Located near Centura Health in Avon right off of I-70. An innovative natural science learning campus for residents and visitors of the Eagle Valley. Free and open to the public.

318 Walking Mountains Lane, Avon, CO 81620

Located at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola on Vail Mountain out of Lionshead Village, Vail. All visitors must have a pass to ride the gondola. Free and open to the public with valid gondola pass.
Nestled along Gore Creek near the Betty Ford Alpine Garden and Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail Village.
601 Vail Valley Drive, Vail, CO 81657

Curious Nature

Colorado State Parks to Visit (that aren't Sylvan Lake)

Posted by Walking Mountains Science Center on Aug 20, 2018 3:44:05 AM
Walking Mountains Science Center

Sylvan-Lake-300x300This summer Colorado Parks and Wildlife is undertaking a huge renovation at Sylvan Lake State Park. They are draining the reservoir and replacing an aging dam. While construction continues, most attractions within the park are closed, including the reservoir and campgrounds.








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Today I want to help you find another state park with amazing views and outdoor activities located near Vail. Be mindful of fire bans for the county, and check the web page for the state park before you go. Each state park has a daily entrance fee, ranging from $3 to $9 per vehicle. These can be purchased with cash or check at self-service stations, or by credit card at the park’s visitor center.

Colorado State Parks Under 2 Hours Away From Vail:

Harvey-Gap-State-ParkHarvey Gap State Park- This park features expansive views and a lake with excellent fishing. Swimming, boating, and picnics are allowed, while camping and pets are not. This natural preserve is dedicated to maintaining its charm for the next generation, and will leave you wanting more.







Golden Gate Canyon State ParkGolden Gate Canyon State Park- Golden Gate Canyon State Park is only an hour and forty minutes away, near Denver. This park boasts expansive hiking and biking trails with sweeping views of Mt. Tom. Check out the Snowshoe Hare Trail for a difficult, but short, hike to a lake. For something more family friendly, try Upper Mule Deer Trail. This is an easy hike that’s 3.7 miles, with dilapidated cabins and mountain views.






Colorado State Parks Under 3 Hours Away From Vail: 

Eldorado Canyon State ParrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrEldorado Canyon State Park- Eldorado Canyon offers amazing recreation for all levels and interests. With over five hundred technical climbing routes, Eldorado Canyon is a climber’s dream. Hikers and bikers can see incredible canyon views while connecting with Boulder’s trails. Summer weekends are frequently crowded, so get there early or go during the week.





Eleven Mile State ParkEleven Mile State Park- This popular spot is worth the planning ahead for spectacular fishing, canoeing and camping along the lake shoreline. There are also excellent winds for sailing and windsurfing. Eleven Mile State Park also provides great opportunities for backcountry camping, with designated sites that include picnic tables and fire pits.





Spinney Mountain State ParkSpinney Mountain State Park- Less crowded than nearby Eleven Mile State Park, Spinney Mountain has many of the same features. Rated as a Gold Medal trout fishing location, you can’t beat the birding and fishing options available. Look out for waterfowl, waders, and birds of prey as you wander near the reservoir. Be aware though, there are no hiking or biking specific trails.






Mueller State ParkMueller State Park- While no one can promise a wildlife spotting, there is a spot where it’s more likely to happen. Mueller State Park is a watchable wildlife area, providing opportunities for wildlife sightings of elk, bear, mule deer, small mammals, and birds. Dogs (even on leash) are not permitted on hiking trails to increase the chances of wildlife sightings.






Living near the White River National Forest grants Vail residents and visitors world class recreation all year round. The mountains are beautiful, but there is also a grace that comes only from wetland birds or ranging buffalo. Exploring other parts of Colorado can enrich your experience and appreciation for the outdoors if you are willing to be a little adventurous.

What is That? Ask a Naturalist!

Celeste Smith was a summer Naturalist at Walking Mountains Science Center. She is passionate about getting people outside, and spends her free time reading and hiking.

Topics: Curious Nature, Colorado Road Trips

Walking Mountains Science Center

Written by Walking Mountains Science Center

Our mission is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education.