San Luis State Park
The Sangre de Cristo Mountain backdrop for San Luis State Park
A Wet and Wild Place
The combination of wetlands, lakes and dry valley floor environments provides a fantastic wildlife viewing and recreation area. Migratory waterfowl and other birds are frequent visitors to these tranquil waters. Coyotes, kangaroo rats, rabbits, elk, songbirds, raptors, reptiles, and amphibians all find refuge in this unlikely riparian oasis hidden in the low dunes of the eastern San Luis Valley.
The protected lands of the 2,054 acre park and wildlife area preserve critically important habitat for unusual flora and fauna. Park facilities have been carefully planned to minimize the disruption and impact of visitors to this area.
A Land of Legends
With artifacts of Folsom Man found nearby, the wildlife and water supply of the lakes has attracted humans for hunting and camping for more than ten thousand years. Pueblo Indians retell the legend that their people originated under the sparkling waters of San Luis Lake.
Other legends abound concerning the Native Americans, Spanish explorers, mountain men, and settlers who lost and found a wealth of real and imagined treasures on the sandy plains, lofty peaks, steep flanks, and narrow canyons of this scenic valley and its spectacular surrounding mountain peaks.
Fees are charged year round and pay for the operation of park facilities. Passes are available from the entrance station, self-service station or park office. All visitors are required to display a current Colorado State Parks pass on their vehicle windshield.
- Hiking and Biking: The wide, level gravel trails in the wildlife area provide a pleasant, safe hiking or mountain biking experience among the low dunes and wetlands. These hard surfaced trails are recommended for hikers and bikers of all ages and abilities, including physically challenged visitors. Sandy primitive trails allow limited visitor access into the dunes and wetlands.
- Picnicking: The Needles Picnic Area is located near the entrance to the park and the boat ramp and has rest room facilities. Although designed for individual family use, the area is popular with groups. Please call the park in advance to schedule large group picnics. Additional picnic sites are located along the western shore of San Luis Lake.
- Fishing & Hunting: There is fishing for rainbow trout in San Luis Lakes year round. Hunting of waterfowl and small game is permitted in the wildlife area north of San Luis Lake in season. Check with a Park Ranger or the Colorado Division of Wildlife for current possession limits and information on special restrictions, regulations and hunting seasons.
- Camping: The Mosca Campground is located in the low dunes west of San Luis Lake. Campsites feature a panoramic view of the lake, the surrounding mountains and the Great Sand Dunes. All 51 sites have electrical hookups, sheltered tables, fire grates, drinking water, and a dump station is available. A bathhouse with modern restrooms, hot showers and laundry facilities is located in the campground. Campsites can accommodate motor homes, trailers and tents.
- Wildlife: Wildlife watching is a year round activity at San Luis State Park. Abundant nesting and migrating birds and other native animals provide visitors with a world class watchable wildlife experience. Bald eagles and other raptors, sandhill cranes, shore birds and water birds can be seen seasonally near San Luis Lakes. Small and large mammals, amphibians and reptiles are common in the surrounding riparian area.
- Water Sports: San Luis State Park has been a water-sports haven in the San Luis Valley since the early 20th century. Water skiing, motor boating, personal watercraft, fishing, sailing and windsurfing.
The lake is a shallow sandy bowl with gently sloping sides and few hazards. The wide boat ramp and stable water level provide boaters with easy loading and unloading of vessels. All boats must remain south of the wildlife area buoy line at the north end of the lake to protect valuable waterfowl nesting habitat. Colorado boating statutes and regulations apply and are enforced by Park Rangers.
Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife