Crawford State Park
Needle Rock below the West Elks, from Crawford State Park
On summer weekends, Crawford State Park (737 acres) is a very action-oriented state park centered around a beautiful lake (400 surface acres). Most other times it's just a beautiful park around a beautiful lake. Here in the heart of western Colorado's cattle industry, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is to the south, Gunnison Gorge Wilderness is to the west with the scenic West Elk Mountains to the east. Water skiing, motor boating, jet skiing, picnicking, camping and hiking in this stunning scenery are popular in season. The lake is maintained by the US Bureau of Reclamation, and that organization in cooperation with Colorado State Parks recently completely refurbed the facilities several years ago and added modern campground amenities.
Both the Iron Creek Campground and the Clear Fork Campground can accommodate tents, campers and trailers and each has comfortable restrooms and shower facilities. However, Iron Creek Campground has electrical and water hook-ups at each site but Clear Fork Campground does not. The RV dump station is located in the Iron Creek Campground.
Water-skiing season usually runs from mid-May to mid-August. Swimming is allowed only in the designated swim area but scuba diving is permitted in any safe area (although you must use a diver's flag). Fishing is allowed anywhere on the reservoir, and this is a well known fishery for rainbow trout, crappie and perch. You'll also find northern pike, catfish and largemouth bass in the lake. Use or possession of live minnows or bait fish is not allowed.
Crawford State Park also offers 8 universally accessible camp sites, accessible restrooms and shower facilities, accessible fishing sites and several accessible trails.
Crawford State Park Rules & Regulations
- Keep your area clean and put all your trash in the trash receptacles provided.
- Vehicles are allowed on designated roadways and parking areas only.
- Pets must be under control and on a leash of 6 feet or less at all times.
- Fires are allowed only in the grills and fire rings provided. Make sure your fire is "dead out" before you leave.
- Quiet hours are from 10 pm to 6 am.
- Any problems: talk to a park ranger.
Update: September, 2020: I just happened to drive by Crawford State Park on my way home from Glenwood Springs and noticed the lake looked like they were draining it. The whole western slope has been dry for several years...
Upper photo of Crawford State Park courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife