It had been raining for 22 days, and we were expecting this to be a wet trip. Once we arrived in Woodland Park, we saw blue skies! Heading north 6.8 miles on Hwy. 67, Colorado Campground is a wide open campground full of mature ponderosa pines. The roads are paved, and the sites are covered in the usual Rocky Mountain mixture of dirt, rocks, and pine needles. It was a perfect mix for a rainy trip—no mud! There are some water spigots throughout the campground, but do not rely on them to fill your camper tank, due to the low flow and lack of a hose thread. Bring a water carrier.
Colorado Campground is close to Manitou Park Lake, which is a fee based recreational park. There is a nice hiking trail from the campground that leads through a meadow to the lake. One side of the lake is full of beaver ponds, and the other has a dam with a small spill way into Trout Creek. The fish where biting very well during our visit. If you stay at the campground and decided to drive to the lake, the park waves the fees (remember to show them your campground pass). The park is open to cars from 6 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Because of all the rain during our stay, we didn’t hike any of the cool trails that we found. Here is a list of trails that we were going to try from AllTrails.com.
We did take advantage of every ray of sunshine while we were out. We discovered the Manitou Experimental Forest behind our site and spent hours, each day, wandering around. Bring a compass with you if you decide to go into the area, as there are not many stablished trails and you will want to find your way back! There are three gates that we found for the MEF, you can access them behind the campsites in the back of Colorado Campground—do remember to be respectful to the campsites that you walk through to get to the gates.
While walking around the grounds we found watering stations (perhaps we were caught on a game cam!), a dead fox, plenty of bones, Abert’s Squirrels, Yellow-Rumped Warblers, Red Cross-Bills, Pine Grosbeak, Wrens, Swallows, Western Tanagers, a Woodpecker that we couldn’t identify, and a BEAR! This was our first bear while out walking in the mountains, and I think we handled it as well as could be expected. We clapped, shouted, walked together, and gave it plenty of room so it didn’t feel threatened. As soon as we crossed back over the barbed wire fence, we took some pictures (and felt much safer).
We visited Painted Rock Campground. It was muddy, due to all the rain, and the sites looked a bit rough and worn. This is a great place for tent campers and popups. The red rock formations that stand around the campground are amazing. Well worth the trip to walk around the area.
Nearby, South Meadows Campground, looks exactly like Colorado Campground: paved, nice sites, and spaced out. The biggest difference is that it backs up to a meadow instead of a forest.
We headed into town to check out the local scene, but unfortunately a stormed rolled in when we arrived. After checking the Visitor Center, where we gathered some maps and great information, we stopped in Joanie’s Bakery and Delicatessen for a pulled pork sandwich and dessert croissants to go. We also ran between the raindrops and visited the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center. You can see the paleontologists working in the lab and a lot of interesting fossils on display.
We decided to take the back roads home, through Deckers, Pine (Grove) and back to Hwy. 285—it was a much calmer drive than Hwy. I25.