Like most state parks in Colorado, Mancos State Park is chock full of breathtaking vistas and outdoor adventures. From the high-elevation alpine forest to the perfectly still Jackson Gulch reservoir, you can expect panoramic views everywhere you look. No camper can resist the temptation to snap a photo of the distant San Juan Mountains bathed in the glow of the sunrise.
Activities abound here all year for outdoor enthusiasts looking to experience Colorado's world-famous backcountry firsthand. Whether you want to fish or paddle on the reservoir during the summer, or explore the cross-country skiing trails in the winter, Mancos State Park has endless opportunities to satisfy the tastes of everyone in your camping crew.
Mancos State Park is also the perfect base camp for RV travelers looking to explore surrounding attractions. When you've had your fill of the great outdoors, RV campers at Mancos State Park can motor into the quaint town of Mancos to discover fine dining, shopping, and cultural attractions. The nearby Mesa Verde National Park is also a haven for adventurers who like a little history to go with their hikes -- you won't want to miss the ruins left behind by the ancient Pueblo tribe which once called these canyons home.
A word to the wise camper planning an overnight at Mancos State Park: Colorado is renowned for its not-so-friendly wildlife. Bears, moose, wolves, and other big, hairy beasts are common sights at many wilderness areas in Colorado. Always err on the side of caution and store food, toiletries, and other scented items in a locked vehicle or a secure bear-proof locker.
Internal roads and campsites at Mancos State Park are gravel, so prepare for a true wilderness experience when visiting. The roads are usually in good condition, but if you're traveling in inclement weather, check with the official state park website for current conditions. RV sites are level and can accommodate rigs up to 40 feet long.
A small, gravel parking lot is available for day-use visitors by the park's entrance. Be mindful that the park is situated near a residential area. An entrance fee applies in addition to camping fees, and park passes must be displayed in vehicle windows.
The two campgrounds at Mancos State Park offer different amenities for different types of campers. The Main Campground features 23 sites for tent and RV campers in motorhomes up to 40 feet long. Both pull-through and back-in sites are available, but no hookups are provided for RV campers. Sites at the Main Campground include fire pits, picnic tables, and access to vault toilets and drinking water.
The park's West Campground caters primarily to tent campers looking for a rough and rugged camping adventure right on the waterfront. Vault toilets are accessible nearby, but drinking water isn't available, so be sure to pack in all the supplies you'll need.
The West Campground and the lower loop of the Main Campground are closed during the winter, so off-season campers at Mancos State Park will need to reserve a yurt or a site at upper loop of the Main Campground.
Campers must reserve their site at least three days prior to arrival.
For those who prefer to camp in comfort and style, Mancos State Park offers two yurts complete with electricity, a microwave and refrigerator, a gas heater, bunk beds, a picnic table, a fire ring and grill -- and so much more! Both yurts are pet-friendly to leashed, well-behaved dogs (for an extra fee), and one of the yurts is accessible for campers with disabilities.
Guests must bring their own bedding and cooking utensils. Please note that cooking is not allowed inside the yurt unless weather conditions are unsafe. All food and other scented items must be stored in secure containers to avoid attracting dangerous wildlife.
Yurts are available year-round and are a popular camping option for adventurers exploring the winter wonderland at Mancos State Park. You'll want to make sure you're prepared with all the gear you need, but if you do happen to forget something, both yurt sites offer a parking space for your vehicle and aren't far from provisions in Mancos, Durango, and Cortez.
With just over five miles of trails connecting to longer routes, Mancos State Park is a hiker's haven. The three trails are adorably named after Colorado's wildlife: the Black Bear Trail, the Mountain Lion Trail, and the Mule Deer Trail. The Mountain Lion Trail is the shortest and easiest at just over a half-mile long. All trails are designated as moderate difficulty and low-usage, so you might not see another soul along your walk! If you'd like to extend your hike, hit the two-mile Black Bear Trail and then connect to other US Forest Service trails.
The Jackson Gulch Reservoir is a premier destination for paddlers and canoers during the peak season. A no-wake rule applies at the reservoir, so boating is restricted to non-motorized craft. However, certain low-power boats are also allowed to explore the lake so long as they don't leave a wake behind. If you're towing your own watercraft to Mancos State Park, be aware that all boats must be registered and pass an inspection for invasive species before launching.
Offering trout and perch as the catch of the day, Jackson Gulch Reservoir is the perfect spot for the kids to learn how to cast a line. Bait fishing is allowed here year-round, so pack up the tackle box and try your luck! Though ice fishing is usually available come winter, weather conditions don't always permit for this activity. Anglers looking to fish from their canoe or kayak are welcome year-round, but are advised to check the official Colorado Parks & Wildlife page for updates on fishing conditions.
Pack up your snow gear and head out to Mancos State Park in the winter to explore its cross-country skiing trails. Start your excursion at the Vista Trailhead, located near the entrance of the park, and enjoy mountain and lake views along the way. One of the access roads in the park is closed during the off-season and available to skiers. Want to up the ante? Connect to other ski trails at Chicken Creek! Skiers are advised to check weather conditions before heading out.
Yes, you heard us correctly! Snowtubing is a fun winter activity available at Mancos State Park for those looking for more thrilling encounter in this winter wonderland. You'll find sledding and snowtubing opportunities by the park's boat ramp when the weather is just right. Don't have your own tube? You can find a tube rental facility just a short drive away from the park. The nearby Hesperus ski area also offers a well-kept sled hill with a vertical drop of 700 feet!
Many of the activities at Mancos State Park are sure to get your heart racing, but if you're looking for something a little quieter, pack the binoculars and see what you can spot. Deer and fox are commonly sighted, while elk and coyotes are a rare treat for animal enthusiasts. Wildlife watching opportunities are available year-round at the park, but if you plan to visit during the summer, it might be best to leave the trail snacks behind -- the bears who live in the park can smell food from miles away!