If you’ve read this blog before you probably already know that we think State Parks are awesome. There are more State Parks than National Parks, they’re easier to get to, the entrance fees are cheaper, and many of them offer more liberal activity options, such as boating, mountain biking, rock climbing, and fishing for keeps. Roxborough State Park doesn’t have any lakes or ponds, and you can’t mountain bike or rock climb here, but it’s still awesome! You absolutely can not miss the opportunity to check it out if you are in the area, because… ROCKS.
Roxborough State Park is home to one of the coolest sprawling rock formations I have ever seen, and it looks especially cool in the winter. Located just 20 miles south of Denver, stunning red sandstone monoliths guard the eastern edge of the Rockies. Roxborough State Park (RxSP) is 6,000 acres, (6.25 square miles,) so you can easily make your way around the whole park in a single day, as we did. There are 3 major trails running through RxSP, and we were able to nail 2 of the 3 in just a few hours. Click here to see the trail map. Fountain Valley Loop Trail is the easiest trail, and the one I’ll be talking about in detail today. South Rim Trail is a 3 mile hike and I will discuss more about it in my next post, Part 2 of this article. Carpenter Peak Trail is a 6.4 mile trek up the side of Carpenter Peak, and it’s the only one we didn’t do. There are a couple more mini-trails running through RxSP, but these three trails give you the best all around views and the most scenic outlooks you’ll need to say you fully experienced the park.
FOUNTAIN VALLEY LOOP TRAIL:
DISTANCE: 2.3 mile loop
STARTING ELEVATION: 6,100′
ELEVATION GAIN: A few dozen feet
DIFFICULTY: Very easy
I am so excited to tell you about Fountain Valley Loop Trail for a couple of reasons. First off, this:
Just a wee bit up the trail you get to a turn off to the Lyons Overlook. Be sure to take this short turn off-trail, as it leads you to a really beautiful overlook with stunning views of the rock formations you can stare at while eating snacks. Because eating snacks is a priority in my life. If you hit up one part in RxSP, hit up the Lyons overlook. It’s amazing.
The other great thing about Fountain Valley Loop Trail is that it’s basically ADA compliant. Now, I say “basically” because I’m not 100% sure if it’s legally classified as such, but the trail is about 10 feet wide, perfectly flat, never very steep, and very well maintained. I would not have been surprised to see a person with a walker or wheelchair on the trail. So if you have a family member or friend, like I do, who loves being outdoors but can’t quite physically make treks on more rugged terrain, take ’em on the Fountain Valley Loop Trail. Now the downside is that the turn off to Lyons Overlook is NOT a flat, smooth, ADA accessible portion of the trail, but don’t worry! The trial loops around and comes back on the valley floor of the Lyons Overlook, and you can be IN the awesome valley all those lame people up at the Lyons Overlook are looking down into.
Fountain Valley Loop Trail is great if you just want to get outside without too much effort, are with small children, old folks, people from out of town, someone who needs ADA access, or if you just want to see some really cool rocks. Your teenagers will get some really cool pics for Instagram, and photographers of every ability will be sure to get some really great shots, be it portraits of your adorable young children or people-less panoramas of scenic landscapes.
As with all Colorado State Parks, you’ll need a $7 entrance fee or a $70 annual pass to get in. There is a beautiful, centrally located visitors center, which borders on being a mini-museum. The visitors center has bathrooms, water fountains, maps, photography, educational activities for the wee ones, and a friendly neighborhood volunteer. Parking is available, but limited, so be sure to get there early for a spot.
If you are in the area, be sure to check out Roxborough State Park! And be sure to keep an eye out for my next post, Roxborugh State Park, Pt 2.
– C. Egli