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Colorado State Parks

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USA Parks
Southeast Region
Lathrop State Park
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70 County Road 502
Walsenburg, Colorado   81089

Phone: 719-738-2376
Reservations: 719-738-2376
Email: park email button icon
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.
Nature of the Area
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.

History of the Area
Established in 1962, the park is Colorado's first state park. It was named after Harold Lathrop, Director of State Parks from 1947-1972.

Located near Walsenburg in Huerfano County, it spans over 1,594 acres and includes two lakes - Martin Lake and Horseshoe Lake.

The area offers a variety of recreational activities including fishing, boating camping hiking wildlife viewing golfing picnicking swimming water skiing windsurfing jet-skiing hunting bird watching winter sports etc.

In addition to its natural beauty with views of Spanish Peaks & Sangre de Cristo Mountains , the site also has historical significance as an ancestral home for Native American tribes.

All Colorado State Parks have entrance fees. All vehicles are required to have an entrance pass and some parks have walk-in fees. Visit the Colorado Park Entrance Pass web page.
 Hiking Trailyes
 Swimming Beachyes
 Bike Trailsyes
BoatingLaunch Rampsyes
 Electric Sitesyes
Golf Course
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.
Visitors Center
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.

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

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

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.

Lathrop State Park is

Lathrop?s picnic areas, which received an outdoor recreation award for America?s Top 15 Picnic Areas, are situated around both Martin Lake and Horseshoe Reservoir. Each table sits lakeside, has a stand up fire grill, and most tables are shaded. Picnic tables are first-come, first serve basis.
Bicycles are allowed on the multi-use Cuerno Verde Trail, or on park roads. No bikes are allowed on the Hogback Trail. The park?s 3-mile closed loop Cuerno Verde Trail is popular with bicyclists. The trail goes around Martin Lake. See complete trail descriptions on the Lathrop Trails page.
Trails at Lathrop

Lathrop's two trails, the Hogback Trail and the Cuerno Verde Trail, offer visitors exceptional views of the Spanish Peaks, Greenhorn Mountain and Pikes Peak. Yucca, prickly pear, cholla and claret cup cacti can be viewed from the trails as well as a variety of wildflowers that bloom from early spring through late autumn. The Hogback Trail is for hikers only. The Cuerno Verde Trail goes around Martin Lake and is open to bicyclists and hikers.

Hogback Nature Trail

Permitted uses: Foot

Miles paved: 0

Miles non-paved: 2.0

Total distance: 2.0

Usage: Low

Degree of difficulty: Moderate

Elevation: 6,442

ADA accessible: No

Pets: Yes

Comments: The trail winds through sandstone formations and then climbs up the rocky Hogback Ridge that forms the park's northern boundary. As the trail follows the top of the ridge, majestic views of the Spanish Peaks, Sangre de Cristo and Wet Mountain Ranges can be enjoyed. Along the two-mile trail, marker posts have been installed to accompany a self-guided brochure containing information about the area's plant and animal life and its history. The brochures are complimentary and are available at the trailhead. . Bicycles are prohibited on this designated nature trail.

Cuerno Verde Trail

Permitted uses: Foot, bike

Miles paved: 3.0

Miles non-paved: 0

Total distance: 3.0

Usage: Medium

Degree of difficulty: Easy

Elevation: 6,440

ADA accessible: Yes

Pets: Yes

Comments: This exceptionally scenic multi-use non-motorized asphalt trail encircles Martin Lake. The 3-mile trail is a closed loop trail. This handicap accessible trail is popular with the bicyclists as well as walkers and is within walking distance from both campgrounds. All motorized use is prohibited the trail has restrooms along the way and runs parallel to lake.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
July 27 Very good with one exception
park review stars; one to five We stayed overnight on the 18th and the 23rd of this month. We thought the park was exceptional with one exception. The tree needs to be trimed on the exit from the park. I asked the ranger about this hazard when we stayed again at the park on the 23rd. She said they had had other comments about the tree. It is a real hazard to RV roofs and needs attention!!!
March 15 Just a short drive from Colorado Springs by Karlie D.
park review stars; one to five Really a nice getaway.
June 11 by Pam D
park review stars; one to five One of our favorite places to camp - beautiful view of the Spanish Peaks
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Directions - Three miles west of Walsenburg on U.S. Highway 160

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