Website: St. Vrain State Park
Easy access, although the area roads are typically congested. If arriving by I-25 take exit 240 onto CO119 (Firestone Blvd.) and head west. The entrance to the park is directly off of CO119, but your GPS will likely want to take you in what appears to be an old entrance with no access. The proper entrance is further west on CO119 at the next traffic signal at Co Rd 7 (entrance coordinates 40.160788, -104.998481).
Date(s) of Stay: October 2, 2017 arrival, October 5, 2017 departure
Located in Firestone, CO just west of Longmont and adjacent to I-25 between Denver and Ft. Collins, St. Vrain State Park has roughly 300 acres of water and 480 acres of recreational land, offering an ideal destination for those who want to take a break in the great outdoors. From a campground perspective, there are a total of 87 campsites open for year-round camping. Sites 1-41 (Mallard, Pelican and Sandpiper Loops) have electric hookups at each site with water hydrants available to fill tanks and a dump station at the exit of the campground. Sites 42-87 (Bald Eagle Point, Coot Pond, Kestral, Red Tail Pond, and Tail Feather loops) have water, sewer, and electric hookups at each site. All full hook up sites are pull thrus which run parallel to the interior roads. All the campsites throughout the park include a grill, picnic table, and concrete pad. Most sites also include a shade shelter over the picnic table.
Reservations can be made at Reserve America but be aware that the booking window for an online reservation is 72 hours in advance of your arrival. Within the 3 day booking window, sites will show as walk up only.
Daily rate was $28 per night for our full hookup site ($24 for electric/water only), but be forewarned. In addition, there is a $10 flat charge (ouch) for making an online reservation. So while the $24-$28 daily rate may seem at first glance to be a reasonably good deal, the reservation fee really drives up the cost of a short stay. To add insult to injury, staying at any of the CO State Parks also incurs an additional $7 – $9 daily State Park Entrance Fee (fee varies by specific park). That brings the total daily rate to $31-$37 not counting the reservation fee! A one night stay for a full hookup site including reservation fee would set you back up to a whopping $47! A 10 day stay would amortize the reservation fee and result in a $38 daily rate.
Now maybe that is an acceptable rate for a full hook up site, but it seems a little expensive for just an electric or electric/water site (which is all you will get at some other Colorado State parks). If you are planning on staying more than 8 or 10 nights at one or more Colorado State Parks within the year, the best approach to mitigate that daily vehicle fee is to purchase an Annual Pass which is good at all Colorado State Parks. We suggest physically purchasing the pass at the first campground you visit. At St. Vrain, the Annual Pass fee was $70, but oddly may vary between parks (cost at Cherry Creek was $73 for example). Note that the Annual Pass not only covers the entrance fee for your motorhome, but for your towed vehicle as well – as long as it is connected when you arrive at the park.
Knowing that we would be staying at several other Colorado State Parks (5 parks over 21 days to be exact), we purchased the Annual Pass. It turned out that without it, we would have paid $160 in entrance fees, so we saved $90! Good deal! Plus the annual pass is valid for 13 months from date of purchase.
Additional info – for a motorhome towing a car, the Annual Pass will be for the motorhome and attached to the lower right corner of the motorhome windshield. When registering at the park, make sure you arrive with your tow vehicle connected and be sure to get a free Towed Vehicle Pass for the dates of your stay. The Towed Vehicle Pass will also get you into any other Colorado State Parks for the dates of your stay. Note that if even if you do not purchase an Annual Pass, the Daily Vehicle Fee will still apply to the motorhome and the Towed Vehicle Pass will still be free.
Overall Impression – 3.9/5
After stopping at the registration office to check in and buy our Annual Pass, we drove to our campsite. The clean and well maintained park in the middle of a densely populated suburban area was a very pleasant surprise. We had a full hookup pull thru site (#49) with a concrete pad and patio fronting on Bald Eagle Pond. Very appropriate name since we saw a bald eagle perched in a tree across the pond the day that we left.
Walking trails circle Bald Eagle Pond and Coot Pond which made for a pleasant walk each day. And having the shade shelter over the picnic table was nice to block the sun and/or wind. Our biggest complaint during our stay was the traffic noise from I-25 which was loud enough to be distracting when relaxing outside. Luckily the weather was on the cooler side so we didn’t need to open our windows.
Size – 4/5
Pull thrus in the full hookup loops are mostly level full concrete pads all 45′ in length (according to the Reserve America website). The pad itself easily accommodated our 45′ rig with tag axle and we still had plenty of room at the front or rear (on the gravel) for our tow vehicle. Site spacing was ample as is the case with most state and federal parks.
Privacy – 4/5
With the pull thru sites running parallel to the road and with our living area facing the pond, we had very good privacy on site 49 as did many of the other sites.
Amenities – 4/5
All the campsites throughout the park include a grill, picnic table, and concrete pad, most have a shade shelter over the picnic table, walking trails, handicap accessible fishing piers, dump station and restrooms. Coin-operated showers are located in Barbour Ponds Camper Services Building.
Physical Surroundings – 4/5
Lovely natural setting with awesome views of the Rocky Mountains. With the seven ponds in the state park and the trees aglow with bright yellow fall foliage, it was easy to forget how close we were to suburbia.
Maneuverability and Roads – 4/5
Gravel roads were wide enough for any size rig to maneuver throughout the park. The only caution is when approaching the pull thru we had to be careful not to whack the top of the picnic table shelter with our passenger side mirror.
Peace & Quiet – 2/5
Bordered on the east by I-25 and on the south by CO119, traffic noise unfortunately can reach disturbing levels creating a dichotomy with the peaceful looking surroundings. It didn’t really bother us too much, as it was cool and we mostly had the windows closed, but take note that it will be noticeable for any time spent outside. When walking around the campground, it did not seem to us that even the sites furthest away from the traffic (in the electric only loops) had any significant reduction in noise.
Utilities – 4/5
- Sewer – Very Good, well placed, cap flush with grade, threaded cap.
- Satellite – There should be no problem with hitting any satellite at most all sites in this park.
- WiFi – none
- Cellular signal – Verizon 5 bars, excellent performance. AT&T strong signal, very good performance.
- Over-the-Air (OTA) TV – Very good, received 33 channels, most of the major networks should be available.
- Power – Very good 122 volts both legs, no errors or outages.
- Water Pressure/Quality – Good pressure, no unusual odors, no turbidity.
What We Liked
– Long pull thrus
– Fully paved pad and patio
– Walking trail around pond
– Mountain scenery
– Very good site privacy
What We Didn’t Like
– Traffic noise
– $7-$9 daily entrance fee (charged by all Colorado State parks)
– $10 online reservation fee (charged by all Colorado State parks)
Would We Return?
Yes, definitely, especially if we had an active annual pass. For a short stay without the annual pass we might need to reconsider due to cost.