A new parking lot has opened up new possibilities at Staunton State Park, including faster access to some of the reserve’s most popular destinations.
One of them is Elk Falls, the 75-foot waterfall that previously required a 12-mile round-trip hike through the forest near Pine, southwest of Denver. From the new Lazy V parking lot, this round trip is now closer to eight miles.
“Another tough hike, not exactly a walk in the park,” Staunton manager Zach Taylor noted.
Along the standard route following the Staunton Ranch and Bugling Elk trails, it is still a rugged hike at elevations starting at around 8,500 feet and ending at nearly 9,200 feet. Taylor recommended bringing plenty of water and snacks — “knowing it’ll probably take you a good four hours,” he said.
That’s down the two or three hours he had previously estimated for the round trip.
For climbers, the trip to one of the park’s main rocks, Staunton Rocks, is also downhill.
Previously, from the Meadow parking lot, climbers hiked about 2 1/2 miles to the routes. From Lazy V it is now less than a mile.
All 135 spots are reached on a road that stretches about two miles from the visitor center.
“After the year we had in 2020, we were at full capacity every weekend,” Taylor said. “So part of the philosophy of this car park was precisely this need for additional parking.”
He expects the lot to “also help in the area of turnover,” he said. The less time you spend walking, the less time you spend parking, it is thought.
Plus, “You can see the history of family ownership in the area,” Taylor said.
Along the road leading to the parking lot are seven structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.