Located just south of Littleton, about 45 minutes south of Denver, Chatfield State Park is a 5,800-acre nature preserve and recreation area situated around the Chatfield Reservoir. Before the 1960s, there was no reservoir, and the South Platte River flowed freely through the wide valley. But after several disastrous flooding incidents, the Chatfield Dam was constructed on the river to prevent further damage to local homes and farms. The land around the new reservoir was developed into a recreation area, and the state park was opened to the public in 1975. The dam and park are named for Isaac W. Chatfield, who served as a Lieutenant of the Union in the Civil War. After the war, he migrated west and farmed this land along the Platte until the late 1800s. With its proximity to the wider Denver metro area and suburbs, Chatfield State Park is the place to go to get outdoors and beat the summer heat.
Campers at Chatfield State Park have access to nearly 200 tent and RV campsites in four loops. The majority of sites are equipped with full hookups, with the rest having electrical hookups. Parking pads are both back-in and pull-through, and can accommodate vehicles/trailers up to 45 feet. Some sites are ADA accessible. All campsites have picnic tables, cooking grills and tent pads, and have access to drinking water, flush toilets, hot showers, and laundry facilities; a dump station is located near the campground entrance. There is also a group camp area with 10 sites that can accommodate up to 36 people each. Most sites are open and grassy, with minimal shade; all are within a short walking distance to the reservoir. The campground is open year-round, but with limited access and services during the winter season. Individual campsites are $21–$30/night; group camps are $132–$144/night.
However you like to play outside, it’s likely possible at Chatfield State Park. The park offers several picnic areas, a kids’ playground and an off-leash area for doggies to run free. (Dogs must remain leashed in all other areas of the park.) There are 26 miles of multi-use trails available for hikers, bikers and horseback riders, as well as paved, barrier-free paths. Bird and wildlife watching can be enjoyed throughout the park, and in the Audubon area along the South Platte River. Park residents include deer, elk, foxes, prairie dogs, songbirds, eagles, owls, snakes and salamanders. For water fun, there’s swimming, paddling, water-skiing, and fishing on the reservoir. Boaters have access to two launch ramps, and anglers can fish on the lake or from the fishing piers for walleye, rainbow trout, bass, perch and sunfish. During the winter season, trails are open for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and ice fishing is a popular pastime.
When I was asked to join the ranger team for Questival I was very excited, perhaps so excited that I was the first to arrive at the Chatfield State Park. Pulling in ahead of schedule did however have its advantages as I was able to scout the location a bit before meeting my fellow rangers. It was May and the weather was unpredictable, with temps dropping into the 30s upon my arrival and slight snow sprinkling off and on. I had no idea what to expect so I took my time and explored a bit.
Chatfield State Park has several camping loops, all of which are one way entrance, something to note but not a deal breaker if you turn in going the incorrect direction. I found our loop and drove for a bit looking for our exact site which was very close to the end of the loop. This had a bit of an advantage as I was able to see that there were several restrooms sprinkled throughout camp as well as water spigots.
From the C loop there was also access to a parking area which you could walk a very short distance from and be on a beach right next to the lake. At this access point is an area for campers to discard of their trash in large dumpsters.
Each of the campsites had large pull through parking which we determined was large enough for 4 cars, none of us have larger vehicles. The electrical post was directly beside the pull through parking and offered great connection options for those needing this service. Additionally, the campsite had a picnic table and fire ring, probably the cleanest fire ring I have ever seen at a site, these were both placed on concrete as well.
For tent campers the sites are perfect. They have plenty of soft grassy space and allow 2 tents per site in this loop. When everyone arrived a bit later we had 2 tents and a roof nest set up in the space with plenty of space to spare.
The location we were in had easy access to all amenities including a playground, a water spigot, heated showers and restrooms and a laundry. We also had some really great neighbors which were very cool considering we were there on a mission and might have been a little more loud than usual.
This location would be perfect for large RVs or tents alike. The size of the sites are very large in comparison to many other state parks and this allows not only movement in your own site but also a bit more privacy from your neighbors as there is plenty of distance.
