorado Canyon State Park

What do Golden Eagles Eat Let's Find Out! Poster Image
While you are rock climbing at Eldorado Canyon State Park keep your eyes open for a golden eagle!

©Martin Mecnarowski/

For some of the best rock climbing head over to Eldorado Canyon State Park. This beautiful park has “Eldo’s” sandstone cliffs with more than 500 technical routes. There is a variety of climbing levels from beginner to challenging. If you are not into rock climbing you can hike the 3.5 mile trail and visit the South Boulder Creek, a great spot for a picnic or fishing. The park is day use only but there is camping nearby. If you are lucky you might get to see one of the Golden Eagles! The upper trail is currently closed to protect nesting golden eagles. Very cool! Other wildlife include mule deer, red fox and mountain lions. After a day of rock climbing stop by the visitor center or the picnic area to wrap up your visit.

Eldorado Canyon State Park
LocationJust NW of downtown Denver in Eldorado Springs
CampingNo, day use only, camping nearby
Lake/River/WaterSouth Boulder Creek, fishing
Hiking Trails/Mountain Bike Trails3.5 mile hiking trail
Wildlife to watch forGolden eagles, mule deer, red fox, mountain lion
Pet FriendlyYes
What makes it great500 technical rock climbing routes!

3. Chatfield State Park

Chatfield Reservoir
Chatfield State Park draws swimmers, boaters and anglers to the Chatfield Reservoir.


Located in SW Denver, Chatfield State Park has a reservoir, trails, a swimming beach and camping! The Chatfield Reservoir is a big draw for boaters and swimmers in the summer months. There is camping on the south shore of the lake with 197 sites including 146 full hookup sites for RV’s and campers. All of the sites are within walking distance to the lake. Bring your fishing gear because the lake is stocked with rainbow trout. There are areas for sailing, boating, paddling and of course the sandy swimming beach! If you are into bird watching this is the park to visit with the Denver Audubon office being located in the park. Keep an eye out for Bald eagles, white pelicans and burrowing owls.

Chatfield State Park
LocationIn SW Denver
Lake/River/WaterChatfield Reservoir, Plum Creek, South Platte River
Hiking Trails/Mountain Bike Trails26 miles of trails (12 miles of paved trails)
Wildlife to watch forBirds! The Denver Audubon office is in the park. Look
for Bald Eagles, White pelicans and maybe even a burrowing owl.
Pet FriendlyYes
What makes it greatCamping right on the lake!

4. Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Lone Star Hiking Trail
One of the State Parks near Denver has miles of hiking trails with amazing look-outs.


For some of the most unique rock formations and best hiking, visit Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Hike (or bike) some of the 19 miles of trails with additional trails just for hikers. Map out your hiking trips and be prepared for some amazing look-out stops. The wildflowers bloom in the spring and the park is home to moose, bighorn sheep, elk and mule deer. There are also black bears in the park so if you are spending the night in the campground be sure to use the bear proof food storage. The campground has 132 campsites, some with full hookups, as well as backcountry hike-in sites. Maybe you want to try camping in a yurt! There are two available for rental.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park
LocationNW of Denver
CampingYes, 132 campsites, 20 hike-in backcountry tent sites,
5 cabins, two yurts
Lake/River/WaterKriley Pond, Ralston Creek
Hiking Trails/Mountain Bike Trails35 miles of trails (19 miles are for bike as well)
Wildlife to watch forMoose, elk, mule deer, black bears
Pet FriendlyYes
What makes it greatBeautiful hiking trails with lots of wildlife viewing opportunities.

5. Staunton State Park

mountain bike on sunny day in forest
With 30 miles of trails you can hike, bike or ride your horse.


About 40 miles SW of Denver is Staunton State Park. With 30 miles of trails you can hike bike, or ride your horse through some of the most beautiful forests, mountains and rock formations. For adventurers take the 12 mile round trip hike to Elk Falls, where you will see the falls cascading down the dark rocks. Keep your eye open for Marmots, and the cleverly posted “Marmot Crossing” sign! For an easy hike, take the 0.7 mile loop on the Historic Cabins trail to see the old homestead cabins including one that was built by the Staunton’s back in 1916. If you want to spend the night there are 25 walk-in tent sites with picnic tables and vault toilets. Again there are black bears in the park so keep your food in the bear proof boxes and be bear aware when in the park.

Staunton State Park
Location40 miles SW of downtown Denver
CampingYes, 25 walk-in tent sites with picnic tables, bear proof storage box and vault toilets
Lake/River/WaterDavis Ponds
Hiking Trails/Mountain Bike Trails30 miles of trails, hike, bike, equestrian
Wildlife to watch forMarmots, black bear, bald eagle
Pet FriendlyYes
What makes it greatHike to Elk Falls and look for the Marmots!

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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