If you and your pooch are looking for a scenic, fun-filled outdoor getaway in Colorado’s vast Rio Grande National Forest, Lake Fork Campground might just be the paw-fect spot for you two to pitch your tent. Facilities at Lake Fork are on par with most US Forest Service campgrounds in the area, which is to say, rustic at best. There aren’t any shower stations, electricity, or RV hookups, though visitors can avail of the old-timey steel bath at nearby Brummels Mountain Lodge.
If you’re willing to sacrifice some creature comforts, though, you’re in for a treat! Sites at Lake Fork sit surrounded by mature pines and aspen with a fringe of willow and cottonwood, and the whole campground is perched right on the banks of the fast-flowing Conejo River. Think twice before you let your doggo go for a dip! In the early season, the forest floor is carpeted with colorful wildflowers, and you’re never far from some furrific outdoor recreation options. The Forest Service has designated Lake Fork as a light-usage campground, but it’s still best to book early, particularly if you’ll need to stay at one of Lake Fork’s accessible sites. There’s no fee to enter the area, and sites start at $18 a night.
As you might expect from a location in this part of Colorado, Lake Fork makes a grrr-eat basecamp for hound-dog hikers. If you’re looking for a short and sweet trek, consider the Lake Fork to Big Lake Trail, a three-mile out-and-back route that features some breathtaking scenery and should be suitable for all ages and abilities. Four-pawed fitness freaks looking for a challenge might enjoy the Conejo Peak trail, a seven-mile loop featuring inclines that vary from the steep to the truly punishing. You can actually access this hike from Big Lake if you take the Tobacco Trail!
Avid anglers shouldn’t feel left out -- the Conejo River is a Gold Medal River, famous for its trophy trout fishing. You can cook your catch on one of the grills provided with each site.
Wifi isn’t available at Lake Fork, and cellular service varies from network to network. Fires are permitted, but the Forest Service asks that you don’t move firewood -- it introduces invasive insects, and several campgrounds have shut down entirely due to a spruce beetle epidemic. Firewood, as well as drinking water, is available on-site. Remember to bring waste bags for your buddy, and have a pawesome time!