Colorado Springs' Red Rock Canyon Open Space reopens to enthusiastic hikers
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Tony Padilla casts a line into a high flowing South Platte River. After closing Eleven Mile Canyon to all activities for the last few weeks because of high water, the U.S. Forrest Service reopened the canyon at 8 a.m. Friday, July 3, 2015 to all camping, picnicking and fishing. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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A closer look at Eleven Mile State Park, located west of Colorado Springs near Lake George:

This might be the top water destination among local outdoors lovers. Mountains frame the 3,400-acre reservoir perched at almost 8,600 feet. The park maintains land sprawling around the lake, enticing adventure on foot or bike, with some roads open to dirt bikes and ATVs.

Of the park's 348 campsites, 25 are reserved for backcountry explorers. Those sites are found along the park's orienteering course, which extends 3.1 miles, with instructions that visitors follow with their compass. Back at the water, motorized and nonmotorized boaters share space. Anglers praise the reservoir for its stock of trophy-sized trout. Swimming not allowed.

Activities: Boating, hiking, biking, camping, fishing, birding and wildlife viewing

Wildlife: Pronghorn, elk, mule deer, black bears, bobcats, coyotes among mammals; variety of birds includes occasional bald eagles, white pelicans, peregrine falcons, with mountain bluebirds, black-billed magpies, ravens more common; Kokanee salmon, northern pike, smallmouth bass, cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout among fish

Fun fact: The Eleven Mile Canyon Dam, owned by the Denver Water Department, was completed in 1932, creating at the time Colorado's largest artificial body of water.

Address: 4229 County Road 92, Lake George, 80827

Contact: 719-748-3401, eleven.mile.park@state.co.us.

Hours: Day use 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Directions: Head west on U.S. 24 past Woodland Park and Divide. Before the town of Lake George, turn south on County Road 90. Continue about 6 miles and turn south on CR 92. Park entrance comes up in about 5 miles.

Seth is a features writer at The Gazette, covering the outdoors and the people and places that make Colorado colorful.

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