As the extreme heat of summer comes to a peak, the lakes of the west definitely qualify as the best choice for a vacation destination, especially in the high elevations. Being a mile above sea level can present temperatures that are much cooler, while destinations that are closer to 10,000 feet up in the mountains may even offer unseasonably cold winter temperatures in the middle of summer. The high elevation lake water temperatures vary too, with the coldest being way up high in the mountains, while the mile high lakes are usually warm enough for a swim without a scuba diving suit. The natural outdoor air conditioning is free of charge, the air is crispy clean and majestic mountain views simply cannot be beat, which is all the inspiration needed to make a high elevation lake excursion happen!
There are hundreds of natural alpine lakes in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, while closer to the mile high elevations is where the highest percentage of man made reservoir lakes can be found. The reservoir lakes serve as winter snow melt retention devices that help to prevent flooding and many were designed with summertime recreation in mind. These reservoir lakes truly are seasonal, because most are drained each autumn to accommodate the floods from the following spring season snow melt, which often lasts until July. Spring and early summer is when the reservoir lakes are filled to the brim and this is the best time to plan a visit.
Crawford State Park is located in central Colorado and this destination features a large reservoir lake that is 6,600 feet above sea level, so some comfortable summer temperatures are guaranteed to be found here. This lake is surrounded by the towering peaks that the Rocky Mountains are famous for and the thick forests offer premium wildlife viewing. The Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and the Curecanti National Recreation Area are practically right next door, so there is plenty of adventures to experience in this region. In fact, because these two National Parks draw so much attention, Crawford Lake State Park is often overlooked by mainstream tourists, so overcrowding is usually not a problem.
Crawford Lake is the main attraction in this State Park and to be more precise, fishing is the main activity in this big pond. The elevation is low enough to support largemouth bass and channel catfish, while it is high enough for crappie, perch and trout to flourish, so filling the creel for dinner will guarantee some tasty morsels. Northern Pike are also found in this lake, but they are part of an eradication program, so the numbers are kept in check. Because this big lake is stocked from a local fishery, it is never completely drained off and winter season ice fishing is a popular option.
Crawford State Park features a visitor center and a fully developed lakeside campground that offers reservations. A small craft boat launch is located near the visitor center and there is an official swimming area. On the opposite side of the lake is one of the State Park picnic areas, which is where the photographs for this article were captured. As can be seen, the mountain views certainly are inspirational, so some peace of mind can be found in this majestic place. Because the primary angling is for perch and crappy, this truly is a great panfish destination for the entire family. Since the peak summer temperatures are in the comfortable range, Crawford State Park certainly does fit into the peaceful dream of lazing the day away with a fishing line in the water while on vacation!
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