Golden Gate Canyon State Park is an absolute gem in Colorado’s state park system. The park is conveniently located less than an hour’s drive from Denver and is open during all four seasons. Seemingly endless activities abound within its 11,911 acres, including hiking, horseback riding, fishing, rock climbing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, etc. Indeed, one of the biggest draws of Golden Gate Canyon State Park is its abundant camping opportunities, including cabins and guest houses.
Destination Guide Series: Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Where is Golden Gate Canyon State Park?
Golden Gate Canyon State Park is located within Gilpin and Jefferson counties, less than 30 miles from Denver and about 15 miles from Golden. The Visitor Center is just off of Golden Gate Canyon Road.
Why Should You Visit Golden Gate Canyon State Park?
Visitors of Golden Gate Canyon State Park can take in incredible vistas of Front Range mountains and often enjoy a less crowded outdoor experience than many other parks. In particular, Panorama Point Scenic Overlook is a very popular destination within the park to catch some spectacular views. There are plenty of trails that offer challenges for varying skill sets, relaxing fishing spots, excellent picnic and camping areas, and much more. Pet friendly and great for family fun, we think Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a must visit.
Things to Do
Hiking and Trail Running
Hiking is an extremely popular activity in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. The park has an extensive network of hiking-only and mixed-use trails that range in difficulty, so there are suitable hikes for all skill-levels. Note that mixed-use trails share the trail with mountain bikers and horseback riders. If you’d prefer to avoid the extra trail traffic, opt for a hiking-only trail.
For trail runners, consider picking up a copy of Best Trail Runs Denver, Boulder & Colorado Springs that has more details on awesome routes.
Most Difficult Trails
There are a number of options for camping within Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Standard tents/RVs campgrounds, group campgrounds, and backcountry sites are available throughout the park. In addition to a campsite reservation, you must also have a park pass or pay the $9.00 park entrance fee upon arrival. Visit here for campsite reservations or call 1-800-244-5613.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park has a variety of other accommodations, beyond campgrounds, available for reservation, such as cabins, yurts, and a larger occupancy guest house. These are great options if you prefer more comfortable accommodations instead of a campground. Visit here for cabin/yurt reservations or call 1-800-244-5613.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park has nearly 20 miles of mixed-use trails that are designated for mountain biking. Review the park’s trail map to find a trail. Note that since these trails are mixed-use, you will likely share the trail with hikers and horseback riders. MTB Project also has some great information on the park’s trails.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park has nearly 20 miles of mixed-use trails that permit horseback riding. Review the park’s trail map to find a trail suitable for riding. Note that since these trails are mixed-use, you will likely share the trail with hikers and mountain bikers. Visitors with horse trailers should consider parking at Nott Creek or Kriley Overlook.
There are plenty of trad and some sport climbing options within Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Mount Thorodin and Dude’s Throne are popular climbing areas. Check out Mountain Project for in-depth information on the park’s crags.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park has a number of stocked ponds open to fishing. There is a daily bag limit of four fish. Note that a Colorado fishing license is required. If you do not have a fishing license, stop by the Visitor Center to purchase one or buy one online here.
Nordic Skiing and Snowshoeing
All of the trails within Golden Gate Canyon State Park are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. In the winter, Mountain Base Road is closed to vehicles, making it available for cross-country ski or snowshoe use.
If you intend to visit more Colorado state parks beyond Golden Gate Canyon, “Colorado State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide,” though a bit dated, does a nice job providing general overviews of the parks. In addition, we recommend picking up a few naturalist guides for general awareness of the area. An easy to use field guide for plants and birds will help identify species and further add to the enjoyment of your outdoors experience.
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