One Of The Best Spots For Camping And Fishing In Colorado Is This Underrated State Park

Colorado has some of the most beautiful national parks in the United States — Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde, and Great Sand Dunes, to name a few. But many of its state parks are amazing, too, and they tend to be much less crowded than their national counterparts. One of those is Eleven Mile State Park, a natural playground near St. George that offers a beautiful and tranquil setting along with a plethora of opportunities for year-round outdoor recreation. However, do note that swimming and other immersion activities in the reservoir (scuba diving, jet skiing, etc.) are not allowed. 

The park encompasses a grassy plain situated around the long and narrow Eleven Mile Reservoir, which flows into the spectacular and rugged Eleven Mile Canyon. Among the many things to do in the park, some of the most popular activities are angling and ice fishing in the reservoir for brown, cutthroat, cutbow, rainbow trout, northern pike, carp, and even Kokanee salmon, an almost neon-red fish that is difficult to find in Colorado. Fishing equipment and watercraft can be rented within the park at the Eleven Mile Marina. 

Family-friendly camping in the park

Eleven Mile State Park is also an excellent spot for family-friendly camping adventures, with nine campgrounds (325 sites) dispersed around the lake. To secure a spot, campers must make reservations online or by visiting the park office. When deciding where to camp in the park, visitors can choose from various amenities and settings. Electricity is available only at the Rocky Ridge Campground, whereas North Shore Campground features sites along the lakeshore and easy access to boat ramps. In addition, both of these campgrounds also offer accessible sites for people with disabilities.  

Those seeking a more secluded experience can opt for sites at the Stoll Mountain, Cross Creek, Lazy Boy, Rocking Chair, Hebert Point, and Witcher's Cove campgrounds, which tend to have fewer people. There are also 14 backcountry sites on a tree-studded peninsula for campers willing to hike less than a mile with their gear, bear-proof container, and firewood (the latter two items are available at the 11 Mile Marina.)The advantage of camping in this backcountry area is that it's in the prettiest part of the park, close to around 5 miles of scenic hiking trails. 

Other ways to enjoy Eleven Mile State Park

Besides hiking and fishing, visitors can partake in many other activities at Eleven Mile State Park, such as canoeing and kayaking on the lake's smooth and inviting waters. Bikers can travelerblog the trails (with the exception of the Black Bear Trail) in the Coyote Ridge and backcountry areas or ride along paved roads through the Rocky Ridge and North Shore campgrounds. The reservoir also attracts a range of migratory and resident birds, including rare species like the bald eagle, American peregrine falcon, and white pelican, making it a prime spot for birdwatching. 

In the colder months, the reservoir transforms into a vast sheet of glass, making it ideal for ice skating, particularly in early winter when the ice is free of pressure ridges. Visitors are welcome to bring a shovel to clear the ice of snow and make their own little skating rink or use the common one maintained by the marina. Other winter activities include cross-country skiing, camping, ever-popular ice fishing, and a fun and daring winter sport called ice boating. Eleven Mile State Park is conveniently located about an hour's drive west of Colorado Springs. For nature lovers visiting this budget-friendly western city, a trip to the park is a fantastic side trip or picnic stopover.