Colorado State Outdoors

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Colorado State Parks

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
Welcome to the Arkansas Headwaters, one of the nation's most unusual recreation areas ... stretching for 148 miles along one of the West's premier recreation rivers, the Arkansas. From its northern boundary below the fabled mining town of Leadville to the bass-filled waters of Pueblo Reservoir, the area is a recreation paradise. Opportunities abound for fishing, rafting, kayaking, picnicking, wildlife watching, hiking, camping, mountain climbing and sightseeing among deep canyons, broad valleys, towering mountains...not to mention the fine dining, lodging and western welcome offered by the towns along the way. The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is a landmark cooperative effort by Colorado State Parks and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. By continuing to manage public lands and recreation on the Arkansas River, the agencies can give visitors the best of all worlds along this legendary river - and care for recreation and natural resources at the same time. For information call: (719)539-7289


Cherry Creek State Park
Nearly 1.5 million visitors a year can't be wrong! This bustling metropolitan playground offers unlimited recreation opportunities anchored around a 880 surface-acre lake. Cherry Creek State Park offers a natural prairie environment of gentle, rolling hills and complete outdoor recreation facilities, including camping, group picnic sites and facilities for special events, all in the midst of a busy urban area. Visitors can view birds in their natural habitat from the Bird Observatory. Fun seekers visit the park to enjoy boating, jet- and water skiing, sailing, fishing, swimming, biking, horseback riding and more. Some come to the park's shooting range, and others fly their model airplane in the field. Less busy during mid-week, Cherry Creek State Park is a convenient getaway for frazzled urbanites. This state park was the site of the prayer vigil and papal mass with Pope John Paul II during World Youth Day 1993. For information call: (303)699-3860


Jackson Lake State Park
Warm, sunny days abound at Jackson Lake State Park, just 80 miles northeast of Denver outside of Fort Morgan. Used to irrigate 17,000 acres of crops in Morgan County the lake has become an eastern plains sports oasis, offering outstanding water-based recreation. Jackson Lake has naturally fine sand beaches, excellent walleye and bass fishing and its uncrowded water skiing can't be beat! Colorado's eastern plains are the lands of James Michener's Centennial, and Jackson Lake State Park offers a beautiful introduction to this unique aspect of the state. New boat ramp facilities make the lake accessible to all watercraft. For information call: (970)645-2551


Picnic Rock State Park
Located along the scenic Cache la Poudre River northwest of Fort Collins, this tiny park is actually a favorite stopping point for kayakers and whitewater river rafters. Picnic Rock was designed to give these water athletes access to and from the river. For non-rafters, we suggest bringing a picnic lunch and spending the day fishing and enjoying the beauty of this gorgeous canyon. For information call: (970)493-1623


Stagecoach State Park
Located in the verdant Yampa Valley south of Steamboat Springs, Stagecoach State Park offers visitors a wonderful area to enjoy Colorado's outdoors. The park is centered around a 780-acre reservoir with full-service marina. Learn the fascinating history of mining and logging near Stagecoach while you enjoy an unlimited array of activities, including fabulous boating and fishing. The Elk Run Trail (along the south shore) and the Wetlands Trail (located at the inlet) provide great opportunities for nature observation and recreation. The proximity to additional recreation opportunities and the family atmosphere here makes Stagecoach State Park a wonderful vacation destination. For information call: (970)736-2436


