Category Archives: State Parks

Colorado’s Outdoor Adventure Expo



Eager attendees race to their first activities. All photos by ©Mike Delliveneri/CPW


Last month, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) joined forces with partners and volunteers to host the first annual Outdoor Adventure Expo at Cherry Creek State Park. The goal of the Expo was to provide a high-quality event that connects the people of Colorado with meaningful outdoor experiences. Programs and events such as the Outdoor Adventure Expo are how CPW manifests the agency’s core belief of preserving Colorado’s outdoor way of life. Read more

Walleye Wisdom



The biggest walleye of the day. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW


The author with his first-ever walleye.

With a big smile on my face, I posed with my first-ever walleye. For our group, it was the first fish of the day, and the first walleye I had ever seen in person — all pointy fins, sharp teeth and cataract eyes. If Disney made a movie about freshwater fish, a walleye would be cast as the quirky sidekick to the main villian (probably a pike). I was proud; if it had been a trout, it would have been a keeper. However, since it was just under 18 inches long, we had to release it. But, as it slipped back into the waters of Chatfield Reserevoir, I began to calculate how much per inch that walleye had cost. Read more

Eliminating Angling Stereotypes: Colorado is More Than Just a ‘Trout’ State


The author displays a Colorado bass.

Stereotype: “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.”

Do you think Colorado is stereotyped? I do. Firmly. And as with many stereotypes, the belief is not congruent with the reality. Is it a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not…depends on your position. As a Colorado outdoorsman, I think it’s a shame more of my peers don’t see through it.  What is this oversimplified idea our fine state is tagged with? Trout . . . specifically the idea that trout are all Colorado has to offer anglers. Trust me, the stereotype doesn’t fit.

As a professional fisherman, I travel a lot. Since I angle from a traditional bass boat, I’m often viewed as “bass fisherman” – another stereotype that doesn’t quite fit because I pursue all kinds of fish but just happen to like a bass boat’s fishability on the water. Anyway, when “Joe Angler” see’s my boat at some gas station or even many of the lakes in our region, I very often get comments about our perceived lack of bass fishing. Same thing when the conversation turns to walleye, pike, panfish and a slew of other nationally popular species. Geez, last summer I coached the high school bass fishing national championship consisting of 175 high school teams from around the country competing on a huge lake in Tennessee. The fact that we were from “Colorado of all places” as the emcee put it at one point, was amusing until we won the whole event. In an ensuing interview, I was asked how we won it all given that “all you fish for is trout back home” . . . an incorrect assumption that perfectly makes my point. Read more

4 Reasons to be Thankful You Live in Colorado

By Mike DelliVeneri


Be grateful you live in such an amazing state surrounded by some pretty awesome people. Photo by © Mike DelliVeneri/CPW

It’s November in Colorado, which means our famous peaks will start to turn white, the bighorn sheep will clash and both people and wildlife alike will brace for winter. November also means it’s time to loosen our belts and prepare for turkey, stuffing, green beans and mashed potatoes. But before you do, we thought we’d remind you (in the true spirit of Thanksgiving) just some of the reasons why we should be thankful to live in the Centennial State. Read more

Go Now: 4 Colorado State Parks near Denver Already Showcasing Fall


Photo by Alicia Cohn/CPW.

Are you ready for fall? Colorado state parks are already showcasing the best of changing nature, with cooler temperatures for hikes, leaves bursting into red, yellow and orange, and unique animal mating rituals on display in the mornings and evenings.

If you’re hunting for fall colors near Denver, where it still looks like summer downtown, there are multiple state parks within easy driving distance that already look and feel like fall. Here are 4 parks perfect for day trips: Read more

10 Reasons to Get Your Family Outdoors This Summer

If you live in Colorado, you’re probably already aware that spending time in the outdoors provides fun and excitement for the entire family. But, did you know that research shows there are a variety of social, physical and cognitive benefits of interacting with nature?

Just in case you need some additional motivation to camp, hike or fish, here are 10 science-based reasons to get out and explore Colorado this summer:

1. Get Closer to Your Family


A father and daughter fishing trip. CPW file photo.

Outdoor recreation helps maintain and increase the cohesiveness in families. This means that the time you spend outdoors with your family this summer will make the connection between the members of your family stronger. Families that explore the outdoors together can be stronger and more resilient when faced with everyday challenges.

(Source:West, P.C., & Merriam, L.C. Jr. (2009). “Outdoor Recreation and Family Cohesiveness: A Research Approach.” Journal of Leisure Research, 41 (3), 351-359.)
Read more

A Quiet Hour on Barr Lake


Sunset-Barr Lake

Sunset Serenity at Barr Lake State Park. Photo by Sue O’Shields

It was a beautiful early summer evening—perfect for a boat ride on the lake at Barr Lake State Park. Eight of us met at the park’s boat ramp, donned life vests and settled in the comfortable seats. Ranger Jake Zanetell backed the boat into the lake and we were off!

The evening light was soft, the clouds pastel and the breeze pleasant. It was fun to be among the waterbirds instead of looking at them from the shore. For an hour we glided across the nearly mirror-smooth lake, tucking in near shore to watch for wildlife. Buoys swayed gently in the water, some topped with gulls. These buoys mark the boundary between the waters of the park’s wildlife refuge and those where boating is permitted.

According to Michelle Seubert, park manager, Barr Lake has offered pontoon boat rides for about a decade. “The park’s boating safety program has received funding from the U.S. Coast Guard,” she explains. “This enabled us to purchase the boat and the life vests—and to help visitors who don’t own boats to learn about the park and enjoy the lake.” Read more

What Bird is That?

1. Red-tail belly band

A darker belly band across the lighter breast is a distinctive mark of a red-tailed hawk. Photo by © Merry McGilvray

After many years of hiking in state parks and looking down at the wonderful array of wildflowers, I decided to start looking up as well. Seeing beautiful birds, I wondered, what bird is that? In an attempt to learn enough to answer that question, I attended park programs, talked to birders, invested in good binoculars and acquired a series of bird guide books.  I soon became enraptured by one group of birds—the raptors.

Seeing raptors soar in a brilliant blue Colorado sky is almost reward enough in itself. But I wanted to know more about them. Raptors are birds of prey, including hawks, eagles, falcons, vultures, and owls, among others. Many are large birds, but some are no bigger than robins. Regardless of size, all raptors are well-equipped predators, with strong feet and sharp toes, or talons; powerful, hooked beaks; and keen vision.
Read more

Explore St. Vrain State Park: A Photographic Tour

Nestled in the crook between two major highways, within close proximity to Denver, Boulder and Loveland, St. Vrain State Park sits at the epicenter of Colorado’s northern Front Range. Encompassing approximately 800 acres of land and water, the park’s abundant, year-round recreation opportunities attract a variety of visitors for camping, birding, wildlife viewing, hiking, boating and fishing.

In September of 2013, St. Vrain experienced massive flooding, which completely reshaped the park and altered its riparian ecosystems. Thankfully, not all of the impacts were negative. In fact, the flood waters introduced some exciting changes at St. Vrain, especially for fishermen and wildlife.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The following photos tell an amazing story of recovery and transformation, and show just how well St. Vrain State Park is thriving post flood.

Hopefully, these images inspire you to visit St. Vrain to see and experience the many changes for yourself.

All photos © Scott Reffel/CPW. Reffel is a park manager at St. Vrain who has documented the park’s flood recovery and wildlife during the last two years.  

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