Castlewood Canyon State Park
This beautiful state park is one of the best places to bird near Denver. It would be easy to spend most of a day birding here, and the best time to visit tends to be in late spring through summer. An extensive trail system runs through the canyon and allows access to a variety of habitats including scrub oak woodlands, montane forest, and grasslands. Canyon Wrens sing and White-throated Swifts fly above as as you walk in the canyon. Trails continue through scrub oak woodlands, where you can spot Ovenbird and Common Poorwill. The montane forest is rich with Stellar’s Jay and Cordillerean Flycatcher and in the grasslands, look for Western Meadowlark and Vesper Sparrow.
Many birds nest and raise their young in the park; a unique dry-land heronry even once occurred in the park, where Great Blue Heron nested. Several raptors may be observed as well, including Swainson’s Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, and several falcon species, such as American Kestrel. Also keep your eye out for Lazuli Bunting, Virginia’s Warbler, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, Plumbeous Vireo, and Bushtit.
Castlewood is home to one of Colorado’s larger Turkey Vulture populations; they are a common sight riding thermal updrafts created as the rocks warm each morning. The park celebrates their return from migration with Welcome Back Turkey Vulture Day each spring. A State Parks pass is required for entry.
Directions: From Denver: take I-25 south to Castle Rock and exit onto Founders Parkway heading east. Take Founders Parkway to Hwy 86 and go east on Hwy 86 for four miles to Franktown. Turn south on Hwy 83 (S. Parker Rd.) and go five miles south to the main park entrance.
Dates of Access: Open all year
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Ownership: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Admission: State Parks Pass
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations. Dogs are required to be on a leash (no longer than six feet) at all times. Additionally, dogs are not allowed on the East Canyon Preservation Trail. Camping and hunting prohibited.
Parking: Paved parking areas
Lodging: Hotels in Castle Rock
Other Wildlife: Mule deer, coyote, cottontail rabbit, porcupine, ground squirrel and red fox are commonly seen. Please note that rattlesnakes are present in the park. Black bear, mountain lion and elk are not residents but occasionally migrate through the area.
Handicapped Access: Canyon View Nature Trail is ADA accessible.
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