California, Here We Come!… Trinidad Lake State Park Part I

We depart Centennial, CO and Jernigan Land on a cool and cloudy early afternoon.


By the time we reach Trinidad Lake State Park in southern Colorado, some 6 miles or so from New Mexico, it is not only cloudy but clammy and chilly with a threat of rain. Actually, it is downright gloomy! The Visitor’s Center for camping registration is closed and we have to find a site and register ourselves. But first we dump and have our first black tank blowout… briefly and messily. I won’t go into any more detail, but let’s just say that we were thankful it rained all night!


As we drive through the campsite we start to get concerned because the spaces look too small to park our 35 foot RV with a car and tow dolly.

Then we encounter a stalled car blocking the bath house parking lot along the one way car path. Both the man and woman are talking frantically on the phone. The couple’s car battery died and their jumper cables are locked inside by the automated key fob. Luckily we can lend them our cables.

Apparently they are also new to this RVing craze and when they unhooked the car they were towing, the car died. I laugh with the woman and tell her we have had similar upsets in our less than 2 month adventure. Then other campers come forward and start  looking for sites for us that are not reserved and that can accommodate the length of our RV.

Back to the dead car story… their car finally started and the couple spent the night in the space next to us. Most campers are good, good people!

What a difference a night makes! We wake up to rolling fog and sunshine.



After showers in the bath house we take the dogs for a short walk and I record the scenery and history of the area on my iPad.

Pinyons, junipers, and grasses dominate the landscape of the park.




A portion of the Santa Fe Trail borders the park. From 1821-1880 the Santa Fe Trail was a two-way commercial and cultural route between NM and MO. The route through the mountains crossed through the valley of the Purgatoire River. Trade caravans often rested here on the banks of the river. Now, this valley is part of Trinidad Lake. (from plaque overlooking the lake)



One such merchant with his caravans, Felipe Baca, stopped here in 1860. Within 2 years he claimed a stake in the land and returned with 12 families from Guadalupita, NM who all settled in this valley. The Baca family thrived here raising 10 children and vast herds of sheep and cattle. Eventually the family donated land for a church, school, and parish buildings, helping to found the city of Trinidad, CO. The family’s house is now a museum. (from plaque overlooking the lake)

image picture taken from plaque

As I am clicking away on my iPad, Jeff murmurs excitedly, “Turn around and look!”


That’s snow on those mountain tops. According to the morning news, Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs received 20 inches of snowfall overnight too.

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