Historic Santa Fe Trail town offers access to the plains and mountains of Colorado and New Mexico.
Located just north of the New Mexico border and Raton Pass, Trinidad has a rich history as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail, home to trappers and traders, and a Spanish outpost. There’s also a growing arts and culture scene. Outdoor lovers have plenty to do too, from fishing the Purgatoire River, to boating, fishing, and miles of trails at Trinidad Lake State Park, which also offers camping options including lakeside. Surrounded by mesas and mountains, and not far from the plains, there’s plenty of adventure to be had nearby, with camping options as varied as the landscape.
Highway of Legends
Head west on the scenic Highway of Legends, which connects Trinidad with Cuchara, La Veta, and Walsenburg. The scenic byway passes through the San Isabel National Forest and the Spanish Peaks. Camp with your RV or pitch a tent at primitive sites at Purgatoire, Bear Lake, and Blue Lake campgrounds. Or stay at Cordova Pass or East Spanish Peak to be right at the base of the Spanish Peaks. Lathrop State Park, just outside Walsenburg, offers two lakes and two campgrounds.
Head northwest to explore massive sand dunes surrounded by snow capped peaks at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Camp inside the park seasonally, or backcountry camp or 4WD camp in the surrounding national preserve. Camping options can be found nearby in state parks and BLM land. Further north, Westcliffe offers incredibly dark skies, perfect when you’re camping overnight, whether you’re equestrian camping, backcountry camping, or camping with your RV.
Plains and High Desert
For high desert and plains, head north to Pueblo. Explore the city’s historic connection with steel, get artsy in the creative corridor, or enjoy water activities at Lake Pueblo, where you can camp lakeside. Further east, the city of La Junta sits on Colorado’s southeastern plains. Look for rock art and dinosaur tracks at Comanche National Grassland, where dispersed camping is available in most areas. Or head further east to play and stay at John Martin Reservoir State Park.
Just over the border in New Mexico, Sugarite Canyon State Park offers wildlife and wildflowers, plus outdoor recreation and camping for tents, RVs, and horses. Enjoy bird watching and primitive camping at the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge. Further south, drive the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway and enjoy land and water activities, and camping, at Cimarron Canyon State Park or Eagle Nest Lake State Park. Further east, see dinosaur tracks and camp at Clayton Lake State Park.
Summers are popular times to visit Trinidad, when crowds flock to Trinidad Lake. Boating season runs from spring through summer. Several popular festivals are held over the summer and in September, including Santa Fe Days and Artocade. Visit in the spring for wildflowers, and fall for colorful foliage, especially along the Highway of Legends. In the winter, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are popular activities.