Lake Colorado City State Park is located in the western part of Mitchell County. From I-20 take Exit 210 onto FM 2836 South for about 5 miles. Follow signs to the park and the entrance will be on your left.
The flora of the park is mostly Prickly Pear Cactus and Mesquite trees.
The park has a scenic, rocky shoreline from which many ducks and grebes can be easily viewed in the fall and winter. There are many American Coots and Pied-billed Grebes that winter at the park and a few even stay year-round and nest in the reeds near the shoreline.
In the spring, check out the many wildflowers that can be found throughout the park. Besides the variety of birds to be found in all seasons, the flora provides for many species of butterflies. Some of the varieties of butterflies to be found are: Giant Swallowtail, Pipevine Swallowtail, Common Buckeye, Dainty Sulphur, Checkered White, Orange Sulphur, Reakirtâ€™s Blue, Red Admiral, and Variegated Fritilary.
The park is alive with color in the spring and summer. Summer breeders include Painting Bunting, Pyrrhuloxia, Bullockâ€™s Oriole, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Verdin, Bushtit, Northern Cardinals, Bellâ€™s Vireo, Eastern Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Scissortail Flycatcher and Western Kingbird. Be sure to check out the larger horizontal limbs of the Mesquite trees in the camping loop called Mesquite Circle for roosting Common Nighthawks. If you do not see them during the day, you can definitely see and hear them at dusk as they hunt for flying insects.
Year-round residents that can be found nesting are Northern Mockingbird, Cactus and Bewickâ€™s Wrens, Mourning Dove, House Finch, Canyon Towhee, Northern Bobwhite, Scaled Quail, Golden-fronted and Ladderback Woodpeckers, and Curve-billed Thrasher. The Great Horned Owl is a common bird of the night and can be found sitting in trees or on electrical power post most evenings at dusk. They nest in the rocky cliffs just outside the park and come into the park to hunt and roost.
In winter, the orioles and flycatchers leave the area and are replaced by several species of sparrows, especially the White-crowned Sparrow. Also found are Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Northern Flicker, Marsh Wren, House Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Cedar Waxwings, and American Robin.
From fall to spring, the lake should be scanned for ducks, gulls and terns, grebes, loons and herons. During 2003, the Long-tailed Duck was found on the lake. The most common grebes are the Pied-billed and Eared Grebe, but the Horned and Western are found on occasion. The common gulls are the Ring-billed and Bonaparteâ€™s. The Great Blue Heron and the Great Egret are the most common egret/heron species, but the White-faced Ibis, Green Heron, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron are all found during fall and spring. A scope is helpful if you want to look for the common Texas ducks that can be found on the lake, including Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Northern Pintail, Canvasback, American Wigeon, and Gadwall. All three species of Teal have been found on the lake. While scanning for ducks, be sure to watch the shoreline as well. Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper and Wilsonâ€™s Snipe are often found foraging along the shore. During migration, Least, Western, and Bairdâ€™s Sandpipers may join these shorebirds. Also dropping by most years are Wilsonâ€™s Phalarope, Snowy Plover, Willet, Black-necked Stilt and American Avocet. Also be sure and keep your eyes open for a fishing Osprey. They often can be found in November and April fishing in the swimming area and then flying off to a nearby pole to eat their catch.
If you just like wildlife in general, Lake Colorado City State Park has many mammals and reptiles for which to keep an eye out. To see many of these creatures, though, you may need to be out early or late before the other campers have had time to disturb them. Mammals that can be seen in the park are Porcupines, Gray Fox, Coyote, Bobcat, White-tail Deer, Raccoon, Badger and Skunk. Watch the roadsides for Texas Horned Lizard (otherwise known as a Horned Toad), Texas Spiny Lizard, and Prairie-lined Racerunner. Also, be alert as you walk, especially if you venture off into the tall grasses as we do have several species of snakes, including the Western Diamond-back Rattlesnake.
Besides all the wonderful wildlife to enjoy, Lake Colorado City is a great place to come and relax and enjoy the west Texas scenery. It has something to enjoy during any season of the year. Because of the lake, the park can be very busy during the summer season, but even then there is much to see if you donâ€™t mind getting out early before the campers and boaters are busy in the Day Use area. There is a preliminary bird checklist at the park entrance and remember, there is a fee to enter the park.
To see more pictures of the park, the wildlife, and the birds, click on Lake Colorado City State Park Gallery. All pictures of Lake Colorado City State Park were supplied by Terry Ferguson as well as the above narrative. To learn more about this State Park, please visit Texas Parks and Wildlife.