Colorado - Not RMNP

Discussion in 'Campground / Trip Planning & Suggestions ?' started by bluespruce, Nov 26, 2019.

  1. bluespruce

    bluespruce New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    We are trying to plan a trip to Colorado from Michigan. Last year we went to Yellowstone and GTNP but we didn’t have the PUP last year so we stayed in hotels and Airbnb’s. I’m looking forward to being a little more connected with the ground and camp this time. We originally bought a PUP when my oldest daughter (now 15) was born but sold it about 7 years ago and tent camped since then. We just bought a used PUP a few months ago and it has been winterized. We’ll need some shakedown camps in the spring to work out any issues. But, we need to plan for summer already so we can secure some spots.

    We’d be going the 2nd and 3rd week of June. I’m figuring 2 days to get from Michigan to Denver area. Those would be long days, maybe too long since it is about 1200 miles. That is easily doable without a PUP as we did 1600+ miles in 2 days last year but i’m thinking the pup will slow me down some.

    We will go to Rocky Mountain national park for at least a few days but I’m concerned it may be too busy. But, maybe we are early enough to not be too crazy? Any suggestions on where to stay in Estes park? Or do we try to book a site in the park without showers? (Family is not keen on no showers.....)

    I’d like to find some other areas in Colorado to spend a few days. Maybe a base camp some where?

    We like to explore and hike. Family of 4 with 15 and 13 year old daughters.

    Any ideas? Are there some lesser known areas that have lots of options but not all the crowds of RMNP? We encountered crowds in Yellowstone last year at about the same time. It wasn’t terrible but RMNP is smaller so may be more congested.

    Thanks - Mike

    Edit - just realized my title says “not RMNP” and i asked about RMNP. I can’t edit title now but I’m looking for advice on both RMNP/Estes Park and other places in Colorado.
     
  2. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    1,827
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Location:
    Maplewood, MN
    There are plenty of campgrounds in the Estes Park area. We stayed at Yogi bear's Jellystone Park just outside of Estes Park quite a few years ago with the kids. It's a bit "commercial", but the kid had fun. We also stayed in one of the National campgrounds, but can't remember which one (may have been Moraine Park).

    The Dillon area also has some nice campgrounds around the reservoir (stocked with trout) but the Mountain Pine Beetles wiped out a lot of trees in that area.

    Edit: If you want to drive up a mountain, Mt. Evans just outside of Denver is a great drive, but you may have to leave the camper behind. It is higher in elevation (14,264 ft.) to Pikes Peak (14,110 ft.) outside of Colorado Springs.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  3. Econ

    Econ Active Member

    Messages:
    317
    Likes Received:
    116
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2019
    Location:
    Deep South
    With campers and motocycles 20 to 25% extra time is figured if DW is there.
     
  4. kcsa75

    kcsa75 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,955
    Likes Received:
    1,354
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Location:
    Kansas City
    We love Colorado. While it'll hardly be deserted, don't expect the kind of crowds at RMNP as you experienced at Yellowstone.

    There are lots of campgrounds in and near Estes Park. Our last time there, we stayed at Estes Park Campground at Lake Mary. It's owned by the county. Nothing fancy but it was clean, reasonably priced and IMO a good location south of town. If you want to stay in the park, Aspen Glen and Moraine Park are on the east side near Estes Park.

    Two things you must do:
    1. If its open when you're there, take a day and drive the old Fall River Road. It's a one-way dirt road to the top but it's magnificent.
    2. Go to Antonio's New York Pizza in Estes Park. I remember chuckling to myself when we drove by one day, but several people recommended it so we gave it a try. If pizza's not your thing there's other Italian fare on the menu and Antonio is a master. You won't be disappointed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  5. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Active Member

    Messages:
    892
    Likes Received:
    190
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2014
    Location:
    MN
    You can make the drive in two days no problem, we drive from MN to Denver all the time in one shot with the camper ~925 miles There is nothing to stop for in Nebraska for the most part. RMNP probably won't be that crowded in June, depending upon the winter, there might be a lot of snow left at the higher elevations. For other things in CO - there is a ton of stuff to do - it is campers paradise. Pull up a map and look at all of the NPs and state parks, they are all very nice. If you have two weeks, you could see a lot in the state, and there is a whole lot to see.
     
    kcsa75 likes this.
  6. bluespruce

    bluespruce New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    I was talking to a coworker who was in RMNP this August and he said it was very busy. He said the shuttle worked well and they took it from the moraine campground. We were in Yellowstone in mid June and it wasn’t terrible busy. A few places were crazy but nothing like I was dreading. Maybe RMNP will be similar because it is still early.

