Founded in 1880, Hartsel is known as “The Heart of Colorado”, due to its location at the geographic center of Colorado. Highway 24 runs through the commercial strip, which offers a restaurant, coffeehouse, gas station and a few stores.
Outdoor recreation is the main draw to the area. The South Platte River flows through town offering great trout fishing year round. Hunting is also popular on nearby federal lands and state wildlife areas. The town also gets a lot of traffic because of it’s near the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 24.
Hartsel sits at 8,864 feet above sea level and covers 605 square miles of relatively flat land in South Park basin. In 2010 there were 909 reported residents.
The town was named for Samuel Hartsel, a local cattle rancher and farmer who lived in the area from 1860 through 1908. He came to mine but soon realized how to make more money. He took his 160 homestead to 10,000 acres. He developed the Hartsel hot springs that the area became known for. The hot springs resort is closed now today, but you can still see the ruins nearby downtown.
Antero Reservoir – Built in 1909 as the first dam placed on the South Platte River. Located 15 minutes west of downtown Hartsel, it’s open to fishing and boating.
Camping – Camping is easy to come by in South Park, especially if you know where to look. There are campgrounds scattered in all directions from Hartsel, and even some free dispersed camping opportunities.
- While nearby Spinney Mountain State Park doesn’t have camping, Eleven Mile State Park does. It has lakeside campgrounds perfect for both tents and RVs and even some “backcountry” hike-in camping.
Read about the Camping near Hartsel, around South Park.
Fishing – Fishing is what Hartsel does best. The South Platte River runs past town, offering numerous public access points, as well as emptying into multiple reservoirs open to fishing and boating.
- Antero Reservoir, Spinney Mountain Reservoir, or Eleven Mile Reservoir are all great lakes to go fishing. You can even boat at them, with Eleven Mile being the largest.
- Follow the South Platte River around town and you’ll find spots to go fishing. It’s pretty easy to find, you’ll pass over the South Platte where Highway 9 meets with Highway 24, only a mile or so west of downtown Hartsel.
- The “Dream Stream” is a famous portion of the South Platte River near town. You can find its treasured waters between Spinney and Eleven Mile state parks. It’s even mappable on Google maps.
Hiking – Do some lakeside trekking at any of the aforementioned three lakes.
- Head to Eleven Mile State Park in nearby Lake George for nearly 5 miles in trails at the Coyote Ridge area. Take a self guided tour on the Nature Trail or Orienteering Trail.
- The San Isabel National Forest lies to the southwest of town. The Pike National Forest lies in nearly all other directions from town, but you access it quickly by heading east on Highway 24 to the woods. Meander around the nature in either of these national forests for a fun filled day, or find a designated trail and go on a real hike.
Read about the Top 9 Cool Hotels by Fairplay.
Activities near Hartsel
- Wilkerson Pass (15mi)
- Alma (24mi)
- Breckenridge (41mi)
- Buena Vista (28mi)
- Cañon City (57mi)
- Coaldale (68mi)
- Como (28mi)
- Cotopaxi (70mi)
- Cripple Creek (48mi)
- Deckers (68mi)
- Divide (38mi)
- Fairplay (18mi)
- Florissant (30mi)
- Frisco (49mi)
- Grant (46mi)
- Green Mountain Falls (50mi)
- Guffey (27mi)
- Jefferson (34mi)
- Johnson Village (26mi)
- Lake George (26mi)
- Leadville (55mi)
- Nathrop (31mi)
- Penrose (68mi)
- Poncha Springs (48mi)
- Salida (48mi)
- Texas Creek (66mi)
- Victor (53mi)
- Woodland Park (45mi)