Where is Chatfield State Park
11500 N. Roxborough Park Road, Littleton, CO 80125
Easily located 22 miles south of Colorado’s capital city of Denver, Chatfield State Park sits in both Douglas and Jefferson counties, just off of Santa Fe Drive in Littleton. Take another hour-drive south and you will find yourself in southern Colorado’s largest population, the popular Colorado Springs. This makes Chatfield a perfect getaway from the big cities. Visitors can hardly believe the park is located just outside of the Denver metro area when they see the rolling foothills, expansive reservoir, wildlife and vegetation.
How Big Is Chatfield State Park
Chatfield State Park centers on beautiful Chatfield Reservoir and is situated in the lower foothills of the Front Range at an elevation of 5,450 feet. This 1,423-acre surface area lake is fed by the South Platte River and two creeks. It is known for its easily accessible boating, floating, fishing and beach swimming. The entirety of the park consists of 5,300 acres or just over 6 square miles where you can enjoy endless Colorado outdoor activities year-round.
Chatfield State Park Weather
Chatfield is open year-round from 5am-10pm with 24-hour access for campers, active fishermen with valid fishing licenses and those boating with approved lighting. No matter the season, visitors will be in awe of the large areas of open space and the diversity of vegetation and abundant wildlife. Two hundred twelve bird species frequent the park each season, including the Bald Eagle, white pelican and elusive burrowing owl The Audubon Society of Greater Denver is a Parks partner and has an office at Chatfield. As for the weather, pack for the unexpected no matter the season. Colorado is known for its dramatic change in temperatures from morning to night, so even on the hottest of summer days, make sure to pack a sweatshirt.
When did Chatfield become a State Park
Discovered by settlers in search of gold in 1858, Native Americans warned the Chatfield area was “bad medicine.” This prediction came true in 1965 when torrents of water flowed through Denver from the overflow of the South Platte River. Soon after, the Army Corp of Engineers built Chatfield Dam as flood control. In 1975 the State Parks of Colorado turned this dam and reservoir into a beautiful state recreation area.
Things to Do at Chatfield State Park
Chatfield State Park is one of the most diverse parks in Colorado. There is something here for everyone. Below is a list of all the opportunities for visitors to enjoy.
With 26 miles of bicycle trails, Chatfield offers bikers a safe place to ride while enjoying the sweeping mountain views. Bikes must follow all traffic laws and yield right-of-way to slower and equestrian traffic who will also share the trails while on their own outdoor adventure.
This is the park’s most popular activity. Visitors can enjoy sailing, water skiing, paddling or just cruising the reservoir. A mandatory pre-launch inspection and current boat registration and ANS stamp is mandatory. Contact (303)791-5555 or Chatfield Marina for rates, hours and other information.
Reservations for the 197 for individual and group camp sites are required in addition to the park pass. With full-hook up camping available mid-April to mid-October, electric-only campsites are always available, even in winter months. Coin operated showers and laundry facilities are available.
Springtime signals the start of open water fishing and Chatfield provides some of the best trout fishing in the Denver area. Whether rainbow trout, bass, perch or crappie, fishing enthusiasts should catch their limit. A fishing license is required and can be purchased from the park office.
With 26 miles of trails, both paved and not, hikers can explore the vast nature and wildlife as they exercise and inhale in the breath-taking view on a hot summer day or one full of winter snow. Dogs are allowed on-leash throughout the park.
Horseback riding is popular on the series of trails that meander through Chatfield State Park. Horses are not allowed in the picnic areas, camping areas, or the swim beach. All horseback riding trails are also used by pedestrians and cyclists, so please be on alert at all times.
Ice fishing is among the many activities available to the winter recreation enthusiast. Take precaution before going out onto frozen water and check park conditions for updates on the day’s ice. There are several “ice rescue stations” around Chatfield marked by red poles with a tire and rope for your safety.
Jet skiing is also permitted in the reservoir. Make sure to observe all boating regulations. All persons on personal watercrafts are required to wear a personal flotation jacket. Jet skis do need to be inspected at the boat ramps for Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS).
