More than 2,000 acres of desert, swamp, and lake, all set against the stunning backdrop of the distant Sangre de Cristo Mountains, await RV campers at San Luis State Widlife Area. Formerly known as San Luis State Park, this spacious reserve recently got upgraded to state wildlife area. This change has a couple of implications for tent and RV campers at San Luis Wildlife Area. Firstly, it means that campsites are no longer reservable and are now first-come, first-served. Secondly, certain areas of the property are no longer accessible to the public, so keep this in mind and watch out for posted signage while exploring the area.
Speaking of exploring, you'll find no shortage of opportunities to break in your adventure gear. Whether you're a hiker, angler, boater, hunter, wildlife watcher, or combination of the above, San Luis State Wildlife Area offers an outing to suit every type of explorer.
If you're planning an RV camping trip to San Luis State Wildlife Area, you'll want to pack a few essentials. Biting bugs are a big problem near the area's swamps at the height of summer, so insect repellant is a must. Coyotes are a relatively common sight at San Luis State Wildlife Area, so be sure to store all food in a locked vehicle or animal-proof locker. Finally, note that the campground is located in desert terrain, which means no shade, so don't forget the sunscreen!
The roads within San Luis State Wildlife Area are paved, easily accommodating the biggest of rigs. Because the area is mostly desert, there are few road hazards to worry about. The refuge is located in a remote area with convenient access to Highway 17. The nearby town of Hooper offers a few provisions, while Alamosa is home to a wide variety of restaurants, gas stations, shopping facilities, and entertainment options.
Five paved parking areas can be found throughout San Luis State Wildlife Area, so you'll have no trouble parking up and heading out if you're just visiting for the day. Note that day-use visitors as well as tent and RV campers will need to obtain an access permit to enter the wildlife area. Alternatively, visitors can gain entry with a valid state hunting or fishing license.
Tent and RV campers at San Luis State Wildlife Area will find 51 campsites spread across two loops. Unlike Colorado's state parks, which allow camping by reservation only, all sites at San Luis' Mosca Campground are first-come, first-served. Reservations are, in fact, unavailable altogether, so you might want to call the park office ahead of your arrival to ensure there's a spot waiting for you.
Rigs of all shapes and sizes are welcome at San Luis State Wildlife Area, with the longest available site accommodating RVs up to 135 feet long. Many sites offer pull-through access for rigs 100 feet and longer. Only 50-amp electric hookups are available here, though; water and sewer hookups aren't provided, nor are shower facilities. Flush restrooms are available on-site. Sweeping vistas of San Luis Lake, a sheltered picnic table, a grill, and access to a dump station are all included with each campsite. Well-mannered canine campers on a leash no longer than six feet can tag along for the trip, and are welcome at all campsites for no additional fee.
Throughout the wildlife area's 2,000-plus acres, you'll find just four miles of hiking trails. Most of these easy trails are gravel and accessible to hikers with disabilities. Mountain bikers and horseback riders are also welcome to explore the trails, so watch out for cyclists and larger four-legged friends on your trek.
Boaters are welcome to launch at San Luis Lake, although there are a few restrictions in place. Motorized boating is not always permitted due to low water levels; contact the park directly for updates on current conditions. When conditions permit, watercraft of all kinds are allowed to explore, from canoes and kayaks to water skis and electric boats. Note that part of this 890-acre expanse is off-limits to boaters, and serves as a protected habitat for native waterfowl.
The trout are usually biting in San Luis Lake, but not always, especially when the lake is dry. As a result, boat fishing isn't always available either, so be sure to check with park rangers to confirm that boat fishing is permitted during your visit. A current Colorado fishing license is required.
The Needles Picnic Area is located right next to the boat ramp on San Luis Lake, making it a prime spot to enjoy a picnic complete with lake views. The picnic area easily accommodates individual families as well as larger groups. Reservations are not required. If the Needles Picnic Area is occupied, picnickers will find a few other picnic sites scattered around the shore.
The clue is in the name: San Luis State Wildlife Area's biodiverse tract of desert and swampland is home to all sorts of critters. Bring out the binoculars to spot migratory bird species flocking to the lake. Keen animal enthusiasts will squeal with delight upon seeing a kangaroo rat burrowing in the dirt. On your wildlife watching excursion, be sure to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints -- this protected area is a safe haven for a variety of endangered species.
Bag some big game during your off-season camping trip at San Luis State Wildlife Area. Elk and deer are the most common fare, alongside some small game species. Hunting season in Colorado usually spans from September to December, depending on the game. A valid state hunting license is required, and note that hunting is restricted to an area north of the lake. For more hunting regulations, contact the park directly.