Just a few miles south of Boulder, you can easily spend a half-day in an enjoyable state park that offers hiking trails and great views, all in the shadows of some dramatic jagged peaks. Eldorado Canyon State Park is at the far end of the chain of peaks that begins with the famous Flatirons. The park is nestled inside a narrow canyon, from which South Boulder Creek flows.
From Highway 93, take Highway 170 into the town of Eldorado Springs. The pavement runs out, as you enter the town, and then you creep along at 10 miles per hour along the narrow dirt street, trying not to kick up dust or run over pedestrians. The entrance to the park is at the west end of town, where the road squeaks between the mountains and the creek.
Not far into the park, you’ll find your first hiking opportunity. A bridge crosses South Boulder Creek, and then a short trail turns left, and runs up the opposite side of the river. The trail isn’t very long — in fact, I was surprised when it came to an abrupt end, after (at most) a quarter-mile. You can also turn right at the end of the bridge, and hike down a much rougher path, but it doesn’t lead to much excitement.
You will find the best views of the creek on the bridge…
… and at the stone wall at the edge of the road.
Keep driving into the canyon, and you’ll pass the trailhead for the Fowler and Rattlesnake Gulch Trails. We’ll cover those on the following pages.
If you drive all the way into Eldorado Canyon, you’ll find the visitor center. This is the end of the public road — to go any further, you’ll need an invitation from someone who’s lucky enough to live in the privately-owned portion of the canyon.
Next to the visitor center, you’ll find a nice spot for a picnic, at the edge of the creek.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive into Boulder, then down to Eldorado Canyon: