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10 Spectacular Places to Camp in the Summer

Sylvan Lake State Park, Colo.
Sylvan Lake has a lot more to offer than swimming.
Sylvan Lake has a lot more to offer than swimming.
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Sylvan Lake State Park isn't trying to deceive anyone with its name. "Sylvan," a word of Latin origin meaning "living or located in the woods or forest," is a perfect description of the campgrounds located just under 150 miles (241 kilometers) west of Denver [source: Merriam Webster].

Many campers are eager for a destination that can help them beat the summer heat, making areas like Sylvan Lake quite alluring . It also doesn't hurt that the lake is located at 8,500 feet (2.6 kilometers) above sea level in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, where the temperatures are easily 10 degrees cooler than they are at lower elevations. Plus, with 44 different campsites to choose from, you'll have an easier time avoiding summer crowds than in some other smaller popular camping areas [source: Colorado State Parks].

At 42 acres (17 hectares), Sylvan Lake has the real estate to offer much more than swimming: Many visitors take advantage of the kayaks and paddle boats available for rent, and if boating isn't your cup of fresh mountain water, superior hiking and bike trails abound. Sylvan Lake State Park is also one of the few state parks that allow hunting (although only during permitted seasons, and definitely far away from camping areas) [source: Colorado Come to Life].

One thing that sets Sylvan Lake State Park apart from many other lush and mountainous campground brethren is its group campsite, which can accommodate up to 60 people. Like the other Sylvan Lake campgrounds, the group area features hot showers and real flushing toilets during the summer [source: Colorado State Parks]. It might be a long shot to convince your boss to hold your next office party there, but you'll never know if you don't try!

If you're looking for a dose of history with your summer vacation, we'll tell you how to relive the wagon train days on the next page.