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Old 02-22-2016, 05:36 PM   #1
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Tips for SW Colorado Camping - July?

Hello everyone,

Iím planning a family Airstream vacation to southwest Colorado at the end of July, and would appreciate any input and recommendations on where to camp, places to visit, and what not to miss. Iím quite comfortable towing in the Colorado Mountains, so scenic routes could be a plus.

My wife, two sons (ages 9 & 6), and I will be driving up from Houston, and will have about 7 days in SW Colorado. This will be our second annual weeklong vacation in our Airstream, and weíre looking forward to it, especially escaping the Texas summer.

We would like to spend two days in Mesa Verde, and divide the remaining days between one or two other locations. Ideally, we want to stay a few nights in each location. Where else would you recommend (Telluride, Ouray, Durango, etc)? We plan to spend the days sightseeing, hiking, horseback riding, and perhaps work in a few off-road trails and a rafting trip.

As for where to camp, we would like to stay in a spot where weíre not on top of other campers and can have a campfire. I know there are several National Parks in the region, and I havenít ruled these out, but having water and electrical hookups can make life easier when the kids are with us. Any recommendations for city, county, state parks, or kid friendly RV parks that allow campfires would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations!
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Old 02-22-2016, 05:50 PM   #2
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Mesa Verde has a few sites with hookups and staying in the park is closer to the ruins.
A few nights in Durango and you can ride the train as well as raft on the Animas River. United CG is closest to town, has hookups and train runs through the park.
Matterhorn CG has hookups is not far from Telluride and the jeep trails. Get bookin'!
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Old 02-22-2016, 09:19 PM   #3
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Here are some things on my trip through that area for 2017:

Telluride
Alta Lakes

Ridgeway State Park

Ouray/Silverton
Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway
Ophir Pass

I am curious if you have researched the roads? Million Dollar Highway connects Silverton to Ouray which is sketchy, although well traveled by the locals. We are working our way around from Mesa Verde over the San Juan Skyway to Ridgeway SP.
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Old 02-23-2016, 06:23 AM   #4
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The narrow gauge train ride between Durango and Silverton will be memorable. And both towns would be on my short list. Also Azteca has an awesome "museum " . Actually it very well preserved Kiva, which is the most elaborate, biggest one that I have ever seen. It would go great along with the Mesa Verde tour.
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Old 02-23-2016, 11:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LesMesa View Post
Hello everyone,

Iím planning a family Airstream vacation to southwest Colorado at the end of July, and would appreciate any input and recommendations on where to camp, places to visit, and what not to miss. Iím quite comfortable towing in the Colorado Mountains, so scenic routes could be a plus.

My wife, two sons (ages 9 & 6), and I will be driving up from Houston, and will have about 7 days in SW Colorado. This will be our second annual weeklong vacation in our Airstream, and weíre looking forward to it, especially escaping the Texas summer.

We would like to spend two days in Mesa Verde, and divide the remaining days between one or two other locations. Ideally, we want to stay a few nights in each location. Where else would you recommend (Telluride, Ouray, Durango, etc)? We plan to spend the days sightseeing, hiking, horseback riding, and perhaps work in a few off-road trails and a rafting trip.

As for where to camp, we would like to stay in a spot where weíre not on top of other campers and can have a campfire. I know there are several National Parks in the region, and I havenít ruled these out, but having water and electrical hookups can make life easier when the kids are with us. Any recommendations for city, county, state parks, or kid friendly RV parks that allow campfires would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations!
I also live in the Houston area, I'm curious how long you expect it to take to get to SW Colorado if you plan on staying 7 days?
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Old 02-23-2016, 11:37 AM   #6
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Smile Favorites in SW Colorado

I live in Montrose and pass this information on to you. Ridgeway SP is one of our favorites for camping, boating and hiking. Electrical hookups with water nearby but not hookup. Dumpstation at the park. Campfires? Absolutely, unless the fire hazard is too great.
Another favorite site is in the Black Canyon NP. Electrical hookups in the B loop only. Haul your water in. Generators not permitted. Excellent hiking. Campfires yes. Park is located just north and east of Montrose, about 15 miles.
Another favorite area is in Taylor Park/canyon. Several NFS campgrounds in the area now have electrical hookups and water available. Rafting in the Taylor River. Lottis Creek CG and Lakeview are 2 of our favorites. Located north and east of Gunnison. Campfires yes.
All of the above mentioned locations offer sites with adequate privacy.
Hope this helps!
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Old 02-23-2016, 11:54 AM   #7
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You will have a great time. This is kind of like when people ask what to do when they go to Santa Fe, NM and the reality is these areas are best self-discovered. Everyone has their own idea of what is fun to do and what they want to do. For me some high points are - For that area and at that time of year plan on a brief rain shower each afternoon. The KOA between Ridgeway and Ouray is unique in that it has big grassy spaces with fire rings. If you have a four wheel drive try the last dollar 4WD road from Ouray to Telluride (not challenging but does cross a stream or two) and it lets you out above Telluride looking down at the airport and up the canyon toward Telluride. Great drive. We also like the drive from Ouray to Cimmaron, CO which can be done in a regular car then stop at Black Canyon on the Gunnison National Park. For me the little museum in Ouray is well done and worthwhile, the hot springs in Ouray and the box canyon hike (small fees) are a don't miss. Just a few things to consider but be careful about this trip - many people fall in love with the area and begin returning year after year and some even want to buy property there ...
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Old 02-23-2016, 12:08 PM   #8
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Consider Eureka Campground near Silverton. It is nearly bookdocking or is actually boondocking in some cases. No potable water or dump and some electric. It is about eight miles east of Silverton and is a gateway to great hiking and jeeping. The road out is slow going but is worth the effort. The campground is on the banks of the Animas River upstream of the EPA spill of last summer.
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Old 02-23-2016, 01:02 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info so far. There definitely seems to a choice of good campgrounds and thinks to do.

