GOLDEN GATE CANYON STATE PARK
More than 12,000 acres of dense forest, rocky peaks, and aspen-rimmed meadows laced with miles of trails awaiting the hiker, horseback rider, mountain biker and winter sports enthusiast at Golden Gate State Park. Only 30 miles from Denver, Golden Gate Canyon offers such amenities as a electrical hook-ups and tent-sites in two different campgrounds, stocked fishing ponds, picnic sites and the Panorama Point Scenic Overlook, where visitors can see 100 miles of the Continental Divide. The park?s numerous group facilities can host several types of events, from weddings to family reunions and company picnics.
Besides camping, overnight guests can also stay at one of the five cabins and two yurts at Golden Gate. In 2008, the park began renting out guest houses, a first for a Colorado State Park. Winter will find visitors cross-county skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice fishing and ice skating.
Geology at Golden Gate Canyon
Golden Gate Canyon is 16 miles northwest of Golden. It encompasses 12,000 acres along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, including portions of Promontory Ridge. Golden Gate Canyon occupies an ecotone between plains and Front Range forest communities along Ralston, Nott and Deer creeks, which drain into Clear Creek.
Precambrian rocks cover most of the park and consist primarily of gneiss and quartz. Near Blue Mountain, underlying rock and bedrock outcrops consist of Precambrian quartzite and twin spruce quartz monzonite. Near Centralia Mountain, bedrock outcrops consist of Precambrian quartz diorite, amphibolite and calc-silicate gneiss. Amphibolite and gneiss are derived from interbedded sediment and tuft. Other Precambrian rocks found on the park include quartzite, felsic gneiss and biotite gneiss, which is derived from shale, siltstone and sandstone. Small Holocene and Pleistocene surface deposits were laid down by wind deposition and erosion from flows in the creeks. Colluvial deposits range in size from silt to large blocks of rock. Alluvial deposits originate mostly from Piney Creek glaciation and contain large proportions of gravel.
Plants at Golden Gate Canyon
Ecologically, park uplands are dominated by a subalpine forest on Promontory Ridge and Tremont Mountain. Lodgepole pine, mixed coniferous forest and ponderosa pine savanna are found on south-facing slopes and deeper canyons, aspen forests in moist and intermittent drainages, shrublands, mixed grasslands, forb meadows, riparian and wetland communities.
Ponderosa Pine, Rocky Mountain JuniperPonderosa pine and Rocky Mountain juniper are the dominant savanna trees on southern exposures. Douglas fir is the common tree at lower elevations on northfacing slopes, which have a sparse understory.
Conversely, aspen stands occur in relatively moist sites and support a very rich understory of flora. Common shrub and herbaceous species of the forests include Oregon grape, blueberry, thimbleberry, Woods' rose, snowberry, serviceberry, common juniper, kinnikinnick, nodding brome, western wheatgrass, pine dropseed, blue grama, prairie Junegrass, lupine, heart-leaved arnica, goldaster, and beard-tongue. Forb-dominated meadows are present among aspen stands and typically support bluegrass, meadowrue, lupine, black-eyed Susan, cinquefoil, valerian and yarrow. Common shrubs of lower elevation communities include mountain mahogany, skunkbrush, serviceberry and currant.
Grasslands at Golden GateGrasslands present are an interesting association of shortgrass prairie, tallgrass prairie, montane grassland and introduced species. Dominant grass species include Arizona fescue, mountain muhly, blue grama, needle-and-thread grass, prairie Junegrass, western wheatgrass, squirreltail and smooth brome. Riparian and wetland communities are limited, but are established along the creeks, tributary drainages and on seeps and springs.Typically, riparian communities are dominated by narrowleaf cottonwood, aspen, Colorado blue spruce, Rocky Mountain maple, alder, bush honeysuckle, Woods' rose, blue-stem willow and currant.
Wildlife at Golden Gate Canyon
Many species of migratory and resident birds have been seen in the park, including raptors, songbirds and waterfowl. The most common raptors are the Turkey Vulture, Red-Tailed hawk and American kestrel. Less common raptors are the Golden eagle and Ferruginous hawk. Other common birds observed include mountain bluebird, mountain chickadee, common flicker, Gray and Steller's jays, Clark's nutcracker, black-billed magpie, raven and common nighthawk.
Mule deer, elk, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, , raccoon, striped skunk, snowshoe hare, cottontail rabbit, porcupine, muskrat, Abert's and pine squirrel, ground squirrel and red fox are commonly seen.
CabinsThe cabins, nestled between lush aspen groves and pine-covered hills, accommodate a maximum of six people. The cabins have two bunk beds, one twin-size and one double-size. All of the beds have mattresses but no bedding. Visitors will need to bring bedding, such as sleeping bags and/or sheets, blankets and pillows.
In addition to the beds, the cabins have a propane heater, electric lights, a table and chairs, counter top and closet rack for storage. A cooler for food is recommended because there is no refrigerator.
In the summer, flush toilets, showers and running water are provided at Reverend's Ridge campground. In the winter, only flush toilets and running water are provided at Reverend's Ridge.
Cabin 5 Interior
Outside each cabin is a campfire ring and a stand-up grill for cooking. Cooking should be done outside, but is permitted inside the cabins during bad weather. When cooking inside, please open the windows to allow for plenty of ventilation and avoid frying foods. Only stoves, lanterns or other appliances designed for indoor use may be used inside.
Campground has 97 sites and accommodates trailers, pickup campers and tents. Facilities include flush toilets, shower and laundry facilities and a dump station. Some facilities are closed during cold weather months. Fifty-nine campsites at Reverend's Ridge have electrical hookups. Non-electrical sites are per night, and electrical sites are per night plus the vehicle park pass. Each site is limited to a maximum of 6 people.
Reverend?s Ridge office is located off of Gap Road. The office is open seven days a week from Memorial Day weekend through September 30, Sunday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 9:00p.m. Phone: 303-642-3856.
Campground has 35 sites for tents only. Facilities include a water pump, vault toilets, and designated campsites with table, fire rings, and high use tent pads. All sites at Aspen Meadow are per night plus the vehicle park pass. Each site is limited to a maximum of 6 people. Sites 15 and 16 will accommodate horses, call the park for specific information. This campground closes in mid-October and typically opens in mid-May depending on weather conditions. View the Aspen Meadow Campground Map now.
Please be aware that there is only one water source in Aspen Meadows Campground. One hand pump is located near site # 31, please bring extra water or containers to minimize your trips to the hydrant.
For those who want a more primitive and somewhat unique camping experience, there are four backcountry shelters available at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. These three-sided structures, which are built in the Appalachian trail-hut tradition, have roofs and wood floors. Each hut can sleep up to six people without a tent. Shelters are $8 per night plus the vehicle park pass.
In addition to the four shelters, there are 20 backcountry tent sites open year-round . Many of these sites are located in large, scenic meadows and are surrounded by 10,000 foot peaks. For more information check out the backcountry camping map.
Backcountry camping permits must be obtained at the Visitors Center. To ensure safety, NO fires are allowed in the backcountry. Each site is limited to a maximum of 6 people. These tent sites are per night plus the vehicle park pass.
The Columbine Meeting Room can accommodate 24 people and is available for classes, conferences and meetings. Call (303) 582-3707 for reservations. Visit the "Group Facilities" link on the left side of Golden Gate Canyon's main page for more information.