Where is Eldorado Canyon State Park
9 Kneale Road, Eldorado Springs, CO 80025
Nestled deep within the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, just off of Highway 93, Eldorado Canyon State Park is located in Boulder County. It sits perfectly between two major Colorado cities. Take a short 9 mile drive north of Eldorado Canyon and you will find yourself enjoying the eccentric vibes of downtown Boulder. An 18 mile drive south delivers you right into the heart of the wild west town of Golden. This makes Eldorado Canyon a perfect mountain day trip for every Front Range Colorado local and visitor.
How Big Is Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado Canyon US State Park encompasses 1.4 square miles and consists of two areas; the Inner Canyon (developed area) and Crescent Meadows (undeveloped area). With a starting elevation of 5,800 feet and max elevation of 8,800 feet, the park rests on a total of 1,488 acres. Known for some of the best rock climbing in Colorado, Eldorado Canyon is noted for multi-pitch, traditionally protected, sandstone rock climbs on cliffs up to 700 feet high.
Eldorado Canyon State Park Weather
Open from daylight to sundown year-round, you can always discover something breathtaking at Eldorado Canyon. Snow and ice are common on roads and trails from mid-October through late April. A visit to the park in winter months will boast views of snow-covered Ponderosa pine and mule deer out for a crisp evening meal. In the summer months, cool mornings and hot days are likely and sudden afternoon showers are common. Black bear, red fox and mountain lion inhabit the foothills year-round near the canyon. Golden eagles and red-tailed hawks nest within the park and can be viewed easily while hiking or climbing. Whatever the season, enjoying the outdoors in Eldorado Canyon State Park will take your breath away.
When did Eldorado Canyon become a State Park
The town of Eldorado Springs was established in the twentieth century as a resort for the elite. Known as the “Coney Island of the West,” the town offered visitors warm artesian springs and fancy hotels. Later, created in 1978 by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Eldorado Canyon State Park still entertains those wanting to escape the city for a day.
Things to Do at Eldorado Canyon State Park
You can elevate your Colorado outdoor experience by taking part in one of the many activities offered at Eldorado Canyon. List of Parks has listed below the opportunities offered for your mountain escape.
Eldorado Canyon offers over 1000 technical rock climbing routes, luring climbers from around the world to challenge their skills on “Eldo’s” golden cliffs. Even the non-climber will be in awe as they watch the brave climbers hang from cliffs far above.
The 4-mile Fowler Trail features 12 points of biological and geological interest explained by free brochures available at the Eldorado Canyon Visitor Center. This short, mild trail runs mostly over groomed service roads with ideal terrain for young families, runners and cross-country skiers.
Rattlesnake Gulch Trail
This 3.6 mile trail offers the gift of an expansive view of the Continental Divide and Colorado’s eastern plains. Halfway into the hike you will also discover the remains of the old Crags Hotel that burnt down in 1913, signaling the end to resort life in Eldorado Springs.
Eldorado Canyon Trail
Eldorado Canyon Trail is a 8.5 mile moderate, out and back trail hike that features a waterfall. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
This ADA accessible hike is great for the whole family, including children and four legged friends. The first 300 feet of the trail is wheelchair accessible. You can enjoy the views and sounds of South Boulder Creek as you take in the beauty of the surrounding canyon.
Crescent Meadows Trail
Crescent Meadows is a moderate 2.5 mile trail with a great view of mountains to the west and an open meadow dropping down towards South Boulder Creek. It interconnects with Boulder County Parks and Open Space’s Walker Ranch Loop Trail for a potential 7 mile loop.
There are 10 picnic areas alongside South Boulder Creek near the visitor center. Pack a lunch and wade in the creek on a weekday or summer evening. On weekends and holidays the picnic areas fill up quickly, so arrive early for your prime picnic spot.
Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Eldorado Canyon’s beauty is highlighted in winter months by a fresh dusting of snow. A vigorous day of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing is best experienced on the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail and Fowler Trail. Cross-country and snowshoe gear are not provided. You must bring your own.
