Chatfield Reservoir – Denver, Colorado

I can once again find west. All I have to find the mountains and I know which direction I am pointing. It makes a Colorado boy feel like they are home. During the summer, another part of home for a person that grew up on the south side of Denver is visiting the place where all of our water comes from, Chatfield Reservoir. Any time I came out here to visit, it meant that I had reached the farthest spot in the south west portion of the metropolitan area. There were a couple of buildings past the waters that were collected here, but they were highly restricted areas owned by Martin Marietta, but a lot has changed since I have been back. The boom in the area has caused housing to spring up all over the place, but nothing has been able to touch this treasure because long ago, the ones in charge decided to give this big plot of land state park status.

It has always held the distinction of being one of Denver’s playgrounds during the summer months. There are other reservoir that people flock to depending on where they are located in this ever-growing city, but for those of us on the south side, it was always Chatfield. The water rises and lowers depending on how much rain the state is getting, and when I went out there, it was the deepest I have ever seen it. Most of the time the man made beaches would stretch past a line of cottonwood trees, but the water had reached the roots of these trees. Apparently, Colorado has received an excess of rain this year, and all of the reservoirs are reaching the same levels. It was almost as if the dry weather that Colorado usually gets was traded to Oregon this summer for its rain.

People are taking advantage of this fact this year and Chatfield was also a lot more crowded than I remember it being. It could also have been that it was a long holiday weekend and people were getting in their last hurrahs before heading back to work the next day. I hung out at the Roxborough Cove where many kayakers and paddle-boarders come to spend the day. There are a lot of places along the coast where people can set up their day camps as they go out on the water and come back in for a little bit of time. Most of the people bring their own boards or kayaks, but they are available for rent as well. I would suggest to reserve them ahead of time because they are not always available if you just show up. They even have instructors that will give you a couple of pointers before yo shove off.

This is not the only activity that happens at the reservoir. Many people bring their motor boats out and spend the day on them. There are a bunch of no wake zones, mainly Roxborough Cove and the Gravel Pools, but motor boats can still slowly make their way into these areas even though I rarely see that. Most of the time they come out to speed around the center of the water as they take people out waterskiing. Or they look for the deeper parts of the reservoir where they can catch a few fish as there is always a good amount of them in the water.

Some people take the trip even further and make plans to spend a couple of days there. There are some campsites available. I haven’t used them in a long time, and I remember them not being that great. They do have all the facilities that a camper could need, but the rest of the city is always around you and the shrubbery does not lend itself to a beautiful landscape. But if you are there to get to the water quickly in the morning, it is a great option to have.

Chatfield Reservoir is a great getaway spot for a hot summer’s day. It is not far from anybody living on the south end of Denver, so there are always people flocking to this spot. There is a fee for anybody wishing to bring their car in, but they let bikes and runners just blow past the check-in station. It beats sitting around the house all day and it brought back many memories by making it out there again while also seeing how it has grown and matured over the years. It will always remain a staple of southwest Denver, and I can’t wait to get back there again some day.

Camping – The Move Day 10 – 12

There are many pass-times that the state of Colorado has to offer from seeing concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheater, to catching a game at one of the many sporting events, from skiing at one of the world renowned resorts, to hiking up one of the over fifty 14ers, but the one that I think symbolizes the fun that can be had in the state the most is camping. It is when I hang out in the mountains with my favorite friends and family that supplies me with the greatest memories of this part of the United States. There are so many great locations that it is hard to just pick one that embodies what it means to go camping. You can go to some of the national parks, such as Rocky Mountain or the Great Sand Dunes; you can find spots within the miles of national forrest, such as the Poudre River or Eleven Mile Canyon; or you can head to one of the many state parks, such as Golden Gate Park, or Mueller State Park.

I have camped in many different locations during my years living in Colorado, and each one of them has their own special charm, but one of the places I enjoy camping at is Mueller State Park outside of Divide, Colorado. It is easy to find. You just take Highway 24 out of Colorado Springs until you reach Divide and then you take a left on Highway 67 for six miles and it will be on your right hand side. I do recommend looking ahead and reserving a campsite before you go especially during the summer. I would recommend doing this with any place you camp at during the summer. We had made reservations way back in February, and they were already filling up at that time.

The campsites are very comfortable there and far enough away from other campsite so it does not feel like you are camping on to of another person. There are plenty of site that accommodate campers, but most of the people that we saw there were just tenting it. The weather was perfect for this as well. Mueller State Park sits over 9,000 feet above sea level so it will always be a little cooler there than Colorado Springs or Denver. It is the perfect way to escape the heat of the summer. Each site comes with a table, and a grill over a fire pit, and there is a bathroom facility that is central to the campgrounds that offers laundry options, and showers. Even though you find yourself camping, the comforts of home are within walking distance, and you will never feel like you are really roughing it.

The nicest thing about camping here is that you are close to many fun things to do. There is a wolf sanctuary close by, as well as a mine that you can explore. There are many places where you can go fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding and of course, hiking.

There are many trails around the park that offer spectacular views, but you do not even need to leave the park to find a place where you can enjoy a nice hike. As soon as you enter the park, the ranger will give you a map to all of the trails that the park has to offer. Some are easier than others, but all of them will take you to an exciting place in the park.

The one that I took while I was out there led me to Cheesman Ranch, an old settlement on the valley floor of this part of Colorado. There were a series of ranch style homes that were left behind when the first people from the east came out to this part of Colorado and decided that they would try their hand at ranching, and the state has done a great job of maintaining the outside of these buildings. The preservation of history makes it feel as if you were a part of this household when you make it to this part of the trail. It is the small things that you notice such as the metal siding used as the roof and the new paint job that makes you know that somebody cares about making sure that this is here for anybody that decides to take this hike.

The insides of the building were a little different, but it is one small step at a time, and it is the small ranch house on the plain surrounded by mountains that make this hike worth it, but that can be said for any hike that is taken in Colorado. There is always some reward at the end of the hike such as a water fall or the beautiful view of the mountains. There are also little treasures along the way as well, whether that is people you meet along the way or being able to see the wildlife, a hike in the mountains is always an adventure.

I have camped all of the world, but there is something about being able to do it in Colorado, and I am glad that I got to experience it while I was out here this summer.