Moon Colorado Camping: The Complete Guide to Tent and RV Camping

Moon Colorado Camping: The Complete Guide to Tent and RV Camping

by Sarah Ryan

Natives and newcomers can agree on one thing: Colorado is a superlative state. It has more Fourteeners than any other state, more microbreweries per capita than any other state, the highest suspension bridge in the world, the world’s largest natural hot springs pool, the tallest sand dunes in the United States, and the largest city park system in the

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Natives and newcomers can agree on one thing: Colorado is a superlative state. It has more Fourteeners than any other state, more microbreweries per capita than any other state, the highest suspension bridge in the world, the world’s largest natural hot springs pool, the tallest sand dunes in the United States, and the largest city park system in the country. If you are looking for the perfect place to camp in Colorado, your trip starts with Moon Colorado Camping. It's the ideal resource for finding campsites—from secluded alpine hike-in spots to convenient roadside stopovers—throughout the entire state. Join expert author Sarah Ryan as she brings you:

• Descriptions of camping options, ranging from state park campgrounds to RV parks
• Complete contact information and summaries of each campground's scenic features, facilities, and nearby recreation opportunities
• Expert tips on gear, safety, and first aid, weather, low-impact camping, and camping with kids
• Easy-to-use regional maps, driving directions to each campground, and details on fees, reservation services, and helpful websites

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Product Details

Avalon Travel Publishing
Publication date:
Moon Outdoors Travel Series
Edition description:
Fourth Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.26(w) x 8.38(h) x 1.07(d)

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Moon Colorado Camping

The Complete Guide to Tent and RV Camping
By Sarah Ryan

Avalon Travel Publishing

Copyright © 2011 Sarah Ryan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781598807547

The Best of Colorado Camping with Sarah Ryan

1. What campgrounds are Colorado’s best kept secrets?

This is a tough question because there are so many lovely campgrounds tucked away in valleys and forests that are rarely used! If you can get away from the Front Range for a weekend, you can definitely find a lightly-used campground that blows your mind. But if I had to pick just three campgrounds I would point to Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument, Lost Trail near Creede, and Avalanche south of Carbondale. Echo Park is at the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers—a truly staggering setting. Every site at Lost Trail has beautiful views of "thirteeners”—mountains with an elevation of 13,000 feet or higher—and it provides access to amazing recreational opportunities. Avalanche has all the hiking and scenery of the Aspen area, without the crowds.

2. What campgrounds would you recommend for a first-time visitor?

There are a couple quintessential Colorado campgrounds that a first-time visitor to the state shouldn’t miss. Silver Queen outside of Aspen is on the road to the Maroon Bells, one of the most-photographed sites in Colorado. Saddlehorn in Colorado National Monument is a little slice of canyon country with spectacular views of the Grand Valley. Lost Lake, west of Crested Butte, is a tiny little loop in a subalpine cirque. Pawnee campground sits on the shore of Lake Brainard and is surrounded by the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Pinyon Flats, located in Great Sand Dunes National Park, is unlike any other campground in the state (just watch out for bears!).

3. Name two campgrounds with the most stunning views.

At 10,680 feet, Molas Lake will literally take your breath away. To reach it you’ll have to take the San Juan Scenic Byway between Durango and Silverton, often called the most beautiful drive in the country. Molas Lake is a park surrounded by thirteeners and fourteeners as well as the Weminuche Wilderness. It’s truly a wild place. Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park sits in a grassy park surrounded by some of the highest peaks of the Continental Divide. It’s an ideal base camp for exploring the park, or stringing up a hammock and enjoying the views.

4. What campgrounds are best for families with kids?

The state parks do a great job of accommodating families. They often have interpretive programs—and even better, lakes, so the kiddos can splash and swim to their heart’s delight. Many state parks are full-service, which means you’ll have access to water, electricity and laundry— amenities that make a family’s time in the "wilderness” much more appealing. Two of my favorites are Mueller State Park and Ridgway State Park. Mueller is on a forested ridge west of Pikes Peak and it has 55 miles of trails for hiking and biking plus easy access to Florissant Fossil Beds. Ridgway occupies an ideal location in the southwest area of the state and has three very different campgrounds with trails, water sports, volleyball courts, and more.

