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Denver’s Dog Parks

In 2004, Denver began to allow canines to roam free at five parks within city limits, and there are dozens of off-leash parks in the metropolitan area as a whole. Contact the Department of Parks and Recreation (tel. 720/913-1311) for more information or visit www.denvergov.org/parks.

Great Nearby State Parks

Colorado has a number of excellent state parks offering a wide range of activities and scenery. Information on the state’s parks is available at www.parks.state.co.us.

Barr Lake State Park -- About 25 miles northeast of Denver on I-76 in Brighton, this wildlife sanctuary of almost 2,800 acres comprises a prairie reservoir and surrounding wetlands and uplands. Boats with motors exceeding 10 horsepower are not allowed, but you can sail, paddle, row, and fish. A 9-mile hiking and biking trail circles the lake. A boardwalk from the nature center at the south parking lot leads to a good view of a heron rookery, and bird blinds along this trail allow wildlife observation and photography. Three picnic areas provide tables and grills; there’s a commercial campground opposite the park on the west side. The entrance is at 13401 Picadilly Rd. Admission costs $6 per vehicle. Call tel. 303/659-6005 for more information.

Castlewood Canyon State Park -- Steep canyons, a meandering stream, a waterfall, lush vegetation, and considerable wildlife distinguish this 2,000-acre park. You can see the remains of Castlewood Canyon Dam, which was built for irrigation in 1890; it collapsed in 1933, killing two people and flooding the streets of Denver. The park, 30 miles south of Denver on Colo. 83, east of Castle Rock in Franktown, provides picnic facilities and hiking trails. The entrance is at 2989 S. State Hwy. 83; admission is $6 per vehicle. Call tel. 303/688-5242 for more information.

Chatfield State Park -- Sixteen miles south of downtown Denver on U.S. 85 in Littleton, this park occupies 5,600 acres of prairie against a backdrop of the steeply rising Rocky Mountains. Chatfield Reservoir, with a 26-mile shoreline, invites swimming, boating, fishing, and other watersports. The area also has 18 miles of paved bicycle trails, plus hiking and horseback-riding paths. In winter, there’s ice fishing and cross-country skiing. The park also has a hot-air-balloon launchpad, a radio-controlled model aircraft field, and a 21-acre man-made wetlands area.

Facilities include 197 pull-through campsites, showers, laundry, and a dump station. Admission is $7 per vehicle; the camping fee is $20 to $24 daily. The entrance is 1 mile south of C-470 on Wadsworth Boulevard (tel. 303/791-7275). Call tel. 800/678-2267 or 303/470-4144 for camping reservations.

Cherry Creek State Park -- The 880-acre Cherry Creek Reservoir, created for flood control by the construction of a dam in 1950, is the central attraction of this popular park, which draws 1.5 million visitors each year. Located at the southeast Denver city limits (off Parker Rd. and I-225) about 12 miles from downtown, the park encompasses 4,200 acres in all.

Watersports include swimming, water-skiing, boating, and fishing. There’s a nature trail, dog-training area, model-airplane field with paved runways, jet-ski rental facility, rifle range, pistol range, and trapshooting area. Twelve miles of paved bicycle paths and 12 miles of bridle trails circle the reservoir (horse rentals are available). Rangers offer guided walks by appointment, as well as evening campfire programs in an amphitheater. In winter, there’s skating, ice fishing, and ice boating.

Each of the park’s 102 campsites has access to showers, laundry, and a dump station. Most sites have full hookups with water and electric. Many lakeshore day-use sites have picnic tables and grills.

Admission is $7 to $8 per vehicle; campsites are $16 to $24 daily. Campgrounds are open year-round. The entrance is at 4201 S. Parker Rd. in Aurora. Call tel. 303/690-1166 for general information, or tel. 800/678-2267 or 303/470-4144 for camping reservations.

Golden Gate State Park -- About 30 miles west of Denver, this 12,000-acre park ranges in elevation from 7,400 to 10,400 feet and offers camping, picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, and horseback-riding opportunities. A daily vehicle pass costs $6, and camping fees range from $16 to $20 in developed campgrounds, $10 for backcountry camping. There are around 160 developed campsites, with a limited number of electrical hookups. Reverend’s Ridge, the park’s largest campground, has coin-operated showers and laundry facilities.

To get to Golden Gate, take Colo. 93 north from Golden 1 mile to Golden Gate Canyon Road. Turn left and continue 13 miles to the park. For more information, call tel. 303/582-3707. Call tel. 800/678-2267 or 303/470-4144 for camping reservations.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.