Located in the shadows of the Spanish Peaks in Southern Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, Lathrop State Park has much to offer for RV Campers. The Spanish Peaks, known for their fiery sunrises and sunsets, provide a luminous backdrop for recreation in and around the almost 1,600-acre state park.
Colorado's first state park, Lathrop State Park, is located in Walsenburg, Colorado. The park is open year-round with limited seasonal operations. No matter the time of year they arrive, visitors will have plenty of activities for any age group to enjoy. Before venturing out into the park, they can stop by the large Visitor Center to learn about the southern Colorado region, pay for park passes, buy hunting or fishing licenses, or procure boat and snowmobile registrations. The accessible Visitor Center also serves as a gift shop and bookstore, as well as a place to pick up ice, firewood, bait, and even ice cream.
At just an hour and a half southeast of Great Sand Dunes National Park, Lathrop State Park makes an excellent stop for visitors traveling through the Rocky Mountains. The Great Sand Dunes is less than two hours away, but accommodations near the dunes are limited. Staying at Lathrop State Park gives guests a comfortable and engaging place to stay while making a trip to the dunes a short drive away.
Lathrop State Park is located 167 miles southwest of Denver just outside the town of Walsenburg on Highway 160. The park is located just off Highway 160 and is easy to find by following signage along the Highway. Roads within the park are paved and easy to navigate by RV. Visitors can also enter the park by bicycle or on foot.
There is a daily parking fee at Lathrop State Park. The parking fee is in addition to camping and recreational fees.
Lathrop State Park's primitive-style Yucca Campground can accommodate smaller RVs and trailers, but visitors looking for a better-serviced experience may prefer to book a spot at the Pinon Campground. The Yucca Campground doesn't have electric or water hookups but does offer vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables in each campground, as well as a dump station. Visitors also have access to community hydrants. This campground features gravel roads and is pet-friendly. Yucca Campground is not open during the winter months.
Lathrop State Park's Pinon Campground is ideal for RV campers. This four looped, fully paved campground offers reservations for 82 pull-through and back-in sites. Open year-round, Pinon Campground can accommodate larger rigs up to 75 feet, and each site offers electrical hookups, a fire ring, and picnic tables. There's also a pay shower in each loop, as well as numerous community hydrants for potable water. Visitors with children are encouraged to enjoy the centrally located playground. The campground also features a dump station, and trash receptacles are available at the entrance of each loop. Visitors are asked not to bring wood from out-of-state for burning.
During the peak season, Pinon Campground offers a few RV campsites on a first-come, first-served basis. Call ahead for more information from park rangers. These sites have electrical hookups, fire rings, and picnic tables, and sit within the main campground area.
Lathrop State Park has two main trails. Hikers can take the Hogback Trail, an unpaved, moderate trail that offers views of the peaks and a self-guided informational walk about the park’s plant and animal life. Bicycles are prohibited on the Hogback Trail, so visitors who wish to bike should take the Cuerno Verde Trail. The Cuerno Verde Trail is an easy, three-mile paved trail that loops around Martin Lake. Both bikers and pedestrians can enjoy this scenic closed-loop trail.
Geocachers will feel at home in Lathrop State Park. With 13 geocaches, children and adults can embark on their own treasure hunt. All of the geocaches at Lathrop State Park are easily accessible, making them good choices for beginners and children. Since the caches take visitors throughout the park, it's an excellent and fun way to explore its nearly 1,600 acres. The park doesn't rent GPS units, so visitors should be sure to bring their own.
Hunting is one of the most popular off-season activities at Lathrop State Park. Licensed hunters can go after small game and waterfowl during hunting season, which runs from Labor Day to Memorial Day. Hunters can use both bows and shotguns within the posted hunting areas around Horseshoe Lake. The Visitor Center also sells hunting licenses but doesn't supply any other hunting equipment. Visitors should contact the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department for more information.
Near the entrance of the park on Hwy 160, Lathrop State Park offers a free archery practice range for RV campers and park guests. The range offers marked distances from 10 to 80 yards. That means archers won't have to compute distances if they're sighting in their equipment. Visitors can also rent a life-sized mule deer mannequin to practice bow hunting. The archery range is free to use, and if visitors are entering the park just to use the range there is no fee.
Because of the climate around Lathrop State Park, visitors can enjoy the warm water at Horseshoe and Martin Lake. Since the park sits between the foothills and the plains, the water temperature in the lakes can reach up to 75 degrees in the summer. Martin Lake has a designated swimming area with covered picnic tables, grills, and a ski beach. Guests can water ski, fish, powerboat, sailboat, or windsurf on Martin Lake. Horseshoe Lake allows sailing, wakeless boating, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. No pets are permitted at the ski and swim beach. Check with the park for more information about lake activities. Swimming is allowed seasonally, and Horseshoe Lake closes during the waterfowl-hunting season.
All of the lakes at Lathrop State Park are stocked with various fish species, including pike, trout, and bass. Adults can cast a line into Horseshoe and Martin Lake, and there's a designated youth-only fishing area near the Martin Lake Dam. The park often offers fishing clinics for children, making fishing an even more fun family activity. Visitors over the age of 16 are required to have a fishing license, which can be purchased at the Visitor Center. Fishing is best in the summer, as winter ice conditions are considered unsafe, and ice fishing is not recommended.
Walsenburg Golf Course shares an entrance with Lathrop State Park and is within walking distance of the Pinon Campground. Golfers visiting Lathrop State Park can golf nine or 18 holes and then enjoy a meal at the restaurant and bar. Hours vary throughout the year, so golfers should call to confirm the course is open. For dedicated golfers, there are several tournaments held at the course throughout the year. Walsenburg Golf Course also offers golf cart rental so that all golf enthusiasts can enjoy the course's offerings.