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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Rollin on May 10, 2017, 04:02:14 PM

Title: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on May 10, 2017, 04:02:14 PM
I've never been there and am planning on being somewhere around Boulder in early July. I have to travel back to San Antonio TX for a few days (leave Boulder no later than the 20th), but should be back in Boulder by the 26th for a stay with the DW at an AirBnB. I should be meeting my cousin for a week of hiking somewhere between 7/1 and the 7/20, but the rest of the time will be open.

I'll be driving and sleeping in my van (or tent if needed) and would like some inexpensive ideas on where to stay. I was looking at something akin to the Pawnee Campground in Arapaho and Roosevelt Forests, but I know nothing about the area. This was just a thought based on some internet research. I am flexible as to where to stay and do not need hookups or luxury (no thanks Walmart parking lot!). Any suggestions my fellow Mustachians?
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: patchyfacialhair on May 10, 2017, 04:44:13 PM
Wherever you stay, be sure to bring flexible clothing. Colorado has plenty or random thunderstorms that come out of nowhere and soak everything. They usually don't last long though.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: the_fixer on May 11, 2017, 07:47:00 AM
That is a nice area loved going there as a kid.

Sometimes the little bridge is under water in the spring but we have always been able to drive through it.

We made the hike from there to Coney lake and upper Coney lake a few times and it is amazing up there.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: honeybbq on May 11, 2017, 09:25:17 AM
Are you interested in heading up to Estes park?
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on May 11, 2017, 11:19:27 AM
The Y looks out of my price range. Thank you for the reply though.

Also, the fixer and patchy facial hair thank you both.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: MountainFlower on May 11, 2017, 11:38:00 AM
Many of the campgrounds that take reservations are getting filled, so you might want to firm up some plans.  Camp Dick, which is an hour away from Boulder, is a beautiful location.  As someone else mentioned, do plan for very cold nights. 

I've never been to the Pawnee campground, but that is a beautiful area and close to Camp Dick.  It's very pretty that direction. 

Since you have so much time, I'd suggest driving down to the Telluride area and camping down there.  So gorgeous. 
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: canyonrider on May 11, 2017, 12:07:53 PM
Pawnee is a great option and would serve as an excellent basecamp for a couple of days of hiking in the Indian Peaks, hiking right from your campsite without having to drive anywhere. Also, pretty much any of the USFS campgrounds between Nederland and RMNP are nice options. 

Definitely check and see which campgrounds require reservations and which ones have sites that are first-come, first-served. If you want a site on a weekend night you pretty much need to have a reservation or show up on a Thursday (or earlier in the week) to snag a first-come site. This also holds true for most campgrounds within a 2-hour drive from the Denver area.

I also echo MountainFlower's recommendation to drive southwest, or really anywhere else that is more than a couple of hours from the Front Range. Indian Peaks/RMNP are beautiful areas, but they are by far some of the most crowded in the state and you are going to be in the thick of high season. Heading farther away will also open up many more dispersed camping options, so you don't have to worry about things like campground reservations and crowds.

It's a little unclear exactly how much time you have to roam, but it looks like around three weeks? If that's the case, I would only spend 3-5 days in the Indian Peaks/RMNP, and the rest of the time checking out other parts of the state.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on May 11, 2017, 02:16:11 PM
Mountainflower and canyon rider that sounds like very good advice. I really do not want to be by crowds and if I need to will drive away from them. Perfect to head southwest and set up a "base camp", go back to Denver to get housing at the airport, sand then head back southwest for a week of hiking. Pawneee are all walk up from where I could see and I don't want to wing in an area like that.

