My favorite state park in Colorado is Mueller State Park outside of Divide, Colorado:
View Larger Map
The park is a less than an hour drive from Colorado Springs and features over 5,000 acres of pristine wilderness at the base of Pikes Peak for visitors to explore. I used the park last winter as a location to work on my snowshoe skills. You can read more about my winter snowshoe hikes at the park at the below link:
I had gone back there again with my family to check out some of the simple walks as well as to go sledding with my kids. Recently we decided to drive up to the park to check out the autumn colors on the trees. Considering all the aspen trees that can be found at the park I figured the colors would be spectacular. Sure enough as we drove up the park’s main road to the visitor center it was lined with beautiful aspen trees and the western slopes of Pikes Peak dominated the eastern horizon:
Some of the aspen trees made for some great pictures when framed by the darker colored evergreen trees:
We stopped at the visitor because my kids like to look at all the stuffed animals inside:
The visitor center is very well done with plenty of things for both adults and kids to check out. Here is the animal that my 3-year old daughter loves to see the most, this bear:
She likes the little bear cub in the tree as well:
My daughter may like bears, but she is always scared of mountain lions:
There was also other animals to check out such as these bighorn sheep:
The Visitor Center also had a good display about the history of the area to include the founder of the park, the Mueller family who ultimately protected this land over many years and made sure it would one day become a state park:
Here is a brief history of the park from the Colorado State Parks’ website:
This 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.
Prior to this time, the area was virtually uninhabited and people were simply passing through. The area was also known for the old Ute Pass Trail, which enabled Indians, Bison, explorers, prospectors and cowboys to pass through the Front Range. The first permanent settlement was in 1870.
Gold was discovered and by 1900, more than 50,000 people lived in the area. Nearby Divide helped supply the miners with saw mills, lumber, supplies and was known for its potatoes and crops of lettuce.
Eventually, W.E. Mueller purchased ten of the ranches and homesteads to create Mueller Ranch. In the 1980?s, the Mueller family designate the ranch as a game preserve. Later the ranch was purchased by the Nature Conservancy, Colorado State Parks and Division of Wildlife. The area which is now Mueller State Park sits at the base of Pikes Peak where elk, black bear, eagles and hawks are able to roam amongst the 5,121 acres of natural land. With the park’s groves of aspen trees, each season is a delight for photographers and sightseers alike.
This park is another great reason why I am a proud supporter of the Nature Conservancy. This excellent park was made possible by the Mueller family taking such good care of the land and the Nature Conservancy who provided the funding and organizational power to get this wonderful property transferred and cared for by the Colorado State Parks.
Here is one final curiosity I spotted before walking out of the visitor center:
Here is what the marker read about this aspen log:
This aspen log tombstone was on the ranch that is now part of Mueller State Park.
Sumner Osborn, murdered Oct. 17, 1941
Sumner Osborne’s horses were stolen from his ranch. He told his family that the Cahill’s had a reputation for stealing horses, so he was headed to the Cahill’s place. He was never seen again.
Outside the visitor center there are number of lookouts that provide some great views of the park and the mountains rising in the distance:
Here is a closer look at the Sangre De Cristo Mountains that can be seen in the distance:
Here is a panorama picture of the view from the visitor center:
Normally the entire Sangre de Cristo range can be seen, but unfortunately on this day most of them were masked with cloud cover. Not a big deal because we came here to see the trees and there was plenty of colorful trees to see throughout the park:
We planned on doing some short walks in the park, but it was very cold and windy out the day we visited. So we instead drove around the park to look at all the colorful trees:
Even from a vehicle the views from Mueller State Park are tremendous:
The entire loop around the park has plenty of colorful trees to check out:
For anyone living in the Colorado Springs area there are probably few places better than Mueller State Park to go and see the aspen leaves during the autumn season. Stopping by the park combined with a trip to the nearby historic community of Cripple Creek makes for a great day or even weekend gateway in the Pikes Peak region.