I noticed while there, several bunnies and squirrels and for some reason some geese were very interested in our camp early on.
- Book this campground in advance, spaces fill up very quickly. Even early in the season we found that there were very limited sites available on the weekend.
- Check for construction. When we traveled here for Questival we found that one of the entrances did not lead you to the campgrounds currently because of construction. Call in advance or check the website to find out which entry would be the best to enter.
I am a HUGE fan of Mountain House, but didn't really know what to expect with the new Fusilli. My experiences with the pasta dishes have been mixed, in large part I think due to operator error…lol
I was excited to be able to check out the newest of the flavors as a part of The Dyrt Rangers for this adventure and be able to share with 3 other rangers who I knew would also not hold back on their thoughts.
It was a chilly night, night one of Questival, and we had finally made it back to our campsite to complete a lot of tasks on out mission list. Already well into the evening we were starving and so it was a good thing that Mountain House only takes about 15 minutes to prepare.
Ranger Hayley took the chef hat and began to boil our water while we worked at the campsite. We opened the packaging and took a good sniff before adding the water and even dry it smelled very promising. When water was added the scent of the package began to mimic that of a good Italian restaurant. Before we knew it time had passed and it was time to dig in for a first taste.
We prepared 2 packages for 4 people and added a small side salad just to make sure we had plenty of food. Realistically we could have all been satisfied with the Fusilli but the salad was a nice touch for making it really special at the campfire.
The flavor of the pasta was amazing. It was texturally cooked to perfection, the robust flavor of the sauce was so tasty and the spices used really brought the dish to another level. Overall I was very impressed and I think that the rest of the crew was as well.
- When traveling with a larger group think about packing a side such as a salad or tortillas to stretch meals. The pasta option is great for strenuous days on the trails because of the carbs, but if you are super hungry rather than making a second meal add sides.
- Bring a longer spoon, spork or tool the packages are pretty deep so if you have something a bit longer it is much easier to stir contents for more even hydration.
This is a really big campground near Denver that is a fun excursion spot for city dwellers looking for a weekend camping trip not far from home. It’s also got boat loads of reservoir lake access to load up your boat for some water sports or fishing trips. There’s even a small beach to help you catch some rays and stay cool. The place is so large that it has a welcome center-type building that has info on more of the activities to be found around the area and in the campgrounds. There’s many bathrooms and showers, and all the ones I used were clean. There’s also some bathrooms that have laundry facilities. Quarter operated laundry and showers. I also notice ADA access sites and boat ramps. I stayed at a campsite with a group of 3 others at a tent site. We had a nice clean fire pit and plenty of space to spread out our tents. The plots are well spaced and although we were next to another group, neither felt like we were too close to each other. Don’t expect to gather much firewood so bring your own, but there’s pine needles around for kindling. I also remember seeing a variety of different birds and some bunnies, and when I awoke there were some dusty footprints on my car hood, so something was looking for scraps. There’s plenty of trash bins around, so it’s easy to leave no trace here. On a clear night, I imagine the star gazing would be pretty decent, and it’s great having some mountains and a lake as your background. Be aware you’re in a state park and there’s some fees for parking/day without the state pass, so bring petty cash.
As part of the Dyrt Ranger program I am given camping gear to test from time to time, and during the Denver-based Cotopaxi Questival 24 hr scavenger hunt race, I was trying out Liquid I.V.’s multipack or drink mixes that are aimed to help you reenergize and replenish lost nutrients after bouts of high activity.
Video review below
These drink mixes were such an X factor for me and I have switched to these as my go-to hydration solution over tabs and other powders. These flavors taste great, dissolve quickly in water, and most importantly work! When I was racing around with my team of Dyrt Rangers against the clock, I had to remind myself to keep snacking and drinking fluids to keep my energy up. I was driving the team around too, so I had every reason to be alert. I’d just rip open a tube of these things and add it to my water, shake up the bottle and wait a few seconds, and then start chugging the stuff down. It’s not like there’s this instant change like you are suddenly transformed into The Hulk, bursting with energy or anything like that, but you’re enjoying the taste and getting the right balance of electrolytes and sugar(and good sugars) to get you back to feeling better and rehydrated. I’m not an expert on the science part of their formula, but I can tell you it’s nice to have found an energy drink powder that’s got better ingredients, works effectively, and tastes great. They included one sampler in the mix pack that is their new lavender formula that is supposed to have the opposite effect: helping you sleep or wind down. I loved the flavor of that one too.
