Pet Travel. Made Easy.

Colorado’s Cherry Creek State Park

One of the things I love best about our mobile lifestyle is that it demands very little planning ahead. Traveling without looking too far down the road allows us adjust on the fly – staying longer than we thought we might, or taking off in a previously unanticipated direction. The spontaneity is part of the fun, but it can also be a source disappointment.

Cherry Dogs at Creek State Park - Aurora, Colorado by GoPetFriendly.comFor years – literally years – I’ve hoped to stay at Cherry Creek State Park in Colorado – the problem is, I’m not alone. Over 1.5 million people visit this place annually, so unless you make reservations far, far in advance, you have little chance of stringing together more than a few nights in their campground. Given that we rarely know where we’re headed until we get there, we’ve never scored a campsite here.

But this year was different! We were invited to attend Canine Companion for Independence’s DogFest, so we had a date and plenty of advance notice. I did a little happy dance when I was able to book us for a two-week stay.

Cherry Creek State Park

Located just 14 miles from downtown Denver, this 4,200-acre park is an island of serenity surround by all the activity and energy of a major metropolitan area. With 133 campsites available year-round, and full hookup and basic camping options available, this easily stands out as one of the nicest places we’ve parked the RV in all the time we’ve been traveling. The campsites are spacious and superbly outfitted, with concrete pads, gravel patios, picnic tables, and fire rings.

Camping at Cherry Creek State Park - Aurora, CO

Site 139 – Buffalo Loop

Cherry Creek State Park - Aurora, CO

View from Site 139 Facing East

Cherry Creek State Park - Aurora, CO

View of Buffalo Loop Facing West

The centerpiece of the park is the 850-acre Cherry Creek reservoir, popular for birding, boating, fishing, swimming, and water skiing. The swimming beach is off limits for the dogs, but walk across the dam from the campground to the marina and you can rent stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, and fishing boats. There are also more than 25 miles of dog friendly trails in and around the park, some offering fantastic views of the reservoir.

Cherry Creek State Park - Aurora, CO Cherry Creek State Park - Aurora, CO Cherry Creek State Park - Aurora, CO

For those with a bit more energy to burn, a $2 daily entrance fee gets you access to the park’s 100+ acre off-leash dog area, complete with a walking trail and waste stations.

Cherry Creek State Park Off-leash Dog Area - Aurora, CO Cherry Creek State Park Off-leash Dog Area - Aurora, CO Cherry Creek State Park Off-leash Dog Area - Aurora, CO

And pups looking to spend the day lounging by the lake will find several picnic areas with lake views, grills, and perfectly-spaced trees for hanging hammocks!

Cherry Creek State Park - Aurora, CO Cherry Creek State Park - Aurora, CO

Garden of the Gods

There are a couple of places nearby that would be a shame to miss while you’re in the area. The first is Garden of the Gods, a free city park in Colorado Springs, just an hour south of Cherry Creek.

Garden of the Gods - Colorado Springs, CO

Encompassing 1,350 acres, and pierced by huge red sandstone rock formations, all 15 miles of trails are open to leashed pets. And just when you thought the scenery couldn’t get any better, there’s Pikes Peak in the background! The main loop through the park is paved and easy walking for dogs and people of all skill levels.

Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods

Hiking Red Rocks

Just 40 minutes up the road from Cherry Creek is an awe-inspiring combination of natural beauty and man-made ingenuity. Red Rocks Amphitheater is a concert venue built into the red sandstone outcroppings where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains.

Red Rocks Amphitheater - Denver, CO

Many people come here to exercise on the stadium seating, running the rows, climbing the tiers, or practicing yoga with an incredible view. It’s an interesting spectacle, but with 868 acres to explore, I suggest you have a peek at the stage and then take your pooch and hit the trail!

Red Rocks - Denver, CO Red Rocks - Denver, CO Red Rocks - Denver, CO

Breed Discrimination

Laws that discriminate against particular breeds of dogs equate to race discrimination and are completely unacceptable. There is no evidence that breed specific laws are effective in preventing dog bites, but there is plenty of evidence that they have resulted in the senseless killing of thousands of homeless animals and beloved pets.

Unfortunately, Denver and the city of Aurora, which borders Cherry Creek State Park and is the location of the park’s mailing address, both impose bans against pit bulls and pit bull mixes. However, Cherry Creek State Park itself is unincorporated, and pit bulls are welcome within the state park. All breeds of dogs are also welcome at Garden of the Gods, but Red Rocks falls within the borders of the city of Denver, so anyone traveling with a pit bull should avoid that hike.

You can find out more about our position on breed discrimination, and information for people traveling with a breed that’s discriminated against in our Pet Travel Tips and Resources.

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  • D Wohlwend says:

    I’m planning a trip to Denver. I saw the Cherry Creek off leash park! It looks beautiful. My dog(2) is very playful and is still being trained! She loves playing with other dogs. I’m very nervous because I worry about the possible of another dog attacking her! What happens if that does occur? Is it the risk one takes and it would be my responsibility for the unprovoked attack?

    • Amy at says:

      Hello D! Thanks so much for your note. Cherry Creek is a wonderful dog park and I’m sure you and your pup will enjoy it. As you said, attacks can happen at any dog park. But in my experience, it’s less likely in a large dog park like Cherry Creek. There is so much space for dogs to run and play that those who might not enjoy a rambunctious pup can avoid her. To help avoid an unfortunate situation, do some research on dog body language so that you can interpret the signals other dogs are sending, in case your adolescent pup misses them. And, if she’s still working on a solid recall, take a toy that she LOVES and keep it in your pocket. If you see her getting too far away or approaching a dog that isn’t interested in playing, you can use the toy to get her attention.

      I hope that helps and that you have a wonderful time together. Waggin’ trails!

  • Good to know, Isabel! Thanks for sharing – we’ll check that out the next time we’re in the area.

  • Cherry Creek is a great dog park but if you want to take the dogs swimming, Chatfield State Park’s dog area is so much better.

  • Your dogs are leading charmed lives, Alexandra – how fantastic to live so close to Cherry Creek that you can visit it regularly! And, I’m not surprised that you’ve not had any trouble at that particular off-leash park. Many dog parks are quite small relative to the number of dogs that are there. Cherry Creek is so large that all the dogs have plenty of space. Enjoy!

  • It is our pleasure, Diane! It’s a “ruff” job, but someone has to do it. ;-)

  • Thanks for sharing — gorgeous !

  • We live nearby and love taking the dogs there for walking and playing. Dogs aren’t allowed in the reservoir, it’s true, but in the off-leash dog park there is a wonderful creek with easy access for humans and dogs. Our heeler loves the creek, and it’s a great way to wear him out!I know dog parks have a bad reputation in some circles but we’ve never had any issues.

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