Colorado’s dramatic landscape is home to 42 beautiful state parks. Often overshadowed by the majestic Rocky Mountains and popular national parks, Colorado’s state parks are brimming with scenic views and exciting outdoor recreation. From stunning waterfalls to picturesque reservoirs and epic canyons, here are 7 state parks in Colorado you should visit in your lifetime.
1. Rifle Falls State Park (Rifle, Colorado)
The ideal spot for waterfall lovers, Rifle Falls boasts three beautiful cascades surrounded by lush greenery. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon of hiking or biking followed by a picnic or explore the limestone caves at the base of the falls. This park is packed during the summer months so you may want to plan a spring or fall trip.
2. Eleven Mile State Park (Lake George, Colorado)
Known for its enormous reservoir located above the Eleven Mile Canyon Dam, this park is perfect for those who love water sports. The clear waters here offer excellent fishing and the wind conditions make this a great place for sailing and windsurfing. Kayaking and boating are also popular at Eleven Mile and there are five miles of hiking and biking trails with beautiful, scenic views.
3. Lory State Park (Bellvue, Colorado)
Nestled within beautiful valleys and rolling hills, Lory State Park is located just west of Fort Collins near Horsetooth Reservoir and Horsetooth mountain Open Space. This area is popular for its horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. The park offers 26 miles of trails that wind through unique rock formations, ponderosa pine forests, and wildflower meadows.
4. Navajo State Park (Arboles, Colorado)
Located on the north shore of Navajo Lake on the San Juan River, this stunning reservoir offers great opportunities for boating, swimming, sailing, and fishing. One of Colorado’s newer state parks, the reservoir boats more than 15,000 surface acres that extend into New Mexico. While the water is the big draw at Navajo State Park, visitors can also enjoy a number of trails and wildlife viewing.
5. Eldorado Canyon State Park (Eldorado Springs, Colorado)
One of Colorado’s most scenic canyons, Eldorado Canyon State Park is just a short drive from Boulder. The park is best known for its world-class rock climbing and visitors will find more than 500 technical climbing routes here. Not into climbing? Explore massive sandstone cliffs on foot, have a picnic along South Boulder Creek, or spend the afternoon fishing.
6. State Forest State Park (Walden, Colorado)
State Forest State Park boasts 71,000 acres of alpine lakes, jagged peaks, pine forests, and wildlife. Tucked between popular destinations like Rocky Mountain National Park and the Rawah Wilderness, this state park offers a truly diverse landscape to explore. Discover the park on foot on 90 miles of hiking trails, traverse 130 miles of mountain biking trails, or visit during the winter months and enjoy some epic snowshoeing and skiing.
7. Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Golden, Colorado)
Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the more than 12,000 acres of meadows, dense forest, and rocky peaks at Golden Gate Canyon. There are more than 35 miles of hiking trails in the park as well as multi-use trails for horseback riding and mountain biking. While you’re there, check out the awesome view of the Continental Divide from the Panorama Point Scenic Overlook.
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