Huerfano County’s Lathrop State Park
by Ruth Major
Huerfano County has been a great place for us, filled with unique places inviting special experiences. We’ll be featuring our favorite hangouts in the next few articles.
Ten years ago, my husband Jim and I spent a summer of weekends at Lathrop State Park west of Walsenburg testing the waters. Jim and I are both mountain/country people. We like quiet and space. Our professions were wrought with stress and challenge near Metropolitan Denver and esoteric Boulder. Toward the end of that summer, we toyed with the idea of selling our Lyons home and moving south. After selling, scheduling a giant community garage sale exactly when a new grandchild was arriving and deciding on a remote, yet close, piece of property near Walsenburg, we settled.
The piñons, craggy rock structures, and mountain views in Lathrop Park create a semi-desert land of magic and dreams. Programs each weekend feature locals and “well-knowns.” Amphitheater seating has improved. Visitors can enjoy cool evenings, meet neighbors and travelers, and pick up western tidbits of information.
The two large lakes within the park provide guests with two worlds. Horseshoe Lake is slow, rippling and quiet, suitable for fishing, canoes, and rowboats with minimal motorboat wake and small coves for quick evening picnics, deep breathing, and breezes. I dubbed it “the old man’s lake,” mostly to tease my husband, and was always rewarded by a telling grunt.
The beach on Martin Lake invites young mothers, toddlers screaming with delight, oldsters, and lovers, with motorboat waves for the little ones, and speedboat activities for the acrobatic.
Dogs walk, run, and yip at the geese as they rise up into blue skies. On Greta’s first visit to Lathrop, the call of the wild prompted her to run toward them. When cold water rose two inches up on her three-inch legs, she halted, realized where her instincts had taken her, and backed off. The gentle macadam path gives her adventure enough – insects, forest sounds, unfamiliar smells and an occasional new friend for sniffing. She has quickly learned to keep away from cactus and other dog-attacking plants.
Five years ago my “old man” was “walk-running” around Horseshoe Lake during a sailboat adventure. A ranger passed in his pickup and asked how he was doing. “Fine,” he said, “going back to pick up my truck.” Before the parking lot, he sat down to rest. Gazing at the Wahatoya Mountains (“Breasts of the World”), he leaned back, and went to his Everlasting Rest. Fishermen called 911, paramedics arrived immediately, and within 30 minutes our family and a close friend had gathered to witness several Rainbows of Promise providing comfort for our loss.
Huerfano County is a unique place– to retire, to live fully, and a perfect place to die when the time is right. We were blessed to find this place for our elder years. “It’s a God thing!” expresses how we feel about our home in Southern Colorado.