The area where Chatfield State Park now sits was a major thoroughfare into Pike's Peak country since 1858. The area also supported the first lumber industry and the initial purebred cattle industry within the state. Civil War Lieutenant Isaac W. Chatfield bought 720 acres of Colorado land in 1870 where the South Platte River and Plum Creek meet. Isaac lived on and farmed the land until 1879 when he moved, but left his namesake for the reservoir and dam.
During the early to mid-1900s, the Chatfield area became notorious for floods. Floods repeatedly devastated the area in 1933, 1935, 1942 and 1965. In order to resolve this problem, the U.S. Army Corps constructed the Chatfield dam beginning in 1967.
The area was leased to Colorado State Parks for recreational purposes in 1974 and then eventually developed into Chatfield State Park in 1976. With such a great location, Chatfield has become a popular family park offering something for everyone.