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Golden Gate Canyon State Park

A great place to unplug and unwind

Article and photos by Susan Helton

From Panorama Point Scenic Overlook, visitors have a spectacular view of 100 miles of the Continental Divide. The overlook is also a popular location for weddings.

Just 30 miles west of Denver, off Highway 93 on Golden Gate Canyon Road, lies Golden Gate Canyon State Park. From hiking and picnicking to exceptional autumn aspen viewing, this beautiful mountain park offers visitors a myriad of fun activities.

The State of Colorado created the park in 1960 with the purchase of the first 200 acres. Forty-five additional purchases established today’s park of roughly 12,000 acres, making Golden Gate one of Colorado’s largest state parks.

The visitors center is open daily, year-round and features a show pond where visitors can feed the fish. Inside the center, visitors find a topographical scale model of the park and exhibits showcasing the variety of wildlife and plants found within. Near the center, there is a trail that is accessible for the physically challenged.

In Golden Gate, opportunities abound for birding, wildlife viewing and photography. Roughly 35 miles of interconnecting trails – ranging from casual to difficult – take visitors through pine and aspen forests, wildflower meadows and grasslands. All trails are open to hiking, and several also accommodate horseback riding and mountain biking. Trailheads are easily accessible from the main roads.

Other park attractions include fishing ponds and streams, picnic sites, rock climbing opportunities, historic cabins and homestead buildings and summertime educational programs. In the winter, visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice fishing and ice skating.

Looking for a challenge? The Golden Gate hiking club offers awards for reaching hiking milestones.

For visitors who want to stay longer, Golden Gate offers developed RV and tent camping, backpack tent camping and backcountry shelters, group camping, one-room cabins, yurts and a guest house. RV and tent camping and the cabins and yurts are available year-round.

Reverend’s Ridge Campground is a shady haven of crisp mountain air, rustling breezes, chattering squirrels, chirping birds and fragrant pines and campfires. At night, the view of the stars is incredible!

With no cell or internet service, Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a great place to unplug and unwind. The approximate drive time is 1 hour and 10 minutes, without traffic, making this an easy, fun day trip for the whole family, any time of the year.

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