Colorado is fortunate to have many beautiful parks and nature centers like South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center in Littleton. Historically, the floodplain where the park sits was a place where gravel was mined for over three decades. A great deal of attention has been given to restoring this area to its natural beauty and utility as a habitat for dozens of bird, bat, and mammal species. However, in 1967 the flood control and water storage capabilities of the area were realized, resulting in the creation of a park.
South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center have preserved this historic event through an interactive water table. Other land acquisitions and park improvements through time are chronicled in the park’s history brochure. This secluded natural oasis offers views of the South Platte Reservoir, Cooley Lake, Eaglewatch Lake, the Denver Metro skyline, and the beautiful Rocky Mountains in the distance. With plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating, cycling, hiking, bird-watching, and other recreation, this gem of a park is conveniently located just outside of Denver. Adult outdoor recreation activities include archery, biking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and gold panning.
Today, this beautiful park offers many amazing amenities that visitors can take advantage of. There are miles of walking trails throughout the park where people can get out and explore nature. Those who enjoy seeing wildlife up close will also find many opportunities to spot deer, hawks, foxes, beavers, rabbits, and more. Along with providing plenty of space for adventure and exploration outdoors, South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center also have several indoor facilities that visitors can access. These include picnic shelters for gatherings or parties.
It is also a great place to learn about the local wildlife and ecology. They offer educational programs for kids through their youth education center. This includes hands-on exhibits, interactive displays, and a variety of programs and events throughout the year. In addition, interpretative programs are offered year-round and are available for all ages. From campfire programs to guided nature hikes to school break camps, there is always something exciting to take part in.
The South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center are beloved by Littleton locals for their vast array of multi-use trails and the beautiful natural setting so rare in the ever-expanding Denver Metro. South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center are connected to the surrounding area through a convenient urban trail system that winds in Littleton, CO, Centennial, and the Greater Denver Metro area.
The main trail through the park is the Mary Carter Greenway Trail, which runs north-south along the beautiful South Platte River. It provides views of Cooley Lake, Eaglewatch Lake, and the South Platte Reservoir. Along its route are multiple fishing sites, boat chutes, and restrooms. The trail can be picked up from the Carson Nature Center and followed in either direction.
If you’re coming from Denver or Boulder, drive south on US-85 and take the exit for S Platte River Dr following signs for Santa Fe Dr. Take the first right toward Mineral Ave, and turn right onto S Platte Pkwy/S Platte River Pkwy. Follow it for 0.4 miles until you reach W Carson Dr. Turn left and South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center will be on your left. Otherwise, if you are coming from Castle Rock or Colorado Spring, take I-25 north and take exit 194 to merge onto CO-470 W toward Grand Junction. Proceed west for 9 miles and take the exit for US-85 N/S Santa Fe Dr. Turn left onto Mineral Ave, then right onto S Platte Pkwy/S Platte River Pkwy. Turn left onto W Carson Dr and South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center will be on your left.
Whether you’re looking to explore nature, learn more about the local ecosystem, or just have a picnic with friends, South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center are both great places to visit in Littleton, Colorado.
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