(Photo courtesy of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.)
Located on the southwestern edge of Pike National Forest , less than forty miles west of Colorado Springs, is fisherman’s paradise Eleven Mile State Park. The park covers over 7,500 acres surrounding a 5.5 mile long reservoir. Famous for its northern pike, kokanee salmon and various species of trout, it’s the perfect place for year-round Colorado fishing. In addition, the park hosts a wide variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts including hunting, camping, boating, hiking, ice skating, biking and cross country skiing. Eleven Mile has something for everyone and with daily passes less than 10 dollars and campsites ranging from 13 to 20 dollars, it’s an affordable Colorado adventure you don’t want to miss out on.
Eleven Mile Reservoir measures 3,400 acres and is home to brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout, as well as northern pike, kokanee salmon and carp. Smallmouth bass and yellow perch are occasionally lured in by lucky fishermen and for the competitive souls, Eleven Mile hosts a variety of year-round fishing tournaments. Although fishing is the reservoir’s most popular past time, boating takes a close second. Boating of all types are enjoyed on the reservoir including sailing, motor boating, canoeing, and kayaking. The 11-Mile Marina, located in the park, offers affordable rentals for pontoon boats, kayaks and canoes. The reservoir is also a popular destination during the winter months for ice skating and cross country skiing.
Surrounding the reservoir at Eleven Mile State Park is the Coyote Ridge backcountry area with roughly five miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, ranging from easy to moderate. The park hosts a self-guided nature trail as well as a 3-mile orienteering course that must be navigated using a set of instructions (available at the park office) and a compass. Dogs are welcome on the trails but must be leashed at all times. The trails boast more than nature walks and hiking with a wide variety of migratory and resident birds, along with other Colorado wildlife. Within the park three rare bird species can be spotted including the American peregrine falcon, the bald eagle and the white pelican.
In order to really explore the reservoir and park trails, Eleven Mile State Park offers a wide variety of camping opportunities. Camping options range from electric sites to lakeshore sites to backcountry sites, and everything in between. There are nearly 350 campsites spread out between nine different campgrounds and an additional 25 backcountry sites, accessible only by boat or by foot. Camping fees range from 13 to 20 dollars per night and include onsite toilets and coin-operated shower and laundry facilities. Campsite reservations can be made online or by phone as few as 3 days, and as much as 6 months prior to your park trip, so plan ahead if you intend to camp.
If you haven’t yet fished at Eleven Mile State Park, or roamed the hiking trails, it’s not too late to get out and enjoy the mild fall weather and beautiful Colorado scenery. Although the fall foliage has already peaked in the area, the reservoir is open for boating until the end of the month and hunting season is in full swing. It’s not too late to plan your fall fishing or hunting trip, and there’s still plenty of time to get excited for winter ice-fishing, cross country skiing and iceskating. For more information on the park or to make camping reservations visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.