Thank you. I'll start researching down there and get back here with questions. It looks like Cimmaron, Ouray, and Telluride would fit the bill. Less $$, still walk up, but no pull throughs, dump stations, electricity, etc. so likely less populated. About 4.5 to 6 hours drive from Denver. Got any oxygen for this Florida/sea level guy? Wow, 9,000+- feet is high for me!
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Mtngrl on May 11, 2017, 03:26:09 PM
If you want to camp for free in the area around Ouray/Cimarron, there is good dispersed camping off of Owl Creek Pass -- the road that runs between Cimarron and Silver Jack Reservoir and Ridgway -- Pretty much all the side roads off that one offer good dispersed camping areas. Between Ridgway and Telluride, there is a free Forest Service campground (It has a pit toilet and designated campsites) at the end of County Road 7 (East Fork Dallas Creek) This also puts you within walking distance of some very good trails. As long as you are not there over July 4 weekend, you probably will see very few people at any of these sites, especially during the week. Go to and enter a town name and you'll get lots of ideas for free dispersed camping. There is also a lot of dispersed camping in the national forest around Nederland and outside of Boulder, also. I see no point in paying to stay at a Forest Service campground with a fee, when traveling a mile down the same road will take you to almost identical campsites (minus the pit toilet and perhaps a picnic table) -- for free. $14 just so there is a camp host? Not for me. If you want to take a shower, most of the RV parks in the area will let you use their shower facility for $5 or so, even if you are not staying there. Or pay to visit a local hot spring and take a shower there before you enjoy the springs.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on May 11, 2017, 07:54:45 PM
Mtngrl you rung my bell with that! Thank you, as I do not need any facilities and hate to spend on camping. I usually budget about $35/day so camp fees eat into my eating : ). This $35 includes fuel for the van as well. I spent about $40/day on my 11,000 mile motorcycle trip last summer (included an oil change, fuel, and new set of tires as well as camping, food, and 5 hotels).
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: bognish on May 12, 2017, 01:40:28 PM
Disclaimer: its been 20+ years since I lived in CO and spent every weekend bumming around the mountains. All of the places below involve some degree of dirt road driving, but should be passable in a 2 wheel drive economy car with careful navigation. You might not make it to the end of the road, but can get to a place to sleep.

The east side of Rollins Pass has disbursed camping. The pass is no longer drivable due to an old tunnel collapse. Stay out of the tunnel.

Homestake road near Leadville/ Red Cliff is further into the mountains. Should be able to fund disbursed camping in this area or lots of walk up sites on a weekday.

West side Cottonwood Pass out of Buena Vista is a nother good place to go poking around. Now you are getting deeper into the mountains and getting close to Crested Butte.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on May 14, 2017, 07:07:18 AM
Bognish it will be a fun adventure to go back and scope these areas out. Thank you.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: checkedoutat39 on May 14, 2017, 10:29:38 AM
I'll be driving and sleeping in my van (or tent if needed) and would like some inexpensive ideas on where to stay.

You already have one. Head into the national forest close to sundown, find a flattish place to pull over and voila. I do this 10-20 times a year.

A side benefit of this is if you're hiking the next morning, you've already done most of the driving to the trailhead.

Campgrounds, town rec centers and the like will sell you a shower for around $5, or you can usually buy a day pass that will let you use the entire rec center for around $10.

Lots of web sites have hiking ideas; I'd start with summitpost or Only one 14er near Boulder (Longs), but lots of worthwhile lower peaks.

Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on May 14, 2017, 01:57:53 PM
Thanks checkedoutat39, as I'll do just that!
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Miss Tash on May 14, 2017, 09:33:23 PM
Check  out Pike National Forest for lots of BLM and dispersed camping options.  Buena Vista and Salida are cool laid back towns to base out of.  Lots of 14ers nearby if you want to sear your FL lungs!  Westcliffe and LaVita, on the East side of the Sangre de Cristo mountains are beautiful.  There's tons of cool places in CO but the front range is crawling with us folks.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on May 18, 2017, 07:51:01 PM
14ers? Is that 1400 feet? I'm at 36 feet right now and not sure if I could take much over a few thousand. :)
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: meadow lark on May 19, 2017, 07:13:01 PM
Love it!  14,000'.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on May 19, 2017, 09:11:56 PM
I won't have to introduce myself on the trail, as you will all hear me breathing and gasping for air.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on May 20, 2017, 07:16:47 PM
While were are on the subject of thin air, what should I do to get acclimated? I will be driving out there and take my time. I'll be in the mountains around the 1st of July and likely do some short day hikes. My cousin comes in on the 8th and we will get more miles in if he can take the elevation. Will 8 days at higher elevation help me at all? Should I stay below a certain elevation for a few days?

Again, I'm not kidding when I say I'm at 36 feet, and that is the high point around here. Most days I'm at between 6 and 10! Six because that's how tall I am and therefore how far off the water I am when I'm in my boat :)
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: bognish on May 22, 2017, 12:10:46 PM
Best thing for short term altitude is to drink a lot of water. Alcohol in moderation (or skip it for the first few days). The low humidity will dehydrate you without you realizing and this will make the symptoms worse. Typical signs are headaches & mild nausea. Have a painkiller and lots of water and take it easy. If the headache is bad or you puke, head downhill. Try for 2,000 lower. This should really only be an issue if you are over 10,000 the first few days of your trip.

