Sunday, May 26, 2013

Castlewood Canyon State Park

Last week, we decided to explore south of Denver for possible future home sites...especially the area around Elizabeth, Colorado.

Elizabeth is southeast of Denver and east of Castle Rock. It is a much longer commute than Mr. LH would like to have, but in order for us to get more than a tenth of an acre of land with a house, we would need to move farther from town and his commute would have to increase.

We decided to take the back roads to Elizabeth so we could view the northern part of the county. We weren't far outside of Aurora before we were passing through treeless rolling hills, huge swaths of acreage, miles of fencing and horses in pastures. It was beautiful! And all along, we had a view of the Rocky Mountains rising up in the west.

Once we reached the town of Elizabeth, we turned West on 86 and headed toward Franktown and Castle Rock then turned south on 83 in Franktown.

The scenery was still gorgeous and we were taking it all in when we crossed a bridge spanning a canyon. There was a storm moving in so we made plans to come back the following weekend.

As it turns out, the canyon was part of Castlewood Canyon State Park.

The view from the east entrance to the park
Castlewood Canyon State Park is a day park (no overnight camping allowed) and is a short drive from Denver. It features multiple hiking trails, rock climbing opportunities and interesting geological formations.

Elevations range from 6,200 to 6,600 feet. Some of the paths are very level, paved and easy to navigate.

Others can be a little more difficult because of steep terrain and loose rocks, dirt or gravel.

The "Pickles" spotted this lone paw print in the dried mud.

The Cherry Creek flows along the canyon floor.

The "Pickles" couldn't resist playing in the water for a bit.

We interrupted a Bull snake sunning on a rock.

Of course, Mr. LH had to go looking for it...

We kept going off the paved path so The Boy took it upon himself to point out where we SHOULDN'T step (ouch!).

Of course, don't let children run wild. There are no guardrails in most of the areas.

Checking out the caprock formations
Seeing if there are any tadpoles in the pool
The bridge we crossed when we first saw the canyon
There are two sections to the park. There is the west side with it's own entrance. On that side are remnants of an old homstead and the ruins of Castlewood Dam that burst in 1933 sending a 15 foot high wave of water into Denver.

We stayed on the east side.  I would have liked to have visited the homestead and the ruins but that will have to wait for another trip. Visit the Colorado State Parks website for directions to Castlewood Canyon State Park, hours and a downloadable park map.

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