Just over three years ago, we purchased our first RV with the hope that we could get away more often and allow Hubby to quit losing vacation days each year. We wanted a way to be able to leave town on short notice with our dogs, get some good exercise and re-charge our “batteries” without breaking the bank in the process. Being long-weekend RV warriors has been all we wanted and even more.
Recently, we made such a trip in the RV once again when we realized on a Thursday evening that the weekend weather was going to be beautiful and would be a nice time to go out. All of the regular state parks that we visit were already booked, so we decided to check out a “new-to-us” state park in the RV for the first time. We had discussed camping at this particular state park for the past couple of years, wanting to pick a good time to visit. This was actually a perfect time to make that trip, so off we went.
Lake Colorado City State Park is a state recreation area on the banks of Lake Colorado City. Unfortunately, the drought of 2011 brought the lake level down, as it did so many lakes in this part of the state, and RV camping is less popular here than most state parks now for that reason. The park sits only ten miles from I-20, a very busy interstate, so I’ve found it a bit odd that more RV travelers don’t check it out for an overnight stay. Overnight RV sites in the nearby Permian Basin area are practically impossible to find these days due to the oil boom there, which would only seem to potentially increase some RV traffic here. After visiting the park, there are probably more RV campers than advance reservations would suggest, with many probably just pulling in without a reservation, since they are not needed right now for the most part.
We made a quick trip in the car to check out the RV sites back in February, and we were pleasantly surprised at how nice this RV park was. Of course, the trees are primarily mesquite trees and are lower profile for the most part, so spending time at this park in the heat of summer would not be something we would do unless the weather was cooler than normal.
The weather was quite beautiful while we were there on this most recent trip in the RV. The entire area was so wonderfully green, and wildflowers were everywhere, putting on a nice show for us all over the park. We even saw a few patches of bluebonnets, which was quite unexpected.
Here is my “Top Ten List” for reasons to camp at Lake Colorado City State Park right now, not in any particular order. Make a special note of #10, since this is a nice option that is unique to this park from what we’ve seen.
1. We would most definitely drive ten miles from the interstate to overnight camp here if we were traveling. Most commercial RV parks in this general area honestly leave a lot to be desired while this one is quite nice with good spacing between sites. Some sites are back-in and some are pull-through. We had a water and electric pull-through site for $22 per night. All tables have covers, and the sites are mostly level, too. If arriving after office hours, there is a phone number to call to gain admittance, as the park is actually locked after hours. We were given the code to the lock when we checked in, just in case we needed to leave after hours. The park personnel are very friendly, too.
2. This park is a popular birding park, and over 300 species of birds have been documented here. It is a little oasis in this area. Even in the RV campground, there are birds everywhere, and they were quite loud in the mornings due to the sheer number of them chirping. On one quick morning walk, I saw two roadrunners, numerous scissortails, two different kinds of quail, cardinals and several others I couldn’t identify right away. A professional photographer and his wife were camped near us in their RV, and he was out just after sunrise taking photos of the birds and took photos for quite a while. The park staff also conducts periodic bird watching and counting events, inviting the public to join in the day-long fun.
3. If you like bunnies, this is your park. In fact, there were so many cottontail rabbits in the campground that our dogs would go a little nuts every time we took them outside for a walk. I have never seen so many bunnies in one place. They were so cute.
4. We saw many pretty butterflies. It made me realize that I really don’t see them too often at home anymore. Seeing them was a real treat, even though I didn’t get a photo of them on this trip.
5. This is a great place to ride bicycles, at least for us. We prefer a mostly flat area to ride with only gentle hills, and this was perfect for us throughout the park and gave us a good consistent workout. In fact, our long morning ride was one of the nicest bicycle rides we have had since we bought our new touring bikes a couple of years ago.
6. The real treat for us on this trip was the beautiful wildflowers and prickly pear cactus which were all over the park and in the campground areas. It was a delight to once again see beautiful flowers, just as we did on our visit last month to Lake Brownwood State Park.
7. I suspect that most RV campers here these days are couples who are traveling and might just want a quiet place to camp for a brief stay, which keeps this park a pretty low-key place for now. There is really no recreation on the lake except fishing and kayaking right now, and those activities take place in a different area of the park. (The park will host a new guided kayaking program this summer, which could be a lot of fun, especially in the mornings. They even provide the kayaks. We may give it a try at some point, too.) The couple camped closest to us was on a cross-country route headed to Yosemite from Florida and stopped overnight here when other state parks were full. I suspect this is a common tale for this park.
8. The town of Colorado City sits right on I-20 and has a big Affiliated grocery store. It would be a great place to affordably restock groceries, whether you camp at the state park or not. There are other places to eat in town, although we saw mostly fast food places closer to the interstate. We are always good for a stop at Dairy Queen when traveling, though, and there is also a Sonic in town for ice cream. No, that is not on my diet, but perhaps you could indulge for me.
9. This is a uncrowded park and is very peaceful and quiet. Most state parks these days cannot boast that fact on weekends, and it was a welcome respite for us, to be sure. Peace and quiet is always a bonus for us, and I believe others would also enjoy this peaceful place in good weather conditions when it’s not too hot and not too cold. It’s just a great place to relax and get away from it all.
10. Small cabins with attached RV sites are available that front the lake, and they are quite nice. While we camped at a regular RV site on our trip, we are considering going back sometime and renting a cabin with the RV hookups next to it. Our dogs could stay in the RV, since they are not allowed in the cabins, and we could enjoy the extra air-conditioned space, the nice shaded patio in front and also have quick access to the lake to fish or swim. Each cabin has a tall grill outside and a fire pit on the ground.
The cost is only $60 per night, plus tax, including the hookups for the RV. Guests could come along and have their own place to sleep in the cabin, along with air conditioning, a small fridge and a microwave oven. Each cabin can sleep six but would comfortably sleep four people in separate beds consisting of two sets of bunk beds. No linens are provided.
If we go back to kayak sometime, I think we will opt for this arrangement, since the kayak tours take place in summer months. We would appreciate the extra air-conditioned space in summer months, since it can get quite hot here. In fact, Hubby would be quite content to camp with this particular set-up for more than a weekend, too.
After the miracle rains of the past week in our area, I’m certainly not discounting the fact that this smaller lake could quickly fill up once again, and we are hoping and praying for that to happen. We’ve seen just such an event take place with another area lake this week. Lake Colorado City was down even before the 2011 drought, though, and motor boaters have not been able to get their boats in the lake for about ten years now. I’m sure if the lake comes back up, the summer boating crowd will quickly return.
In summary, this state park may not necessarily be a destination park for most people, but it has some definite benefits to visitors, especially to those traveling by RV. We will definitely be returning to this park, along with several others in our travel rotation, for weekend trips.