The area that is now the home to Rifle Gap State Park was once called Austin, Colorado. In the 1960s, the federal government changed the abandoned town into a reservoir to provide water to farmers and ranchers in the area. By the time the reservoir was complete, the state park had already been built and was now called Rifle Gap State Park. It opened its gates for the first time in 1968 and since then has been both a summer and winter favorite location for the locals and other visitors from different states.
The reservoir offers water recreational activities for visitors of all ages. Summers are filled with waterskiing, windsurfing, fishing, boating, and swimming. The winter months offers snowball fights, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and the occasional snowmobile joyrider. While the park does offer an option for hiking, there are no designated hiking trails but visitors are welcome to make their own. The same can be stated about the cross-country skiing trails are not marked, so part of the adventure is making your own trail through the mountains.
There are four RV/Trailer campgrounds available with over 80 different sites to choose from. Lakeview Campground offers full hookups, but the water hookup is shut off in October each year. The other campgrounds do not have full hookups available, and two of them are basic campgrounds without any hookups at all. The 1,305-acre park provides shaded lots along with a beautiful view of the night sky. The park enjoys cool summers and snowy winters.
The entrance to the park is located along Highway 325 in Rifle, Colorado just off I-70. You can drive to the cities of Meeker, Glenwood Springs, and Palisade if you are looking for a bigger city to explore. Since the park is near several mountain ranges, it is not often affected by flooding but can be a problem in the winter when there is an avalanche in the area. Rifle Gap has all the shopping and groceries that you might need. You can stock up in town or stop in for a nice dinner at one of the many restaurants in the area.
The entrance to the park is accompanied by a large sign welcoming you to the area. You will have to drive by part of the reservoir to get to the park office and campgrounds. A few of the campgrounds are right along the shore of the reservoir while the others are a bit farther back. Each campground has a sign and different amenities, so be sure to make sure they have what you would like. If you plan to arrive later than anticipated, then call the park ahead of your arrival so that they may tell you any instructions that you may need.
When navigating through the park, it is best to walk or ride a bike. Be mindful of vehicles and other pedestrians on your way to the reservoir. You may see boats at the docks, all boats are required to have a permit and proper registration papers before they are allowed to enter the water. The roads in the park are a combination of paved and dirt roads, making navigating the park in even stormy weather a breeze. The park enjoys cool summers and snowy winters.
This is the largest campground in the park with 32 sites available with full hookups. These sites can accommodate larger trailers and small motorhomes. The campground turns off the water in October and turns it back on in April. This site also accommodates ADA campers. In the winter you can get your water from the spigot in the park. Only two cars and six people are allowed at each site, additional cars are subject to a small fee. The sites are paved and surrounded by trees, so your neighbors have plenty of privacy. In summer, the trees are helpful when temperatures are high and humidity in the 80s or above. Toilets, coin-operated hot showers, a picnic table, and a fire ring are included in the amenities. You cannot bring your own firewood or collect it from your environment. The park office offers firewood and ice for sale. You can stay at the same time for up to 14 days and reserve up to six months in advance.
This campground has a spectacular view of the reservoir and sits on the top of a hill. There are no sewer hookups in this campground but a dumping station is nearby to help you dispose of your waste. The sites are leveled and able to fit up to a 90-foot trailer/RV. There are water and electrical connections available all year and a lovely picnic area nearby. The sites are leveled and a nice get away from the other campgrounds. Only two cars and six people are allowed at each location, there is a small fee for additional cars. The sites are paved and surrounded by trees, so the privacy of your neighbors. The trees are helpful in summer when temperatures are high and humidity in the 80s or higher. The amenities include toilets, hot showers, a picnic table, and a fire ring. You can't bring or collect your own firewood from your environment. The park office is selling firewood. You can stay up to 14 days at the same time and book up to six months in advance.
These campgrounds do not offer any hookups and are referred to as the basic campgrounds. There is a water spigot and you are allowed to use a generator as long as it is not quiet hours. Pets are allowed in this campground but must be kept on a leash at all time. While these are no premium campgrounds, they make relaxing so much easier when you have so little to worry about. You may end up eating a nice meal with your neighbor or be the only one in the entire campground. At each location, only two cars and six people are allowed, for additional cars, there is a small fee. The sites are paved with trees, so your neighbors' privacy. The trees in the summer months are helpful. Toilets, hot showers, a picnic table, and a fire ring are among the amenities. Your own firewood can't be brought or collected from your environment. The office of the park sells firewood. You can stay at the same time for up to 14 days and book six months in advance.
This has recently become a very popular pastime in the park. Locals and out-of-towners both enjoy the thrill of the ride and the refreshing water in the summer seasons. You are required to wear a lifejacket at all times while riding a jet ski if you do not have one, then you can see the visitor center for an extra one. Jet skiing is only allowed in certain areas, be sure to stay out of the swimming and fishing areas and away from other visitors on the water.
All different types of anglers and fishermen come to Rifle Gap Reservoir to try their luck at catching rainbow and German Brown trout, pike, bass, and perch. If you decide to fish from the shore or venture onto the reservoir be sure to follow all fishing guidelines. Walleye and perch adhere to a certain guideline and length specifications. You are required to have a fishing license and can enjoy ice fishing in the winter if the weather and ice conditions are favorable.
There are no designated trails for hiking but you are encouraged to explore the different areas of the park. You can take a relaxing walk around the reservoir or simply explore near the campgrounds. You may take your pet with you, but you are required to clean up after them. Remember to take a map, water bottle, and pack a strong pair of walking or hiking boots in your RV. It may also be wise to take a walking stick with you to help navigate the surrounding areas.
Various birds can be seen along the reservoir shore and around the campsites. There are different kinds of birds building their nests throughout the park. Many campsites offer Lark Bunting sightings, Morning Dove and many other beautiful birds. Remember to bring your binoculars and pack a couple of walking boots, then explore the surrounding woods and pack a snack and a bottle of water.
Geocaching allows you to be an explorer and hunt your family and geocaching friends for treasures. Geocache is a very simple activity and requires a curious nature, a pen, robust walking boots, a GPS device, a bottle of water and your own personal treasure. Before you explore, make sure you know the rules for cache logging. Leave the cache as undisturbed as possible to make the next set of explorers as excited as possible.
You are allowed to take on the wild on your snowmobile. You are required to wear a helmet and proper winter attire. The are no marked trails so feel free to weave your way through the mountains. Remember to carry a phone and a buddy with you at all times. Taking time out to rest between each ride can be beneficial in keeping track of your surroundings. Be mindful of areas that are far off the beaten path.