Bad altitude sickness is usually worse if you sleep over 10,000 without a few days to aclimate, but will be fine on a day trip that high coming back down to 8-9K. When you are awake your breathing rate will increase to account for less oxygen, but when you sleep you revert to your normal pace. Your body will make more red blood cells in a few days to overcome this. Most people won't have any issues, but if you head up a backroad pass and decide to camp a few days at 11 or 12,000 the first nights out you might wake up miserable.

It takes a long time before your lungs adapt to low oxygen, so don't expect to set a fast pace running even by the end of your trip.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: patchyfacialhair on May 22, 2017, 12:23:13 PM sure to cover your skin appropriately and use sunscreen. I'm not a scientist and this might be hokey/anecdotal, but I burn so much more quickly in CO that I do in SoCal or Florida, and I think it's because of the higher altitude. I rarely burned growing up in SoCal, as long as I used at least some kind of sunscreen at least at 15 SPF. Now, unless there's copius shade, I have to liberally apply at least SPF 30, and I still get slight burns really quickly.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: MountainFlower on May 22, 2017, 01:11:47 PM
You do burn easier at higher elevations because there is less atmosphere between you and the sun.  Sunscreen is a great idea. 

Do not drink alcohol when you get here.  Just don't.   and as someone mentioned, drink tons of water, just force it down.

They sell little oxygen canisters at some of the stores.  I've seen them at Play it Again sports in Boulder and at the pharmacy at a King Soopers in Evergreen.  Just two random places where I've seen them.  Oh, I just checked amazon and they have them for the same price.  I have no idea if they do anything! 
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: nawhite on May 22, 2017, 04:37:22 PM
By far the best database I know for free camping is!(39.8082,-105.32371) (!(39.8082,-105.32371)) That link should hopefully zero in around boulder but it should give you tons of options in the area on forest service or BLM land.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on May 22, 2017, 04:45:09 PM
All very useful information, thank you. I really like those free campsite links too.

I'll be sure to hydrate very well, and stay out of the alcohol (I only drink one pint a week - max at the moment). Hiking the AT I made sure we were the highest elevation possible each night so we could stay cool. Looks like I'll need to reverse that to keep my head from exploding! ...and bring my sunscreen. Here I typically do not use any when I'm on the boat, but cover all body parts. However, I'll use some when I'm out there.
Title: Re: Colorado in July
Post by: Rollin on July 23, 2017, 09:53:35 AM
Okay I am temporarily back from the mountains (in San Antonio with the DW) and had a great time. Will be going back next week Boulder for a few days before driving back to Florida.

The free campsites site was helpful as I crossed the country south to north (to NY) and then east to west. I updated those sites (on the website) that I used, such as old costs or important missing information. One site went from $8 to $12 and another posted about the I-70 rest areas in CO, but CDOT says no to overnighting. Some local governments do not allow overnighting in Walmart parking lots as well, so do not assume.

As far as the hiking I was able to start slow in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, doing 3-5 mile hikes for a week before my cousin came in. He and I did some more of those at 9-10,000 feet. Then, we completed a 27 miler up to a bit over 11,000 feet (could not get over Buchanan Pass due to ice/snow). Couple of days down in Fort Collins and then way down to the White River WA (Maroon-Bells) for the 4 Pass Loop. I was reluctant to do this from the start, but went ahead with it and in one way it was beautiful, one way one of the most difficult hikes I've had (edit - that is a good thing :)), and one way scary as all get out. Crossing a sliding boulder field and very steep snow field above Snowmass Lake was something I'll never want to do again. The 12,400-12,600 foot passes were awesome and I had no health or respiratory issues - as well as rain, hail, lightning two nights. We even saw new snow on the way out from Aspen while crossing Independence Pass (in the van).

Hard to be frugal when eating out down in the city (groceries as much as possible), but the rest of the trip has been so.  A couple of 900 mile driving days was fuel costly, but hiking for 80 miles cost about $5 for the permit (I purchased freeze dried food months earlier) and no other costs showing up on my tally sheet those hiking days. Also, split all shared costs with cousin  - good too.

Was down in the low 40s in CO, but yesterday it was 107 on the I-10 road in San Antonio! I'll be glad to get back up in the mountains.

Thanks for all the assistance!

So, back to Boulder next week!