by Fletcher McDonald
In 1933, Downtown Denver wasn’t quite what it was. In 1933, Cherry Creek was held back by the Castlewood Canyon Dam, until that same dam burst. Since that day, August 3rd, Castlewood Canyon hasn’t been the same, but it’s a unique gem nonetheless.
The emphasis on outdoor life and living that most of Colorado residents share can often lead us west from Denver and into the massive Rocky Mountains, fabled, photographed, and sung about over the few hundred years we’ve been about them – unsurprising today because the eminent mountain range of North America is clearly visible from our home or office.
However, that isn’t all there is to Colorado, or indeed, all there is within driving distance of the Denver-Metro area. Southeast of Denver, notable for its proximity and unique terrain, lies Castlewood Canyon State Park.
Near Franktown and still holding the remains of Castlewood Canyon Dam, the park does hold some unique terrain. There is something here for anyone. Several walking trails traverse the length and breadth of the canyon’s distance through the state park; one may take an ambitious hike to the top of the Canyon’s walls, the adventurous may boulder or rock climb jagged rock faces, while a more relaxed trail meanders along Cherry Creek, the same creek that runs through downtown Denver and empties into the Platte River.
Castewood Canyon Dam holds a unique note in Denver’s history – in 1933, the dam broke, sending a 15 ft. wave of water rushing into downtown Denver, flooding the precursor to our growing urban metropolis.
Featuring a variety of wildlife including black bear, mountain lion, and rattlesnake, 5 different ecosystem zones, and some breathtaking views, the canyon is well worth a look.
“August 3, 1933: Castlewood Dam Breaks, Floods Denver.” Denver Public Library History, 4 Aug. 2015, history.denverlibrary.org/news/august-3-1933-castlewood-dam-breaks-floods-denver.
“Castlewood Canyon State Park.” Colorado State Parks | Colorado.com, www.colorado.com/state-parks/castlewood-canyon-state-park.
“Castlewood Canyon State Park.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 July 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castlewood_Canyon_State_Park.
“COLORADO PARKS & WILDLIFE.” Colorado Parks & Wildlife – Eldorado Canyon, cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/CastlewoodCanyon.
“Castlewood Canyon State Park Trails.” Day Hikes Near Denver, Day Hikes Near Denver, 12 Oct. 2017, dayhikesneardenver.com/castlewood-canyon-state-park-trails/.