Grass Valley Reservoir at Harvey Gap State Park is a quick drive away for anyone living along the Interstate 70 corridor.
On a recent 90-degree Friday afternoon, Battlement Mesa resident Katelyn Birney took full advantage of this picturesque location, ideal for family-time recreation.
Sitting on the edge of a Hydro-Force paddle board as timid waves playfully splashed against its hull, the 35-year-old real estate worker said she’s been soaking up the sun here since she was a kid.
Now with three kids, who waited eagerly on the paddleboard with mom to push off from shore, Birney said Harvey Gap is the perfect day trip for people who don’t want to go far.
“It’s like you’re getting away,” she said. “But you’re at home.”
Sitting at an elevation of 6,500 feet, Harvey Gap State Park is hidden within the bristly mountains north of Silt. Unlike its larger sister lake, Rifle Gap Reservoir, Grass Valley’s 190 surface acres boast more of a day-trip vibe.
The area is complete with four main parking areas that lead to rocky shorelines. Picnic tables and grills are everywhere, and it’s easy to find a shady place to picnic underneath the groves of cottonwood trees surrounding the lake. Day parking is $9.
“I love it,” Birney said. “I’ve been coming here to swim since I was a kid, and now I bring my children.”
So as she’s not scrambling to hit the road in a rush, Birney said she loads her vehicle the day before hitting the lake.
“Get something with a big trunk. I have a beach bag that I fill with all of our sunscreen and swimming suits and towels and put everything in the back of the car,” she said. “Then, we go the next day.
“Sometimes we do sandwiches and juice, mainly water, jerky, chips, popcorn.”
Friday was a short day for Birney and her three sons. They’d float around the lake on their paddleboard once more as the boys, equipped with life vests, took turns splashing into the water.
A half hour later, Birney would leave with her sons, but she’d be back, she said.
“I live for the summertime,” she said. “I absolutely love it.”
To get to Harvey Gap State Park, head north from Silt on Harvey Gap Road until you reach Grass Valley Reservoir. From the northwest and northeast, head south on Harvey Gap Road from Grass Valley Road.