Just south of Boulder and tucked into the Front Range of beautiful Colorado, is a place called Eldorado Canyon State Park. I spent an afternoon hiking there the other day with my brother Mark and boyfriend Eric. As we drove into the entrance of the park, the canyon walls rose higher and steeper above us. Rays of the early afternoon sun slid in and out of our view, reminding us that the sooner we embarked on our hike, the more of the sunshine we could enjoy. Starting out on the main road, we followed along the South Boulder Creek. The further we walked, the higher we rose as the gorgeous creek fell away down steep banks below us. It was raging high with water and magically covered in patches of thick, shimmering ice. The sound and sight of it was breathtaking.
Our eyes were not on our feet, because we could not help but be drawn to the towering walls of beautiful rock. They rose in layers on either side of us and the ones further away, on the other side of the river, broke up from the ground slanted in varying directions. It made me think of the plate-tectonics and how mountains form because of the rock pushing up against each other from under the ground. Looking more closely, we spotted pairs of rock climbers. Their precarious locations looked daunting and they were small in our sight because they were so high above us as they made their way along red and brown layers of sheer rock wall.
The Rattlesnake Trail was closed, so we kept it simple and short, hiking along the Fowler Trail. This trail is only .9 miles and degree of difficulty is easy. We obviously chose to cruise that day and didn’t want to be out in the windy cold once the sun went down. From this trail we had great views and especially wonderful vantage points of more rock climbers on the other side of the canyon. We took the Streamside Trail to connect to it, which is the easy dirt-road that starts out from the inner canyon parking area. To park and start from here, you do have to pay at the ranger station an $8 fee per vehicle or $3 for walking in.
My brother is a rock-climber, slack-liner and high-liner, so he has experienced quite a few adventures in Eldorado Canyon enjoying those sports. The park is well-known for its spectacular rock climbing that ranges along the degrees of intermediate to difficult. There are maps on the state park site for these climbing routes and for their hiking trails. Getting there is really easy from Boulder, since it’s only ten to fifteen minutes drive south. From Denver, it’s about twenty to thirty minutes, depending on traffic of course.
This was only my second time to Eldorado Canyon and I really enjoyed being amidst the spectacularly dramatic terrain of the canyon walls, rock formations, and cascading creek. After leaving the canyon, we were inspired to enjoy fresh beers at the Avery Brewing Company in east Boulder. I highly suggest doing the same after any hike in that area or whenever you visit Boulder.
Have you been to this canyon or heard of it? Did you climb or hike there and what trails and routes would you recommend for people to enjoy? I would love to hear about your experience as well. Happy reading and hiking!