Roxborough State Park – A Pedestrians Paradise
No bikes, No Pets, No large rigs, just serene pedestrian activities!
Where is Roxborough State Park
Situated south and west of Denver, Colorado, Roxborough sits right up against the foothills. You have easy access to this park from C470. From there you’ll head south past Chatfield State Park towards Waterton Canyon. If you didn’t know, Waterton Canyon is the northern terminus of the Colorado Trail! This area is heavily traveled so plan accordingly if you’re going during peak hours (9 AM- 4PM) or during peak travel season (May-September).
Things to Do At Roxborough State Park
This is not one of Colorado’s more activity diverse parks. Pedestrian activities such as hiking, walking, running, snowshoeing and cross country skiing are your only options. The pedestrian activities keep the park quiet and the trails in pristine condition. The trails all start at the visitor center. Also, there is no room for large rigs. I had my Jeep Cherokee with the Jayco 10RK and the gatekeeper was hesitant to let me in. Be sure to visit during of the off season or during non peak hours or the park may be full.
The visitor center was nice. It had the usual displays inside showing the flora and fauna of the area. The history of the famed “hogbacks” and information about how the park came to be. Be sure to stop at the visitor center desk and purchase a Colorado State Parks Passport if you don’t have one already. If you do, now’s a great time to get this stamp!
Once you’ve checked out the visitor center it’s time to pick a trail of your choice. There are several options ranging from easy to difficult. Some of the trails even lead outside the park and into surrounding national forest as well as other open spaces. My trail choice was the Willow Creek Trail! The Willow Creek Trail is a 1.5 mile mostly single track trail that takes you from the visitor center to the lower parking lot. You can then walk back up the road or along the road on pedestrian trails to your car or back to the Visitor Center. I greatly enjoyed this hike! It took about an hour. There wasn’t much for vegetation since it was winter but the scenery is just lovely. I passed 2 ladies and 1 runner but the rest of the trail I had to myself. It proved to be a great opportunity to get inside my own head and do some thinking while enjoying crispy cool air.
What Are Hogbacks and How Did They Get There?
Hogback is a term used to describe the type of geology in the area. The band of hogbacks goes through the whole state and along the Rocky Mountains. I’ve been told these are the remains of the ancestral Rocky Mountains that have eroded away. I’ve also been told the sandstone was part of the ocean floor and when the Rockies started pushing up through the Earth’s crust the floor (then dried into hard sandstone) was pushed vertical. If you’ve heard of Red Rocks Ampitheater or Garden of the Gods you’ll see similar geology. The colors can be spectacular and when it’s covered with snow the contrast is breathtaking. The rocks have a look of the side profile of a hog’s back and that’s how they earned their name.
Camping at Roxborough State Park
You can’t camp inside the park primitive or otherwise and there are no campsites available. If you’re wanting to camp you’ll need to use one of the connector trails and access the backcountry camping outside the park boundaries. The park is open mostly during daylight hours and is accessible on a first come first serve basis.
Roxborough isn’t a park I plan to visit often. I like to participate in more than just pedestrian activities and it limits what I like to do. The hogbacks and scenery are beautiful but I live close to Garden of the Gods which offers a similar experience. If you’re looking for a really nice place for pedestrian activities that isn’t too far off the beaten path, this park is for you! Plenty of space to trail run or hike. The park has 14 miles in it’s boundaries and much more in the surrounding areas. Just be sure to bring a regular sized passenger vehicle and leave your pets and bikes at home!