Colorado Vol I: The Gunnison

Starting off with a bang

We started off our experience in Colorado with a failure.  We had been RVing for 9 months at this point… and made a rookie mistake.

We had intended on staying in the campground at the Colorado National Monument – which is first come, first served – so we left Moab, Utah a little earlier than usual.  We arrived, made it up the mountain (which is not trivial – there are tons of switchbacks, loops, and two rounded tunnels that you have to drive down the center of so the RV doesn’t hit the top), and found a site that would fit us.  We aptly leveled and unbuttoned the Fox, got Calla some lunch, and Hannah walked over to the pay station.  Easy peasy, we’re pros at this, right?

Well, it turns out that the site was empty but was already taken – we had somehow completely missed the fact that the site’s marker post even said so – so Hannah came back with the bad news and we promptly put the Fox back in travel mode and hitched back up, cursed a bunch, and circled the campground.  Of course that was the only site that the Fox would fit, so we were forced to wind back down the mountain, sneak through the itty bitty tunnels, and find somewhere else to stay.

The silver lining?  We saw mountain goats while climbing up to the monument as well as trudging back down.

Moving On

We had to move on, so Hannah started finding alternatives while I drove.  We ended up staying two nights at Palidade Basecamp RV Resort in Palisade, CO, which had some niceties, but was not our scene and had some processes that needed dialed in. We ended up being camped across from a multi-site birthday party (she was turning forty-something…) that included screaming toasts, group singalongs, and giant bottles of champagne.  We were pretty happy to move on after two nights there.

Calla in front of the Colorado River while staying at Paliside Basecamp RV Resort – Palisade, CO

The Gunnison

Our next stop was at Curecanti Rec Area near Gunnison, Colorado.  My dad came out west with his Camp-Inn teardrop camper and met us here so we could visit and he could fish the world-renowned Gunnison River.

The Fox and my dad’s teardrop camper at Curecanti NRA

We explored the NRA, checked out the town of Gunnison, and visited with my dad while there.

My dad trying his luck at the reservoir at Curecanti NRA

We also visited Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park while staying at Curecanti.  We were there during a rare dreary, cool week in late May (the weather shifted to 75 and sunny soon after we left) and our visit to Black Canyon was cut a bit short due to rain.  We squeezed in a short hike and stopped at lots of viewing areas along the canyon.

An overlook at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Montrose, CO

The park is young – it was only designated as a national park in 1999 – and is not all that popular compared to other national parks.  However, Black Canyon left its imprint on us.  Like many national worders, the massive, near-vertical granite canyon and breathtaking views had a way of reminding us of how small, fragile, and recent humanity is.  

Family Boondocking

Next we all headed up over the Continental Divide and spent four nights boondocking on FR272 in the San Isabel National Forest between Salida and Buena Vista.  We had reservations coming up near Denver so this was a good spot in between Gunnison and Denver.

Our “group” boondocking spot on FR272 near Salida, CO
Our site from the forest road

My dad had dry camped at national forests plenty of times but this was his first true boondocking experience.  He got some more time with Calla and some more fishing in during this stop.

Action scene!

Hannah and I both did a fun hike here.  This was probably the first hike near/above 10,000 feet elevation for us and we could certainly feel it.  In fact I think we all had a fit of extra fatigue when we first stopped here due to the elevation.

Hiking part of Brown’s Creek Trail near Salida, CO
Our hike overlapped the Colorado Trail, which runs for nearly 500 miles through the state

We explored the town of Salida a bit and we all took a warm dip at the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center.  It was our first experience with hot springs and we all loved it – especially Calla!

The forest road had some great views and tons of camping spots

After four nights we had to move on to the Denver area.  My dad stayed in western CO and spent a few weeks fly fishing before returning to PA.  He travels light and fast with his little teardrop – it’s pretty sweet.  We did some more group boondocking with him when we came out west again in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming!

The weather wasn’t up to normal Colorado standards during our stay but visting, traveling and exploring with friends and family is always a blast!

Date visited: May 2018

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