Fall for Rifle Falls State Parks’ offerings

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Silhouetted against the calm water of Highline Lake,  Jamie Prather trots along the short stretch of sidewalk as she sets out on the 3-mile run, the third and final leg of the the Highline Hustle triathlon.



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Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Silhouetted against the calm water of Highline Lake,  Jamie Prather trots along the short stretch of sidewalk as she sets out on the 3-mile run, the third and final leg of the the Highline Hustle triathlon.

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—A fisherman carries his latest catch as he heads back to camp from the banks of Vega Reservoir at sunset.



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Photo by Gretel Daugherty—A fisherman carries his latest catch as he heads back to camp from the banks of Vega Reservoir at sunset.

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—The water falls at Rifle Falls State Park in the winter.In 1890 Allen Zerbe purchased the land around the falls and develop it as a resort.In 1903 he opened the Rifle Falls Hotel upstream from the falls.Colorado State Parks began managing Rifle State Park in 1966.



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PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—The water falls at Rifle Falls State Park in the winter.In 1890 Allen Zerbe purchased the land around the falls and develop it as a resort.In 1903 he opened the Rifle Falls Hotel upstream from the falls.Colorado State Parks began managing Rifle State Park in 1966.

QUICKREAD

EXPERT PICK

“Right above the hatchery is Rifle Mountain Park which is owned by the city of Rifle. There’s good camping by Rifle Creek and it’s a world-class rock climbing area,” said Desiree Powell, technician at Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery, while explaining where she would take an out-of-town guest.

“I like the camping at Little Box Canyon too. From that area, you can also access the Flat Tops (Wilderness), but you’ll need four-wheeldrive.

“I’d also suggest checking out Coulter Lake Guest Ranch. The lake has canoes and they’re free to enjoy. You have to have reservations to stay or eat at the ranch but it’s really nice.”

TAKE MORE TIME IN COLORADO STATE PARKS

There are 42 Colorado State Parks offering all kinds of outdoor recreation.

Several of those parks are in or not far from the Grand Valley, including:

■ Highline State Park — North of Loma on 11.8 Road this park has two lakes and plenty of camping, fishing, water skiing, educational programs and picnicking opportunities.

■ James M. Robb - Colorado River State Park — This park is broken into five sections: Island Acres, Corn Lake, Colorado River Wildlife Area, Connected Lakes and Fruita. Camping, interpretive programs, fishing, boating, picnicking, hiking and more is available at this park’s sections.

■ Vega State Park — This park is at 8,000 feet in elevation on Grand Mesa. It’s reservoir accommodates most water sports. There is camping, as well as cabins and yurts available, for visitors. Additional recreational options abound.

Information an all Colorado State Parks can be found at http://www.parks.state.co.us.



Rifle Falls State Park is one of the easiest natural waterfalls to access in Colorado.

Three falls cascade 70-feet into a large pool making a dramatic backdrop for picnics, group gatherings and other family activities.

The mist and condensation from the falls provides lush vegetation in the campgrounds where 13 pull-in campsites and seven rustic walk-in sites can be reserved at the Colorado State Parks website, http://www.parks.state.co.us. This is a very popular camping area so make reservations well in advance of a planned trip. A short trail connects the campground to the falls.

In the summer, the campground hosts a variety of various educational programs at the Mountain Mist Amphitheater. The programs are free after the purchase of a daily or overnight parks pass.

The falls feed into East Rifle Creek, a well-known stream for rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout fishing. Fisherman must have a valid Colorado fishing license.

The park’s three hiking trails meander through riparian areas, habitat for birds and other wildlife.

The Bobcat Trail is a easy jaunt and leads to the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery. The hatchery offers free self-guided tours to the public during the summer months.

No room at the falls?

Just minutes away along Colorado Highway 325, Rifle Gap State Park offers boating, water skiing, fishing swimming and windsurfing.

The 350-acre reservoir has 89 camping sites and offers year-round camping. Reservations are advised.

Rifle Gap is a popular fishing lake and is kept well-stocked by the local hatchery. The beach, picnic areas and lake can be busy during the summer months, but still a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts.



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