The Mountainous Park Ranked As The Most Underrated In This Western State

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the soothing smell of pine trees wafting in the light breeze. The sun is shining on you as you look out over an alpine forest, marveling at the vastness of this lovely country. Maybe there's snow in your vision, or perhaps it's the sparkling sun on a pond full of fish. There's a deer in the distance and the sound of horse bridles jingling as they pass by you on a trail. It's not just a dream, and this visit won't require a road trip through the European Alps. No, this beautiful forest is right here in the United States. We're talking about Mueller State Park in Colorado. Just around 30 miles west of Colorado Springs, CashNetUSA ranked this place the most underrated state park in Colorado. 

This park has been home to the Ute nation, with mining and ranching in the area. It's named after Wyman "Jim" Mueller, a rancher who bought up a bunch of smaller ranches. Through the years, it eventually ended up under the ownership of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and became a state park in 1991. There is plenty to do at Mueller State Park throughout the entire year, from camping to cross-country skiing, to hiking and fishing (with a license, of course). Let's take a look at what you need to know about Mueller State Park and what you can do in this alpine paradise. 

What to know about Mueller State Park

Right near the center of Colorado, Mueller State Park has over 5,000 acres of land, and while there are no lakes, there are several ponds to fish in with a Colorado license – including Dragonfly Pond, which is stocked with rainbow trout. When you visit the park, you must have a current daily or annual Colorado State Parks Pass on your windshield. You can grab them at the entrance to the park, as well as at the visitor center. You can get up-to-date information on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website, and there are a number of different options for things to do. If you're looking to hunt at Mueller, there are designated areas open from the Tuesday after Labor Day to the Friday before Memorial Day.

There are over 44 miles of trails in the park for different levels of hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers. (Note that many trails begin at the top of a ridge, so you have to go back up at the end.) All of the trails are open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. There are self-guided trails, including The Children's Dragonfly Trail by Dragonfly Pond. You can even take a guided hike through the summer and join some park programs like ice fishing, nature bingo, Easter egg hunts, and a "moose fest." Dogs are not permitted on trails, though you can have them on a leash in the campground and picnic areas. If you want to get married in the great outdoors, you can do so in the park's amphitheater, though it's not open the entire year. 

Camping at Mueller State Park

Camping is a popular activity at this park, and it's set up for a great experience. There are three furnished cabins with firepits that you can rent, as well as 22 walk-in campsites and even two sites for horse campers. There are plenty of sites for RVs and trailers with a camping facility. You'll find some flushing toilets, as well as coin-operated showers, water stations, a dump station, and electricity hookups. You can reserve a campsite at Reserve America. There are limited sites and facilities in the winter, so make sure to consult the website for the time you're visiting. 

If you're camping and spending a few days, you can take a short drive to the Victor and Cripple Creek mining towns (around 16 and 18 miles away, respectively) on Highway 67 South. Enjoy the towns and feel like you're in the Wild West with mine tours and panning for gold. Do note that there is plenty of wildlife in the area, including black bears. Explore has you covered with bear safety for many bear types. Mueller State Park has an elevation of 9,500 feet, so another thing to remember is that some people can feel ill if they don't acclimate to the area. We've got a guide for combating altitude sickness, too. The risks aside, the beauty here is hard to match, and it's bound to be an incredible vacation.