Equestrians are welcome. The main park road, Eldorado Canyon Trail, and Walker Ranch Loop connect the front range to the mountains. It may be necessary to dismount from time to time due to the steepness of the trail. Always be courteous to hikers.
The Junior Ranger Program is for children ages 6-12. Led by park rangers, this free and ongoing activity teaches kids about understanding and protecting the canyon’s natural treasures. Activities include outdoor hikes, games, crafts and working as a team. You can check the park website for details.
South Boulder Creek is an excellent fly-fishing area. Brown and rainbow trout are often abundant. A Colorado Fishing License is required and is available for purchase at the park Visitor Center. You can check the park website to see which fish are currently biting.
Eldorado Canyon’s dramatic rock formations and lush scenery make this park a perfect location to take photographs year round. Commercial photographers are required to obtain a special use permit prior to your photo session. Note: DRONE usage is PROHIBITED.
When to go to Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado Canyon State Park is open year round to visitors. No matter the season, you will find plenty of open trails and fabulous scenery. This is not an overnight camping park. It is open during daylight hours only and visitors are expected to leave before dusk. Entrance will be permitted until the park fills up for the day for a cost of $10 per vehicle or an annual fee of $80 per year. If you want a great parking spot and crisp, cool morning views, get there as early as possible. You can view wildlife waking up to greet the day while in search of their morning breakfast and experience peace and solitude before the crowds arrive.
Must-Haves to Bring to Eldorado Canyon
Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, there are some items you must pack in with you for your day in the Colorado mountains. Our National Parks Visitors Guide suggests every backpack should include the following items.
An Eldorado Canyon adventure begins above 5,800 feet and only gets higher. Water, water, water is the main thing you need to best make it through any hike, climb or ride. Dizziness and fatigue is a sign you need to sit and take a big drink.
Second only to water, sunscreen and sunglasses are a “must.” Colorado boasts over 300 days of sun per year and that means that even your most snowy winter hikes will cause you to burn quickly. Don’t let the momentary cloud cover fool you.
Always pack a protein bar or your favorite snack for hiking the trails or climbing the canyon. There are no food or drinks available for purchase inside the park. There is a water fountain located inside the Visitor Center.
Park Maps in physical and on phone
You may pick up a physical map in the Visitor Center. Cell reception is spotty within the park, so download a map prior to entry. You may also benefit from bringing a secondary battery for your cell phone in case your battery dies while on the trail.
Proper hiking shoes
Hiking the canyon can be hard work. A good pair of hiking sandals or boots are the optimal choices. In the very least, wear a good pair of sneakers and socks to prevent sliding and blistering.
Layers of clothing
Colorado is known for its unpredictable weather. Layer your clothing in all seasons. Afternoon rains are frequent. Cold and snowy days often heat up in the sunshine. You never want to be caught out on the trail uncomfortable or unprepared.
From wildlife to rock climbers hanging off the side of giant cliffs, Eldorado Canyon has plenty of sites to see. Binoculars are a fun way to spot some unexpected views of eagles or elk. Use your camera to capture all the unforgettable moments.
Where to stay near Eldorado Canyon State Park
No camping is allowed in the park. Golden Gate Canyon State Park is the closest state park option: From Eldorado Springs, Golden Gate Canyon is located 30 miles south on SH 93, off Golden Gate Canyon Road. Tent camping is offered from May - October. Backcountry camping is available year-round. Two yurts and five cabins are available by reservation only. There are also many hotels and Airbnb options located just a few miles away in Boulder, Louisville and Superior.
Food nearby Eldorado Canyon State Park
Located near the entrance of the park is a convenient store for your last minute snacking needs. You can drive into Boulder for some local eats and their breweries are top notch. Downtown Louisville is a 12 mile drive and well worth the visit. On Main Street you will find treats to fill you after a long day on the trails.
Airports near Eldorado Canyon
You won’t have to go far to find flights for Eldorado Canyon State Park. Denver International Airport is 44 miles away and the best option for entering Colorado for a front range holiday. From the airport, take E-470S towards Boulder and then Highway 36 to Superior. From Superior, follow Marshall Road to the entrance of SH170, which will lead you to the park entrance.