Best Park in Colorado?

Eleven Mile State Park and Reservoir Gaining International Recognition

Rick Langenberg

In the spirit of TMJ’s Best Of, sometimes the best recreation spots are located right in our backyard.

So, as we toast the best of Teller County and the kings, queens and regular heroes of our region, we often overlook the obvious, especially when it comes to recreational jewels.

Eleven Mile State Park and reservoir, located in Lake George, was recently named by Love Exploring, a key worldwide travel publication and app, and by a number of journalists, as the premiere state park in Colorado, as part of a ranking of the most beautiful state parks in America. In recent weeks, the Google app has been bustling with stellar reports of the Eleven Mile Reservoir area also. Must admit, this crowning of Eleven Mile took me by surprise.

Most locals know Eleven Mile as a prime fishing, boating and camping spot. After all, it bustles with what may writers describe as trophy-level catches of a full spectrum of fish types.

But what many don’t realize is the hiking opportunities available at Eleven Mile and its vast space and the that it sports more than 300 campsites. And then, there is diverse wildlife like no park in the area, where top bird-watchers gather from across the country.

As noted recently by OutThere Colorado, the recent accolades for Eleven Mile are not a small achievement. Colorado boasts 42 state parks, so picking a winner can become a tough choice. This was part of a process the Love Exploring folks underwent in naming the most beautiful park in every state.  Even with some hefty competition, Eleven Mile, a familiar mainstay for local recreation-goers, rose to the top.

In other words, Eleven Mile found itself in the same league as such recreational hubs as Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware, where the infamous American Discovery Trail starts (from the East Coast), the Emerald Bay State Park in California, the Red Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona and the Chugach State Park in Anchorage, Alaska, just to name a few.

That is some pretty impressive company.

As penned by the publication itself, this is what one writer stated, “An adventurer’s paradise year-round, this state park is named for the Eleven Mile Reservoir, a calm body of water popular with boaters and fishermen. Elk, bears, and diverse birdlife all make their home in the park, whose dark skies also draw in budding astronomers. In winter, the mountains lining the reservoir wear a crown of snow and the water becomes a scenic ice rink. There are more than 300 campsites here too, so you’ll have no trouble pitching up under the stars.”

So, as we celebrate our Best Of attributes in the next two weeks, make sure to put a trip to Eleven Mile Reservoir on your bucket list. Just don’t tell us how many fish you catch.

Plus, ideal wind conditions make Eleven Mile a popular, but not overcrowded destination for sailing, windsurfing and winter ice boating on what is described as a unique, wide-open reservoir. Motor boaters and kayakers also find plenty of room to play during the summer months.

For more information about Eleven Mile, visit their website. For more information about the listing of the top parks across the nation, visit the Love Exploring site.