Nature at Chatfield State Park
Visitors can experience a wide variety of wildlife and plants, ranging from herds of elk, in the fall, to fields of prairie clover, in the summer. Learn more about wildlife, plants, and geology of Chatfield State Park here.
Large areas of open space and the diversity of terrain and vegetation at Chatfield provide habitat for an abundance of wildlife.
Mammals that you could see on your visit range from; Whitetail and Mule deer, elk, bald eagles, coyote, Red Fox, Cottontail rabbits, Prairie dogs, and bear, are frequent visitors and residents in the park.
Two hundred twelve bird species frequent Chatfield, either as permanent residents or migrators: the Chatfield Bird List is available for birdwatchersand can also be picked up at the park headquarters. The Bald Eagle, White Pelican and elusive Burrowing Owl may be observed either as migrants, winter, or summer residents.
The Denver Audubon Society is a Parks partner and has an office at Chatfield.
Unexpected residents of the park are some reptiles and amphibians, commonly known as herpetofauna or “herps” for short. Species that can be founds residing in the park are: Reptiles (snakes) Prairie Rattlesnake, Western Yellow-Bellied Racer, Western Hognose, Western Terrestrial Garter, Plains Garter, Common Garter, Bull snake, and Milk snake; (turtles) Snapping, Western Painted, Yellow Mud turtle; (lizards) Six Lined Racerunner, Fence Lizard; (amphibians) Northern Leopard frog, Western Chorus frog, Bullfrog, Woodhouse toad, and the Tiger salamander.
Anglers are attracted to Chatfield by warm- and cold-water fishing opportunities. Popular species include walleye, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, green and blue sunfish, and blue and channel catfish.
Ecologically, the park is diverse as a result of a variety of topographic and hydrologic features. The rolling hills of park uplands are dominated by mixed prairie communities of short- and midgrasses including sand dropseed, needle-and-thread, blue grams, western wheatgrass, little bluestem, and fortes such as blazing star, purple and white prairie clover, hairy golden aster, fringed sagewort, winterfat, yucca, and prickly-pear cactus. The reservoir shoreline and the South Platte River and Plum Creek floodplains support large wetland, riparian, and aquatic communities. Ponds and wetland habitats have also been created at the southwestern edge of the park through a cooperative venture with the neighboring Lockheed-Martin facility.
Chatfield State Park is situated in the lower foothills of the Front Range on the southwestern edge of Denver at an elevation of 5,450 feet. With a 1,400 surface-acre reservoir at the confluence of Plum Creek and the South Platte River and extraordinary views of the surrounding foothills, the park is one of the most popular recreation areas in the Denver metropolitan region. Chatfield occupies a gently rolling plain mantled with alluvial cobble, gravel, sand, silt, and clay with some exposures of older sandstones and shales.