10 Incredible State Parks Near Denver Colorado

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Looking for state parks near Denver Colorado? You’re in the right place!

When people think of Colorado, they think of “the great outdoors.” Denver’s a great city, but let’s face it, sometimes you need more of an outdoor vibe than going to Forest Room 5.

Not everyone has 2 hours to drive to Vail on the weekends, and driving back down I-70 through traffic can ruin your weekend.

Luckily, wonderful parks are a short drive away! Be sure to get your national park or state park pass for free entry to all parks. Grab your hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water, download the All Trails app on your phone, and head out to find adventure.

Keep reading to learn more about the top state parks near Denver Colorado.

State Parks Near Denver Colorado

Roxborough State Park

Pointed, slanted red rocks in the middle of a valley.

In Roxborough, you get to be in the middle of wild red-rock formations without having to buy tickets to a concert at Red Rocks.

There are no dogs allowed in this park, and it’s a good thing because they would scare away all of the wildlife that you will see at the park. Since Roxborough is such a beautiful park, the parking lot can get crowded.

Go early and take advantage of the entire day, wandering through some of the prettiest landscapes in our state. The elevation does not get above 8,000 feet, so it’s a great place to bring your friends from out of town to show off where you live!

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    Golden Gate Canyon State Park

    A rocky cliffside in the mountains with trees growing around it.

    Golden Gate Canyon State Park makes you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere when you’re really only about 45 minutes outside of Denver. It’s one of the best state parks near Denver Colorado with cabins.

    While there are more difficult trails in this park, it typically attracts people who like easy-moderate hikes, but be sure to drink a ton of water because the altitude does start to climb. There are activities for every season.

    From fishing to driving up to see the leaves change in the fall to snowshoeing, it’s a very family-friendly excursion. This is also a popular place to make a reservation for a season of hunting.

    It is possible to stay overnight in the park, but you do have to make reservations for that as well. One of the best parts of Golden Gate Canyon State Park is visiting Golden afterward.

    The Golden Mill is a relatively new food hall with live music, great food, and enough beverage options to please everyone.

    Castlewood Canyon State Park

    A river flowering over rocks in the mountains.

    Another great park for easy-moderate hikes during the day and one of the more accessible parks close to Denver is Castlewood Canyon State Park.

    Though this park is not in the mountains, it is still just as delightful and only about an hour away from Denver. The pro to this park is the lower elevation!

    The Canyon View Nature Trail is handicap accessible; in June and July, you can see wildflowers. The trails are mostly sunny, so be sure to bring your sunscreen, especially if you go on one of the 4-mile trails.

    Though rare, there have been reports of rattlesnakes, so listen for a little rattle in the bushes! Don’t let that scare you off. I have been hiking in this park plenty of times and have yet to encounter any snakes.

    Cherry Creek State Park

    Birds standing on a small dry patch near a lake with snow capped mountains in the distance.

    If you don’t have much time and would rather stick in the Denver Metro area, welcome to Cherry Creek State Park. There are trails to hike, but you may want to take advantage of the horseback riding.

    If you’ve never ridden, don’t worry; there are day camps and riding lessons! Is riding horses, not your speed? Try something a little slower, like paddleboarding or fishing.

    This is one of a few places in Colorado where you’ll be close as you’ll get to a beach in Denver so you can spend time reading by the water and, in the summer, catching some rays.

    If you’re looking to host an event in a unique location, the Lake House at Pelican Bay has plenty of space and pretty views at night.

    Eldorado Canyon State Park

    A large rocky mountain on a sunny day.

    Eldorado Canyon State Park is one of the most popular state parks near Denver. In fact, you might recognize the landscape from tourist magazines and postcards.

    In May-September, you need to make sure to reserve a time to drive into this scenic park, and while some people find this annoying, it really helps with crowd control and protects the special experience.

    It is about an hour away from Denver and is only open from sun up to sun down, so don’t bring your tents. There is excellent rock climbing, but not for beginners; take someone with you who knows what they are doing.

    The whole family can take in the fresh air at one of the many easy-access picnic sites. El Dorado Canyon State Park

    St Vrain State Park

    A still lake surrounded by green trees.

    St Vrain is 20 minutes north of Boulder and gives you a retreat close to the city. There are multiple campsites in the park that all require reservations.

    If you have curious kids who love animals, this park has critters big and small. Turtles, deer, coyotes, bobcats, and frogs are residents of St Vrain State Park.

    Remember – wildlife is for watching, not for interacting with! Go up for a long weekend and make unforgettable memories with your family.

    If you end up not loving camping, Boulder is only a 20-minute drive away with hotels. I must say, though, it’s a cool experience camping in St Vrain State Park.

    Barr Lake State Park

    A dirt path leading along a small river.

    When most people think about national parks in Colorado, you don’t typically imagine driving up north. Barr Lake State Park breaks the mold.

    Ranked as the #1 thing to do in Brighton by Trip Advisor, Barr Lake State Park is known for being a place for relaxation. Camping overnight is not allowed, but they make up for it by making the park dog-friendly!

    This is another great park with activities that reach beyond its hiking trails. Let out your inner Katniss Everdeen by taking up archery or just enjoy the scenery on an easy bike ride.

    If you have a different idea of fun, hunting waterfowl is permitted on Wednesdays and Sundays.

    Staunton State Park

    A rocky overlook looking out over the mountains on a sunny day.

    Staunton State Park is a lesser-known state park a little further than Roxborough and just as stunning in its own right. The elevation starts to get up there, so if you aren’t used to it, the beautiful park will make you breathless in more than one way.

    There are walk-in campsites that immerse you in the wild without the noise of traffic and crowds. You might want to try one of the other national parks’ more accessible camping areas before coming to Staunton.

    This seems like a good time to mention two golden rules of camping.

    1 – Always leave the site cleaner than it was when you arrived. Pack out all of your garbage.

    2 – Please make sure you adhere to strict food storage rules. This area is known for Black Bears. They love your snacks just as much as you do but want to avoid you, too, so just be careful! The wild is, after all, wild.

    This is one of the best state parks near Denver Colorado.

    Chatfield State Park

    A blue lake in the valley of a mountain range.

    Chatfield State Park, only 30 minutes outside of Denver, is a great place to escape to for a couple of hours on the weekend. One of the best things about Chatfield is the off-leash dog park!

    As you can imagine, that makes Chatfield a popular place for Denver-ites, and it can get crowded. To avoid the masses, I recommend you go to Chatfield early! If you aren’t an early riser, you can camp overnight and wake up whenever you want!

    This is a perfect park to get together with a large group of friends or family and enjoy life outside of the city limits.

    Boyd Lake State Park

    A small dock in a lake with leafless trees on a small island.

    Boyd Lake State Park is an hour north of Denver and close to Fort Collins if you have any friends or family to meet up with from Colorado State University.

    The most popular part of the park is the lake where there are crowds of people day drinking and playing country music. If this is your scene, and it’s a fun scene, you will have a blast.

    There is a “modernized” paved campground. In fact, a lot of this state park is modernized. There’s an amphitheater, concession stand, camp services building, and pretty much everything you would need to spend the night comfortably.

    Final Thoughts: Colorado State Parks Near Denver

    There is a state park out there for everyone, and we are fortunate enough to have them within an hour’s drive of the city. I hope you enjoyed this post on state parks near Denver Colorado.

    The more adventurous, the relaxers, and the partiers all have a little vacation spot nearby. Go enjoy the spectacular outdoors in Colorado!

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