"Discover 50 of the safest and most scenic campgrounds in the state." Colorado Homes & Lifestyles
Best Tent Camping: Colorado: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilizationby Kim Lipker
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The Colorado landscape is rich with opportunities for tent camping. Millions of acres of public lands are dotted with hundreds of campgroundsbut you probably only have a precious amount of limited time. Which campgrounds do you choose? Where should you go? When should you go? That’s what this book is forto help you make the wisest use of your time in the wilds of the Centennial State.
In the mountains of Colorado, the Rockies, camping is primarily a summertime activity. When the snow melts and the rivers run highthat’s when tent campers start longing for the crisp mornings, crystal-clear days, and cool nights by the campfire that are part of a Rocky Mountain camp out. Not to mention wilderness hiking, trout fishing, mountain biking, and whitewater boating.
In other parts of Colorado, the tent camping season is extended. You can pitch your tent year-round in the canyon country of the Western Slope, along the prairie lakes of the east, and in some of the lower elevation state parks. No matter where you go or when you go, the scenic beauty of Colorado will never fail to please the eye.
Before embarking on a trip, take some time to prepare. Many of the best tent campgrounds are at the far end of a gravel road. This isolationpart of their attraction for many campersmakes for a long supply or gear run if you are unprepared. Call ahead and ask for a park map, brochure, or other information to help you plan your trip. Make reservations wherever applicable, especially at popular state parks. Ask questions. Ask more questions. The more questions you ask, the fewer surprises you’ll get. There are other times, however, when you’ll grab your gear and this book, hop in the car, and just wing it. This can be an adventure in its own right.
Each campground has been rated on six criteria: beauty, privacy, spaciousness, quiet, security and cleanliness. In addition, campground profiles include vital statistics about each location (fees, restrictions, operating season, amenities, contact information, driving directions and reservation information, to name a few) that help campers plan the perfect trip without unwanted surprises. GPS users will also appreciate that each campground's precise latitude and longitude waypoints are included.
Tent campers will also enjoy a detailed map of each campground included in the site profile. Making reservations online or blindly over the phone can put a camper miles from the restroom, stranded with no shade, or in the middle of a busy campground trail. Maps will help campers avoid those pitfalls, and wherever possible the author has even recommended specific campsites for maximum privacy, spaciousness, or beauty.
Although there's never a shortage for things to do in Colorado's outdoors, campground summaries in the book also suggest attractions and activities near each campground. Fishing, hiking, biking, paddling, and scenic drives in the immediate area are recommended to ensure that campers know the basic lay of the land and have a jumping-off point to plan their trip.
Whether it's a large family looking to get away for the weekend, a scout troop that wants to try something new, or a serious outdoors enthusiast searching for a place to adventure for the day and crash for the night, Best Tent Camping: Colorado has done all the work in finding those special, out-of-the-way campgrounds, and gives campers the tools to plan an amazing, unforgettable camping trip.
"Discover 50 of the safest and most scenic campgrounds in the state." Colorado Homes & Lifestyles
Read an Excerpt
Best Tent Camping: ColoradoYour Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization
By Kim Lipker
Menasha Ridge PressCopyright © 2012 Kim Lipker
All right reserved.
Larimer River Valley
Browns Park abuts the old-growth forests and alpine lakes of the Rawah Wilderness near the Wyoming ?border.
address: Browns Park Campground
Canyon Lakes Ranger District
2150 Centre Avenue, Building E
Fort Collins, CO 80526
operated by: USDA Forest Service, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, Pawnee National Grassland and concessionaire: Thousand Trails Management Services, Inc.
information: (970) 295-6600
each site has: Tent pad, picnic table, fire grate, stand-up grill
assignment: First-come, first-served; no reservations
facilities: Vault toilet ?(no water)
parking: At campsites only
fee: $12 per night
elevation: 8,400 feet
restrictions: Pets: On leash only
Fires: In fire grates only
Alcohol: At campsites only
Vehicles: 30 feet
Other: 14-day stay limit
The lower Laramie River Valley has a big-country-lonesome feel to it. There aren’t too many folks around here, mainly just ranchers. Browns Park is tucked away in some woods on a side creek that feeds into the Laramie River. Browns Park is tucked away in some woods on a side creek that feeds into the Laramie. If you want to get away from the people who are trying to get away from it all, come here. This pretty little campground is adjacent to the woods and lakes of the Rawah Wilderness, which covers a stretch of the Medicine Bow Mountains. You can hike and fish here, or just take it easy. Browns Park is great for relaxation. Summer afternoons are as slow as molasses.
