A variety of outdoor recreational activities are available right in the heart of the Denver metro area, at Cherry Creek State Park. This 4,200-acre park includes Cherry Creek Reservoir, a great place for boating, jet skiing, swimming, and fishing. The park also offers camping, biking, horseback riding, nature trails, an off-leash dog area, and even a field for flying model aircraft. Although the reservoir is closed to boating for the season, there are still many wintertime activities in the park, including (depending on conditions) ice fishing, ice skating, sledding and tubing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, in addition to many other activities that can be enjoyed year-round.
Cherry Creek State Park is located near South Parker Road and Quincy in Aurora. Before 1950 the area was prairie grassland, but that year the Army Corps of Engineers constructed the 850-acre Cherry Creek Reservoir as a flood control measure. Now, more than half a century later, it is an entirely new ecosystem with a variety of wildlife including deer, coyotes, cottontail rabbits, ground squirrels, and several kinds of fish and amphibians. Birding is one of the park’s popular activities. Many species can be found, including prairie birds like meadowlarks and horned larks, along with wetland birds like ducks, herons, and egrets. Raptors including Bald Eagle, owls, and hawks can also be seen in the park.
Cherry Creek is one of two state parks, along with Chatfield, that includes an off-leash dog recreation area. This large, safely fenced-in area includes water access. Note that there is an additional fee to use the dog off-leash area.
For a map of the park, as well as details on park activities, see the official park brochure as well as the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website. More information is also available at most local libraries, where you can check out a park pass.
Photos courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife