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Carson Nature Center and South Platte Park

South Platte Park is a natural oasis within the city featuring 880 acres of open space along the South Platte River and Mary Carter Greenway Trail

Visitors can fish for small-mouth bass and trout in the five lakes; kayak through gentle water or rapids in the river; cycle or run the regional trail, or walk or nature-watch on miles of natural surface trails.

At the Carson Nature Center, re-create the area’s famous 1965 flood at the interactive River Table or observe live animals in the Center’s exhibits. Outdoors, search for hundreds of species of wildlife close to home.

Spend a couple hours or an entire day exploring Colorado nature, just a few steps from home.

Programs & Classes

South Platte Park offers programs guided by interpretive naturalists for a variety of ages and interests.  Join us for campfire programs, moonlight walks, school break camps, adult education, and much more!

 

Our staff are professionally certified through the National Association for Interpretation.  Want to know more about our qualifications to lead you and your children in your nature experience?  Check out our staff profiles.

Amenities

South Platte Park protects two-and-a-half miles of the South Platte River along with the surrounding riparian (streamside) habitat of cottonwood forests and wetlands. Here are some key features of the park.

South Platte Park

    • Lakes (7; 5 open to fishing)
    • Natural open space (880 acres)
    • Trails
      • Natural surface hiking trails (4 miles)
      • Paved regional trail connections (3.5 miles)
    • Cooley Lake wildlife area (limited access)
    • Wildlife viewing gazebos (2)

    South entrance

    • Fishing pier
    • Parking lots (3; 77 spaces)
    • Picnic tables (2)
    • Restroom with composting toilet
    • River put-in
    • Storm shelter


    Carson Nature Center

        Nature Center
      • Drinking fountain
      • Information desk
      • Interactive displays including the South Platte River table
      • Live animals
      • Naturalists on duty
      • Restrooms (flush)
      • AED available
      King Fisher Studio (Reserve Online)
      • Drinking fountain
      • Fireplace
      • Kitchenette
      • Projector (LCD)
      • Reserved parking
      • Restrooms (flush)



      Amenities near the Center

      • Dunahay Amphitheater (Reserve online)
      • Meadowlark Pavilion (Reserve online)
      • Bicycle repair station
      • Bike racks (1 at Center, 1 at main trailhead; locking post at each walking trail entrance)
      • Native plants garden with educational labels and rock fountain
      • Parking lot (37 spaces)
      • Picnic tables (3)
      • Ranger headquarters
      • River access/fishing platforms (2)

Volunteer

Volunteers assist in the management of South Platte Park in many capacities from guiding programs to caring for trails or helping in the Nature Center. Apply now on our Volunteer Page.  For the latest edition of our Volunteer Update newsletter with dates of projects and more details, email Skot at SkotL@ssprd.org.

Location

Carson Nature Center
(N of Mineral Ave, W of Santa Fe Dr)
3000 W Carson Drive
Littleton, CO 80120
303.730.1022

South Platte Park Manager
Skot Latona
SkotL@ssprd.org

Park Hours

Sunrise to Sunset

Parking Map pdfWeekend Parking pdf

See Current South Platte River Flow at C470 Boat Chute
River Flow and Floating explanation:

  • 50 cfs and below:  Floating not recommended.  River permits are invalid as flows too low.
  • 50 – 600 cfs: Good for families, lifevests recommended, less experienced should scout or portage boat chutes
  • 600 – 2200 cfs: Experienced floaters only, lifevests recommended, scout or portage all rapids
  • 2200 +:  River may be closed to all uses except whitewater vessels

Groups of 15 or more, or if participants are paying a fee, may require a River Use Permit - Contact the Park Manager, Skot Latona at 303.303.730.1022 or SkotL@ssprd.org.
Always Play It Safe! in all river activities.

Nature Center Hours

Tue - Fri: 12 - 4:30 pm
Sat - Sun: 9:30 am - 4:30 pm
Closed Mondays and Holidays.

South Platte Park and Trail Hours:
sunrise - sunset

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Programs supported in part by:

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Publications

Sign up for our newsletter, Nature News, monthly by email.  To receive the quarterly paper version, email your mailing address here.