Things to do in Denver

Birding Chatfield State Park

On the southwestern edge of metro Denver, Chatfield State Park graces the rolling prairie foothills of the Front Range. The park features a diverse array of habitat—a 1,500-acre reservoir, ponds, wetlands, and the confluence of the South Platte River and Plum Creek—and birdwatchers here have recorded over 305 species.

One of the highlights at Chatfield is the Great Blue Herons that nest high in the trees between March and September. These giants—four-and-a-half feet tall with a six-foot wingspan—are in the same family as cranes and storks. Their angular bodies and raucous squawks recall prehistoric pterodactyls in flight. With about 80 breeding pairs at the rookery, a visit can be like stepping into Jurassic Park.

After birdwatching at Chatfield, there are a number of other activities available. Hiking, horseback riding, and biking are all popular along the miles of trails. Boating and fishing are possible out on the reservoir. And when the winds are right, you'll witness hot air balloons launching from the park. What I love to do is walk out into the rolling grasslands, preferably near a hillside of white and purple prairie clover, sit quietly, and watch dozens of spry prairie dogs stand at attention in their numerous towns.

To reach Chatfield State Park, go south on Wadsworth Blvd. to Colorado Hwy. 121 South, then east to the Deer Creek entrance station. Fees are $6 per day or $50 annually.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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