Staunton State Park
Location: Park County, west of Conifer
Staunton State Park, Colorado’s 43rd and newest state park, is a fertile ground for viewing wildlife, and its scenery will attract hikers, mountain bikers and rock climbers. It is located 36 miles southwest of Denver and was dedicated May 17, 2013.
The park has been under consideration since the 1960s, when Frances Hornbrook Staunton drew up a will leaving her property to the state. Staunton, who died in 1989, wanted her parents’ 1,700-acre ranch to become “a natural wilderness-type park,” typical of the state’s mountains, forests and meadows. Staunton’s parents were doctors from West Virginia who homesteaded the ranch around the turn of the 20th century. The state has acquired additional property to create the park of almost 4,000 acres, receiving more than $10 million in funding from Great Outdoors Colorado, a program for land preservation funded by state lottery proceeds. Another parcel acquired by the state belonged to Mary Coyle Chase, a Denver writer who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for her play “Harvey.”
Elk Falls Overlook in the park offers stunning views of a 100-foot waterfall and other mountain vistas. Rock formations include Lions Head, Chimney Rock, Cathedral Rocks and Staunton Rocks. Terrain ranges from meadows at 8,100 feet to granite cliffs more than 10,000 feet high. Trails accommodate hikers, bicycles and horses. Park rangers have spotted mountain lions, bears, elk, deer, moose, bobcats, and snowshoe hares.
No camping is permitted and the park is open for day use only. Other activities include birding, picnicking and fishing. No boats or watercraft are permitted, nor is hunting or swimming.