After passing the busy campgrounds of the Poudre Canyon and overcrowded Chambers Lake, you’ll feel grateful for the peace and quiet here in the Laramie Valley.
A couple of sites lie in the lodgepole and aspen woods to your right, then the main campground drive splits off to the right and you enter the outer loop. (There used to be one more split off to the right, but the beavers took care of that.) The outer loop turns away from Jinks Creek and runs alongside a slight slope.
The campsites on the outside of the loop are higher than the road, but have been graded and host tent pads for a level night of rest. The inner loop campsites lie in a mixed wood with a very grassy understory augmented by small conifers. Move away from the hill and pass the inner loop. These campsites are more open, but all of the campsites are spread far apart, so privacy can be had by every camper. The inner loop splits Browns Park in half, but the roads are spread far enough apart that you won’t be bothered by your fellow campers when they drive past. The county road leading in to Browns Park gets less traffic than some campgrounds I’ve seen.
Complete your loop back to the campground entrance and the new vault toilets. Browns Park has no waterI recommend bringing it with you.
This site has low usage. I met a man on my visit who had been coming to Browns Park for ten years and had only seen the campground full once. He and his wife were the only campers there on the day I met him. Weekdays can be desolate, which is great for those who love solitude. Summer weekends can be half to two-thirds full, except when the campground fills up for major holidays.
For a nearby natural experience, check out the beaver pond and see if you find any of nature’s architects plotting to flood the rest of the campground. Two hiking trails leave from the trailhead adjacent to Browns Park into the Rawah Wilderness, which is far enough from the metropolitan areas to receive little use also.
The McIntyre Trail traces McIntyre Creek to Houseman Park, and then turns left to another meadow where beavers have again been busy flooding the trail. These upper beaver ponds offer excellent trout fishing. The Link Trail climbs through a lodgepole forest to a former burned area, where views of the Laramie River valley stretch into Wyoming. You can also see the Poudre Canyon below.
If you want to access the high lakes of the Medicine Bows, take the Rawah Trail, which starts in the Laramie River valley south of Browns Park (you pass this trailhead on the way in). The Rawah Trail crosses several different environments. Leave the valley grasslands, wind your way from lodgepole to sprucefir forest to tundra above the tree line, where there are many bodies of water collectively dubbed the Rawah Lakes.
No matter what you do, bring some friends with you to Browns Park and the Medicine Bows because there might not be too many other people out here, especially during the week. Also, bring all the supplies you may need because the nearest store is not really near at all. Please note that this campground was situated in a mature lodgepole pine forest but recent mountain pine beetle activity has led to significant mortality and the cutting of dead trees.
From Fort Collins drive north on US 287 for 11 miles to CO 14. Turn left on CO 14 and follow it for 49 miles west to CR 103 (Laramie River Road). Turn right on CR 103 and follow it for 15 miles. At a T-intersection turn left on CR 80C and travel approximately 3 miles to Browns Park campground.
Latitude N 408 47' 49.7"
Longitude W 1058 55' 37"
Excerpted from Best Tent Camping: Colorado by Kim Lipker Copyright © 2012 by Kim Lipker. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Colorado native Kim Lipker is a guidebook author and has a regular parenting column in Rocky Mountain Parent magazine.
Johnny Molloy is an outdoor writer who averages more than 100 nights in the wild per year backpacking and canoe camping throughout the U.S. He has written numerous books and articles for magazines and websites.
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