Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer camping at Mueller State Park

From prehistoric, fossilized redwood stumps to picturesque rolling, green landscapes, Mueller State Park is the perfect location for exploring the Pike's Peak, Colorado, region.  We have been anticipating a return trip to the park after visiting earlier in the year when the campground was covered in several inches of snow.  Turns out, it is even more beautiful in the summer time.

This is a popular Colorado state campground with designated areas for group, tent, and RV camping.   Sites book well in advance, and even though I reserved back in mid-February, we were very lucky to find 3 close together for our group (7 individuals, 2 RVs, 2 tents, and one lovable pooch).  Most sites have RV parking, a tent pad, and electricity.

Our campsite was nestled in the trees.
The campground also has an excellent visitor center with exhibits and friendly staff happy to answer questions.  There is also a large shower/laundry facility located in the middle of the campground.
Parked at the visitor's center for a photo op
We hiked and biked for a couple days, but only managed to travel just part of the extensive, 55 mile trail system.   Personally I thought the bike trails were fantastic - scenic and wide but with some challenging climbs peppered in along the way.  Even so, my cycling compatriots were less impressed.  Their skill levels are higher, and they prefer the single-track rides with more varied ups and downs than I generally do.  Your mileage may vary depending on the kind of riding you prefer.
Trails are scenic, wide, and well marked.

Inviting rolling green hills and bright blue skies

Picturesque Cheesman Ranch just off the bike trail
We also took a side trip to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument just a few miles from camp.  The area boasts some of the "richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world."  The most impressive are prehistoric fossilized redwood stumps 14' wide.  There is a small museum on site and a $3 admission charge that is good for 7 days.  So, if you love rocks (and let's be honest, who doesn't!?), this is a must see attraction.
Giant fossilized redwood stump at Florissant, CO, fossil beds

The scenic Hornbek Homestead is located adjacent to the Fossil Beds National Monument.  This ranch was built and run by a strong and determined woman, Adeline Hornbek, with her 4 children in the 1870s.  Adeline defied gender roles of the time and built this prosperous and successful ranch.
Hornbek Homestead near Florissant, CO
Cripple Creek made for another side-trip.   It is fun to explore the many curio shops and even try your luck at the casinos if so inclined.   Be sure to check out the Cripple Creek Heritage and Information Center for interesting exhibits detailing the mining and pre-historic history of the area.
Downtown Cripple Creek, CO, is a short drive from the campground

Cripple Creek, CO

Shelf Road near Cripple Creek is a fun excursion on a windy road with some spectacular vistas and white knuckling narrow turns.
Shelf Road
To top off the drive, we stopped at a trailhead to turn around and found this interesting 'artifact' lying on the ground....   I'm just glad it wasn't a human body part!
This was one of the most interesting finds I've come across while camping.   Somewhere a hunter is looking up at his wall of animal heads and wondering, "Something seems to be missing". 

If you go:

Mueller State Park is located about 2 hours from Denver, CO, near Divide.   Reservations typically need to be made early because it is a popular campground and fills up fast.   Even so, the sites are very well maintained and well spaced, so it doesn't feel like you are crowded in this 5000-acre state park.  There are 132 campsites, 3 cabins, a visitor's center with exhibits, dump station, shower facility, and flush and vault toilets.  Water spigots are scattered throughout the campground.  Groceries and supplies can be found at Divide, CO, about 10 minutes from the campground entrance.   More dining options and activities can be found at Woodland Park, about 25 minutes from the campground. 


  1. Beautiful photos, Tim...your blog is keeping Colorado high on my list of places I'd love to visit someday. I always look forward to your blog entries!

    1. Thanks Kim - I appreciate the supportive feedback, and ditto right back at you. Your beautiful photos/blog are an inspiration to me.

  2. Tim,
    We're looking for a spot starting right after Alumafandango and through Sunday of Labor Day weekend (we need to be back in Denver on Monday). I was looking at Mueller State Park and they have availability...wondering if you think this is a place where a week would be good. Sounds like there's tons to explore from there. Also, did you have cell service there? (It's still a work week for us, so we'll need some of that.) :)
    Thanks in advance for your advice!

    1. Hi Laura, Yes, I think Mueller State Park would be a fantastic place to spend a week. It has great camping amenities (electricity, showers, dump station, etc.) on site. Also, you are relatively close (50 Min.) to Colorado Springs, where there are numerous activities and attractions to explore. The park web page has a nice list of suggestions:

      Regarding cell service - it was spotty in the park. I didn't have much luck where we camped (far north end, site 115). You could probably find a coffee shop in Woodland Park (25 minutes) with free wifi if that is of interest.

      Hope this helps, and I hope you have a great time!!