Saturday, May 23, 2015

Denver Part 1: Cherry Creek State Park

We split our time in Denver, CO between two state parks. First, a week at Cherry Creek State Park. This park may have been on the edge of town at one time but now it is fully engulfed in the big city. Fortunately, beyond the dull roar of busy streets surrounding the park, it is a green oasis full of wildlife and trails.

Colorado is still experiencing a very wet spring and that worked in our favor to keep the crowds down during our stay at Cherry Creek. This park gets very busy on nice days but with rain in the forecast every single day we generally had the trails to ourselves.

On our only sunny morning of the week we took a gorgeous 7 mile loop walk around the South end of the park.

The Rockies as seen on a rare clear morning from the Wetlands Trail..
That's the Dam Road slicing across the photo, drive it if you get the chance, the views are incredible!

Deer are abundant throughout the park. 

At the South end of the park we left the paved trail for a walk through prairie.
We didn't see the sun very often during our stay, the vivid colors of the sky,
the prairie and the mountains took our breath away.

Cherry Creek has the largest dog park we've ever encountered.
It's 107 fenced acres of off-leash fun with multiple access points to Cherry Creek.

Trail along the edge of the giant dog park.
Lots of happy dogs spread out across this acreage!

The campground is located in the North East quadrant of the park and has easy access to paved trails near the lake, perfect for the last stroll of the day or a quick walk between storms...

All types of water sports are allowed on Cherry Creek Reservoir, but the cold,
damp weather kept folks off the water during most of our stay.

The reservoir is very high due to the excessive rain lately, making some picnic areas off limits except to the water fowl.

Bullock's Orioles were bright flashes of color everywhere.
Who needs a fishing right from the stairs!

Denver has a bustling downtown, lots of great looking places to eat and drink, it reminded us a lot of San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter...but my photos did not turn out all that great. Instead I'll share with you a great spot for happy hour: Adrift Tiki Bar.

Adrift, the only tiki bar in Denver.

We enjoyed a couple of tasty rum drinks for happy hour.

Replacing our toilet was a good rainy day task. Of course, being a plumbing project, a trip to the local hardware store was included.

It's like working in a closet...

This Dometic 310 replaced our old Thetford toilet.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge sits on the North edge of Denver and is a 15,000 acre story of transformation. Native Americans hunted bison on this land hundreds of years ago. Western settlers began farming and grazing cattle here in the 1800's.

World War II brought immense change when the Government bought out 200 farmers and turned the land into a weapons development site and later a weapons storage site. Nasty weapons, such as sarin and mustard gas. Agricultural chemicals were also developed here by Shell.

Over time all these chemicals needed to be destroyed and were stored based on the accepted practices of the time. Eventually extensive environmental cleanup was necessary to mitigate the effects of inadequate destruction/storage of these hazardous materials. In the 1980's the US government and Shell teamed up to properly handle these materials (based on current knowledge) and the discovery of a bald eagle roost led to the creation of the Wildlife Refuge on the property.

The Refuge has a nine mile driving route plus a few miles of trails through wetlands and short grass prairie. The excellent visitor center provides historic detail on the property.

Bison have been reintroduced on the Refuge.
How about the juxtaposition of bison and big city?

Wetlands dot the Refuge.
There are swallows, by the hundreds, flying over the water.

Prairie dogs cavort on the short grass prairie.

We've been doing a lot of city stuff due to all the rain including doctor appointments, REI sale and various other shopping. Thanks to the doctor in Littleton we learned about the Littleton Museum, a combination of indoor historical exhibits and two living history farms, one from 1860 and another from 1890. This museum would be especially interesting for families but we enjoyed the sites and animals too.

1860 cabin and outhouse.

Blacksmith shop.

The back view is just as pretty... the front view!

Combine the museum with a walk through Ketring park next door and you've spent a nice couple of hours in the city.

Goslings in Ketring park.

Ketring Lake.

Wood duck with young.

Cherry Creek State Park was a convenient place to stay in Denver. There's 4,200 acres of park including trails, water sports on the lake, horseback riding and the enormous dog park. There are 135 camp sites, most with full hook ups and decent separation. Each camp site has a picnic table and fire ring.

We had back in site #29 in the Coyote Loop with lots of space between us and our neighbors and a view into a grassy meadow where we saw deer every day. We had decent Verizon signal during our stay but the campground wifi was pretty slow.

Site 29 was extremely deep, though the unpaved access got kind of muddy since we had so much rain.
Many other camp sites had full paving from the street.

View of our site from the neighbors site...good spacing!

Deer came through our site daily and hung out in the meadow beyond the trees.

Next up: Chatfield State Park, also in Denver.


  1. We'll be spending two weeks in July at Cherry Creek. Those mountains sure are coated with snow. I guess with the extremely wet season that shouldn't be a surprise. Even though the weather was rather unusual for CO I'm glad you managed to make the best of it. The Littleton Museum looks fun.

  2. Hard to believe you were in a town, let alone a city the size of Denver - what a great park! The refuge is wonderful even with it's ugly past. The deer and peacock are delightful, but really the pig steals the show - what a face :-))))) Will definitely have this on our short list for next summer!

  3. The picture of the pig is just too dang cute! I love this park and have made a note to self! We need to get out more...have never been to Denver either! Hopefully news will be great in July and we can plan new and fun places to visit! I would be happy to follow in your shadow Lisa!

    I am a huge fan of the wildlife preserves...and love seeing the birds!

  4. gotta put that park on our list when we revisit Colorado...

  5. Wow! Replacing the toilet is a pretty big do-it-yourself job! Bravo. Cherry Creek looks like a really nice park. And the refuge too. Glad you were able to be out and about between rainstorms. I hope the mud around St. Vrain dries up a bit before you get here. I think you'll enjoy the walks and the birds.

  6. Glad you got at least one very sunny day:) The brilliant blues and greens work so well together and photograph beautifully. Your site certainly was huge and had a long drive. How neat to see the deer each day!

    Love the animals at the museum. That hog is so darn colorful and cute. Love the peacock, front and back:) I've always been a fan of the prairie dog. They are so neat to watch and listen to as they send signals.

    Ahh, the toilet! John's been there a couple times!! Glad it's not me!

    See you in two days!!!!

  7. You guys are certainly making the most of the less than ideal weather. Rainy days are perfect for taking care of tasks that are hard to do when the weather is gorgeous. :-) The Littleton Museum looks like something we would enjoy -- and that pig is so cute!