Cokedale, Colorado: Year-Round Outdoor Activities and Scenery


Cokedale, a tiny former coal mining camp in south central Colorado, is home to the state’s largest surviving collection of coke ovens. This historic town, located about 15 minutes west of Trinidad, was once a critical spot for the steel industry in the early 20th century.


  • Cokedale played a significant role in Colorado's mining history, particularly in the production of coke for the steel industry.
  • The town boasts a unique architectural heritage, with many buildings and structures still intact from its mining days.
  • Today, Cokedale attracts visitors with its historical sites, outdoor activities, and natural beauty.

Historical Background of Cokedale

Cokedale was founded in 1906 by the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) as a company town to provide coke for its factories. The town began as a tent colony in 1899 and quickly grew to a population of 1,500 by 1907. Coal mined in Cokedale was refined into coke using beehive ovens and transported by train to ASARCO’s steel factories in El Paso, Texas. As the demand for coal and coke diminished, the mines and camp closed in 1947. The town was incorporated in 1948, and residents were able to purchase many of the homes and buildings.

Architectural Heritage

Cokedale’s distinctive architecture reflects its mining heritage, with many buildings constructed using concrete blocks made from coke material and cement. In Las Animas County, on the western side of Trinidad Lake, the town has 117 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Cokedale Historic District. Preservation efforts have been made to maintain and restore the historical coal camp buildings, with local and national historical societies playing a crucial role.

Cultural and Community Life

Community life in Cokedale has evolved over time from a bustling mining town to a small, close-knit community. The town still celebrates its heritage through various events and traditions. Cokedale has contributed to the broader cultural landscape of Colorado and interacts with neighboring towns and cities.

Natural Surroundings and Outdoor Activities

Cokedale is situated in a scenic area with outdoor recreation and exploration opportunities. The town is known for having one of Colorado’s highest concentrations of bears, and residents often wake up to the sounds of turkeys and elk. Conservation efforts are in place to protect natural habitats and wildlife, with community involvement playing a key role.

Trinidad Lake State Park provides plenty of camping opportunities, with developed sites at Carpios Ridge Campground. The campground includes amenities like showers, bathrooms, and hiking trails.

Tourism and Visitor Information

Visitors to Cokedale can explore various attractions, including historical sites like the coke ovens and the Cokedale Museum. The town also offers outdoor activities and natural attractions. Accommodations and dining options are available in the area and the best times to visit depend on personal preferences and desired activities.


What is the historical significance of Cokedale, Colorado?

Cokedale played a vital role in Colorado’s mining history, particularly in the production of coke for the steel industry in the early 20th century.

Can visitors explore the architectural heritage of Cokedale?

Yes, visitors can explore the unique architectural heritage of Cokedale, with many historical buildings and structures still intact.

What outdoor activities are available in the Cokedale area?

The Cokedale area offers various outdoor activities, including hiking, wildlife viewing, and exploring the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.

How can tourists find accommodation and dining in Cokedale?

Tourists can find accommodation and dining options in the Cokedale area, with nearby towns like Trinidad offering plenty of services, from cozy B&Bs to popular hotel chains.

What are Cokedale’s future development plans?

Cokedale is focused on sustainable growth and community enhancement while preserving its historical and cultural heritage.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.