BARR LAKE STATE PARK
Colorado Parks and Wildlife received a recreational lease for Barr Lake State Park in 1975 and two years later Barr Lake State Park opened to the public. Today birders from all over the world arrive at Barr Lake seeking to add new and interesting birds to their extensive life list. Hopeful anglers fish for trout, wipers, and more from the shores and the waters of the north side of the lake. Hikers, bikers and joggers seek solace along the Lake Perimeter Trail. Although the bison, elk, and pronghorn are gone, hearing the evening chorus of the coyote, watching bald eagles fledge, or simply enjoying the sunset over a peaceful prairie reservoir will remind each of us that Barr Lake has always been an oasis for wildlife and people.
Throughout its history, the Barr Lake area has been an oasis for wildlife and people. Over 150 years ago, the Barr Lake area was a bison wallow. This natural depression in the prairie collected and held water in the spring. Bison, wolves, and elk congregated in the area, taking advantage of available water. Pronghorn antelope roamed the lush mixed-grass prairie adjacent to the wallow. Abundant wildlife attracted American Indians to the area as well. Arapaho, Cheyenne, and even Ute hunted the area seasonally.
The 1860s brought Spanish steers and the cowboys to the Barr Lake area. Nutrient rich grasses and water from the wallow made for an important rest stop on the way from Texas to Wyoming on the Goodnight-Loving Trail.
The darkest chapter in the history of Barr Lake was in the 50s and 60s. Located downstream from Denver, Barr was the unwilling recipient of Denvers untreated wastewater for over 70 years. In 1964 and 1965, clean water legislation and the flood of 65 literally flushed Barr Lake clean.
All Colorado State Parks have entrance fees. All vehicles are required to have an entrance pass and some parks have walk-in fees. Visit the Colorado Park Entrance Pass
No swimming or wading allowed.
Multiple warm water species call Barr Lake home, including walleye, wipers, bass, perch, and carp. Trout are stocked and can usually be caught through mid-summer.
The new ADA accessible fishing pier opened at the end of May 2019, giving people of all abilities the chance to catch that BIG fish.
Fishing is not allowed in the wildlife refuge area, or in the irrigation canals surrounding the lake.
Stop by the Nature Center or ask at the entrance gate for a current copy of fishing regulations and a fishing license.
Barr Lake State Park is located near Arvada, Aurora and Brighton
Picnic tables are located throughout the park to enjoy your BBQ along with family and friends. While enjoying your picnic you will be able to view the variety of birds and other wildlife that call Barr Lake home. All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For larger groups, our Meadowlark Pavilion can be reserved by calling the park at 303 659-6005.
An 8.8-mile loop trail for hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists follows the perimeter of the lake. Horses are not permitted on the boardwalks or the Dam Crest Trail- the road on top of the dam. Horseback riders can use the lower trail below the dam.
An 8.8-mile trail for hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists follows the perimeter of the lake. There are shorter walks to the various boardwalks that extend over the lake. An easy 1.3-mile walk from the Nature Center brings you to the Gazebo Boardwalk, where you can get an excellent view of the rookery using a spotting scope. View the Barr Lake Area Map.
Niedrach Nature Trail
The Niedrach Nature Trail, which begins near the Nature Center, is a short loop trail leading from the main trail through an open field, along the lake shore and across a boardwalk over the lake.
Prairie Welcome Trail
The newest trail, Prairie Welcome Trail, circles the east from the Nature Center into the prairie for a little more than one mile and has several trailheads.
Hikers are encouraged to use binoculars and spotting scopes to get a closer look at the wildlife. Several wildlife observation stations have been constructed at good viewing locations.
The 8.8-mile Perimeter Trail is open to hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists and follows the perimeter of the lake. The road across the top of the dam Dam Crest Trail is open to hikers and bicycles except on Wednesdays and Saturdays from October through February 16th due to hunting. Bicyclists are encouraged to use bikes with thorn-proof tires because the trails are not paved and thorns are prevalent.
A bird watchers paradise, Barr Lake State Park offers an expansive boardwalk with beautiful gazebos and benches for unparalleled wildlife viewing. The refuge is a large section of the lake that is off limits for boats and watersports, so all kinds of wildlife have space and peace to thrive. Prominent species there include eagles, pelicans, double-crested cormorants, blue herons and grebes. The park-facilitated osprey nest offers an amazing glimpse at the beginning of the magnificent birds life cycle.