Paonia State Park

Colorado - Paonia State ParkPaonia State Park is a park in the state of Colorado that was founded in 1964. It is located in Gunnison County just east of the city of Paonia. The park takes up 1,857 acres and is located in a canyon that surrounds the Paonia reservoir. The reservoir is found on the North Gunnison River. Visitors can also seek rock and geological formations from the Paleocene and Cretaceous periods, and there are also imprints of leaves and palms. There are many things for visitors to see and do in the Paonia State Park, and it is an especially popular destination for nature lovers that want to get away from the modern world.


Many travelers visit Paonia to do some rustic camping and the open season begin in April and ends on October 30th for the year. The park has 13 campsites and two separate camp grounds. Spruce Campground has eight sites that feature beautiful scenery of blue spruce trees and a stream. Hawsapple Campground is on the other side of the stream, and this is a popular destination for avid water skiers. Both campgrounds have sites with fire pits, vault toilets, and picnic tables.


Visitors to Paonia State Park will love the variety of nature and wildlife they experience during their visit. The park is home to many resident and migratory birds, including waterfowl, raptors, and shore birds. The park lies in the winter game range, so elk and mule deer are also common within the area. Occasionally, black bears are spotted while they search for wild fruits and berries. Ground squirrel, marmot, skunks, coyotes, raccoons, and rabbits are also common in the area. Common fish species include brown trout and Northern pike.

Visitors that are more interested in the flora found in the area will enjoy the aspen forests and oak shrub lands. Common species of trees found in Paonia State Park include Rocky Mountain juniper, blue spruce, maple, ponderosa pine, aspen, and Douglas-fir. Common shrubs include red raspberry, sumac, thimbleberry, juniper, and snowberry. Diverse wetland areas have also shown up near Gunnison River and Muddy Creek.


Boating is hugely popular at Paonia State Park. All boats and personal water crafts are required to have updated registration. They are used in this area for water skiing, fishing, and other recreational activities. Non-motorized boats can also be found in this area, as some visitors enjoy canoeing or kayaking. The park is well known for its praiseworthy Northern Pike fishing. Ice fishing is not allowed in the park.

There are other activities that guests of Paonia State Park can enjoy, as well. Bird watching is a popular pastime, as there are many different bird species that call the park home. There are no hiking trails in Paonia State Park, but individuals that want to cross-country ski or horseback ride through the park can access it from the lake shore.

Budding photographers also enjoy a trip to Paonia State Park. The steep mountainsides and ridges give the area an alpine feel. The park is also full of natural beauty, including fields of wild flowers that make for stunning photographs.


Paonia State Park is relatively dry. The most rain falls during the month of August, and the driest month is usually February. High temperatures during the summer reach the 70s. However, once the sun goes down the temperature will sink to the 40s. The winter months bring average temperatures in the 30s, but overnight they can get less than 10 degrees. These temperatures can be extremely dangerous, and this is one reason that guests are not allowed to camp during these months.

Additional Information

Paonia State Park is located on County Road 12 in Somerset, Colorado. Visitors are allowed to bring their pets to the park, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. There is no drinking water in the park, so visitors should be sure to bring their own supply. For more information, prospective visitors can contact the park office at 970-921-5721.