LATHROP STATE PARK
Colorado?s first state park, Lathrop State Park is 1,594 acres of recreational enjoyment nestled in the shadow of the Spanish Peaks in Southern Colorado. The park?s two lakes offer a variety of boating and angling opportunities for all types of water recreation. Martin Lake offers water skiing, power and sail boating. Because Martin is a warm-water lake, it makes it great for swimmers. Horseshoe Lake is a peaceful haven for canoeists, kayakers, sailors and other boaters at wakeless speeds. Catfish, bass, walleye, trout and blue gill thrive in both lakes. Horseshoe Lake is known for its large tiger muskies.
Geology at Lathrop
Lathrop State Park, with 1,594 land acres, features two reservoirs (Horseshoe and Martin), covering 320 surface-acres. The water bodies are filled from the Cucharas River, which flows from the nearby mountains through the foothills and mesas of the area. The Walsen Ridge, or Hogback, an ultrabasic dike formed during volcanic activity in the Eocene and Oligocene periods, is located along the northern boundary of the park.Lathrop is overlooked by the geologic attractions, the Spanish Peaks and the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. The Spanish Peaks are unique because they were not formed in the same way that the faulted and uplifted Sangre de Cristo Mountains were. They are prime examples of ?stocks,? which are large masses of igneous (molten) rock, that intruded layers of sedimentary rock and were later exposed by erosion. Among the most unusual features of the peaks are the great dikes which radiate out from the mountains like spokes of a wheel. The dikes are made of intrusive igneous rock that squeezed its way into the cracks in the sedimentary rock, like mud between a child?s toes. Erosion wore away the softer sedimentaries, leaving walls of hard rock from 1 foot to 110 feet wide, up to spectacular heights of 100 feet, and as long as 14 miles. Geologists come from all over the world to view these dikes and have identified over 400 of them. Plants at LathropEcologically, Lathrop is dominated by pinyon-juniper woodland and mixed grassland communities. Short-statured pinyon pine and one-seed juniper dominate the woodland, while blue grama, western wheatgrass, purple threeawn and sand dropseed are common grassland species. Common plants associated with both communities include yucca, cholla cactus, rabbitbrush and four-winged saltbush. Diverse wetland, riparian and aquatic plant communities have become established around the reservoirs and dams. Wetlands associated with waterfowl habitat ponds contribute to important watchable wildlife areas. Currently Common Sunflowers, Indian Blanket Flower, and Mexican Hat are in high bloom, but we have several other beautiful flowers as well. To see a list of our common wildflowers, please click on the link below:
Wildlife at LathropMany migratory and resident birds can be seen at Lathrop, including several species of raptors, pinyon and scrub jays, western meadowlarks, as well as a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds attracted to the lakes and wetland habitats. Osprey can commonly be seen in summer, and bald eagles have become familiar winter residents. Many visitors have reported seeing roadrunners in the campground. Mule deer can be spotted at Lathrop, as can coyote. More commonly seen are cottontail rabbits, black-tailed jackrabbits, raccoons and thirteen-lined ground squirrels. Bob cats and black bear make occasional appearances. Many anglers are attracted by the warm-water fishing opportunities, which include northern pike, walleye, wiper, largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, perch, and channel catfish. For those seeking a bigger challenge, Horseshoe is home to the tiger muskie, making the area an ever popular fishing destination. The cold-water species, rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout, are also present, but only rainbow are currently stocked.
Visitor's Center at Lathrop
The Visitor's Center has park passes, camping permits, hunting and fishing licenses, boat/ATV/snowmobile registrations, bagged ice, firewood, brochures on local attractions, Colorado regulations, and a listing of ranger activities. Maps, books, guides, post cards and other local nature-oriented items are available for purchase at the Center. Materials sold at the park are provided by the Rocky Mountain Nature Association.
The Visitor's Center also has panels that identify the plants in the area and exhibits of the animals common to the park on display.
