Vibrant Sunset: A vibrant sunset at Lathrop State Park filled the sky with color and lit the lake water with reflections of the breath-taking colorful sunset during one of our overnight visits to the park. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
By GARY WARREN
Formerly of Los Alamos
Lathrop State Park is in southern Colorado near the town of Walsenburg. The park, which sits near the Spanish Peaks, happens to be Colorado’s first state park, and is named after the state’s first director of state parks, Harold Lathrop.
We drove by this park for years without ever entering the gate. It looked interesting from the highway, but it is so much nicer when you enter the park and drive around. Since we now travel in a small RV, Lathrop State Park has become a favorite of stop when traveling to New Mexico or other destinations in the southwest.
Lathrop is the only Colorado state park with a golf course. The course serves the towns of Walsenburg and La Veta, Colo. and surrounding areas as well as park visitors. The park also has an archery range as well as trails to ride horses. The center piece of the park are two lakes, Martin Lake and Horse Shoe Lake. The two lakes sit close together with park roads and hiking and bike paths around the lakes.
The lakes provide ample opportunities for water sports such as fishing and boating, and there is also a beach area for visitors to swim in the summer months. Martin Lake is the larger of the two bodies of water where all boats are allowed. Horseshoe Lake is a quiet lake reserved for paddle boarding, canoeing, and kayaking or small boats with trolling motors.
There are three campgrounds in Lathrop State Park including one campground with water and electrical hook-ups for RVers, one campground for dry camping, and one group campground. There are hiking trails throughout the park including trails near the campgrounds.
We have stayed at Lathrop State Park several times since finally discovering this hidden gem. We have visited the park in all seasons of the year, but fall is our favorite season to visit this area of Colorado. However, the park is open year-round.
This family friendly state park on U.S. Highway 160 just west of Walsenburg, Colo., is about halfway between Los Alamos and Denver and has become a favorite stopping point for overnight or just a picnic meal while traveling. No matter how much time you have, Lathrop State Park is a beautiful stop with activities for all ages.
Editor’s note: Longtime Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren and his wife Marilyn are traveling around the country, and he shares his photographs, which appear in the “Posts from the Road” series published in the Sunday edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post.
Fall Fishing: Fishermen float across the lake on a sunny fall afternoon at Lathrop State Park. The fall color is a beautiful contrast to the blue skies and water. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
Gold Trees and Fallen Leaves: Gold trees hold on to the last fall color as leaves fall and line the road near a lake at Lathrop State Park. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
Reflections: Cottonwood trees reflect their fall gold in the lake water at Lathrop State Park in southern Colorado. Clouds from above also reflect in the blue waters of the lake. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
Spanish Peaks: Two prominent peaks known as the Spanish Peaks rise to almost 14,000 feet near Walsenburg, Colo. Lathrop State Park sits at the base of these landmarks in southern Colorado. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com
January Sunset: The sunset skims across the icy lake at Lathrop State Park this past January. The lakes ice over every winter but ice fishing is discouraged because the ice may not be thick enough to walk on. Photo by Gary Warren/ladailypost.com