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HomeLifestyleColorado’s Newest State Park Sits On Federal Government Land

Colorado’s Newest State Park Sits On Federal Government Land

Colorado’s new state park is a rarity. It’s the only state park in America on federal land.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and Eagle Valley Land Trust to create the state’s 43rd park, Sweetwater Lake. The park encompasses 488 acres and is located in the White River National Forest, about a three-hour drive west of Denver off Interstate 70.

The Forest Service tapped into the Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase the property Aug. 31. The area, according to the Eagle Valley Land Trust, had been targeted as one of the fund’s priority purchases to increase public recreation opportunities and protect wildlife, scenic beauty and local culture.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Forest Service and the land trust are working together to develop short-term and long-term management strategies for the park. Little infrastructure is presently in place to facilitate public recreation.

A campground, at an elevation of 7,740 feet, is on the south end of 72-acre Sweetwater Lake and has nine campsites with picnic tables and grills. Three hiking and horseback trails begin at the campground, and high limestone cliffs tower above the area.

The lake is inhabited by kokanee salmon and brook, brown and rainbow trout, the Forest Service says. Fishing is possible from the shore or on canoes, rowboats or other non-gasoline-powered boats.

The Forest Service issued A.J.Brink Outfitters a short-term permit as the onsite manager. The company offers guided horse rides, outfitted hunting, cabin rentals, boat rentals and other day-use activities.

“Sweetwater Lake is simply gorgeous,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis said in late October when announcing the new state park. “This is the first-of-its-kind partnership in Colorado to create a state park on U.S. Forest Service land. We look forward to working with our partners and Coloradans with the ultimate goal of adding Sweetwater Lake to Colorado’s world-class state park system for fun, conservation and education, and to support job growth for the region.”

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