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.
For 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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