Camping and Hiking in Colorado

Roxborough State Park
Roxborough State Park is one of the most dramatic and beautiful parks in the state and is best known for its magnificent red-rock outcroppings. More than 1.2 billion years of geologic time are represented by the spectacular rock formations found within the park, which is located southwest of Denver. Ecologically, the park is highly diverse as a result of its location in a transition zone between the plains and the mountains. The area's geological structure has resulted in microclimates that have produced seven distinct plant communities in a unique mixture of prairie and mountain species. As a result, Roxborough is home to abundant wildlife, including black bear, mountain lion and elk. The dramatic red-rock formations and the resulting ecosystem at Roxborough State Park are so distinct, it is the only state park designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Natural Landmark. It was Colorado's first state park to be designated as a State Natural Area, and it is a National Archeological District. The park is known for its spectacular sightseeing, tranquil surroundings, fascinating trails and wonderful Visitor Center. This park offers hiking, cross-country skiing and excellent educational programs on Colorado history, geology and wildlife watching. Fountain and Lyons rock formations with a moderate change in elevation. This self-guided hike takes you through some of the most magnificent land in the park. The trail winds through several different habitats for plants and animals, including mule deer, raccoons and coyote. You may see a golden eagle soaring over the hogback hunting small mammals, snakes or birds. At the top of the loop are buildings built by Henry S. Persse at the turn of the century. Persse used Roxborough as a summer home and hoped to develop the land into a resort. Hiking time is approximately one and one-half to two hours. The Willow Creek trail, which is known for its abundance of wildflowers, is a gentle 1.25-mile loop. Explore the southern end of the park on a moderately-difficult three-mile trail, the South Rim Loop. The trail to Carpenter Peak is a 5.8-mile round-trip hike of moderate-to-steep terrain. Its summit is the highest point in the park and provides a spectacular view in all directions. Biking, pets and horseback riding are not permitted. Join a naturalist and hike by the light of the moon! For information call: (303)973-3959


Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Golden Gate Canyon State Park is 14,000 acres of hiking, picnicking and camping among dense forest, rocky peaks and aspen-filled meadows. Several ponds offer good trout fishing. Mountain splendor awaits only 30 miles from Denver at Golden Gate Canyon State Park! Wildflower meadows, glorious autumn colors and a spectacular view from the famous Panorama Point of over 100 miles of the Continental Divide make Golden Gate Canyon State Park ideal for sightseers and photographers. Plenty of campsites, 168 total, and miles upon miles of mountain trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding make this gorgeous area accessible to everyone. Golden Gate Canyon offers excellent mountain biking, picnicking and camping. It's a great place for young anglers, and the fall colors are breathtaking. Panorama Point has hosted countless weddings and other special celebrations. For information call: (303)582-3707


Lory State Park
Lory State Park offers fabulous scenery and seclusion just minutes from Fort Collins. Lory State Park is located along the edge of Horsetooth Reservoir in Larimer County. Extensive trails offer visitors terrain for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding. And visitors have a chance to experience Lory's wildlife and colorful wildflowers along any trail. Horseback riding enthusiasts enjoy the Double Diamond Stables and cross-country jumping course. And equestrian events are a regular feature at the park. Visitors can tour the park by foot, horseback, buggy or hay wagon. Beautiful Lory State Park is open to explore and enjoy all year long. Lory State Park allows primitive backcountry camping by permit, offering the perfect weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are six campsites marked by stakes numbered 1 through 6. There is no electricity or water at the campsites, and there is no pad to camp on. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.. Campsites are located along the Timber Trail and are approximately 2.5 miles from the Arthur's Rock parking lot. No other camping is allowed in the park, and open fires are prohibited. For information call: (970)493-1623


Trinidad State Park
A beautiful setting in the mountains of southern Colorado, a mild year-round climate and 900 acres of water ideal for numerous water sports are the lures of Trinidad Lake State Park. Anglers catch rainbow and brown trout, largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye, crappie and bluegill. The lake is popular for water skiing and windsurfing as well. Other attractions include self-guided nature hikes where visitors can choose a short walk near the Visitors Center or venture farther into primitive backcountry areas. Hikers may explore the mountain branch of the historic Santa Fe Trail in nearby Trinidad. Trinidad welcomes visitors with its rich Native American history, including an ancient teepee ring right in the center of the campground near the park's amphitheater. There are great wildlife-watching opportunities at this park; turkey, coyote, and deer call the park home. All this, plus some spectacular scenery, make Trinidad Lake a wonderful place to play in the great outdoors. For information call: (719)846-6951


