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John Martin Reservoir State Park a bird watcher's, boater's retreat

April 3, 2017 Updated: June 29, 2017 at 5:56 pm
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A look at John Martin Reservoir in southeastern Colorado:

Description: Colorado's eastern-most state park is a massive oasis, with a body of water that has been called "a sapphire on the plains." The reservoir built against the Arkansas River has made this place a birder's retreat, with more than 370 species documented. There's plenty of room for motorized and nonmotorized boaters as well as for anglers and summertime swimmers. There's hiking, biking and horseback riding through upland prairies and cottonwood groves. The stars are said to show off here for campers.

Activities: Boating, water skiing/jet skiing, sailing, paddle sports, hiking, biking, horseback riding, geocaching, bird viewing, camping.

Wildlife: Deer, coyotes, prairie dogs common; bald and golden eagles are among a wide array of birds, including mallard ducks, turkey vultures and quail; walleye, saugeye, bass, wiper and catfish are among fish present.

Fun fact: The park promotes itself as a seasonal home for two endangered birds: the least tern and the piping plover. The shorebirds nest here in the spring and summer.

Address: 30703 County Road 24, Hasty, 81044

Contact: 719-829-1801, john.martin.park@state.co.us

Hours: Day use 5 a.m.-10 p.m.

Directions: Head south on Interstate 25 and take exit 11A for U.S. 50 east toward La Junta. After almost 100 miles, go south on School Street. Follow County Road 24 for about 2 miles to park entrance.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

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