· Urban Refuges
Chatfield State Park
Most birders in the Denver area will tell you Chatfield reigns supreme among the metro-area reservoirs. This state park is a contender for the most birds observed at any single location in Colorado. With miles of walking trails, good lakeside access, and abundant facilities, it would be easy to spend an entire day at the park, any time of the year.
Most species of waterfowl and shorebirds that occur in Colorado can be found at Chatfield. The Swim Beach on the western side of the lake, the sandspit/marina areas on the eastern side, and the Lake View parking area on the southern end are the park’s bird-viewing hotspots. Loons and diving ducks are commonly observed near the dam, while the southern end of the reservoir usually has more dabbling ducks. In winter, open water holes can attract high concentrations of birds. Winter is also the best time to look for flocks of gulls. When the water level is low, the Plum Creek Delta and the sandspit near the marina are excellent viewpoints for shorebirds.
The trails along the South Platte River and Plum Creek are shaded by cottonwood trees that provide habitat for a number of breeding species. These areas are among the few places in the state where Least Flycatcher and American Redstart breed. Other interesting species to look for in these riparian areas include Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Indigo Bunting, American Dipper, and Eastern Screech-Owl. The open prairie areas of the park offer opportunities to observe shrikes, Vesper Sparrow, flocks of Horned Lark, and the occasional longspur. A State Parks pass is required for entry.
Attractions: Horseback riding, Balloons and Model Plane airfield, Dog Off-Leash Area
Directions: From Denver: take US 85/Santa Fe Dr south to C-470. Go west on C-470 to Wadsworth Blvd. Take Wadsworth Blvd south to the park entrance.
Dates of Access: Open all year
Hours: 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Ownership: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Admission: State Parks Pass. Additional fee for camping and dog off leash area.
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations. Hunting, fireworks, and model rockets are prohibited.
Lodging: Camping in the park or hotels in nearby Littleton or Highlands Ranch
Handicapped Access: ADA accessible facilities and viewing of the lake
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