Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Our trek continued deeper into Golden Gate Canyon State Park.  This park is located about 16 miles northwest of the town of Golden and less than an hours drive from downtown Denver, yet feels miles and miles away from anything.Golden Gate Canyon State Park

While driving Mountain Base Road, we had stopped at several of the picnic – trailhead pull-outs to take in our surroundings.  Hubby was loving the pine scented air while I was ogling the mountain wildflowers.

Colorado State Parks
95% of the park has paved roads. This is the road to Aspen Meadow Campground

Next stop; the campgrounds.  We drove through the Reverend’s Ridge Campground checking out the sites.  Since it’s located in a pine forest there aren’t any mountain views from the campsites, but the large paved sites make up for any lack of view.  This campground is laid out beautifully offering sites with electric geared toward RV’s and none electric sites exclusive to tents.  The tent sites have nice level pads.

Colorado State Parks
A drive thru site in loop E

Camping fees are $22.00 a night with electric and $18.00 a night for non-electric.  Since this is a Colorado State Park there’s an additional vehicle fee; either $7.00 a day or the yearly pass for $70.00.  Al and I always get the yearly pass for both trucks, which allows us unlimited access to all Colorado State Parks.  The pass is vehicle specific and is applied to the windshield.  The second vehicle is charged a reduced rate and there’s a discount for those of a certain age.  Yep, hubby qualifies for the ‘Aspen Leaf’ which also saves us $2.00 a night on camping fees.  Ah, an upside to being old… LOL.  Shhh, don’t tell him I said that 😉

Colorado State Parks
another site in loop E

I’d say the RV sites are long enough for any size RV.  My only concern would be the width in regards to all the trees and RV slides, mostly those RV’s with opposing slides. But with a little strategic maneuvering, I’m sure she’ll fit.

That said, this is a campground Al and I would really enjoy staying at, but be warned….. there is no cell phone or internet coverage…. nada, zilch, nil.  Consider this time to walk away from the ‘devices’ and enjoy all this gorgeous scenery.Golden Gate

This little girl proudly carries a caught fish over to her dad
This little girl proudly carries a caught fish over to her dad

There’s nearly 35 miles of hiking trails within the State Park.  Some of the trails are for hikers only and others are multiple use: hiking, biking, horseback riding.  Fishing is allowed in any stream or pond within the park, but does require a Colorado fishing license.

I was particularly interested in the park’s brochure: Discovering Historic Places.  This part of Colorado is rich in mining history dating back to the 1800’s.  The Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers hiking trails to the remains of some former homesteads.

On our hike to Dude's Fishing Hole we pass the remains of The Belcher Barn on the left
Al and I opt for a quick hike to Dude’s Fishing Hole and along the way we pass the remains of The Belcher Barn.  This hay barn was built in the 1890’s.

Another trail we hope to hike would take us past The Bootlegger’s Cabin. There are no records of when the cabin was built or by whom.  The fact that barrel hoops and coiled copper tubing were found nearby leads one to believe that this was probably a shelter for bootleggers making illegal whiskey during the 1920’s.Bootlegger

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is definitely a great place to camp with a lot to see and do not only within the park but within an hours drive in any direction from the park.  Downtown Denver is easily accessed via vehicle or for those anti city drivers, the Light Rail can be taken from the station in Golden.  Golden offers its own array of fun stuff which I’ve blogged about in the past. You can read about it here and here.

The town of Boulder isn’t far from Golden Gate Canyon State Park via Highway 72. Rocky Mountain National Park is a scenic one hour plus drive to the north and Mt. Evans is a one hour drive to the south.

Fishing in Colorado
Dude’s Fishing Hole

Just remember, this is Colorado and that means the roads go up, down, and sideways….. miles are irrelevant, it’s all about how much time it takes to get from point A to point B and whether one needs Dramamine or has a fear of heights.

Welcome to my little slice of paradise!Colorado State Parks
Coleman Deck Chair With Table

From plan A to plan B

We were out the door by 6:30 Saturday morning.  I had packed us a picnic lunch, threw sweatshirts in the backseat of the little truck, and had our route all planned out.  We stopped for gas to top off the tank.  I always like starting out with a full tank of gas before embarking into virgin territory especially when heading into the mountains.

