Tag Archive | West Elk Mountains

Crawford State Park

I’ve camped in a lot of state parks across the country over the years, and found them to be reliably clean, safe, and interesting; sometimes surprising and gorgeous. I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to see so many natural gems in so many states. And I’m grateful that one of Colorado’s state parks is just a ten minute drive from my house.

I’m grateful to have known the man whose vision led to the first trail in this park, John Barcus. He worked hard as a volunteer to get the first leg of the trail built. The most recent leg is still under construction, but in the past few years the trail has been extended from the main parking lot on the peninsula, through both campgrounds, and all the way around the south end to join the west shore day use area.

Wren and I got our Colorado State Parks pass yesterday and took our first walk on the trail, from the Peninsula to Clear Fork Campground and back, close to a mile altogether. We’d been meaning to do it all year! But finally the time was right. I’m grateful to the state for offering an amazing deal on a parks pass: When you renew your car registration online, you get the option to purchase a Keep Colorado Wild pass for $29 instead of the regular parks pass for $80.

We were greeted at the entrance window by a cheerful neighbor who first gave Wren some cookies, then put the registration in a little red envelope to set in the window for access to any state park, no decal necessary. What a deal! Then we set off down the trail. It was a perfect, mild fall day. I had to stop every ten feet the whole way so Wren could sniff and pee.

I was grateful for the level, easy trail; for the views of the lake, the dam, the mountains, and a gaggle of Canada geese; and I was grateful for the little bench under the tiny juniper. I was grateful to see so much water left in the reservoir at the end of the irrigation season. In recent years it’s been nearly dry by this time of year.

It felt so good to walk an easy trail out in the sun that we went back today, and walked another bit from Iron Creek campground around the south end until we hit thick, untamped gravel that I didn’t want to wobble through. I was ready to turn back anyway.

At the very south end of the trail we crossed a bridge strong enough to contain a herd of bison, which seemed like a bit of overkill, but I’m sure they had their reasons.. The railing was as tall as my forehead and I had to rest my phone on top to get a picture.

The views from the west side are even more beautiful than those on the east side, with the West Elk Mountains beyond burnished grasses, rushes, thickets, and spent milkweed pods. I’m grateful for easy, affordable access to the new trail around Crawford State Park.