In answer to a few questions/points:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted S. View Post

I am curious if you have researched the roads? Million Dollar Highway connects Silverton to Ouray which is sketchy, although well traveled by the locals.
I'm not sure yet whether our route will take us over the Million Dollar Highway with the trailer in tow. I do plan to drive the road at some point and take in the view. I plan to take it slow and use the truck's exhaust brake. My last time on that road was in the mid '80s with my Dad driving a rented Southwind RV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket53 View Post
I also live in the Houston area, I'm curious how long you expect it to take to get to SW Colorado if you plan on staying 7 days?
I will do the drive over two days. I will push through on the first day and get just inside NM, so that the second day will be a lot shorter. We towed the AS to Estes Park last summer and it took about 17 hours of driving time over 2 days. We drove from Houston to Dalhart, TX on the first day, but feel we could have gone all the way to Raton.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdickinson View Post
If you have a four wheel drive try the last dollar 4WD road from Ouray to Telluride (not challenging but does cross a stream or two) and it lets you out above Telluride looking down at the airport and up the canyon toward Telluride. Great drive.
Perfect. The 4WD doesn't get exercised enough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdickinson View Post
be careful about this trip - many people fall in love with the area and begin returning year after year and some even want to buy property there ...
This is a problem each time we go to CO!
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Old 02-23-2016, 01:23 PM   #10
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SW Colorado

You could try the KOA in Alamosa, quite a nice site, the Great Sand Dunes national park is near there (700 ft Dunes)(many movies made there) I don't know the hookups at the park, but they do have sites, if your a train buff, there is a railroad that you can ride through the Sangre de Christo mountains (several movies have been made on it, the scenery is fantastic), to the West of Alamosa the is the "Old Spanish Trail" you can still see the ruts left by all the wagons that went through there, on the East side of the San Luis Valley, you have Fort Garland, a fort (restored) that was commanded by Kit Carson, on the way from Alamosa to Pagosa Springs (natural hot springs) (Through Del Norte Some RV sites there ) there are RV sites in and around Creed, Then on to Gunnison, we used to live in the San Luis Valley and there are some beautiful places along Highway 160, especially when you get to Creed and Pagosa. Alamosa is approx. 90 miles South of Aspen, 90 miles North of Santa Fe, 90 miles West of Walsenburg, I have attached several photos of the area. Hope you have a great trip.
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Old 02-23-2016, 02:23 PM   #11
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Silverton , Animas forks , Ouray , and Lake City , are a must visit while out and about . US 550 from Bernalillo , New Mexico takes you thru Durango , Silverton , and Ouray . It is a top notch road these days and a huge difference to what New Mexicos roads were in the not to distant past .
Head north to Montrose and take US 50 to Highway 149 thru Lake City , over Slumgullian Pass to Creede , then to South Fork where you decide if Wolf Creek Pass south thru Chama , New Mexico and Santa Fe suites your fancy or some other route to get home on .
There are very nice FREE full hookup sites in city parks in both Mule Shoe and Littlefield Tx. that are great to use while in transit .
Have Fun ! We will beat ya there by 3 or 4 weeks this Jun .
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Old 02-23-2016, 03:12 PM   #12
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https://www.codot.gov/travel/maximum...in-passes.html

Colorado posts a listing of standard maximum grades for their passes. Worth a look when planning the trip. Surprised that the Ike Tunnel run is only 6% and Wolfe Creek is only 6.8%. Slumgullian at 9.4%, now that's a grade. Guess the question is how long are the approaches. Pat
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Old 02-23-2016, 03:33 PM   #13
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You have picked one of the most beautiful places in the country to vacation. We vacation there at least 6 weeks per year. Don't miss Mesa Verde, the indian dancers in Cortez, a trip up the gondola in Telluride, among many other sights. There are at least three nat'l campgrounds. Ou
R favorite one is Caton just north of Rico. I could go on for weeks about the area. We will be in Durango on the 7th of July. notify me if u have any questions.
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Old 02-23-2016, 04:11 PM   #14
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If you are in Cortez, Colorado, near Mesa Verde, you will have to stop for refreshments at the Silver Bean - look them up on Facebook and you will see why I suggest this location.

I will try to a link: https://www.facebook.com/Silver-Bean...14858/?fref=ts
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