Staunton State Park

Stretching across the south flank of Black Mountain, Staunton is one of the newest and most beautiful of Colorado's State Parks.  Backed by spectacular granite cliffs and knobs, the Park's rich, open forest of pine, fir and aspen is accessed by an excellent network of multi-use trails.  To reach the parking lots for this 3800 acre preserve, follow U.S. 285 southwest from Denver; about 6 miles west of Conifer, turn right (north) on Elk Creek Road and follow signs to the Park entrance; a day use fee is charged.

Today, beneath deep blue skies and amidst the brilliant glow of aspen, my wife and I hiked to the base of Staunton Rocks, enjoying views of the massive cliffs and rock formations within the Park, including Lions Head (9450 feet).  Views also extend far to the south, including the high ridge of the Platte River Mountains, Windy Peak, Devil's Head and Pike's Peak, some 60 miles distant.  Along the way, we were serenaded by mountain chickadees and pygmy nuthatches and scolded by Steller's jays and red squirrels.  Though we hoped to encounter elk or hear their bugling, our hike was a bit late in the morning for that stirring experience; the Park's other mammalian residents include mule deer, yellow-bellied marmots, Colorado chipmunks, coyotes, Abert's squirrels, black bear and the elusive mountain lion.

A popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snow shoeing, Staunton State Park is named for Frances H. Staunton who donated most of the land; her family established a ranch on the property in the early 1900s and an old saw mill site is protected within the Park.  Another highlight at this fabulous preserve is Elk Falls, which drops almost 100 feet into the North Fork of Elk Creek.