Paddle boarding is permitted at Chatfield on the reservoir as well as the gravel ponds. No paddle boarding is allowed in the designated swim beach area. All Colorado Boating Statutes and Regulations apply, including use of a personal floatation device.
Many individual picnic sites with tables and grills can be found all throughout the park and are readily available to visitors on a first-come, first-serve basis. Large group sites are also available and may be reserved for $100-$150 per day by calling 1-800-244-5613.
Swimming is quite popular at Chatfield State Park. The Swim beach is open seasonally, sunrise to sunset, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Children under the age of 12 need adult supervision at all times. No lifeguard on duty. Swim at your own risk.
Located at each group picnic site, volleyball courts and horseshoe pits are available to all guests. No reservations necessary. In order to play, you will need to supply your own net, ball, and horseshoes.
Water skiing is permitted on Chatfield reservoir. Just like all other water activities, skiers must observe the boating regulations. There must be another person on board who is designated the “look-out” person. This person watches the skier and raises a flag to distinguish they are in the water.
When to go to Chatfield State Park
Chatfield State Park is open year-round to visitors from 5 am-10pm. No matter the season, you will find plenty of open trails, cool water, wildlife and fabulous scenery. This is an overnight camping park with check-in at 1pm and check-out at 12 noon, daily. Entrance will be permitted for a cost of $10 per vehicle or an annual fee of $80 per year. Additionally, a Parks Pass is required for each day of camping. Full hookup campsites cost $41.00. Electrical hookup only sites cost $36.00 and the dump station fee is $28.00. Always consider arriving early and staying late to beat the crowds for a perfect Colorado outdoor experience.
Must-Haves to Bring to Chatfield State Park
Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, there are must-have items that every visitor must bring to enjoy their day to the full. Every backpack should include the following items.
Denver is the Mile-High City and every altitude adventure should begin with a trusty bottle of water. It is the main thing you need to best make it through the day. Dizziness and fatigue is always a sign you need to rest and take a big drink.
Second only to water, sunscreen and sunglasses are a “must.” Colorado’s sunny days can be extreme. Even on a cloudy winter afternoon you can burn quickly. Don’t be caught off guard. Sunscreen and sunglasses are a year-round necessity and your very best friend.
Feel free to pack a picnic when visiting Chatfield. For a bite to eat you can also visit Seagulls Restaurant at the Marina This restaurant offers a variety of food prepared and served in an air conditioned/heated sunroom, allowing a break from the summer heat or winter chill.
Layers of clothing
Colorado is known for its ever-changing and unpredictable weather. Layer your clothing in all seasons. Afternoon rains are frequent. Cold and snowy days often heat up in the sunshine. No one wants being caught unprepared to result in a shortened day of adventure.
From birds and wildlife to viewing your loved ones out on the reservoir, Chatfield provides plenty of sites to see. Binoculars are a fun way to spot some unexpected views of eagles or your husband fishing across the way. Use your camera to capture all the memorable Colorado moments.
Whether boating, horseback riding or playing volleyball, there are supplies that you will need to carry in with you to make your day complete. Chairs, beach towels, camera, proper shoes...the list goes on and on. Make a checklist so you don’t forget anything to make your day most enjoyable.
Where to stay near Chatfield State Park
Camping is allowed year-round. There are also many hotels in close proximity to the park in the surrounding cities of Littleton, Highlands Ranch and South Denver. Airbnb options abound. If you want a taste of the city nightlife to accompany your Colorado outdoor experience, choose a hotel near Denver’s Union Station or 16th Street Mall. Whether the outdoors, the suburbs or the city, you can’t go wrong with any option.
Food nearby Chatfield State Park
Much like lodging, you will find a plethora of restaurants in the surrounding cities of Littleton, Highlands Ranch and Denver. A simple Google search will provide you wil unending options to suit any style. Sitting outside of a restaurant or bar near Denver’s Union Station is great for city entertainment and cool vibes, as well as good eats.
Airports near Chatfield State Park
Denver International Airport is 50 miles away on E-470 and the best option for entering Colorado for a front range holiday. From the airport, take E-470N toll road all the way past Highlands Ranch and look for signs towards Chatfield State Park. The Colorado Springs Airport is another viable option at 75 miles in distance from the park.