It’s been almost 30 years since Frances H. Staunton turned over her 1,720-acre mountain ranch to the State of Colorado, stipulating that it was "to be preserved in perpetuity" as a state park. Frances died in 1989, but, on May 18th, her vision for the land near Conifer becomes reality. Her namesake park, Staunton State Park, opens to the public with two days of activities for all ages.
Park hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the grand opening weekend only. Beginning Monday, May 20, the park’s regular summer hours will be 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
On-going activities throughout the weekend will give visitors a sampling of the myriad recreational opportunities available in Staunton State Park. This includes fishing, rock climbing, hiking (more than 20 miles of trails), horseback riding, mountain biking, and kid's activities. The full line-up of activities, with their scheduled times, is on the park’s website http://www.parks.state.co.us/parks/staunton/Pages/Staunton.aspx.
Special presentations this weekend include period music from the early days of the American West by Rex Rideout of Time Travel Music, demonstrations by the Front Range Back Country Horsemen, and live raptor presentations by the Raptor Education Foundation and Wild Wings Environmental Education.
Some activities will be by reservation only. These include naturalist guided walks to view the park's exceptional natural and cultural resources. Reservations can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 303-816-0912. Spaces are limited.
Event parking is available at the Mountain View RTD Park-N-Ride, 11770 US Hwy 285, Conifer, and Elk Creek Elementary School, 13304 S Hwy 285 Frontage Road, Pine. A free shuttle service will ferry visitors to and from the park, beginning at 9 a.m. each day. The last shuttle will leave the park at 4 p.m. Although dogs on leashes and bikes will be permitted in the park, the shuttles cannot transport dogs or bicycles this weekend. Handicap accessible parking is available in the park.
The brand new Staunton State Park is a mosaic of low grasslands, rocky foothills, soaring granite cliffs, and lush stream corridors. Dramatic Elk Falls drops nearly 100 feet into North Elk Creek and spectacular Lions Head is the park’s rocky sentry. Historical human uses include ranching, the Staunton family retreat, a turn-of-the-20th century saw mill, and a sportsman’s club. The Staunton Ranch is the heart of the park. Later acquisitions of the historic Elk Falls and Davis Ranches and property owned by Colorado’s first Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Mary Coyle Chase, author of "Harvey," expanded the park to approximately 3,800 acres. The park is located about six miles west of Conifer, 1.5 miles north of U.S. Highway 285 on Elk Creek Road.