The Centennial State is home to a variety of parks. National parks, state parks and city parks span the state, and all of them are beautiful in unique ways. No matter if you want a scenic drive, a nice canyon to climb, a challenging hiking trail or just a picnic table to snack at, the parks on this list are sure to please. Experience the beauty of this colorful state at these 10 best parks in Colorado.
Rocky Mountain National Park, located in Estes Park, is by far one of the best parks not only in the state but in the country. Established in 1914, this iconic park is like no other. View the park’s iconic 14,000-foot mountain, Longs Peak, see huge herds of elk, or take a drive up a scenic high-elevation road called Trail Ridge Road. No matter if you are looking for the perfect place to picnic for the day, seeking an epic backcountry backpacking trip or in search of the perfect pitch to climb, Rocky Mountain National Park is for you. You won’t be able to stop staring at the majestic scenery found at this Colorado park.
This national park boasts 1,500 acres of sand dunes that raise up to 750 feet high, making them North America’s tallest sand dunes. Daredevils board down the dunes as if they were riding down a snow-capped mountain, which is seen in the distance. If “sand-boarding” isn’t your thing, try four-wheeling or even backpacking across these majestic dunes. If all you got is a day however, there are still numerous picnic spots with full facilities.
State Forest State Park in Walden is known as Colorado’s moose-viewing capital. There is a huge herd living in the park. Nearly 600 moose live within the parks 71,000 acres. Take a scenic hike to catch a glimpse of these huge, majestic creatures. Black bears and elk also frequent the area too, making it a true haven for wildlife. Even if you don’t see any impressive wildlife, the views of snowcapped mountains, lodgepole pine forests and alpine lakes are still pretty great.
If you are looking for a nice cool down during the summer months, head to Eleven Mile State Park, which is about 40 miles from Colorado Springs in Lake George, Colorado. The park is home to a massive reservoir perfect for fishing, boating and even windsurfing. Wildlife is plentiful here, so keep an eye out for a variety of bird species, moose and even black bear. Hikers can even find a great trail system at Eleven Mile State Park.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in western Colorado is a geological wonder. Find 2,700-foot drops in deep gorges, all carved out by the Gunnison River over the past two million years. This park is perfect for kayakers and noteworthy for climbers wanting some exhilarating thrills. Hikers will find some great and challenging canyon trails. If you just want to see the views, take a scenic drive or even visit the railroad museum located in the park.
For those who are history buffs, Mesa Verde National Park, located in Mesa Verde, is for you. This park was once the home of ancestral Puebloans. View their adobe homes that were made over 700 years ago. The cliff dwellings are something that should not be missed. Take a scenic drive through the park, which has a number of pull offs and picnic areas.
Mueller State Park in Divide, Colorado is a hiker’s dream with over 50 miles of trails. Find granite mountains and meadows full of wildflowers. The chance of seeing wildlife is high here, so always keep a careful eye out. With over 5,000 acres of aspen groves, meadows and wetlands, Mueller State Park is sure to enhance your appreciation for the outdoors. One of the best times to visit the park is during early fall when the aspen trees start to change into a bright gold-yellow color.
Thirty miles west of Denver is Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which is 12,000 acres of Colorado wild. With easy loop trails, picnic areas and magnificent mountain views to the west, this state park can’t be beat. Visit this park year-round. The trails are perfect for hiking and biking in the summer, while they make for great snowshoe and cross-country ski trails in the winter.
Near Boulder is Eldorado Canyon State Park. Hikers, bikers and fishermen enjoy the area at this Colorado gem. The sandstone cliffs are great for rock climbing with over 750 technical routes. If you aren’t into climbing however, take a nice picnic at one of the 33 picnic tables in the park, which all boast peaceful views of South Boulder Creek.
This nearly 2,500-acre park in Fort Collins offers 26 miles of hiking trails and access to Horsetooth Reservoir. Rock climbers, hikers, bikers and even boaters will find something to enjoy at Lory State Park. From meadows to pine forests to rock formations, this state park is a peaceful spot for a picnic or even a weekend backpacking trip.