Later this month, Staunton State Park will celebrate its 3rd birthday as Colorado’s newest state park. Located in Pine, Colorado, not far from Denver and Conifer, Staunton consists of 3,828 acres of cliffs, meadows, and coniferous forest. The largest portion of land making up the park was donated to the state by Frances Hornbrooke Staunton whose family gives the park its name. Her parents were doctors who treated local residents, including Native Americans, in the early 20th century and may even have run a sanitarium for tuberculosis sufferers. Other portions of the park include land on which stood several other ranches and property belonging to Mary Coyle Chase, most famous for her play “Harvey.”
While some of the park is not yet accessible to the public due to ongoing trail and road construction, what is open is gorgeous. Still covered in slushy snow, the resinous scent of pine fills the air. Mountain Chickadees and Pine Siskins flit among the Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs chattering and buzzing, and pine squirrels signal their disapproval of intruders. While I didn’t see any on my visit, larger mammals such as black bear, coyote, and elk also call the park home.
Overshadowing the trail are impressive granite cliffs formed by uplift and erosion. These cliffs may harbor the nests of Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons and Red-tailed Hawks, to name a few species.
In addition to hiking and biking, Davis Pond and Elk Falls Pond allow for fishing with the appropriate license. I saw one man taking advantage of this while a pair of Mallards kept their distance. I wonder if he caught anything?
Camping isn’t allowed yet at the park, but a picnic area at Ranch Hand Group Picnic area is available for rent for $90. Otherwise, entry to the park is $7 per day or $70 for an annual state parks pass with unlimited yearly visits.
With the days warming up fast, you’ll want to keep a day open soon to visit Staunton. Maybe you can celebrate its anniversary on May 18th.