The Colorado State Parks department was formed by officials and local citizens to protect the state's vast natural resources for all to enjoy.
I have added Google maps to each of the highlighted parks in this section so you can see where they are located and navigate the roads to them.
Many parks in the early days, touted recreation. Over the years, conservation became the key word for these areas.
Wildlife and endangered bird sanctuaries, geologic finds from millions of years ago, protected grasslands and mountain areas are all under the control of the State of Colorado. We have listed a few of the best here, but there are many more to explore.
First thing, to enter any of the state parks, you will need a Colorado State Parks pass. You can get these at any visitor's center or in advance at www:parks.state.co.us. Also, you can find information on many other parks in the state.
In the western portion of the state, you will find the Yampa River State Park, which is great for whitewater rafting.
Steamboat Lake State Park is located in a mountain valley with easy access for hiking. In the summer, wildflowers erupt with spectacular color.
Rifle State Park is actually three state parks north of the town of Rifle, Colorado. At one of the reservoirs, the artist Christo stretched orange cloth across the gap in 1972.
Slightly west of Denver is Eldorado Canyon State Park. This park is one of the most beautiful geologic finds from millions of years ago.
Central Colorado has its share of state parks. Eleven Mile State Park is a recreational area in Park County boasting fishing competitions and a great view of Pikes Peak.
Teller County is home to the Mueller State Park. Here you can view Pikes Peak, the Mosquito and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges. Forest, wildflowers and wildlife can be enjoyed from here.
Before you visit any of the Colorado state parks, there is something you must do beforehand. That is to learn the principles of "Leave No Trace."
1. Plan ahead and prepare - Know the regulations of the areas you will be visiting, use a compass and map, visit in small groups.
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces - these are established trails and campsites, camp at least 200 feet from lakes, ponds and streams, keep campsites small.
3. Dispose of waste properly (if you pack it in, pack it out).
4. Leave what you find.
5. Minimize campfire problems - use fire rings or pits, keep fires small, put out campfires completely.
6. Respect wildlife - always remember these are wild animals and should be viewed from a distance no matter how cute they are.
7. Be considerate of other visitors.
The parks listed are a few of the best my husband and I have visited. As you can see by the map, there are many other state parks and national parks to visit in Colorado. Any visitor's center will have information for all of the state and national parks.