Stagecoach State Park
Located in the verdant Yampa Valley south of Steamboat Springs, Stagecoach State Park offers visitors a wonderful area to enjoy Colorado's outdoors. The park is centered around a 780-acre reservoir with full-service marina. Learn the fascinating history of mining and logging near Stagecoach while you enjoy an unlimited array of activities, including fabulous boating and fishing. The Elk Run Trail (along the south shore) and the Wetlands Trail (located at the inlet) provide great opportunities for nature observation and recreation. The proximity to additional recreation opportunities and the family atmosphere here makes Stagecoach State Park a wonderful vacation destination. Stagecoach State Park has 92 campsites spread among the lush and fragrant sagebrush of the Yampa Valley. These campsites are located in four separate campgrounds within the park: Junction City, Pinnacle, Harding Spur and McKinley campgrounds. Come experience the excellent views, abundant wildlife and diversity of Stagecoach State Park's trails system. Stagecoach offers three wonderful trails -- Wetlands, Pinnacle Peak and Elk Run -- each offering a unique experience. So, whatever your taste, come and enjoy this magnificent resource! For information call: (970)736-2436


Hunting and Fishing in Colorado

Jackson Lake State Park
The reservoir is open to boating and conditions are excellent. Water temperature is 72 degrees. Fishing is good to excellent for all species. Something for everyone -- white sand beaches, excellent water skiing and fishing, an abundance of wildlife, and great camping facilities all at Jackson Lake State Park, eastern Colorado's water-sports oasis! Warm, sunny days abound at Jackson Lake State Park, just 80 miles northeast of Denver outside of Fort Morgan. Used to irrigate 17,000 acres of crops in Morgan County the lake has become an eastern plains sports oasis, offering outstanding water-based recreation. Jackson Lake has naturally fine sand beaches, excellent walleye and bass fishing and its uncrowded water skiing can't be beat! Colorado's eastern plains are the lands of James Michener's Centennial, and Jackson Lake State Park offers a beautiful introduction to this unique aspect of the state. New boat ramp facilities make the lake accessible to all watercraft. Hunters come to Jackson Lake State Park for waterfowl, dove, pheasant and rabbit. Hunting in the park is controlled and permitted from the Tuesday after Labor Day through the Friday prior to Memorial Day. Only bow and arrows and shotguns loaded with birdshot are allowed. Waterfowl hunters must use steel shot. Hunting is allowed in designated areas only -- please check with a ranger for further details. An abundance of wildlife can be observed and photographed in the park. This list includes pelicans, eagles, hawks, heron, deer, coyote, waterfowl and numerous shore birds. For information call: (970)645-2551


Pearl Lake State Park
Pearl Lake State Park is by far one of the most beautiful parks in the Colorado State Park system. Nestled in the mountains north of Steamboat Springs, Pearl Lake State Park offers peace and quiet in a lush forest setting. The pace here is unhurried and the scenery is magnificent. Surrounded by towering pines, visitors camp along the lake and up a gentle hill, which is deeper in the cozy woods. Excellent fly and lure fishing is available at the park where native cutthroat trout flash their dramatic red throats when pulled from the water. This incredibly peaceful area is lush and green, a true escape from the day-to-day routine. The use of firearms is prohibited in the summer. However, hunting is permitted in limited areas during legal seasons after Labor Day. The park also provides access to the Routt National Forest. Contact the park for specific information on hunting restrictions. For information call: (970)879-3922


