Vega State Park, about 50 miles east of Grand Junction at the northeast edge of the Grand Mesa National Forest, is one park that serves the needs of winter enthusiasts.
At 8,000 feet, the park is graced by snow quickly once the temperature drops. The lake at the center of the forested area freezes, as do the many streams and rivers throughout the park. The combination affords winter sports hounds numerous options for snow play, along with snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trail access points from within the park leading into the Grand Mesa National Forest.
Here are a few activities to enjoy snow and the great Colorado outdoors at Vega State Park.
During winter, trips to higher-elevation areas can turn into a journey, so many opt to stay a few days for a weekend getaway or weekday escapade.
Five wooden camper cabins are available near Pioneer Campground in the aspen-grove backcountry of the park. Each cabin sleeps up to six people, with four bunk beds and a futon couch. A stay is fairly comfortable, with table and chairs, storage shelves, microwave, mini fridge, electrical outlets and a propane stove that heats the cabin.
The roughing-it portion of this lodging option are the restrooms and water facility located at the center of the cabin area – midnight long-johned treks through the snow are a high possibility.
In the summer months, RVing is a homier way to stay, and with the park’s 97 RV campsites with electricity and water hookups easily-accessed from the interstate and state highways, those equipped with homes on wheels may find this option a little cozier. In winter, some RV sites are still available, but with no water. Vega State Park, although secluded, does have a nearby community convenience store and restaurant if campers need a little help enjoying the winter wonderland.
With Vega State Park’s lake, ice fishing is a popular winter pastime for park-goers. Ice fishing season usually lasts from late December or early January to early March. Equipped with a fishing license (and lots of warm layers), fishers can break the ice and cast their lines to catch rainbow trout and a few cutthroats.
Ice fishing does require certain precautions to stay safe. Call the Vega State Park office for ice conditions and check out the park’s website to get safety information.
Of all the Colorado state parks, Vega is one of the few that gives snowmobile and off-highway vehicle access to national forest areas. At the southwest corner of Vega State Park in the Early Settlers Campground, Pioneer Campground parking area and snowmobile staging area, snowmobilers and other snow vehicle users can embark on the hundreds of miles of trails in the Grand Mesa National Forest. All trail access points are near the park’s cabins and RV sites.
For the 2010 season, Vega State Park has a new 2.32-mile, in-park trail for cross-country skiers. The mostly-groomed trail begins at the park’s visitor center, and is a good way to explore the park when recent snowfall lays a blanket of white on the forest.
For a bigger network of trails, Vega State Park is the entry point to Grand Mesa, which offers a variety of terrain and scenery. Snowshoe trails can also be accessed from within the park.
In addition to the other snow sports, Vega State Park has laid-back winter activities. Bring sleds or tubes to fly down the sledding hill near the cabins, or a camera to capture the serenity of winter on the lake and in the forest.
If You Go
Vega State Park
15247 N. 6/10 Road
Collbran, Colorado 81624