1,857-acre Paonia State Park is centered around Paonia Reservoir, a long, narrow lake on the North Fork of the Gunnison River northeast of the town of Paonia. The US Bureau of Reclamation has worked with Colorado State Parks to rehabilitate several areas of the State Park but there are no visitor facilities or camping hook-ups here: just pristine nature in the heart of gorgeous countryside (Paonia State Park is almost completely surrounded by Gunnison National Forest and the Raggeds Wilderness is only a couple miles to the east).

There is an area where you can easily find geologic formations from both the Cretaceous and Paleocene periods, mixed in with fossilized leaf and palm frond imprints. Vegetation in the area is a mix of gambel oak shrublands, mixed conifers and aspen. For wildlife you're liable to come across mule deer, elk, black bear, bobcat, mountain lion, marmot and cottontail.

The daily vehicle park pass costs $7 (self-serve pay station) while basic campsites run another $10 per night (also self-serve).

Paonia State Park area mapGunnison National ForestWest Elk Loop Scenic BywayWhite River National ForestCrested Butte Mountain ResortAspen Highlands Ski AreaAspen Mountain Ski AreaButtermilk Ski AreaSnowmass Ski ResortVega State ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkWest Elk Loop Scenic BywayCurecanti-National Recreation AreaMaroon Bells-Snowmass WildernessRaggeds WildernessWest Elk WildernessCrawford State Park
Paonia State Park area map