Nature at Chatfield State Park Visitors can experience a wide variety of wildlife and plants, ranging from 80 pairs of blue herons to fields of prairie clover. Learn more about wildlife, plants, and geology of Chatfield State Park here.
WildlifeLarge areas of open space and the diversity of terrain and vegetation at Chatfield provide habitat for an abundance of wildlife. Deer, elk, bald eagles, and bear are among the wildlife that has been spotted in the park. Three hundred and five bird species frequent Chatfield either as permanent residents or migrators: the Chatfield Bird List is available for birdwatchers. A rookery at the mouth of the Platte River provides nesting habitat for the Double-crested cormorants and approximately 80 pairs of Great Blue Herons. The Bald Eagle, White Pelican and elusive Burrowing Owl may be observed either as migrants or winter or summer residents. Small and large mammals, including Whitetail and Mule deer, Coyote, Red Fox, Cottontail rabbits, Prairie Dogs and Weasels, frequent the park. Anglers are attracted to Chatfield by warm- and cold-water fishing opportunities that include walleye, rainbow trout, tiger muskie, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, green and blue sunfish and blue and channel catfish.The Denver Audubon Society is a Parks partner and has an office at Chatfield. PlantsEcologically, 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. GeologyChatfield 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.