Learn About Our History
Be sure to stop at the Visitor's Center to view 12 large murals painted by Paul Busch. Busch was a Disney animator who began working on the murals in 1972 at age 63. The murals depict Colorado history from the era of the Mesa Verde cliff dwellers to the coal strikes of the 1920s. . More specifically, however, the murals depict the history of Walsenburg and its surrounding area. Of particular interest is the spread of agriculture and industry through this area.
Learn about how the Walsenburg area grew with the gold rush and ensuing railroads, and how sheep and cattle ranching defined the area by the late 1880s. See how Walsenburg then became a major coal producer, only to suffer economically as that industry gave way to oil.
Walsenburg Golf Course at Lathrop State Park
A view of the Spanish Peaks from Hole 4. Click on image for higher resolution.Image courtesy of Joanthan D Kelly.
Yes, there is a golf course in a Colorado State Park! It?s the 9-hole Walsenburg Golf Course at Lathrop State Park. The golf course offers 9-hole, 18-hole, or all day rates, and carts are available. It also offers a full service restaurant and bar. The restaurant?s summer hours are 7:30am - 3:30pm on Sat. and Sun, and 11:00am - 2:00pm on weekdays. The golf course summer hours are 7:00am - 7:00pm. The golf course is within walking distance of the Pinon Campground. For more information, call the Walsenburg Golf Course at (719) 738-2730.
Lathrop has 103 campsites and three group-camping areas. The campgrounds accommodate motor homes, trailers and tents, and offer either a basic or improved camping experience..
Yucca Campground is non-electric. It has 21 back-in campsites providing a basic camping experience with gravel roads, vault toilets, water hydrants throughout the campground, and a dump station. Each site has a picnic table and a firepit . This area can accommodate tents and small camping units such as pop-up campers, camper vans, pickup trucks with camper tops, and small RV?s. Trash receptacles are provided at the campground entrance.
Pinon Campground has 82 campsites and features pull-through or back-in paved sites, paved roads, up to 50-amp electrical hookups, , firepits, and picnic tables. It also has new restrooms and pay showers in each loop Water hydrants are located throughout the campground, and a dump station is available. Trash receptacles are located at the entrance to each of the campground?s four loops. Handicap sites are also available. Children will enjoy the centrally located playground, and evening programs can be enjoyed in the Pinon amphitheater every Friday and Saturday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The golf course is also within walking distance.
Group Camping at Lathrop
Lathrop offers three group campgrounds to accommodate a variety of camping experiences. Reservations for the group camping areas can only be made by calling the park at (719)738-2376.
Los Alamos Group Camping/Picnic Area
Opened in 2006, Los Alamos is the newest of Lathrop?s group camping areas. This area is near the shoreline of Martin Lake and has walking access to the ski beach, boat ramp, and swim beach. It has 7 electrical hookups, areas to place tents, a covered picnic shelter with tables, a firepit, water hydrant, volleyball pit, and a horseshoe pit. Flush toilets and trash receptacles are nearby. Capacity is 50 people.
Group Campsite A
This non-electric site is ideal for groups with tents only. It has three oversized (16?x16?) tent pads, picnic tables, a large stand-up grill, a firepit surrounded by benches, a water hydrant, and a nearby vault toilet that is shared with Group Campsite B. The site is shaded by cottonwood trees. Trash receptacles are available at the entrance of the nearby Yucca Campground. Capacity is 30 people.
Group Campsite B
This non-electric site is designed for up to 6 RV?s and is set up like a cul-de-sac with a common area in the middle. The common area has a water hydrant, covered picnic tables, a large stand up grill, a firepit surrounded by benches, and space for extra tents. A vault toilet is nearby that is also shared with Group Campsite A. Trash receptacles are placed at the entrance of nearby Yucca Campground. Capacity is 36 people.
Lathrop?s two lakes offer something for every water recreationist, from the power boater and canoeist to the sailor, swimmer and angler. Because of Lathrop?s location in southern Colorado between the foothills and plains, the lakes? water is often warmer than most mountain lakes and reservoirs at higher elevations, averaging 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Bring your jetski's and waterski's and enjoy these activities on Martin Lake. Check out Lathrop's Water Activities link for additional information.