National Parks in Colorado

There are 13 national park service sites in Colorado. Two of these sites are shared with Utah: Dinosaur National Monument and Hovenweep National Monument.

Map of Colorado National Parks

NPS Sites Colorado Placeholder
NPS Sites Colorado

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

This 19th-century fort in Otero County, Colorado is listed as one of the national park service sites in Colorado. A private company built the fort for trade purposes and became recognized as the only major white American permanent settlement within the area. During 1849, however, the fort was destroyed surrounding mysterious circumstances. Since then, it was named a National Historic Site and is currently managed by the NPS. The fort was also reconstructed so that it can be made open to the public.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

This is another national park in Colorado managed by the National Park Service of the United States. The park consists of the deepest and dramatic section of the Black Canyon, to which the park owes its name. Due to the geographical location, the gorge only gets 33 minutes of sunlight each day. While other canyons in the US are longer and deeper, the Black Canyon earns its distinction for its depth, narrowness, and darkness.

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument, Colorado
Colorado National Monument, Colorado

The Colorado National Monument is one of the national park service sites in Colorado, commonly referred to as The Monument. The property encompasses canyons, sandstones, and rock formations. It is located high on the Colorado Plateau that is also filled with juniper and pinyon forests. There are several species of wildlife that form habitat in the site such as desert bighorn sheep, coyotes, ravens, jays, red-tailed hawks, and golden eagles.

Curecanti National Recreation Area

This property encompasses three fjord-like reservoirs, canyons, and mesas. The site is located in Gunnison, Colorado. In addition to the above natural features, this national recreation area is also recently known as an archaeological site. There were dinosaur fossils that were found in the area. There are several visitor facilities in the area such as visitor center, boat launches, and marinas.

Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado
Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado

This is the first site on the list of national park service sites in Colorado that is shared with Utah: Dinosaur National Monument. It is located in the Uinta Mountains right at the border of Colorado and Utah. Majority of the national monument’s site is located within Colorado, though. There are more than 800 paleontological sites containing dinosaur fossils in the area. Hence, it was named a national monument in 1915.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

While the fossil sites listed above are known for their dinosaur fossils, this one is noted for the plant and insect fossils that were exceptionally preserved in Teller County, Colorado. The Florissant Formation is a hotbed of these fossils among the shales and mudstones. Scientists believe that the fossils had been around since the Eocene period or roughly 34 million years ago. The interaction of the volcanic ash with the diatoms in the lake has helped to preserve these fossils.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Although they are listed separately as national park service sites in Colorado, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is one contiguous unit. The park and preserve are both located in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. In 1932, the property was originally cited as a national monument. But it was elevated into Park and Preserve Status through the initiative of the US Congress in 2004. This also meant that the entire area managed by the National Park Service was expanded to 84,997 acres of land area. The park and preserve feature the tallest sand dunes in North America, which researchers claim to have formed over 440,000 years ago.

Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument, Colorado
Hovenweep National Monument, Colorado

This is the second property that is shared with Utah on this list of national park service sites in Colorado. The main features of the national monument are the six Ancestral Puebloan villages that were occupied by hunter-gatherers during the 8,000 to 6,000 BC. The early Puebloan settlers continued living in the area until the 14th century. Since it was named a national monument, the National Park Service took over the helm of managing the area.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

This property is both a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is considered one of the best archaeological sites that have preserved the Ancestral Puebloan culture. The park was established in 1906 with the help of President Theodore Roosevelt near the Four Corners region in Southwest America. There are over 600 cliff dwellings protected within the area, which is also known as the largest cliff dwelling in the continent. The site, aside from showcasing the settlement area of the ancestral Puebloans, also detail about the way of life of these prehistoric individuals wherein they thrived by gathering, hunting and subsistence farming.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

This national park is located in north-central Colorado and encompasses the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The property was named a national park in 1915, which is aimed at protecting the features of the park for future generations. It was also designated by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve. Some of the major natural features within the park are the glacial geology, its montane ecosystem and diverse habitat for both plants and animals. In 2015, there are over 4 million tourists who visited the park.

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

Located in Kiowa County in Colorado, this site aims to commemorate the Sand Creek Massacre. The Sand Creek Massacre took place in 1864 during the American Indian Wars. The villages of Arapaho and Cheyenne were destroyed during the attack wherein more than 100 Native Americans were killed and mutilated (most of them were women and children). In 1999, a group of archaeologists unearthed remains of the massacre site that included camp equipment, period bullets and more. The site is currently federally owned and is managed by the National Park Service.

Yucca House National Monument

Yucca House National Monument, Colorado
Yucca House National Monument, Colorado

This national monument caps off this list of national park service sites in Colorado. It is another archaeological site that remains unexcavated until today. The property is located in Montezuma Valley beneath the Sleeping Ute Mountain. It is believed to be the place of settlement for the Ancestral Puebloan culture.

View all the National Park Service Sites in neighboring states, including: National Parks in Arizona, National Parks in Kansas, National Parks in Nebraska, National Parks in New Mexico, National Parks in Oklahoma, National Parks in Utah, National Parks in Wyoming

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