Chatfield is such a great park; I’ve spent so much time biking, kayaking, paddleboarding, spending time with family; picnics areas are even great to have lunch. The dog park is by far the best. Off leash- so much room; well taken care of and big lake for the dogs to swim. And it’s close to Denver - so we go here weekly!
Nice sites overlooking the lake. Easy walk down to the beaches. Sites are spaced well and the dump site at each is a nice addition.
I’ll be the first to admit, this isn’t the best advice for fellow tent-campers, but if you have a trailer, RV, or friends with one, this can be a great place to go relatively near the curse that is Denver. Hard to find a place with decent shade, especially if you have dogs, but the lake makes up for most of that. If you go down the shore in the right place, you can set up a good day-site on the beach, and a kayak or SUP makes for some good fun. Highly policed regarding dogs, yet quite relaxed for day-trippers bringing all their grill n fiesta gear, so that can be good or bad, depending on your plans. Love the lake, but overall, a bit busy and family-crazy campgrounds in my opinion.
We were a team of 4 Dyrt Rangers in Denver for Questival! Chatfield Sate Park was our home away from home for the adventure! I stayed one night on Friday, May 10th in Loop C, Site 140.
I was the one in group who had a late arrival. Therefore I didn't get the full opportunity to export all Chatfield has to offer. My impression during my short time spent here is that it is a wonderful place and definitely a place I would like to return.
I got lost trying to map my way here. Apple maps took me to a Park Office on the east side of the lake. I drove to the west side based off the directions provided by the gentleman in the parking lot, At the fee gate the very nice park attendant provided me with printed instructions on how to navigate to the East side where the campground is. Due to road construction, this appears to be a pretty common occurrence and they were so helpful in getting me to the rest of my group.
The campground area is very large, there are 4 different loops for camping. We were in Loop C Site 140. This site had room for a medium to large pull through camper. Power was available. There was plenty of space for tents to be pitched on the grass. The site included a very nice picnic table and a fire pit with grill. There were restroom right near this cam site but were closed until Memorial day weekend. The shower facilities were not far and were VERY clean! Take note, they do not even provide hand soap in the shower facility. Bring your own and help keep the space clean for everyone. They also had coin laundry available in the shower facility that was very clean.
I did get to visit the lake for a few of our Questival challenges! It is a very pretty lake with clean shorelines. There were folks out on boats fishing and some fishing from shore. Everyone I encountered seem to be enjoying the state Park!
Midland X-TALKER T71VPP Two-Way radio Value Bundle https://midlandusa.com/product/x-talker-t71vpp-two-way-radio-bundle/ As a Ranger for the Dyrt I get camping gear to demo on occasion. During Questival I reviewed the Midland X-TALKER T71VPP Two-Way radio Value Bundle. This bundle came with two radios, rechargeable batteries, a charging platform, belt clips, and ear phones for hands free talking! The bundle price was $79.99. It like getting the headphones for free!
My group of Dyrt Ranger Questivalers used these radios to keep dibs on each other around the campground and while out on our adventure race in the city. Communication is very clear and the devices are simple to use! The headsets are quite comfortable and I really look forward to putting these to more use! This was a perfect trial to get me familiar with the radios and their functions. We never got very far apart from each other so i can't attest to the range, but they were clear inside a museum, all around the campground, and on the streets of Denver. We were never more than a city block apart.
I am very excited to use there on my next climbing adventure. The headphones will be great where you need your hands on the rope or rock. Often when climbing trad you are out of sight of your partner, and if it is windy, often you can not hear each others commands. This will solve that issue!
Stayed here May 19 - May 24. With it being fairly early in the season, the campground was pretty quiet. We stayed in the outer loop of the C Loop. Our site was on the western side of the loop, which gave us a great view of the mountains and lake. It was also very close to the walking trails which our two dogs loved.
