Rocky Mountain Arsenal is a nearly 17,000-acre wildlife refuge housed on a former United States Army chemical weapons manufacturing facility. The Commerce City refuge is home to more than 330 native species, including prairie dogs, bison and white pelican.
National Wildlife Refuge in Adams Co.
The army built the arsenal in 1942 at the height of World War II to build chemical weapons. It closed years later in 1985 and in 1987 underwent intense cleanup. Congress made it a national wildlife refuge in 1992, in part because of its bald eagle inhabitants. It has continued to grow into a popular tourist attraction.
- Visitor Center
- Contact Station/Environmental Education Facility
- Two floating boardwalks on two of the Refuge’s lakes
- Fishing and observation piers at Lake Mary
- Seven parking areas
- One photo blind
- Restrooms at three locations
- Three outdoor amphitheaters
Biking – Only permitted from refuge entrance to visitor center.
Birding – Over 280 species have been recorded at the park, which offers free, guided birding programs with a naturalist. Get a bird check list at the visitor center.
Events – Each calendar month brings new organized activities, in addition to annual favorites including Fishing Frenzy, Refuge Day and International Migratory Bird Day.
Fishing – Two lakes are open to fishing from mid-April through mid-October on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Catch and release only using barbless hooks and artificial bait. There is a $3 fee in addition to CO fishing license for those older than 15.
Hiking – Over ten miles of year round dirt and gravel trails, open for hiking and snowshoeing. Choose from wetlands, woodlands and grassland habitat. Bicycles, pets and jogging are not permitted. There are two national recreation trails in the park. See map below.
- Interior Trail System – National recreation trail covering four miles of this urban refuge.
- Wetlands Loop Trail – Another national recreation trail, spans two miles through prairie wetlands.
Scenic Drives – Nine mile route takes up to an hour. See map below.
Tours – Two hour bus driven wildlife tours are offered year round.
Visitor Center – Open Wednesday to Sunday, 9am to 4pm. Has gift shop, interactive exhibit hall and discovery room with hand-ons activities. You can checkout a free pair of binoculars with photo ID or a free activity backpack with games and discovery tools.
Address: 6550 Gateway Rd, Commerce City, CO
Season: Year round, daily from sunrise to sunset; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
Pets: Not welcome, only assistance dogs allowed
Maps: Trail & Auto Roads (PDF)