Barr Lake State Park, on the plains northeast of Denver, is a naturalist’s paradise with a typical prairie riparian ecosystem. The ecosystem forms the boundary between the wide lake and the dry surrounding grasslands with marshes, dense shrubbery, and towering cottonwood trees. The 2,715-acre park is excellent habitat for many animal and bird species, prairie dogs, rabbits, gopher, coyotes, red foxes, and both mule and white-tailed deer. Birdwatchers flock to Barr Lake to spot over 350 of Colorado’s 440 bird species. Take a hike along the southern edge of the 1,037-acre reservoir to see great blue herons, cormorants, pelicans, meadowlarks, western grebes, and soaring turkey vultures.
- Barr Lake is a great place to study nature. Bring binoculars, field guides, and a camera to locate and see its numerous bird and animal species.
- Visit the Barr Lake nature center with its educational displays and programs. Kids love to visit the park and see butterflies and birds, and learn about the delicate web of life.
- A level 8.8-mile multi-use trail around the lake offers several wildlife viewing areas and the park’s wildlife refuge. Ride a bike, hike, or ride a horse on the trail.
- Fishermen visit the lake for rainbow trout, walleye, bluegill, tiger muskie, wiper, small- and large-mouth bass, and channel catfish. Bring a boat with 10-horsepower or less motors to prowl around the calm lake.
- Take a walk on the boardwalk. The Barr Lake boardwalk, a smooth wooden trail, is perfect for birdwatching and photography with gazebos and benches. Kids love it. Ask a park ranger for educational materials.
Recommended season(s): Year-round. May through October are the best months to view wildlife.
—Stewart M. Green