El Dorado Canyon is a nice but popular State Park located just inside the front range between Denver and Boulder. Nearby is the southern half of Boulder Mountain State Park and Flat Irons Vista both of which can make heading over to the area worth your time. By being so close to Denver and Boulder near H-36 it is an excellent evening hike if you are in the mood for less driving (from Denver) and a laid back walk. There are three trails in the park, one that goes up to the foundations of an old hotel and for an overlook of the continental divide (plagued by trees, but what view isn't?), one that runs by the north side of the stream, and a third that provides access to the western side of the park leading near the Walker Ranch and even further west Gross Reservoir area. The western part of the park actually caught on fire back in '09 as explained in a
The park consists of a impressively sheer faces leading down into a rather charming steam that cascades occasionally through out the eastern half of the park. In the summer the place becomes a solid green sprinkled with purple flowers while in the winter the whole of the park enjoys the edge of mountain snows. The snow in the winter can become quite deep and it does get the mountain blizzards that can make driving sketchy, but every time I have gone out in such weather I was only chap in the park besides the rangers. More for than just the solitude, the park really shines photographically at this time as it hides much of the human impact, covers the problems with the sky, and can make for simply gorgeous textures on the mountain faces that will not last the first direct sunlight on them. During the winter excellent ice forms throughout the stream and over in areas at times. I would never test this ice to walking over it though. Along the sides where there is less flow you might be able to get away with it but the stream remains active all year making center ice always questionable. In the spring, particularly during storms the flow becomes impressive.
Photographically I have always found the park to be frustrating under normal weather. Effective evening and morning light is difficult. The stream bends back and forth so much that light becomes blocked quickly often leaving one side of the stream completely unlit (see the first photo). Further I have never had good luck with clouds here either. I don't know what it is about the spot, but it is almost always all or nothing useful. For those reasons, I prefer the park during winter storms for photography.
As one would imagine, the park can become very busy or even full on summer weekends while at all times during the week it is common to find at least one face obscured by climbers practicing on its convenient faces. During winter all of that disappears, usually a handful of hikers will be out on the forested part of the trails leaving the stream and mountains free of distractions for photographing.
More photos of the area, refer to my: