Looking for all the recommendations for Eldorado Canyon State Park? This park is certainly one of the must-sees of Colorado! Plus, it's located conveniently close to Denver and Boulder which makes for an easy day trip. So if you're looking for a unique spot to explore in Colorado that's not too much of a drive, read on!
WHERE: Eldorado Canyon State Park is located just a little west of Boulder in the tiny town of Eldorado Springs. From Denver, it’s only a 35-40 minute drive! The location makes visiting this park super convenient and easy.
VISITOR INFO: The cost to enter is $10 (they accept card or cash). As you pay, you can grab a park pamphlet which has maps and info if you’re nerdy like me and live for pamphlets haha. After you pay you’ll proceed to the main parking lot. There is a bathroom facility there and picnic tables for the use of the public! Because of the convenience of the park, be aware that it may be full or very crowded if you try to go during main times over the weekends spring-fall especially. Even just going early or waiting until the late afternoon can help with this! If the main lot is full, keep driving up and park on one of the smaller street lots near different trails. There is no overnight camping in the park, and visitors must exit at sundown. Doggos are allowed on leash so they can come along for the fun!
ACTIVITIES IN THE PARK: Other than hiking, (which I will cover thoroughly next) there are several other ways to enjoy El Dorado Canyon State Park year-round!
- Snowshoeing: During those snowy months you can still enjoy the trails amongst the beautiful, grandiose canyons! All trails in the park can be done on snowshoe. Checking Alltrails for recent reports of trail conditions can be helpful to ensure there’s enough snow for snowshoeing! Otherwise micro-spikes will do the trick.
- Rock Climbing: This is perhaps the activity that the park is most known for. The canyon walls make for amazing climbing (not that I know from personal experience) There are numerous climbing routes and many that are multi-pitch for more advanced climbers. If you’re wanting to get into climbing, check out this guided climbing service that does day tours in Eldorado.
- Picnics: Lately I’ve been very into picnics. In the age of fine dining, I think they are seriously underrated. Take your meal outside for a change of scenery! There are several picnic areas within the park and grills available for your use. The map on the park pamphlet has all picnic areas clearly identified for you -* however, these specific sites are NOT to be used currently due to COVID-19*. Everything is on a first-come-first-serve basis so keep that in mind on the weekends!
- Mountain biking/Horse riding: Eldorado Canyon has certain trails that allow for horseback riding and/or mountain biking! Be sure to refer to the park maps to ensure you’re on the designated trails for these activities! Side note: There are also a lot of great areas for mountain biking in Boulder Open Space which borders the park!
- Hiking: OBVIOUSLY. Here are the top trails in the park for your hiking ventures:
o Rattlesnake Gulch Trail: This trail is about 3 miles long (out and back) and is rated as moderate. The hike is also intertwined with some rich history as the trail takes you to the ruins of the Crags Hotel. The once-luxurious hotel in 1908 burned down in 1912, leaving some fragments behind that can still be observed on the hike. If you want to also get some extra amazing views, from there you can hop on a .8 mile loop that will take you to a view of the Continental Divide.
o Fowler Trail: For a short, easy hike, this trail provides visibility of mountain climbers along with the stunning sites of the park. You’ll hike .7 miles to the park boundary then back.
o Eldorado Canyon Trail: 6.5 miles total (out and back), this is the longest trail you can enjoy in the park. You will gain 1,000 feet of elevation along the way too, making this trail moderately difficult especially compared to the others listed.
- Fishing: Fisherman (with a license, of course) are welcome here to fish the South Boulder Creek. This creek runs right through the middle of the canyon, offering idyllic surroundings and plenty of areas to scout for fish.
WHY I LOVE IT: Not all state parks in Colorado will make the cut of must-sees in my book, but Eldorado Canyon is something special. The jagged, red rocks that form the canyon are unique and breathtaking. Even if you just go to drive around and soak up the views, this place is worth your while! So please go check in out and let me know what you did/what you thought!!
Bradee AKA Ponytail on a Trail :)