The State Parks are so intrinsic to Colorado life that visiting the wilderness is practically a requirement. Junior ranger activity booklets can be a helpful means of bringing the parks to life. Here are the most family-orientated parks in the state:
Though it was Congress and not the President who designated this park a National Monument, this does not diminish its majesty. Just outside Grand Junction city, gargantuan rock formations tower. Sandstone buttes and plunging canyons will wow your whole family. If you follow Rim Rock Drive, you'll see numerous opportunities to stop off and snap pictures of this surreal landscape.
Climb the Trail Ridge Road, the most elevated paved road in America, at 12,000 ft. The Alpine Visitor Center is a kid-friendly experience. If there is still energy to spare, climb the 168 steps of the Alpine Ridge Trail to be rewarded with panoramas stretching as far as Wyoming. Kids will also enjoy the Holtzman Historic Site, where you can don period clothing and learn how to rope a calf.
Some forty state parks offer Colorado's hiking enthusiasts plenty of legroom. Still, here are some of the most dramatic, well signposted, and eternally popular in the bunch:
A number of hiking and running trails wind through this state park. The park also preserves a focal point in State Park history, the Castlewood Canyon Dam. You can still see the ruins of the dam, which burst cataclysmically in the thirties. Today this is an eminently peaceful spot, popular with wildlife watching fans. You can also rock climb on the park's unique geological formations and enjoy picnics on its prairies.
More than a third of Colorado's land is wilderness, so this is a good state to be in if you happen to love outdoor playtime. ATVing, rock climbing, snowboarding, and horseback riding are just some of the exciting sports you can enjoy in Colorado's 100,000 mi2 of public land. Here's where to head:
This oasis near Fort Morgan is low lying, attracting water sports fans with its warm, shallow water. Come ATV, raft, bike, and hike interpretative trails, or whizz about on a water ski.
Come jet ski on the sparkling Lake Pueblo, or wander more than 60 mi. of shoreline. Fishing and boating are central to life on Lake Pueblo. Come swim on Rock Canyon Swim Beach, and spot mule deer, coyote, beaver, and prairie dogs in this natural haven.
Dinghy sails glide like miniature, moveable mountains beneath the dramatic escarpment. Boasting 1,700 acres of water, it's an ideal choice for water sports. Sandy beaches and seasonally warm water beckon to swimmers, windsurfers, and water skiers too. Hunting and fishing are also popular in this park, one of the state's largest.