The drive into the mountains via Interstate 70 west out of Denver went smoothly. Although, there did appear to be more traffic than one might expect at this time of the morning.Mt. Evans

The day’s destination was Mt. Evans.  My daughter and I visited Mt. Evans last year and I was eager to share the scenery with hubby.  As soon as we exited the interstate in the town of Idaho Springs, I knew something was up; there were way too many pedestrians and cyclists for this time of the morning.

Mt. EvansA mere mile north on Highway 103 and my fears were confirmed…..  a cycling event  and therefore the highest paved road in North America was closed for the event.  Bummer!  Looks like we won’t be taking highway 5 to the top of Mt. Evans 😦

However, I’ll admit I wasn’t too terribly disappointed as the weather didn’t appear very agreeable; gloomy skies and cold temps with storms threatening.  We definitely would’ve needed those sweatshirts especially at the top of Mt. Evans; 14,265 feet in elevation.

That’s the thing about Colorado, if you don’t like the weather in one spot you can drive a mere thirty minutes in another direction and go from 80 degrees Fahrenheit to a cool 50 degrees and Saturday mornings temps near Mt. Evans were closer to that 50 number than the 80…. burrrr.  It’s been hovering in the 90’s all week in Denver so this felt very chilly to me and my bare legs.Mt. Evans

Oh well, since plan A didn’t work out it’s onto plan B.  I had never driven Highway 103 from Echo Lake to the town of Evergreen; an alternate route for picking up Highway 5 up to Mt. Evans. The last thing we wanted to do was drive back the way we came knowing the event congestion would just increase with every minute.

Colorado State ParksWe were so glad we ventured via this route.  The scenery was beautiful and the road was in excellent condition.

We even detected some possible boondocking locations.  We’ll need to check with the Arapahoe National Forest for the rules and any other pertinent information.  We know we’ll attempt a return visit to Mt. Evans sometime in the next few weeks and this is the route we’ll take….  I-70 to 74 to 103/66 to 5

It was only 8:00 in the morning with our plans for the day foiled. I just couldn’t bring myself to return home.  I had to think of a place for a picnic……..

Last week, I received a question from a blog follower wanting to know if I’ve ever been to Golden Gate Canyon State Park.  I knew exactly where this park was located.  We’ve spent some time over the past two summers camped around Denver and I had every intention of previously checking out this State Park, but never got around to it.  Her inquiry was just the nudge I needed to explore, as my interest was equally piqued.  The next day, with camera in hand, I explored Golden Gate Canyon State Park and immediately knew I needed to show this place to hubby.Golden Gate Canyon State Park

So here we were, driving back towards Denver on a Saturday morning after our failed attempt to visit Mt. Evans with an unopened picnic basket when Golden Gate Canyon State Park pops into my mind.  I wanted hubby to see this park anyway, thus this was the perfect opportunity.Colorado State Parks

From the town of Golden we headed north on highway 93 then turned west on 46.  We meandered along this 2 lane curvy road at about 30 mph dodging weekend cyclists here and there (Coloradans love their outdoor activities – share the road!).  After about sixteen miles, we turned onto a small road heading toward the campgrounds.  Mountain Base Road has a 19% grade and some switchbacks.  Therefore, RV’s of any kind aren’t allowed and need to stay on highway 46 and continue to 119 to access the Reverend’s Ridge Campground.Golden Gate Canyon State Park

As we slowly made our way deeper into the state park, we stopped at several trailheads to take notes for future hikes.  The road was lined with wildflowers which had me wanting to savor the moment.  Al was lost in his own thoughts as he was deeply inhaling the scent of the pine forest.Golden Gate Canyon State ParkPine trees, Aspen trees, snow capped mountains in the distance, endless hiking trails, and wildflowers…. yep, the perfect place for a picnic.  But first we wanted to check out the campground.

Would this be a place we’d like to stay?  Stay tuned…..
Coleman Broadband Quad Chair with Cooler, Red