I shouldn’t write a review about this campground because I would like to keep it a secret. This small campground outside Woodland Park, Colorado, offers huge spots, beautiful views, and close proximity to a lake and biking trail. Every time we camp here, I want to stay longer despite the lack of electricity or water.
The drive to this campground is easy. Follow the paved road to a well-maintained dirt road close to Manitou Lake. As one of three federal campgrounds in the area, it is not the closest to Manitou Lake, but it is the best. On arriving at our campsite number 16, the camp host came to greet us and let us know he sold fire wood. Site 16 is on the lower loop. Pine trees circle the long back-in driveway and open to a large wildflower-filled meadow. Some of the “painted rocks” sit in the distance, just a quick jaunt across the meadow from the camper.
A fire ring and picnic table complete the site that sits across from a water spigot for easy filling of water jugs. We have camped at this site a few times, and it is always my favorite in this campground due to its level of privacy and scenery. Though it is close to the dirt road, there is little noise or traffic and the large, private site make up for this fault. It rained during our stay, but the roads were never overly muddy or difficult.
Manitou Lake is a short walk or drive from the campground and admission is included with your campground stay (as is the case at the other close campgrounds, South Meadows and Colorado Campground, both reviewed on this site). This small, stocked lake is a favorite of locals trying to show their children how easy it is to catch fish. We have never caught anything at this lake, but I think it is because we are always visiting too long after it has been stocked. We do bring our kayak and have spent several afternoons kayaking, picnicking, and enjoying the casual atmosphere of this picturesque lake. A trail encircles the lake and meanders over the spillway and through a marshland on one side of the lake. Another trail connects it to the back of Colorado Campground. Finally, a paved bike trail follows the highway and provides a safe way to easily travel to nearby campgrounds and the lake.
The thing that makes Painted Rocks special is the many rock formations that jut out of the earth at various angles and provide hours of entertainment for children. Climbing is inevitable, which is why site 16 is a favorite. I can sit at the site and easily see my son climbing on the rocks in the distance. Other rocks are also available in this lower loop and near other campsites, but 16 is our favorite.