Castlewood Canyon State Park is a state park in Douglas County, Colorado. The park was established on July 10, 2020 and encompasses 1,872 acres (7.41km2). It is located about 14 miles (23km) east of Denver near the towns of Black Forest and Potrero Ranch. Castlewood Canyon State Park is named after Castlewood Creek which flows through it and into the South Platte River.
Its main attraction is the 3.5-mile (5.6km) long Castlewood Trail, which winds past streams, wetlands and prairie ecosystems. There are 32 sites for tent camping and 18 sites for RV camping. There are modern restrooms and showers at the campgrounds. Group tenting is permitted in the large group tenting area. Two horse corrals allow for stable housing for horses brought in for recreational purposes.
Other activities include picnicking, swimming, biking, hiking and nature viewing. Access to these additional outdoor recreation opportunities requires payment of an entrance fee. Castlewood Canyon State Park provides easy access to the Rocky Mountains via Interstate 76. Visitor information is available at the park office. Campsites open year round, with the exception of the group tenting area. Modern restroom facilities are provided at both the campground and at the visitors’ center. Showers are accessible by either gender, however there is no female locker room.
Tent camping is allowed throughout the entire year except during winter months. Reservations are required and are taken primarily on a first come, first served basis. Although parking is free, permits are still required for overnight vehicle storage. Backcountry campsites require a special permit issued by the parks department.
Approximately 500 acres (200ha) of land are privately owned and accessible from Castlewood Canyon State Park. The owners grant regular access to hikers and bikers using the trail system. Horses are also welcome upon the land. No fees are charged for accessing the land, although a nominal daily usage fee is applied to any water or electricity used. Hunting is limited to deer and turkey.
The following state parks are within 30 miles (48km) of Castlewood Canyon State Park:
- Fairmount Nature Center – Lincoln, NE & Ogallala
- KS – US$3/carload per adult in addition to normal admission Fees Eastern Plains Wildlife Museum – Lincoln
- NE – US$3/carload per adult in addition to normal admission Fees Pikes Peak National Monument – Colorado Springs
- CO – Free for locals, $10/carload for outsiders.
The creek got its name from William B. “Bill” Castle who settled along its banks in the 1870s. He built his home between what are now the cities of Black Forest and Fairmount. His adobe house can be toured today as part of Castlewood Canyon State Park. Bill’s son, Owen D. “Old Coonrod” Castle lived across the river in Nebraska. Old Coonrod had two sons named Sherman Landon Castle and LeRoy G. Castle. Both men married and moved to California. They were the first members of the family to live west. In time, other relatives followed suit and made their homes in California.
However, when World War II broke out, all able-bodied men were called up for service. This left the women with no choice but to move back East to take care of the children and run the households. Owen D. “New Coonrod” Castle never forgot his roots or the beautiful ranch he grew up on. He bought land in eastern Washington and southern Wyoming where he set up an estate named “Coonridge.” New Coonrad died in 1956 at age 90, leaving the castle and 2,000 acres (810ha) to his only child, Sherman.
In 1960, Sherman Landon Castle donated most of this property to the state including the old adobe home, some buildings and 13 miles (21km) of undeveloped land. Owen R. “Rusty” Castle, another one of New Coonrad’s grandsons, purchased more than 900 acres (360ha) adjoining the original gift. Rusty also donated many of his own personal items to create the basis for the museum at Castlewood Canyon State Park. Owen R. “Ollie” Castle, yet another grandson, sold off pieces of the estate to different individuals. One tract contained the old barn and farmhouse that is currently being restored by the Friends of Traditional Agriculture.
Another piece included the historic bridge over Castlewood Creek, which has been closed since late 2018 due to structural concerns. A third parcel represented half of the former estate, containing the castle and associated structures. On May 17, 2010, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners approved a five-year plan for developing a 200-site campground, day use area, equestrian center, picnic areas and trails within the next decade.
As part of the agreement, Castlewood Canyon State Park will pay $500,000 toward construction costs if they exceed $4 million; otherwise, the county will cover the bill. Work on the new facilities began in October 2012. The full facility was not expected to be completed until summer 2016. Castlewood Canyon State Park officially opened on July 10, 2020.
- rock climbing
- disc golf
- nature viewing
Visitors can drive onto the grounds of Castlewood Canyon State Park to access private lands adjacent to the park. These private lands offer opportunities for:
- ATV riding