Camping sites were very level and easy for us to pull our camper into. Electrical hookups had both 30 and 50 amps available. The sites were somewhat close together but didn’t feel like you were right on top of your neighbors. We saw a lot of different birds and actually had some deer wander within about 100 feet of our site on a couple occasions.
The campground and park were close to eating/shopping areas if you needed to get anything. Since we were with our dogs we found a dog friendly place - Living The Dream Brewery. I highly recommend!!
Construction in the parts of the park didn’t allow for access between the east and west sides of the park, which made it kind of a pain to get from one side to the other.
Overall a very clean, nice place to camp!
If you are looking for a great way to get away from the city but aren't quite able to make it to the mountains…this is the spot for you! Fishing, biking, hiking, and even a dog park! We came to town for Cotopaxi's Questival and we were not disappointed in this site as our home base! It was close enough to everything we needed but wasn't overwhelming with generators or kids.
Notice: As of today, the Western and Eastern portions of the park are not connected. The bridge connecting the road is out so you need to go into the Western side in order to reach the campground.
When we arrived, the kiosk was closed but there was ample lighting at the self pay station. You will need to pay the $9 day fee in addition to the camping fee. From the pay station, the signs direct you easily to the loops. There are 4 general loops and one group camping loop. We were in loop C. When we got there on Thursday night, it was a bit chilly so we were basically the only people out there tent camping. There were a few RV's already in the loop but the majority of the sites filled up Saturday.
Chatfield is popular for fishing and boating. So many people come out for the weekend so they can get up early with the fish.
In each loop there is a few bathroom options but our closest one was closed until Memorial Day. Thankfully, the large bathroom and shower house was close to our site. The bathrooms were in excellent condition. There are hot showers (that take quarters), running water, and even a laundry room. The shower house itself was heated, which was appreciated in the middle of the 30 degree night.
I'm sure during the Summer it is way busier, but we didn't have to wait in line once for either the showers or the toilet.
Our site had some great boundaries created by trees and it was easily fitting our two tents. The site parking spot could hold all 4 of our cars, but we only left 2 there since that is the limit.
The only critters we saw around were Magpies. They were "worming" their way through the grounds and had breakfast with us each morning.
As a ranger, we get the opportunity to test out gear that is either brand new to the company or something that is going to change the way you camp! And I was lucky enough to be able to test out the Primus Omnifuel Backpacking Stove. https://primus.us/
After using it for 3 days I feel in love with it! Not only is it super easy to use but it can be used with basically any fuel source!
Here are some of the awesome facts about this stove:
1. It comes in a super sturdy pouch that has a zipper pocket on the outside to hold your tools and lighter! The pouch also has instructions for how to use the stove printed on the inside of the bag!
2. It is incredibly simple to put together and use! The pieces are self explanatory in terms of connection pieces, but in case you get confused, all the connectors are different sizes so there is no way to connect it together the wrong way!
3. It burns even. With some stoves it takes multiple pumping times or making sure all the connectors are turned on just right in order for it to work, but for this stove, it's a smooth start and end to the cooking.
4. It packs down small. It's nice that you can contain in in a side pocket or smaller pocket in your pack. it's not clunky.
For additional information on how to use the stove, see the instructional video I posted along with the review!
This is a pretty popular campsite and I can see why! It’s right outside of Denver and can easily be a quick night away or a weekend of fun. Sites filled up quick when we decided to go around the end of July. We didn’t get a personal campsite but got on the waiting list. When we arrived back to check to see about availability there were other campers waiting as well. One of the campers suggested we all go in on a group site and we got enough people to agree. Everyone was very friendly and we met all kinds of families. I’d definitely recommend trying a group site if a personal one isn’t available. There was plenty to do during the day. We fished, kayaked and walked around the park. There were plenty of people on bikes as well. We also noticed lots of SUPS out on the water as well. There is a dock for boats and even an area for dogs off leash. The campsite had some construction going on when we went but everything was well kept and clean. We will definitely come back to this campsite soon!
Pretty standard place. Nothing fantastic one way or another.