Forget museum visits and city strolls! Are you and your family looking to get outdoors and truly explore Colorado? From the sprawling plains of the Eastern Plains, all the way up to Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado State Wildlife Areas offer some of the best outdoor experiences in the country.
Embark on a journey through more than 300 different areas around this beautiful state--you're bound to find something wondrous (or maybe even wild!) at every turn. So pack up your bags and start exploring--it's time to fall in love with Colorado's beauty like never before!
If it's just a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life that you seek, Colorado's State Wildlife Areas will provide just the right atmosphere.
From alpine forests to lush prairies, there are tranquil places here that possess a beauty that words can't do justice.
Most areas also feature water bodies such as lakes, rivers or streams. Come explore the backcountry solitude and take the time to watch nature unfold in all its glory.
With so many available you won't have difficulty finding one that suits your needs. The best part is - they are not usually crowded and offer a great way for you to escape into nature for some time. So why not take advantage of these beautiful gems today?
Things to consider before you head out
These State Wildlife Areas can be WILD, so take that into account, especially when bringing children. You will probably share the park with people who are there for hunting and fishing activities.
What do you want to do at the wildlife area?
Is this a family outing or only for adults?
Does this SWA have restroom facilities or do you need to bring them?
Does this SWA offer camping or is it day use only?
Use our Colorado State Park Guide (free with the purchase of a Colorado State Parks Bucket Journal) to learn about each park, it's facilities and activities. We've done the work for you!
Although hiking is an allowed activity on SWAs, it was never intended as a primary use of these properties.
Check before you go - Many SWAs also close periodically throughout the year to protect wildlife and their young during reproduction or critical winter range periods.
The most common activities are:
No trip to Colorado's SWA's would be complete without a fishing excursion. You'll find some of the most incredible angling opportunities anywhere. Choose from numerous scenic spots with spectacular views, or opt for a more secluded spot away from the crowds.
From high-mountain lakes and streams to free-flowing rivers and reservoirs, there is something here for every angler, regardless of experience level.
From Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Colorado to the High Plains SWA in southeast Colorado, there are plenty of great places to fish.
So grab a rod and reel and enjoy some quality time outdoors while catching some of the best fish in the country.
Starting in 2023 Colorado initiated a special pass for SWA's. Just as visitors to a Colorado State Park are required to
possess a state parks pass, visitors to SWAs are now required to possess a valid license or SWA pass which is purchased from the Colorado State Parks and Wildlife page. There are annual and daily passes available.
By purchasing a Colorado hunting or fishing license, or an SWA pass, you are directly contributing to wildlife preservation. All proceeds from these licenses benefit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and back critical programs such as those caring for nongame species, threatened animals, endangered species; hatcheries; habitat protection; education initiatives; law enforcement measures; fisheries conservation efforts and aquatic management - not forgetting research projects!
The SWA pass is good for one year from the date of purchase and provides access to multiple State Wildlife Areas across the state, including popular fishing spots like Pueblo Reservoir and Trinidad Lake. With your SWA pass you can gain entry into the numerous public areas located throughout the state.
No matter what you choose to do in Colorado, one thing is for certain: You are sure to have a memorable experience that will stay with you long after your visit has ended.
Take the time to appreciate all that this amazing state has to offer and create memories that will last a lifetime. Don't forget to record those memories in your Colorado State Parks Bucket Journal!
What is your favorite Colorado State Wildlife Area? Why?