As soon as the winter snows are gone, the folks in Burlington and other eastern Colorado communities head to the beach, and that means Bonny Lake State Park, 23 miles north of Burlington on U.S. 385, then east on county roads 2 or 3 for about 1 1/2 miles (tel. 970/354-7306; www.parks.state.co.us). Built as a flood control project in 1951, the reservoir contains 1,900 surface acres of relatively warm water, perfect for swimming, water-skiing, windsurfing, and fishing. The 5,000-acre park provides opportunities to see wildlife, with some 250 species of birds, mule and whitetail deer, coyotes, badgers, muskrats, bobcats, beavers, and rabbits. The daily entrance fee is $6 per vehicle.
The lake has four campgrounds, with a total of 190 campsites ($14-$18). Some sites have electric hookups, and several are handicapped accessible. Facilities include boat-launching ramps, restrooms, pay showers, picnic areas, a short nature trail (not handicap accessible), and a fish-cleaning station. Fishing for walleye, northern pike, and a variety of bass is good here. While not maintained, the gravel roads around the lake make a 17-mile loop that's perfect for hiking and biking.
A family stop in Burlington is Outback Territory Park Playground, which covers a full block between 15th and 16th streets and Railroad and Martin avenues. It's got a marvelous playground (designed by Burlington Elementary School children) and delightful picnic areas with lots of shade. Admission is free. For additional information, contact the Colorado Welcome Center in Burlington or the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.
If you're traveling this way in winter, stop by for an afternoon of cross-country skiing, ice skating, or ice fishing, but don't forget your long underwear -- winter winds are bone chilling out here on the plains. During winter, electric and water are available in the campgrounds, and there are vault toilets, but the showers and flush toilets are shut down.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.