5. Where can visitors find the best bargain campsites?

The most affordable camping is dispersed and backcountry camping. The national forests now list popular dispersed camping areas on their websites, and anytime you hike into the backcountry you can pitch your tent for free. Some areas that I particularly enjoy are Lincoln Creek, near Aspen, which has spectacular hiking, fishing, and four-wheeling; Bear River, west of Yampa, which has 32 sites with wonderful views and fly-fishing, and anywhere along the Colorado Trail, a 500-mile trail from Denver to Durango.

6. What’s your favorite Colorado festival?

The Tour de Fat in Fort Collins! Townies and visitors turn out on two, three, and four wheels in their most fantastical costumes for this outrageous and sustainable bike parade. I recommend camping along the nearby Poudre River for great views, good hiking, and a short drive or bike ride into town. Crested Butte also hosts a Wild Mushroom Festival in August that is potentially mind-altering. And Telluride has a festival pretty much every weekend in the summer, plus some beautiful camping at nearby Matterhorn and Sunshine.

7. What is the best time of year to go camping in Colorado?

If you’re headed into the mountains, you can’t beat July and August. Most of the snow in campgrounds and on trails is gone. There are afternoon thunderstorms to watch out for, but they usually pass quickly. It’s warm and sunny, and there’s often a cool breeze. At lower elevations or more southern destinations, camping is still possible into late fall, plus the leaves are changing.

8. Any tips for adjusting to the high altitude?

Drink water! Most people get into trouble when they get dehydrated. Also, just take it easy for a few days. Rest and relax. When you do start getting active, take it easy at first. If you are going to do something that’s physically challenging (the Leadville 100, anyone?) give yourself four to seven days to really adjust to the altitude. And, if you have a terrible headache, difficulty breathing, or swelling in the extremities, descend to lower altitudes immediately!

9. What item would you never leave behind when packing for a Colorado camping trip?

Besides a tent? My hammock! You never know when you'll find the perfect spot on a river or creek for swinging, reading, and napping. I also always have my camera, a sleeping pad and bag, a water filter, and a field guide.

10. Name two of the best areas to visit to avoid crowds.

Head west, my friend. If you want to be alone, try the areas around Creede, which has amazing scenery and access to the Colorado Trail, but is remote enough that the campgrounds are often nearly empty. You can also get lost in the White River National Forest to the southwest of Steamboat Springs and in the Sangre de Cristos mountains.


Excerpted from Moon Colorado Camping by Sarah Ryan Copyright © 2011 by Sarah Ryan. 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.

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Meet the Author

Sarah Ryan’s favorite state of being is “in transit.” She feels most alive when she’s on a journey—via train or plane, on a trail or a river, in the mountains or the desert. She loves writing and reading about travel as well, and has found that one of the more rewarding challenges of life is to plan (and document) her next adventure.

For Sarah, the best adventures include friends and family. A few years ago, she piloted a single-engine airplane around South Africa and Botswana with her husband and parents. Closer to home, she enjoys long cycling trips in Colorado and New Mexico, skiing to huts in the Colorado Rockies with too much food and lots of friends, and her annual Thanksgiving canyoneering trip. Her favorite playground is the one out her back door—the Poudre Canyon—where she can go hiking, biking, fishing, and skiing, all within an hour or two of home.

Sarah’s next big adventure is introducing her daughter to the outdoors. She’s grateful for her community of “monster mommies” who will help her learn how to change diapers in a snowstorm and keep a two-year-old in a raft.

Sarah lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her husband and daughter. She writes novels, short stories, essays, and screenplays. She’s currently working on a travel-adventure-romance novel that’s inspired by The Tempest. She is as grateful for her imaginary expeditions as her real ones.

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