DENVER (KDVR) – If you live in the Denver metro, you’ve likely found yourself itching with park-roaming envy every time you catch a glimpse of the mountainous terrain that can be seen out to the west.
There is a grand total of 42 state parks in Colorado, but some may be just out of reach for a day trip for those living in the Denver metro.
FOX31 has put together a list of the parks that are a reasonable distance from Denver as opposed to those spanning the Western Slope.
Cherry Creek State Park
4201 S. Parker Rd., Aurora (~21-minute drive)
CPW officials anticipate that this park that sits just southeast of downtown Denver is likely to be hit with heavy crowds, but if you get there early, you can enjoy some fishing, paddle boarding, boating and more that the park has to offer.
If you are looking to camp, you need to make your reservation ahead of time online as you will not be able to do so at the park itself.
Castlewood Canyon State Park
2989 S. State Highway 83, Franktown (~48-minute drive)
This park has some historical relics that tell an interesting story of a time long ago when the area’s Castlewood Dam burst, sending 15-foot-high flooding waters into Denver.
Worry not though, for the flooding has subsided, leaving behind trails to walk your pet along as well as some picnic areas to truly take in the natural splendor that the canyon emits.
Roxborough State Park
4751 E. Roxborough Drive, Roxborough (~44-minute drive)
Roxborough specifically prohibits pets, biking, rock climbing, fires and camping, all of which are allowed in different capacities at other state parks. These restrictions have been elevated by CPW to help maintain the natural resources across the park.
Regardless, this 4,000-acre area offers onlookers red rock formations to take in as well as a wide array of wildlife known to habitually maneuver through the area, which according to park officials, includes black bears, mule deer and several bird species.
Staunton State Park
12102 S. Elk Creek Rd, Pine (~51-minute drive)
Sitting roughly 40 miles southwest of Denver, this park offers visitors a wide range of outdoor activities to do while hanging out near the grassy meadows and granite cliffs.
Pets are welcome according to the park’s information page and access to Davis Ponds for fishing is available to all interested, but know that you must snag a fishing license before dropping your lure.
Eldorado Canyon State Park
9 Kneale Road, Eldorado Springs (~46-minute drive)
This park sits in Boulder’s backyard and has been heavily hit with visitor traffic in recent months, which on some days has led to capacity being reached. Take the park’s popularity into account when choosing which park to visit, but there is a reason behind this being such a hot spot.
If you show up at the park gates without a reservation, you will be turned around.
According to CPW, Eldorado Canyon has more than 500 technical rock climbing routes that climbers from around the world come to test themselves. Mountain bikers, fishers and those planning a picnic are all welcome.
Barr Lake State Park
13401 Picadilly Road, Brighton (~40-minute drive)
Along the 8.8-mile multiuse trail in this park are multiple wildlife viewing stations, and plenty of fishing and boating opportunities.
This park is the habitat of over 350 different species of birds, according to CPW, including bald eagles.
Jackson Lake State Park
26363 County Road 3, Orchard (~1-hour and 14-minute drive)
The “Oasis in the Plains” as it was nicknamed by the author of “Centennial,” James Michener, has been deemed one of the best park beaches by Reserve America. Water recreationists will find plenty to do at this “watering hole.”
Lory State Park
708 Lodgepole Drive, Bellvue (~1-hour and 50-minute drive)
This park sits next to Horsetooth Mountain Open Space and offers mountain biking, hiking, picnicking and horseback riding to all fortunate enough to be on the 26 miles of trail.
According to the park’s information page, kayakers, canoeists, boaters and rafters are all able to use specified bays and coves at the park. Additionally, if you have a horse and feel up to it, there is an equestrian cross country course you can canter on up to.
St. Vrain State Park
3785 Weld County Road 24 1/2, Firestone (~53-minute drive)
Once known as the Barbour Pond, this 656-acre park is presumably an angler’s dream according to CPW officials who said that of that acreage, 152 acres are bodies of water.
Nature lovers of all types can camp in one of the 87 campsites open year-round. CPW plans to upgrade these camping amenities in the near future, according to the park’s information page.
Now that you have a list of potential paths toward near-immediate outdoor recreation, why not get packed for the day and head on out to one of Colorado’s parks that are within your reach, or at most, a brief drive away.