Should I go here or there?

Colorado State Parks are a fantastic here to visit

The views at Crawford Reservoir are fantastic and the reservoir is popular in both summer and winter for fishing and other recreational activities.



Highline Lake State Park is a popular place to get on the water, whether for paddleboarding or power boating.



Sailboarding is one of the many on-the-water activities available at Ridgway State Park, one of the best state parks in our area.



One person’s here is another person’s there.

I’m talking about travel destinations. You live here and to you, here is everyday ho-hum. You want to go there, because there is different and exotic. But to the one who lives in your there, there is a wonderful place but nonetheless ho-hum to them. They think where you are is exotic and they want to come here.

It is always interesting to me as I travel in the summer in Colorado, sometimes with my camper in tow, that there are a lot of other campers and obvious recreational travelers coming to where I came from. I want to be there and they want to be here. And at the end of the weekend as we are headed home we will likely encounter each other again, me coming back to here and they going back to there.

Airplanes are the same way. Ever wonder about all the people getting off the plane as you stand in line waiting to board? Getting here was so important to them that they paid significant money to leave where you are paying significant money to get to.

By now you are wondering where this philosophical rambling is going. Probably seems like neither here nor there. I’m thinking about all the Colorado State Parks close to home. Your and my here.

Maybe someday I will be a there traveler, but mostly I’m a here traveler. And in close proximity to here are 10 state parks in less than a half day’s drive. How much of a drive, of course, depends on your specific here. Those parks are Highline Lake, James Robb Colorado River, Rifle Gap, Rifle Falls, Harvey Gap, Vega, Paonia, Crawford, Sweitzer, and Ridgway.

Here’s a little summary of each destination. Yeah, go ahead and plan that special trip to there, but don’t ignore what is here. State parks have an entrance fee and may require reservations for camping.

Highline Lake — Popular for power boating, it is also a great day trip for water enthusiasts with kayaks, hand-propelled boats, jet skis, and paddleboards. Fishing for warm water species is an alternative to the typical mountain lake species. Bird watching is rewarding. Highline has more than 100 picnic sites and offers overnight camping.

James Robb — On the Colorado River, this is actually 5 separate locations, including Connected Lakes, Corn Lake, Fruita, Island Acres, and Pear Park Wildlife Area. Connected Lakes, Corn Lake and Pear Park are day-use only, while Fruita and Island Acres have camping, both dry camping and with hookups. Corn Lake is a good place to take the kids fishing. Fruita has a boat ramp.

Rifle Gap — A large reservoir noted for its scenery and expanse for boating and similar water sports. Complete with picnic and camping sites and a boat ramp.

Rifle Falls — Small but high on the list for scenery. So much so that weddings are conducted here. Popular for hiking and biking. River fishing is productive in East Rifle Creek. Rifle Falls fish hatchery is nearby. Educational programs are held at the amphitheater. With a small number of campsites, reservations are usually needed, especially for summer weekends.

Harvey Gap — Great weekend family getaway. Day use only. Just about any water related activity is here: swimming, paddling, picnicking, and sailing. Motorized boats are allowed, but only small motors. Because of its mid-level elevation, fishing is a mix of warm-and cold-water species such as bass and trout. Remember this one for winter ice-fishing.

Vega — On the side of Grand Mesa and higher in elevation, Vega is more of a mountain experience. Biking trails meander through the forest. Hiking trails yield birds and flowers and wildlife. Lots of campsites, including some cabins. Unique to Vega, available for disabled visitors are all-terrain wheelchairs and specialized one-handed fishing poles.

Paonia — Tucked away in a narrow valley, a quiet getaway to just hang out and relax. Camping and boating.

Crawford — A year-round destination, popular even in winter for snowmobiling and ice fishing. Nearby is the north rim of the Black Canyon National Park, the more remote and undeveloped side to the park. The lake is scenic but open in the flat of the valley. National forest land is close with hiking, biking, fishing, and off road vehicle trails.

Sweitzer — Near Delta and sometimes overlooked, a day-use area with fishing and power boating with skiing.

Ridgway — A crown jewel of the state park system, Ridgway seems to have it all. With the high peaks of the San Juans as a backdrop, one can just pull up a chair and do nothing and be content. But you probably won’t sit for long. There’s power boating, skiing camping, picnicking, small watercraft canoeing and paddleboarding and sailing, biking, hiking, summer programs, a formal swim beach, wildlife. River fishing is special with the tailwater of the Uncompahgre River at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk.

These are just a few of the “here” places you may have overlooked.

Paradise is not always distant.


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