Have you considered a fish hatchery as a vacation destination?

Colorado has 19 fish hatcheries, which are open to the public for tours, according to Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife.

But why, you may ask, might you chose to go to a fish hatchery?

Part of the appeal of a fish hatchery is for people to learn about where Colorado’s fish come from, Lauren Truitt, spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said. The hatcheries produce about 90 million fish per year, hatching, raising and stocking them in Colorado’s waters, she said.

Self-guided tours can offer a chance to walk around the ponds and feed the fish from fish food dispensers, she said.

Guided tours can educate visitors on anything and everything from fish biology and the process of raising fish, to their habitat needs and how Colorado’s weather plays a part in the greater ecosystem, she said. Visitors see the hatchery technicians at work and the overall process in motion.

The tours are “off the beaten track” as a vacation option, she said. And admission is free.

It can also serve as reminder of the cultural and economic importance of fishing in Colorado. Fishing contributes $1.9 billion to the state’s economy per year, and Coloradans are just natural outdoorsy types, Truitt said.

“Fishing is one of those past times that get passed down from generation to generation,” she said.

For those interested in going, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has some visiting recommendations and guidelines:

  • Call ahead to find out what kind of tour is offered at the hatchery you plan to visit.
  • Tours for groups and schools must be pre-arranged, to ensure sufficient educational supplies
  • While you’re there, don’t place your hands in the water or play in the hatchery’s water source, as this can contaminate the water.
  • And don’t try to move the fish from their raceways or feed them anything other than the available fish food, as this can hurt or kill the fish.

We've mapped 17 of the 19 fish hatcheries here, for your perusal.