New entry at Colorado state park for waterfall, mountaineering | Out There

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A new parking lot has opened up new opportunities at Staunton State Park, including faster access to some of the preserve’s most popular destinations.

One is Elk Falls, the 75-foot waterfall that previously required a 12-mile round-trip hike through the woods near Pine, southwest of Denver. From the new Lazy V parking lot, this round trip is now closer to eight miles.

“Still a tough hike, not exactly a walk in the park,” noted Staunton’s manager Zach Taylor.

Along the standard route, which follows the Staunton Ranch and Bugling Elk trails, it’s still a rough hike at elevations starting at around 8,500 feet and ending near 9,200 feet. Taylor recommended bringing plenty of water and snacks — “knowing it’ll probably take a good four hours,” he said.

That’s two or three hours less than what he had previously estimated for the round trip.

For rock climbers, there’s also a detour to one of the park’s best rocks, Staunton Rocks.

Previously, climbers hiked about 2 1/2 miles from the Meadow parking lot to the routes. From Lazy V this is now less than a mile.

The popular Manitou Springs waterfall remains closed due to safety issues

The 135 spots are accessed by a road stretching about two miles from the visitor center.

“After the year that we’ve had in 2020, we’ve been at full capacity every weekend,” Taylor said. “So part of the philosophy of this car park was precisely the need for additional parking.”

He expects the ticket to “also help in terms of sales,” he said. The less time for hiking, the less time for parking, so the reasoning.

Also, “You can see the history of the homesteads in the area,” Taylor said.

The road to the parking lot is lined with seven structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.