As the sun goes to bed over Steamboat Lake, the landscape takes on a Monet-like quality. The sky and the water melt together in a blur of color and light that compels me to heed my husband’s advice. “Let’s leave everything in the car for now,” Ben suggests once we locate our campsite at Steamboat Lake State Park. I nod, grab only the camp chairs out of our overstuffed Pathfinder, and face them toward a sunset that’s warming the sharp summits towering above the lake. Our site, located on a peninsula called Bridge Island, makes us front-row spectators to glistening water, jagged mountains, and the light show overhead. Not all of the park’s 188 tent and RV sites sit along the lakeshore, but those that do get snapped up fast: We’d reserved this patch of paradise weeks ago, and the planning was worth it. From our chairs, gazing up at streaks of pink and orange, we listen as wavelets slap the gravelly shore. “I wish we had a canoe,” I murmur. A sunset cruise would be lovely, especially one departing right from our campsite, but a boat is one piece of gear the SUV simply could not accommodate. “This is nice enough,” Ben replies, holding a frosty can in one hand and holding my hand with the other.
Tucked into the mountains of northwest Colorado, Steamboat Lake has everything you need for a quintessential summer weekend.