Upset alert: Lake Pueblo bounced from 1st round of bracket gauging Colorado's best parks

Lake Pueblo State Park is one of the most popular parks in the state, but not even that could save it from the type of upset that shocks many top college basketball programs every year during March Madness.

Lake Pueblo was ousted in the first round of the Colorado March Madness State Parks tournament bracket, which was inspired by the NCAA Division I’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The perennial powerhouse of Lake Pueblo was bested by Boyd Lake State Park in Larimer County, despite the Pueblo County park's status as the most-visited Colorado park last year.

Analyzed by those numbers, the state's No. 1 seed just fell to a heavy underdog. It may be a long offseason for Lake Pueblo.

Boyd Lake State Park’s upset win was short-lived: it lost in the second round to finalist Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which was defeated by Staunton State Park in the championship.

Gov. Jared Polis announced Tuesday that he visited Staunton State Park to award its park rangers and leaders the People's Choice Award for Best State Park. He hosted the bracket to celebrate the state’s 42 parks and asked Coloradans on X, formerly known as Twitter, to vote for their favorite ones.

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“Congratulations to Staunton State Park on winning the inaugural Colorado March Madness State Parks tournament! Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful parks in the country,” Polis said in a news release. “Giving all Coloradans easier access to the outdoors is a top priority, from saving people money to making lands more accessible to protecting our incredible wildlife. With this competition, Coloradans got to pick their favorite state park and elevate all of the incredible public lands that draw visitors from around the world.”

Staunton State Park became the state’s 41st state park when it opened in 2013. It offers several activities, such as camping, hiking, and fishing, among others. Its Track Chair program provides access to motorized wheelchairs so visitors with limited mobility can explore the park’s trails.

Though Lake Pueblo will have to wait another year to rebound from its upset, it will likely keep its title as the most-visited Colorado state park. Lake Pueblo recorded 2.9 million visitors last year, well above the next most-visited park, Chatfield State Park, which drew 2.1 million.

Like Staunton State Park, Lake Pueblo has several activities visitors can enjoy, particularly during the spring and summer. It is open year-round and was also the state’s most-visited park in 2022.

Last year, the Keep Colorado Wild Pass became available for people seeking a discount to access all of the state’s parks. Pueblo residents can acquire the pass when they register a car, motorcycle, or recreational vehicle at the DMV.

Chieftain reporter Josué Perez can be reached at Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, at @josuepwrites. Support local news, subscribe to The Pueblo Chieftain at

This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Which state park is best? Here's how Coloradans voted on Lake Pueblo