Featuring a sky-blue reservoir surrounded by towering peaks, Crawford State Park is a boater’s paradise. From fishing to waterskiing to taking a leisurely swim on a hot summer’s day, this Colorado state park has everything you need to make your next RV vacation well worth the trip. Located within striking distance of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Crawford State Park is the perfect base camp for further exploration of Colorado’s beautiful Western Slope region.
The boating opportunities are the star of the show at Crawford State Park. For anglers, there’s the prospect of landing perch, northern pike, or even largemouth bass. Later in the day, the water skiers hit the lake, with smooth water providing excellent turns. Jet skis and kayaks are welcome on the water as well. And there’s a family-friendly designated swim area if you simply like to frolic in the cool water.
In addition to the fun to be had on the lake, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife. The park is particularly popular with bird watchers. Bring your binoculars in your motorhome for a chance to observe migratory and resident waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors. Lots of land-based critters call the area home as well, such as mule deer, cottontail rabbits, and coyotes.
Nestled in the beautiful uplands of Colorado’s Western Slope region, Crawford State Park is a wonderful destination for your next RV adventure. Peak season runs from late spring through Labor Day, but whether you come to enjoy the water-based activities in summer or choose to travel to the park for hunting in the fall or for a peaceful, snow-bound retreat in winter, Crawford State Park is sure to impress.
Crawford State Park is located on Colorado Highway 92, one mile south of the town of Crawford and 10 miles south of the junction with State Highway 133 at Hotchkiss. The park is 244 miles east of Denver, and it makes a great place to stop and park the trailer or RV while exploring the surrounding area.
Both campgrounds within the park are easily accessible to RVs and trailers of all sizes. There are two large parking lots, one adjacent to the Iron Creek Campground and the other in the Peninsula Day-use area, which provide plenty of parking space for boat trailers, travel trailers and RVs. During the winter months, only the Clear Fork campground is plowed and kept clear of snow.
If you’d rather walk through the park than drive, a hiking trail runs along the eastern shore of the lake, connecting the two campgrounds with the Peninsula Day-Use Area.
The Iron Creek Campground features 45 sites, all with hookups for water and electricity. Five of the sites are ADA-accessible, and all of them allow pets, as long as they’re kept on-leash. Eight sites feature 50-amp electricity hookups and the rest feature 30-amp power. All sites offer a picnic table and fire grill, and 20 of them provide a metal shade structure. The sites are quite spacious- the shortest site in the campground is 50 feet and the largest can hold a rig up to 120 feet long. Quiet hours begin at 10 PM. In addition to these features, the campground amenities include a boat ramp and adjacent trailer parking lot, as well as restrooms featuring hot showers and flush toilets. There’s a dump station immediately adjacent to the park entrance.
Reservations are available online or by phone beginning in mid-May and can be made from three days to six months in advance. While not required, a reservation is highly recommended during the busy summer season, especially on weekends. After Labor Day, all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Camping is limited to 14 days per 45-day period.
The Clear Fork Campground features 21 sites, including five that are designated as tent-only. There are no water or electrical hookups in this campground. Sites range from 30 to 70 feet long. All sites feature a picnic table and fire grill, and eight have shade structures. Amenities include potable water, flush toilets, and hot showers. Pets are welcome but must be restrained. A trail connects the Clear Fork Campground with the Iron Creek Campground to the south and to the Peninsula Day-Use Area to the north. The same reservation information listed above pertains to Clear Fork Campground as well, and stays are likewise limited to 14 days per 45-day period.
Throw the kayak on top of the truck or hitch the boat up to the motorhome, because Crawford State Park is an angler’s paradise. Get out on the water early to enjoy excellent fishing for perch, crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, and catfish. There’s no limit on how many perch or pike you can take, but limits are enforced for crappie, catfish, and bass. Note that the use of baitfish, such as minnows, is prohibited. Two boat ramps provide easy access to the water. The ramps are generally open from early morning until nightfall, with reduced hours after Labor Day. They close for the season around the end of September.
The fun on the water isn’t limited to fishing. Water skiing is popular as well, with a designated ski area where water skiers carve graceful turns during the summer months. Jet skis are also allowed on the lake, as well as kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and sailboards. If it floats, you can bring it out to Crawford State Park! Even scuba diving is permitted, granted that it’s conducted in a safe area with a dive flag. Swimming is another popular way to enjoy the lake, but it’s only permitted within the swim area, located at the beach in the Peninsula Day-Use Area.
There are plenty of opportunities to observe the local wildlife. The park is situated among the pinyon-juniper woodlands and sagebrush shrublands of the Western Slope. A wide number of different plant and animal species can be found here, including within the riparian and wetland communities around the reservoir. Bird watchers can spot Rocky Mountain bluebirds, red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds, sandhill cranes, and even the occasional bald eagle. There’s even the chance that you’ll spot a Gunnison sage grouse! Migrating waterfowl bring a whole new cast of characters to the park during late spring and early fall.
The fall is a beautiful time to bring the RV to Crawford State Park for a hunting trip. The park is a prime waterfowl hunting location. During the fall migration, hunting for ducks and other migratory waterfowl is permitted as long as the hunter is more than 150 yards from a campground. Hunting for big game is allowed during appropriate seasons, as long as park and state regulations are followed
Once the lake freezes over in winter, there are even more opportunities for fun. As long as the lake ice is at least six inches deep, ice fishing is allowed anywhere on the lake. Ice skating is another popular winter pastime. If you prefer to conduct your winter fun on firm ground, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted, as long as there’s enough snow to protect the park’s vegetation.
During warmer days of the off-season, Crawford State Park offers a gorgeous landscape to enjoy a picnic under backdrop of Colorado hills. Over 30 picnic tables and grills are spread out across the park, offering various scenic locations to dine along the rim of the Crawford Reservoir. One of the most popular spots for a picnic is the Peninsula Day-Use Area, since its close to the Visitors Center. You’ll love breathing in that fresh western air and gazing out across the lake or into pinyon-juniper woodlands. Group picnic areas are available for rent as well.