This Memorial Day, let the rest of the crowd follow the braking taillights up to the mountains. There’s plenty of fun to be had a mere 13 miles up Parker Road from Stepping Stone. (See, you don’t even have to get on I-25!)
Cherry Creek Park is a beautiful, 4,200-acre getaway that belies its metro Denver location. Trails lined with cottonwoods, pines, and wildflowers — plus the amazing views of snowcapped Rockies — provide highly scenic payoffs for staying close to home. And then, of course, there’s that 880-acre reservoir in the middle, complete with sandy swim beach and marina. Truly a gift for land-locked Denverites. With summer about to officially begin, now is the perfect time to remind yourself of all the terrific things you can do at Cherry Creek during Memorial Day (or any other weekend, come to think of it!).
Let’s start here, because this is something most of us haven’t enjoyed since last summer. If you want to keep things simple and inexpensive, just bring some snacks and lawn chairs and let the kids build sand castles and noodle around in the water. There are no lifeguards on duty, so do keep an eye out. But if you feel like getting out on the water, either BYOB — there are two boat ramps on the east and west sides — or rent your preferred vessel at the Cherry Creek Marina (303-779-6144). They can set you up with sailboats, pontoons, canoes, paddleboats, kayaks, and jet skis. Lessons are available too.
Cherry Creek Reservoir is a popular spot for close-to-home quality fishing from shore or a boat. Stocked each year, the reservoir typically offers wiper, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and walleye for the catching. Minimum size for bass is 15” and for walleyes is 18”, which means that these guys can live to become trophy size. Be sure to stay 100 feet or more away from the dam, where fishing is prohibited. Bait and fishing boats are also available at the marina. A fishing license is required for anyone ages 16 and older.
Individual picnic tables, many with shade and grills, are located throughout the park and are available on a first come, first served basis. Also, six group picnic areas can accommodate up to 250 people (and some are near volleyball courts), but these need to be reserved. They go fast, so don’t delay. Learn more here and call the Park Office for reservations at 303-690-1166 X6561.
Hiking, Biking, Birding, & Horseback Riding
Twelve miles of trails — including bike lanes — take you through rolling terrain that includes grasslands, cottonwood trees, and marshes. Along the way, you may see mule deer, prairie dogs, great horned owls, bald eagles, and red-tailed hawks as well as waterfowl and shorebirds. This trail map shows how the trails connect to surrounding systems like the Cherry Creek Trail. Another fine way to enjoy the scenery and wildlife is on the back of a horse. Twelve Mile Stables at Cherry Creek offers horse rentals, hay rides, day camps, riding lessons, and horse boarding. Call 1-888-61-HORSES or visit http://horserentalsdenver.com.
Sometimes the thought of packing up for a trip to the wilderness can feel overwhelming. So there’s a definite appeal to being only 20 minutes from home — and even closer to the nearest King Soopers for any forgotten provisions. Available year-round, Cherry Creek offers 135 newly renovated campsites, including tent sites and those with full hook-ups for your RV. Three group campsites offer space for 36-72 people; all have picnic tables, grills, firepits, and hook-ups. For campground reservations, call 303-470-1144 or visit www.parks.state.co.us.
If all that isn’t enough to keep you busy, there’s also model airplane flying at the airfield on the west side of the park. A shooting range (guns and archery) in the southwest section. And ongoing educational programs that you can learn about by calling 303-690-1166 X6566.