Mueller is one of my favorite state parks in Colorado, and it easily becomes a favorite state park of anyone who visits. With more than 120 electric campsites, it remains incredibly popular (and difficult to reserve) on most weekends. The first time we camped at Mueller, and several subsequent trips, we camped in a tent. The average park elevation is 9,600 feet and tent camping in September or June can be beautiful or completely freezing. Literally. The first time we ever camped here was in a tent over Father’s Day weekend. The temperature dipped to near freezing and I was not excited to get out of my sleeping bag in the morning. Not wanting to re-live that experience, a camper is definitely beneficial here for the shoulder seasons, though the tent-only campsites are beautiful and relaxing.
This park is filled with evergreen trees, aspen, open meadows, and animals. More than 55 miles of well-marked and designed trails provide hiking and biking for visitors. A few ponds also dot the property, and the visitor’s center, ranger-lead evening programs, and Junior Ranger program for kids offer something for various interests. The camper services building is equipped with washers, dryers, hot showers and flush toilets.
I have camped here several times and been to this park for sledding, snowshoeing, picnicking, and just enjoying the fall leaves. This time, we arrived at site 114 during a weekend in July. The full campground never feels overcrowded as the sites are generally well-spaced (I would exclude camping in the spots between the split road or the interior of the “cul-de-sacs”). Site 114 positions your camper door to the east, which means you have abundant shade to enjoy dinner on the outside table. This paved, pull-through, electric site also includes a tent pad and is surrounded by lush forests. Water spigots are found throughout each section of the campground, and vault toilets are available (as well as the flush toilets and showers in the camper services building mentioned above).
We brought our bikes on this trip and, after breakfast, began our ride at the end of the campground on Trail 34. This is not necessarily the best ride with kids- the steep ride downhill means that you will have to ride uphill all the way back to the campground.
We then took Trail 33 to Trail 17. After riding through the forest, the trail opens into a large meadow, then passes through the old Cheeseman Ranch house and barn that was once occupied by the family who owned this land. The area affords great views of not only Pikes Peak, but also the Rocky Mountains toward the west. But it is a more strenuous ride back to the campground.
When we started our ride, the weather was sunny. Soon, fluffy clouds made room for the dark, heavy clouds that bring afternoon rain. We made it back to the campsite in time for lunch and for a substantial afternoon rainstorm. We were in the camper most of the afternoon, reading, playing games, coloring and working on a Lego build. There was a Stage 2 fire ban when we were there, which means that we could not use our gas grill and definitely could not have smores. We instead enjoyed our salmon in the oven with sides and a smores bar from Trader Joe’s for dessert.
On Sunday morning, more showers continued, but we did take the Grouse Mountain Overlook hike to the highest point in this park, a 9,840 foot overlook. It is an uphill hike, but the views are beautiful from the top. The trailhead for this hike is a quick walk and well worth it. While Grouse Mountain has become a favorite trail, we have hiked numerous other trails here that wander through broad meadows and aspen trees and skirt the edges of shallow ponds. Mueller’s abundance of programs and the possibility of seeing wildlife makes this park a necessity for anyone in this region.