Vega State Park
Vega State Park is a beautiful, high-mountain lake that sits in a glorious alpine meadow on the west edge of Grand Mesa National Forest. Warm weather visitors are embraced by unexpected sub-alpine beauty, mild temperatures and blue Colorado skies characteristic of the park's 8,000 feet altitude. There are several beautiful campgrounds in the park. And the lake offers great boating, water skiing and fishing. Excellent ice fishing and snowmobiling have made Vega State Park as popular with winter visitors as with summer crowds. Visitors may access trails atop Grand Mesa for hiking, trail biking and four-wheeling in the summer, and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. Vega reservoir is about two miles long when full. It is the largest body of water in the Grand Valley region. Because Vega is about 2,000 feet lower in elevation than Grand Mesa, it is the last reservoir to freeze in the fall and the first to thaw in the spring. Few lakes anywhere can surpass Vega reservoir as a trout fishery. For information call: (970)487-3407


Highline State Park
An ideal base camp for exploring the Grand Junction area, Highline Lake State Park is the center for water sports in the Grand Valley of western Colorado. The park features shaded, grassy areas and even maintained turf. Due to the park's low elevation, it is an ideal getaway from early spring to late fall. There are two beautiful lakes at the park. Highline Lake is designated for water-skiers and boaters, and Mack Mesa Lake is designated for wakeless boating only. Both lakes offer great fishing. Great blue heron, white pelicans and whooping crane are just a few of the migrating waterfowl that stop at the park. A watchable wildlife migratory waterfowl overlook provides an excellent spot from which to watch the park's wildlife, especially during the winter, when thousands of ducks and geese migrate through. The overview also provides an excellent view of the surrounding area. Just 9 miles west of Grand Junction and not far from the Utah border, this city-like park in a rural setting is close to the Kokopelli Trail and Ruby Canyon. In July, the Desert Sun Triathlon, which is a qualifier for the Iron Man competition, is held in the park. Highline Lake State Park is a great place to establish a base camp for mountain biking and river rafting. Rainbow trout are stocked in both lakes in spring and summer. Warm-water fish, such as bass and catfish, are found in both lakes. Highline Lake has good warm-water fishing, especially for catfish and crappie. Mack Mesa is noted for its fine early season trout fishing. Only hand or electric powered boats are allowed. Waterfowl hunting at Highline Lake State Park is controlled. Information on seasons and regulations are available from any park ranger or the local Division of Wildlife office at (970) 248-7175. For information call: (970)858-7208


Navajo State Park
Colorado's answer to Lake Powell, many visitors describe their first view of Navajo Lake as "unbelievable!" This huge (15,000 surface-acre and 150 miles of shoreline) reservoir extends for 35 miles south into New Mexico. Fish for record-sized northern pike or catfish in open waters without crowds. Camp on your boat or enjoy beautiful lakeside camping with lots of trees. Gather your family and friends and enjoy Navajo Lake from the comfort of a houseboat. Explore three major rivers and sail or water-ski on open waters. Take advantage of the opportunity to see wildlife such as foxes, deer, grouse and turkeys in the midst of one of Colorado's most historic and scenic areas. See interesting artifacts of the Anasazi Indians at the Visitor Center in a setting rich in local history. Waterfowl, shorebirds, birds of prey (including the bald eagle), and songbirds, such as waxwings, thrushes and meadowlarks, are found at Navajo along with game birds like doves, grouse and turkeys. Visitors may also see beaver, mink, foxes, deer, elk and rabbits. In the remote areas it is possible to glimpse coyotes, bobcats, black bears and mountain lions. Deer, elk and bird hunting are permitted here in established seasons. Check with the park office for information on seasons and regulations, (970) 883-2208. Catfish, crappie and smallmouth bass swim in the shallows and near the lake surface. Kokanee salmon, northern pike and many varieties of trout are found in deep waters. Whether fishing from a boat or from a remote shoreline, fishing is great at Navajo State Park! Check with the marina or the visitor center for the current fishing report. If you plan to test the waters across the state line, be sure to pick up your New Mexico fishing license at the marina. For information call: (970)883-2208


Other Colorado Outdoor activities

Colorado also offers the following outdoor activities:
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Golf
  • Horseback riding
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Mountain climbing
  • Picnicking
  • Skiing
  • Sleigh rides
  • Swimming
  • White water rafting