Highline Lake State Park, located in western Colorado, is considered an oasis in the desert because of its lush atmosphere set amidst the desert landscape of Colorado’s Western Slope. Visitors come to this area of Colorado to experience year-round recreation such as hiking, hunting, and fishing. Mountain bikers especially crave this warmer section of the state because of the hundreds of miles of world-class mountain bike trails.
The Grand Junction area is also known for its expansive views of towering mesas and steep canyons. The Colorado National Monument is a popular destination for people who wish to see iconic landscape and wildlife like bighorn sheep and eagles. Fruita, another small city, located close to the park, draws in outdoor adventurers from near and far.
The water in Highline Lake is generally warm compared to many Colorado lakes and reservoirs, so visitors often hit the water to ski, wakeboard, and swim. If motorized boating and louder water sports tend to disrupt the solitude that you crave while at a state park, then you can step away from the chaos on Highline Lake and spend time on Mack Mesa Lake, a small and motorless lake that is perfect for quiet reflection, fishing, and birdwatching. Whatever you crave, big adventure or quiet contemplation, Highline Lake State Park is the ideal place to stay.
Highline Lake State Park is located 24 miles northeast of Grand Junction, Colorado. From I-70, take exit 15 to CO-139 N. Travel approximately six miles and turn left onto Q Road, and then travel another 1.2 miles to 11.8 Road and turn right. The park’s entrance is one mile from this turn.
Highline Lake State Park is located 265 miles southeast of Denver, Colorado. While the drive is mainly interstate, RVers should be cautious of steep grades and sharp turns throughout the route. When approaching the Glenwood Springs area, slow and take the Glenwood Canyon portion of the drive slowly. High canyon walls and steep drop-offs make this a scenic, but skilled drive for larger profile vehicles.
Visitors entering the park must pay a daily parking fee that is an additional cost on top of recreation fees. Passes can be purchased upon entering the park.
The Bookcliff Campground is a basic-services campground that operates year-round. The partially shaded gravel sites are both back in and pull through, with the largest site accommodating RVs up to 90 feet in length. This pet-friendly campground doesn’t have any hookups, but there are plenty of water faucets located throughout the campground for campers to fill up their tanks or containers. Each site has a picnic table, fire pit, and grill. The campground has dumpsters, a laundry room, pay showers, restrooms, and a dump station, and the park office is located inside of the campground. Campers who wish to have a fire can purchase firewood from the camp hosts. Please silence your generators during quiet hours, which are from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am.
Highline Lake State Park has two lakes, Highline Lake and Mack Mesa Lake. Highline Lake opens to boating during the warmer months of the year, and it is the ideal lake to jet-ski, water-ski, and power boat. Because of the warmer water temperatures, visitors crave watersports on this lake, and on holidays and weekends, it often reaches capacity early. Highline Lake is best if you want to boat and play, and Mack Mesa Lake is best if you wish to shoreline fish and enjoy a peaceful day lakeside. For information on boating regulations and safety requirements, visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife, or stop by one of the inspection stations at the park.
Whether you are a skilled or novice angler, then you will have fun and plenty of opportunities to catch fish in either Mack Mesa Lake or Highline Lake. Mack Mesa Lake is known for its fall trout fishing and ice fishing. Because only hand or electric powered boats are allowed on Mack Mesa, the quiet waters make fishing a relaxing experience. Highline Lake offers anglers a truly unique fishing experience because a barrier system separates native and endangered fish from one another which keeps sports fishing and endangered species fishing entirely apart from one another. For information on fishing or fishing licenses, contact the park or Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The state of Colorado requires that all anglers 16 and older hold and possess a valid fishing license.
If you desire walking next to views of the water, then the trails located within the park are for you. Hiking trails wind around both Mack Mesa and Highline Lakes, and they offer hikers scenic views and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. There are many loops and paths that casual hikers can take to have a more extended walking opportunity. Hikers should stop by the park office and pick up a park map to ensure that they are on a hiking trail, and not a technical mountain bike trail. Bring your hiking boots, your day pack, and head outside and experience the beauty of the park on foot!
The world-class mountain bike trails that wind around Highline Lake State Park are second-to-none. These technical trails summon skilled mountain bikers from near and far, year-round. While some of the trails inside of the park are mountain bike friendly, the more skilled trails are located on Bureau of Land Management Land, or they skirt the park’s boundaries. The Kokopelli Trail System trailhead is six miles south of Highline Lake State Park, and The North Fruita Desert trailhead, with access to BLM world-class tracks, is just a few minutes from Highline Lake State Park.
The National Audubon Society named Highline Lake State Park an important birding area because more than 200 species of birds have been seen inside of the park. Bird lovers should bring their binoculars, bird guides, and cameras, and watch for Great Horned Owls, Bald eagles, Golden eagles, pelicans, osprey, blue herons, sandhill cranes, loons, and hawks, to name a few of the birds commonly seen in the park. Interested birdwatchers should pick up a Birds of Highline State Park checklist at the park office or the entrance station, and head to one of the two Watchable Wildlife Kiosks located on either side of Highline Lake. Park staff often have up to date information where some of the birds have been spotted inside of the park, so ask for help when you pick up your bird guide.
Geocaching is a GPS-guided scavenger hunt where cachers look for hidden treasures. These caches are located all over the world, and many United States state parks allow geocaching inside of their park boundaries. Geocaching is a family-friendly activity suitable for both young and old. While the park doesn’t stock or control the caches or the caching equipment, visitors can research the site and gather information before heading to the park to ensure they are ready for a day of treasure hunting. Highline Lake State Park has 13 hidden caches inside of the park’s boundaries. Remember, if you take something, replace it with something else. If you notice anything missing or broken, let the Visitor Center know! Happy hunting!