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Sweetwater Lake: Meet Colorado's 43rd State Park

The land around Sweetwater Lake in Garfield County will become Colorado's newest state park.

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. — Sweetwater Lake will become the 43rd state park in Colorado.

Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) announced on Wednesday a partnership among Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the U.S. Forest Service (White River National Forest), and Eagle Valley Land Trust (EVLT) to create the new park.

The White River National Forest acquired the 488-acre Sweetwater Ranch in Garfield County on Aug. 31, 2021, through a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) purchase, according to the state of Colorado.

“Sweetwater Lake is simply gorgeous, and has great potential for even more recreational opportunities like a campground,” said Polis.

“This is the first of its kind partnership in Colorado to create a state park on U.S. Forest Service land, and we look forward to working with our partners and Coloradans with the ultimate goal of adding Sweetwater Lake to Colorado’s world-class state park system for fun, conservation, education, and to support job growth  for the region.”

While the acquisition of the Sweetwater ranch property will increase public access to the lake, very little infrastructure is currently in place to facilitate public recreation.

Improved facilities, including a new boat launch, will be available to the public by June 1, 2022, said state officials.

Additional buildout will follow the completion of a long-term plan, in consultation with the public, for expanding and managing the recreational opportunities at Sweetwater Lake while preserving the unique, relatively undeveloped nature of the property.

“Sweetwater Lake has tremendous ecological and cultural values and outstanding opportunities for recreation,” said Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Frank Beum. “This partnership allows the White River National Forest to incorporate the local expertise of the Eagle Valley Land Trust and the recreation management and wildlife expertise of Colorado Parks and Wildlife to best serve visitors to the area.”

“Sweetwater Lake is a hidden gem, both as a destination and gateway to the Flat Top Wilderness. The partnership formed to protect and manage this unique landscape is an extension of the state and federal commitment to shared stewardship, which the Governor and U.S.D.A. initiated in 2019,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources.”

Sweetwater Lake is the second State Park created under Polis, with Fishers Peak in Trinidad officially opening almost a year ago.

Credit: State of Colorado
Sweetwater Lake

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife is excited to modernize facilities, and provide updated and sustainable recreational services through this partnership. Our main priority is to conserve the unique character of the area while improving access to this incredible property,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow. 

“The conservation of Sweetwater Lake is the realization of a community vision decades in the making. EVLT is looking forward to closely coordinating with the Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife as we move forward with plans for Sweetwater Lake,” said Jessica Foulis, Executive Director, Eagle Valley Land Trust.

RELATED: Boat ramps closing for the season in South Park

RELATED: New state park opens near Trinidad

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