Did you know that just 30 miles west of Colorado Springs sits one of our state’s crown jewels, ready and waiting for you and your next outdoor winter adventure? Mueller State Park, located on the west side of Pikes Peak, is one of 42 state parks in Colorado, offering 5,000+ acres and more than 50 miles of trails. As described by Colorado State Parks and Wildlife, this top-rated park features spring-fed meadows, mixed forests, ponds, and massive rock outcroppings of Pikes Peak granite.
There’s no better time to visit Mueller State Park than right now. Grab those snowshoes, cross-country skis, sleds, or hiking traction and head for the hills! Wintertime is, after all, the perfect time to get outside, soak up some sunshine, and yes, get a great workout without feeling like you’re working out. Added bonus—after burning some 600 calories an hour snowshoeing(!), you’ll earn a nice big plate of pasta to cap off a very feel-good day. And if you’re so inclined, you can rest your tired laurels in your own camper for the night at one of Mueller’s 17 electrical campsites or stay a couple of nights in one of three beautiful cabins available to rent year-round in the park. We’re talking gorgeous log homes complete with fireplaces, kitchens stocked with all manner of cookware, up to four bedrooms and porches with a view.
As Mueller Park Manager Brian Kerrigan says, “Winter is a beautiful season at Mueller State Park. While we still offer some camping, the summer crowds have dissipated, and the trails are quiet. I particularly enjoy snowshoeing to the highest point in the park, Grouse Mountain overlook, at an elevation of 9,843 feet, where you can take in the wonderful views of not only the entire park, but views of the backside of Pikes Peak and the mighty Sangre de Cristo and Collegiate Mountain ranges.”
You and your carload of adventure seekers can get into Mueller for just nine bucks a vehicle. Day passes are available at the gate or at the visitor’s center, where you’ll want to stop in, chat with the friendly and informative staff there, and pick up a trail map. If you already have a state parks pass, you’re good to go.
Mueller offers plenty of beginning, intermediate, and advanced trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. And don’t forget the sledding and tubing hills with names like Elk Meadow, Preacher’s Hollow, Peak View Hill, and School Pond.
“Come explore our trails after a high-country snowstorm,” suggests Kerrigan. “All of our trails remain open in the wintertime for skiing, snowshoeing, and on nicer days, hiking. We groom over five miles of trail specifically for Nordic skiing.”
Another amenity offered by Mueller is guided group hikes throughout the winter months, led by volunteer naturalists. Check Mueller’s calendar for events and dates.
Kerrigan says it best. “Winter offers a contemplative experience as you listen to the wind blow through the pines, crunch through fresh-fallen snow, or observe the spectacular views of a snow-covered Pikes Peak.”
And don’t forget about the always-possible wildlife sightings. Think elk, deer, eagles, and hawks. And in nonhibernating weather, black bear.
“Many visitors have commented that Mueller is the best park they have ever visited,” says Kerrigan, “due to the scenery and the cleanliness of the facilities. It’s not unusual to have year after year of repeat visitors and succeeding generations of their families.”
Just makes you want to be there right now, today, doesn’t it?
Did you know…
+ The Mueller State Park area was once a popular hunting ground for the Ute Indians. By the 1860s, homesteaders, ranchers, and farmers dominated the area, along with those seeking riches during the Cripple Creek gold rush…Gold was discovered, and by 1900, more than 50,000 people lived in the area.
+ W.E. Mueller purchased 10 area ranches and homesteads to create Mueller Ranch. In the 1980s, the ranch was designated as a game preserve and was later purchased by the Nature Conservancy, Colorado State Parks and Division of Wildlife.
+ For more information about Mueller State Park, visit cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/mueller
+ To get to Mueller State Park, drive up Ute Pass (Hwy. 24) past Woodland Park to Divide. The park entrance is located 3.5 miles south of Divide on Hwy. 67.