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Paonia State Park a hidden Colorado gem

March 27, 2017 Updated: June 29, 2017 at 5:59 pm
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Paonia State Park, 9/23/2014, Paonia Colorado.(Photo by Ken Papaleo)

A look at Paonia State Park near Crested Butte:

Description: It's as primitive as state parks come. The narrow 330-acre reservoir emerges in a heavily wooded canyon, nestled beneath the Ragged Mountains on the Western Slope. There are no hiking trails. The state park also has no available drinking water. There are two campgrounds with no hookups or bathrooms. Paonia is only open during the summer months. If you're a water sport enthusiast or someone simply desiring an out-of-sight slice of Colorado, the park is for you.

Activities: Motorized and nonmotorized boating, fishing, hunting, water/jet skiing, paddle sports, camping, picnicking, wildlife/bird viewing.

Wildlife: Elk, mule deer, black bears among large mammals, marmots, raccoons among small; various raptors, waterfowl and shorebirds; small number of northern pike and brown trout to fish.

Fun fact: See the park and catch one of the unique summer festivals in the artsy town of Paonia: Cherry Days, with parades, games and crafts; Mountain Harvest, with musical acts, poetry readings and a chili cook-off; or the BMW rally, with rides through the scenic area.

Address: Somerset, 81434

Contact: 970-921-5721, parks.state.co.us

Hours: 24 hours, summer only.

Directions: Head north to Denver and drive west on Interstate 70. Take the exit for Colorado 82 toward Glenwood Springs. Follow the highway south to Carbondale. At Colorado 133, continue south for 46 miles to the park.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

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