St. Vrain State Park lies beside Interstate 25 about 30 miles north of Denver. The 792-acre park offers convenient recreation with 87 sites in two campgrounds, 15 ponds for fishing and birdwatching, 6.5 miles of roads and trails for biking, seven hiking trails, and spacious scenic views of Longs Peak and the Front Range. The park’s acreage divides into 604 land acres and 236 acres of water. The park, originally called Barbour Ponds, was a bunch of gravel pits owned by the state to mine aggregate for I-25’s construction in the 1960s. Picnicking is popular with shady tables and grills throughout the park. Blue Heron Pond, the largest at 84 acres, offers wakeless boating with electric or gas motors up to 15hp. Hand-launched boats are allowed on all park ponds. The park, bounded by St. Vrain Creek on the north, is a renowned birding area for waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors.
State Park Maps
- The park has 87 campsites in two campgrounds located by seven ponds. The campgrounds are busy from March to October so reservations are recommended. Call 303-470-1144 or 1-800-678-CAMP or go online at reserveamerica.com for reservations. The area has a camper services building with flush restrooms, coin-operated showers, a laundry, and a meeting room. Shaded picnic tables, grills, water taps, and electrical sites are additionally available for use.
- The park’s 15 ponds, all named for bird species, offer a variety of fishing opportunities for different species in different ponds. Excellent trout fishing is found in the colder months, while the ponds are good warm water fisheries during summer. Anglers catch bluegill, sunfish, bass, crappie, perch, saugeye, northern pike, and channel catfish. It’s a great spot for kids and handicapped fishermen, with three handicap-accessible piers.
- Despite being next to busy I-25, St. Vrain is a spectacular bird watching site. Blue Heron Pond boasts the largest heron rookery in Colorado, while the park is also the only known nesting area for great egrets in the state. Birders hike the trails around the ponds, looking for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds. The park is a wintering area for bald eagles. Spring is the best time to bring binoculars and a field guide to spot birds.
- Take a hike on the park’s seven trails—Blue Heron Pond, Pelican Pond, Bald Eagle Pond, Muskrat Run, Coot Pond, Pintail Pond, and Red Tail Pond trails. All are level and easily accessed from the campground. Bring binoculars to look for birds; a fishing pole to toss a line; or a picnic lunch to relax in a cottonwood’s shade.
Recommended season(s): Year-round.
—Stewart M. Green