Sylvan Lake a fairly accessible all-season getaway
Take a short drive south from Interstate 70 and up Brush Creek Road out of Eagle to Sylvan Lake State Park for an easy-to-get-to mountain getaway, whether it’s for an afternoon or several days; summer, fall, winter or spring.
Sylvan means “a peaceful, wooded place,” according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife web page dedicated to Sylvan Lake State Park.
And that’s the perfect description for this valley setting at 8,500 feet elevation that’s surrounded by the White River National Forest with the distinctive red-hued Mt. Thomas and the Red Table Mountain area as its backdrop.
“It is a place to truly get away from it all and reconnect … not even cell phones work at this peaceful park,” the park’s website description proclaims.
The 42-acre lake is open to canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, fishing duckies, row boats and electric trolling motor boats. Canoes, sit-on-top kayaks and paddle boats are available for rent Memorial Day through Labor Day. Swimming is not allowed in the lake.
Anglers can find rainbow, brown, brook and native Colorado cutthroat trout in the lake and Brush Creek.
And hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners can choose from several miles of state park trails, including the 11.5-mile round trip from the Sylvan Lake Campground to the Meadows Day Use Area.
There’s also easy access to many nearby forest trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, as well as off-highway-vehicle roads. Those with an adequate vehicle can also make the approximately 13-mile trek from the park over Crooked Creek Pass via Forest Road 400 to the Frying Pan Valley above Ruedi Reservoir.
Sylvan Lake also is one of a handful high mountain state parks that is open all year round with a variety of amenities, including camping, whether it’s in a cabin, yurt, RV or, for the bravest of souls, a tent.
Winter activities include ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, sledding and access to snowmobile trails.
A total of 46 campsites are available at the Elk Run and Fisherman’s Paradise (lake front) loops. Sites can accommodate tents, trailers and RVs. There are no individual site hook ups.
The camper services building includes coin showers and flush toilets during summer, and water is available during the warmer months. Vault toilets are available year-round.
A group campground for up to 60 people also is available mid-May through September by reservation starting Jan. 1, by calling the visitor center at 970-328-2021.
One large cabin featuring kitchen and bath, or eight camper cabins can be reserved year round, and three yurts overlooking East Brush Creek are available mid-May through mid-November.
Be sure to stop by the Sylvan Lake State Park visitor center, located 10 miles up Brush Creek Road, to check out the educational displays and for information on the park and surrounding area. The visitor center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
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