This peaceful paradise on the plains, John Martin Reservoir State Park, is a popular, year-round state park in southeastern Colorado. John Martin Reservoir, located in the Lower Arkansas River Valley, is one of the largest reservoirs in the state, but the reservoir isn't the only water feature in the park. Lake Hasty, a smaller body of water, also gives water-lovers recreational opportunities. Because of the two water features, John Martin is one of the best Colorado state parks to visit across every season.
John Martin Reservoir State Park is located 100 miles east of Pueblo, Colorado, and is an excellent choice for an RV visit at any time during the year. The campgrounds have fantastic views, and the sites near Lake Hasty, which are nestled under large trees, make for the perfect recreation spot while providing shade to visitors year-round. Aside from year-round camping, John Martin Reservoir State Park is a historical hot spot. The park is close to many historical landmarks, and visiting these landmarks is a favorite activity for park guests. People interested in Colorado's fur-trading history should visit the adobe fort, Bent's Old Fort, and for a more somber experience, visit the site of the Sand Creek Massacre.
John Martin Reservoir State Park also offers plenty of activities for nature and recreation seekers. Once you settle into your campsite and set up your RV, stretch your legs by exploring the trails. The extensive trail system offers hikers views of the ancient native rock carvings as well as places to try and spot some of the local wildlife. For the birders, John Martin Reservoir is one of the best places in the state to birdwatch. The park is home to over 370 species of birds, some of which are on the endangered or threatened birds list. To catch a glimpse of these birds, be sure to pack your binoculars in your RV. If birding isn't your thing, then perhaps you want to explore the water instead. Anglers will relish the many species of fish in the reservoir and the well-stocked Lake Hasty. Anglers may fish from either the shore or boat at John Martin Reservoir State Park, providing fishing experiences for all skill levels.
Whatever you decide to do, choosing to stay with your Airstream or motorhome at John Martin Reservoir State Park is one of the best choices you will make this year.
John Martin Reservoir State Park is easy to access by either vehicle or RV. Located just 105 miles east of Pueblo, Colorado, the roads are less mountainous and more flat than you'd expect. Take CO-50 east to CR-24/School Street and head south. The park is located two miles from the highway. Be aware that all Colorado state parks require visitors to pay a daily parking fee, which is separate from overnight camping costs.
A series of paved and gravel roads run through the park and allow for easy access to the various park facilities such as the Visitor Center, the camping and picnic areas, or the boat ramps. The roads within the park are easy to navigate for even large RVs. You will find parking near the boat ramps, trailheads, Visitor Center, and at Lake Hasty. Of course, for those staying, overnight parking is available at your campsite. It is easy to get around the park on foot or by bike. Bikes are allowed in many areas of the park, and the hiking trails are easily accessible.
Hook up to 50-amp service with a rig up to 85 feet long at the high plains getaway of La Junta KOA and find yourself less than an hour's drive away from sites of America’s past. Splash in the pool, get doused in the waterslide, cook meals in the convenient Kamping Kitchen, or hang out in the rec room. Outside, guests can find sandy spots for horseshoes, volleyball, or badminton. Fill up your supply of firewood and propane right on the premises. Large groups traveling together can find space in the meeting rooms and decked out kitchen. Bring your K-9 along for the ride, too, and enjoy some quality canine fun at the dog park!
For those looking for a more primitive camping option, the Point Campground is a great choice. The Point Campground features 104 basic, pet-friendly campsites that all overlook the reservoir. While potable water is available, electricity is not. Amenities include vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. You will also be close to picnic areas, fishing areas, and a beach for swimming. Another bonus of this campground is that sites are large and roomy. Some can even hold RVs or trailers up to 153 feet long. You’ll love relaxing at your campsite with beautiful views of the reservoir. The Point Campground is closed in the winter. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
The Lake Hasty Campground features 109 family-friendly campsites, offering back-in and pull-through spots for tents, trailers, and RVs. Fifty-one campsites are accessible year-round stays, and there is potable water and a dump station available on-site. Amenities of this campground include a full-service camper station, flush toilets, pay showers, a laundry room, and a seasonal fish cleaning station. Each site is on a gravel pad featuring electrical hookups, a fire ring, and picnic table.
Children will love the playground, and the trees provide plenty of shade. You will also be close to trails, picnic areas, boat ramps, fishing areas, and a beach for swimming. The Lake Hasty Campground is located right on the shore of the lake, offering easy access to many aquatic activities. Some of the sites here are nice and spacious, offering room for RVs or trailers over 100 feet long. This campground is ADA accessible. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
The 4.5-mile Red Shin Trail is the park's main foot thoroughfare. The path meanders through the short-prairie grasses and the wetlands that surround Lake Hasty. Beginning just below the dam, the Red Shin Trail intersects the Santa Fe Trail, which is another shorter hike located on the north side of the reservoir. This trail will not only expose hikers to nature, but you will also experience a history lesson as you pass historic canals and native rock carvings, and end up near the Santa Fe Trail Historic Site. Red Shin Trail is also an excellent location to spot many species of wildlife, including deer, antelope, rabbits, snakes, and lizards. If you are looking for a quicker walk, visit Red Shin Standing Ground, which can be accessed via CR-24, which is above Lake Hasty. All of the trails are pet-friendly, however, be sure to abide by the park rules and keep your pet on a six-foot leash. When you're ready to hit the trail, park your rig by the trailhead and get hiking!
John Martin Reservoir is one of the largest reservoirs in Colorado and is a well-known spot for all watersport enthusiasts. The reservoir is open to all types of boating. Even water skiers and jet skiers can shred the water here. Keep in mind that the smaller body of water, Lake Hasty, is limited to vessels that can be hand-launched, such as kayaks, canoes, sailboats and smaller boats with electric motors. All boaters must follow Colorado boating statutes and regulations, and vessels must be inspected for invasive species before entering the water. Boaters can enjoy the water most months with the exception of November through March when boating closes for the season.
Swimming at John Martin Reservoir State Park is a popular activity for RVers looking to cool down during the Colorado summer. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, you'll want to head on over to the sunny shores of the beach at Lake Hasty to jump in and beat the heat in the lake's stunning blue waters. However, swimming is only allowed in posted areas, and you can't swim in or around the docks or at the point overlook. Also, be aware that no lifeguards are on duty at any time. Anyone who wants to swim in the reservoir will need a life jacket. At Lake Hasty, you can find a host of facilities to accommodate your stay, including toilets, showers, and co-operated laundry machines.
The stunning shorelines help to make the park the best spot to picnic during the warmer months of the year. The park has picnic tables scattered along the water's edge and nestled under shade trees. If you are visiting with a large group, the park has a couple of areas that are capable of hosting bigger parties. These group picnicking spaces must be reserved in advance, which can be done by contacting the Visitor Center.
The abundance of fish at John Martin Reservoir, paired with the temperate climate, makes the park a prime destination for fishing enthusiasts year-round. Saugeye and crappie are plentiful during the spring and early summer, with saugeye making another appearance in the fall; other fish species are present throughout the year, both on the reservoir as well as Lake Hasty. The park discourages ice fishing because the lake rarely freezes over completely. Although the reservoir is the park's main draw, Lake Hasty is the most popular fishing location; you will find an abundance of rainbow and cutthroat trout in its waters as well as the other seasonal-fish species. Situated just beneath the dam, Lake Hasty is the perfect spot for anyone wanting to fish from the shore or a boat. There is an accessible fishing pier situated on the west side of the lake.
John Martin Reservoir State Park is a birder's paradise because the water helps to attract migratory and non-migratory birds. The park has earned the distinction of one of Colorado's most important nesting sites for piping plovers, great blue herons, and least terns. The western shores of the lake even house a large heron rookery.
Because of the variety of birds inside of the park, birders come from all over to try and catch a glimpse of their favorite species. Even novice birdwatchers have fun trying to locate sandpipers, eagles, owls, hawks, pelicans, swans, or one of the 370 birds who call John Martin Reservoir State Park home. Before you head out to spot birds, make sure you download the birding checklist and view the tips for bird watching, which are available online.
The mild winters of Colorado mean that biking enthusiasts can enjoy the clear, blue skies above the roadways at John Martin Reservoir State Park all year. The are no specific trails designated for mountain biking at John Martin Reservoir State Park, but bicycle riders can enjoy the full expanse of the roads that weave throughout the park's grounds.
Geocaching is a high-tech scavenger hunt where people of all ages use a hand-held GPS unit to discover various hidden treasures all over the world. John Martin Reservoir State Park has several containers, called caches, hidden throughout the park, and adventurous park guests have the opportunity to search the park for these hidden caches. You can use a personal GPS device, or rent one from the park's office. For more information about geocaching in the park, speak to a member of the staff.