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Day Trippin’ to Roxborough State Park

Looking into the heart of the park’s dramatic geology from the South Rim Loop Trail, Roxborough State Park offers an outdoor escape close to home.

Just west of Castle Pines, Roxborough State Park sits nestled into the foothills. The park is nearly 4,000 acres of dramatic landscape. It’s a liminal space – where prairie meets vivid red rock mountains.

The land previously known as Washington Park – because of a rock formation resembling George Washington’s profile – has served a variety of purposes. It began as a homestead, Henry Persse built a house from locally made Silica bricks in 1903. Persse had grand plans for the unique landscape. He renamed the area Roxborough Park after his ancestral home in Ireland and planned Colorado’s premier resort in the early 20th century. The resort plan abruptly ended when Persse was killed by a Denver streetcar in 1918. His home still stands, and the land was eventually sold to a rancher. The rancher then sold to a developer. The State tried for years to acquire it but was unable to until the developer went bankrupt in the early ‘70s. The gem of Douglas County has been preserved since then.

Established in 1975, Roxborough State Park is a place of incongruity: delicate wildflowers and historic homesteads on the plains, intertwined with dramatic red rock formations at the very edge of the Rocky Mountains.

“Roxborough State Park is a Colorado Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark, a National Archeological District, an Audubon Important Bird Area and a Leave No Trace Gold Standard Designated Site,” according to official park literature.

The park is known for its trails, photographic opportunities and animal watching. Nine trails traverse 14 miles of pristine Colorado scenery, ranging from quarter mile easy walks to nearly six-mile roundtrip strenuous hikes. Nature enthusiasts can soak in prairie ecosystems and fields of wildflowers or climb the higher trails and be awed by vast vistas. Roxborough’s trail system connects with several local trails, including the Colorado Trail, Pike National Forest Trails, Waterton Canyon, and Douglas County Open Space Trails.

The Roxborough Rambles is the park’s guide to events, which change monthly, including educational talks, guided wildflower hikes, puppet theater, historical information, summer concerts, moonlight hikes, landscape photography events and more.

A Colorado State Parks pass is required for entry into the park. The park is open from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. during the summer. No pets or bicycles are permitted, pedestrian traffic only within the state park boundaries. Parking is limited and often fills up, necessitating lines to enter. Plan your trip during the week, in the evening or early morning on the weekend.

Visit for more information.

Article and photos by Celeste McNeil



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