Eleven Mile State Park, Colorado
Our first camping trip of 2019, Eleven Mile State Park.
Eleven Mile State Park (Altitude ~8500ft) is located 11 miles just southwest of Lake George, CO and Hwy 24. Spinney Mountain Reservoir is northwest of the park and feeds into Eleven Mile Reservoir.
After travelling from Aurora, CO to the park, we arrived in the dark with three sleeping kids! Above us, a sky full of stars, and darkness surrounded us. We couldn’t see the reservoir, but you could hear the small waves hitting the shore. My wife and I set up the basics while enjoying the quiet while the kids slept. Arriving at camp brings an internal peace that lingers the whole trip. There is also the anticipation and excitement of the adventures we will experience. The morning greeted us with the beautiful landscape of Eleven Mile State Park. It is more breathtaking each time we visit. The kids were so excited to get outside and explore the multitude of rocks scattered along the shoreline.
After Breakfast my boys and I set off to the ranger station to see what events were planned for the weekend. I’ve highlighted some info below, be sure to stop in at the ranger station for a complete list or amenities and regulations.
Eleven Mile State Park:
- 1 of the 42 Colorado State Parks
- Kids Passport Program - Kids can get their passport stamped at each state park and they learn fun facts and info about each park
- Hiking – 5 miles of trails open for hiking and cycling
- Fishing – Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Northern Pike and Carp.
- Camping – 348 campsites, can accommodate tents, Trailers and Large RV’s
25 walk-in/boat-in campsites
Dump stations at the NorthShore and Witcher’s Cove Entrances
-Wildlife and Hunting
Pronghorn Antelope, Elk, Deer, Bear, Coyote, Mountain Lion, Bobcat and a variety of small mammals.
Hunting is permitted in specific portions of the park during legal seasons
Ice Fishing, Ice Boating, Ice Skating, and cross country skiing.
Snowmobiling, OHV are prohibited.
Fishing boats and Pontoons are widely use for fishing
Swimming, water-skiing, tubing, wading, and scuba diving are Prohibited
Windsurfing, Paddleboarding, Kayaking is allowed, Full-body wetsuit if recommended
Grocery, camping and fishing supplies, licenses, firewood and snacks are available at the 11 mile Marina located at the North Shore boat ramp.
Medical Facilities are available in Woodland Park
Religious and Commercial facilities are available in nearby communities
In an Emergency you can contact the park ranger or call 911
Park Rangers are trained in CPR and first aid
*above info found in the CPW brochure, also available at cpw.state.co.us
With passports in hand we were ready to start our adventure! We stopped in at the 11-mile marina to pick-up some bait and snacks for the day ahead.
There are miles of shoreline for fishing and plenty of water for boating. The boys and I set up on the shoreline. We used night crawlers and marshmallows for bait. We were able to see an 18-inch carp but had little success in catching anything. If you have ever fished with small children, you know it can be challenging. Regardless of not making a big catch, to be on a peaceful shoreline with little people and no civilization around was quite peaceful. The sound of just wind and some insects flying through was all we could hear. The boys had a great time. They are quite content playing with worms.
If you want to be able to access deeper waters and don’t have a boat. The marina has pontoon boats, fishing boats, canoes and kayaks available for rent which can be reserved ahead of time or you can take your chances and wait till you arrive. There are also guided tours you can reserve a head of time. There are fishing tournaments hosted at the reservoir and ice fishing is a local favorite during the winter months.
There is no shortage of wildlife in the area. In the park, we saw a small herd of Antelope/Pronghorn making their way through the massive boulders in our campground. There were seagulls, swallows and a beautiful white pelican flying overhead hunting for food. Our neighbor made the mistake of leaving their picnic table unattended and the seagulls inspected all their bags and coolers. On an afternoon drive around the lake and through eleven-mile canyon we spotted a herd of deer and more antelope. There are also free range cattle, donkeys and goats at the western edge of the water.
We learned some interesting history of the park and surrounding area. The lake was created when the Eleven Mile Canyon Dam was completed in 1932. The lake is approximately 5.5 miles long and max depth is 135ft. One of the most interesting facts we learned was not on land or on the lake, but what lies beneath the water. Prior to 1932, there were three ranching, railroad communities (Howbert, Idlewild and Freshwater Station) that are now submerged under the massive reservoir, these towns were submerged to provide the water reservoir for the city and county of Denver, CO. Eleven Mile became a state park in 1970.
The weather at Eleven-Mile is difficult to predict but one thing you can count on is the wind. There was always a breeze, but in the afternoon and evening there was a steady wind that would blow your dinner plate off the table if you are not paying attention. Be sure to have a plan on how to anchor down your tent, canopy and camping gear! Although we saw storms clouds and occasionally some lightening moving across the continental divide, these storms never actually made it to Eleven Mile. The weather fronts seem to just travel along the bordering mountain peaks of the park then off to the eastern plains. The last two nights of camping brought cold temperatures! We woke up to a chilling 38 degrees, in the first week of June! As the sun came up it slowly warmed up but I don’t think the temperature rose above 45 for the day. It was a good day to play games, read and watch a movie in our camper. We took a short hike on the rocks near our campsite and found where the swallows nests were tucked under a rock ledge. We found our own perch to watch the birds flying in and out of their nests.
My family and I always enjoy our camping trips to Eleven-Mile State Park. The kids have plenty to do near the campsite to stay entertained or you can go explore the trails or be out on the water. Just be prepared for different types of weather and the wind.