Colorado is home to 41 state parks, all equally beautiful and unique in their own special ways. Golden Gate Canyon State Park is one of these amazing places.

Established in 1960, this scenic destination was the second to earn state park status in Colorado. It's located in Gilpin and Jefferson counties, just a few miles northwest of Golden.

More than 12,000 acres of dense forest, rocky peaks, alpine ponds, and aspen-rimmed meadows make up Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Wildlife runs rampant, and in some spots within the park, like Panorama Point, the views span hundreds of miles.

Kelsey Nistel, TSM
Kelsey Nistel, TSM

But how did this gorgeous state park get its name?

Although it shares a similar moniker as the bridge in San Francisco, Golden Gate Canyon State Park has nothing to do with the famous California landmark.

Rather, the expansive park in Colorado took its name from the former Golden Gate City community. The historic community was built during the 1859 Pikes Peak gold rush and was named after Thomas Golden, who was one of the earliest prospectors in present-day Jefferson County.

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The park retained some of the homesteads from the Golden Gate City community from when the land was settled back in the 1800s as part of the Homestead Act.

Some more interesting history? During prohibition, the fresh creeks that run throughout the park supplied illegal distilleries.

Kelsey Nistel, TSM
Kelsey Nistel, TSM

Colorado's Golden Gate Park is nestled between the Front Range foothills and the majestic Rocky Mountains, thus where the canyon part of its name comes from.

To get to the park from Denver is about a 45-minute drive via US-6 West and Highway 93 North. Turn left and follow Golden Gate Canyon Road until you reach the park (about 12.5 miles).

5 Colorado State Parks That Are Totally Worth the Drive

Are you ready to head outside in 2024? Start the new year off right by exploring five of Colorado's beautiful state parks. These parks are open year-round with fun activities, rental cabins, camping, and wildlife. Take a closer look at each park in the gallery below.

Gallery Credit: Wesley Adams

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