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.
I typically rate campgrounds as they fit into 1 of 5 categories. This campground will be rated as a Regional/Public Park — Grounds that are on public lands, and have a cost for entry and/or overnight stay. Ratings for this category are based on: Cost: 5 Allure of the park/lands: 4 Amenities as available (bathrooms, showers, hookups, etc): 5 Layout and privacy of sites: 5
We absolutely loved this park. The campground recently got an update and so the visitor center and layout are new & improved. It’s a huge park with 4 separate camping areas. We stayed in Loop A with full hookups, about 1/4 mile from the marina. Privacy was excellent, barely visible to the neighbors on the next road and far enough separated from out NextDoor neighbors (at least 100’). The grounds are level and paved and include a nice gravel picnic area and fire pit. We didn’t use any facilities, but they dotted the entire campgrounds.
It’s worth noting that in addition to the $30/night fee (for FHU) you must also pay $10/day for a park pass or otherwise pay $80 for an annual, which we opted for.
Staff was very friendly. Access to walking and biking trails was awesome and we got on the lake for some swimming and SUP’ing too. The swim “beach” is quite rocky… basically broken dirt clumps, but it made do for the afternoon. 30 min to Downtown Denver and 50 min to Boulder.
Overall great campground with nice spacing between sites. WiFi is free but super slow.
This is the first time I’ve found a state park so close to a major metro area!!
Because of its proximity to Denver, Chatfield fills up quickly, so book well in advance. When I stayed in mid September, there was a zero percent chance of a walk in getting a space.
I stayed in Loop B, site 126. This is on what I’d call the “park side” side of the loop. If you’d like views of the lake or mountains, I’d suggest sites like 111 or 112. But this site was the cleanest I’ve ever camped at. The gravel was freshly raked, both around the picnic table and on the tent pad. Some very curious bunnies made their appearance each morning!
The bathroom was very clean, but there was no soap provided for hand washing, nor are there any trash cans within the actual bathroom, which I found incredibly odd. There is also a laundry area just outside the bathroom (which was a god send because I really needed to do a laundry!) and there was a trash can out there. The showers are coin operated and the water comes out almost directly onto the wall; there is no way to adjust the shower head.
There is a trail around the entire reservoir, which is great for a bike or a run, although many die hard road cyclists choose to use the actual street that runs around the park. And, of course, water activities abound.
The two entrances to the park make getting in and out very easy!
Convenient location, well maintained sites, can get crowded.
Really great place to SUP, kayak, or canoe. I’ve been in both small ponds and the big lake with my canoe and the big lake is ok in the no wake zone, but the 2 smaller lakes are more geared for those 3.
Large campground. Our spot had a nice view of the lake. Sites are nicely leveled. Everything was clean. Showers require quarters and water was just a dribble but hot. Very nice path encompasses the lake (9 mile?? loop). Very busy with recreators of all kinds but not too loud
Lots of activities at your finger tips here - paddling, boating, hiking, biking, etc. Location is very convenient if you’re around the Denver metro area and don’t want to drive too far. Only con is it is BUSY just about every day and campgrounds are fairly close together.
Stay here a couple times a year, great amenities and lots to do with a swim beach, shore line, horses, boat ramp and model planes. Model plane field is close to the campground, can hear it early in the morning. D loop is quietest, C loop is electric only so you have to wait in the dump line, and I've found A & B loops to generally be the rowdiest. Recent construction has started of a big housing development right up against the park so get there before you're surrounded by houses!
Chatfield State Park Campground is not the most scenic campground, but it has a very convenient location. Whether you live in Denver and just want a quick getaway or if you are visiting friends in the area, it is a very easy place to camp. Located on the Southwest side of the metro area, it is just off of I470.
The park has great amenities with a great lake for powerboat sports.
Additionally it has a fresh water "gravel pond" on the south side that is great for SUP and human powered craft. Trails throughout, both paved and dirt.
The campsites have good tree coverage and views of the foothills.
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.