    I’m thinking maybe a few days in RMNP then 3-4 days down by Colorado Springs maybe garden of the gods area? Then 3-4 days somewhere else. A friend lived in Dillon for a few years and he said there was lots to do in that area.

    Any other suggestions appreciated.

    Thanks -Mike
     
  7. MileHigh

    MileHigh Active Member

    Messages:
    441
    Likes Received:
    46
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Location:
    Denver
    We are blessed with some wonderful State Parks in Colorado. Some you may like (that have showers) are Cheyenne Mountain, Eleven Mile, Golden Gate Canyon, Mueller, Stagecoach ans Steamboat Lake. I was in RMNP in July and it was crowded with shuttle use being mandatory after early morning. Think about the SW corner of the State and you could see Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Parks.
     
  8. fame79

    fame79 "The mountains are calling and I must go" -J. Muir

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2016
    YES! Mount Evans is a MUST! You're almost guaranteed to see mountain goats (the big white ones not the big horn sheep). However! road may not be open until june sometime because your are driving to the top (almost) of a fourteener.
     
  9. Steve Farley

    Steve Farley New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    5
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2017
    I would advise you not to pull your trailer up to the top of Mt. Evans. It is narrow, steep and full of tight curves. There are bicycles also riding on the road. The parking at the top is very limited on most days. Additionally the road has many frost heaves and generally isn't good. You may be able to leave the trailer in the parking lot of the restaurant at Echo Lake.
     
  10. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,144
    Likes Received:
    526
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2018
    Location:
    South Carolina
    600 miles a day is very doable, but the family needs to sync toilet and food stops. I try to make every stop count. Everyone use the bathroom, eat, and fill the TV with gas. Usually try to leave about 3:00 am (good chance the kids will go back to sleep) and drive until breakfast for a full pit stop. We then try to make it until lunch, but usually someone says "I have to pee!" about two hours after leaving the breakfast stop. From there the days destination should be well within reach before dark. Do your best to plan not going though major cities at rush hour. Do the kids travel well together? Our grandsons start to annoy each other after a couple hours of being confined to the seat of the TV. "He's touching me." "STOP TOUCHING ME!!!" "Give it back.", you get the idea. At the first sign of trouble they get separated with a plastic tote, stack of pillows, or sack of laundry. Separated they play with tablets the rest of the way. The DQT sitting in the middle helped keep it down, but she's out and gone to college now.
     
  11. Fless

    Fless Active Member

    Messages:
    948
    Likes Received:
    196
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2012
    Location:
    Colorado
    I can vouch for Mueller State Park, west of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. They have sites with full hookups, playgrounds, showers, and I think laundry, etc. We like to get sites up at the end of the road to experience less drive-through traffic. Make reservations, and watch the altitude change. Plan to drink plenty of water, bring lotion and lip balm.

    There are some nice campgrounds up on the Grand Mesa, too, from Grand Junction south to Cedaredge, if you're so inclined. Not many with hookups, but that's a beautiful area.
    _
     
    Econ and kcsa75 like this.
  12. Dan Wilson

    Dan Wilson Active Member

    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    134
    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2019
    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    Also don't get caught unawares of the temperature drop at night in the higher elevations. What is important to understand is the camping season if pretty much confined to June, July and August.
     
  13. bluespruce

    bluespruce New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Mueller was creeping to the top of my list. Seems like a decent location and has the facilities. Maybe you can answer some specific questions on Mueller? As I’m looking at spots do they have some pit toilets and some flush toilets? Are the showers in the “camper services” building or the “comfort station”? I know snow is possible any month but is there likely to be snow pack in early/mid June in Meuller?

    And if you don’t mind another question.... what is there of interest on the grand Mesa? I’m thinking 3-4 days near RMNP, 3-4 days at mueller where we can do pikes peak, garden of the gods, etc and maybe another 3-4 days somewhere else with maybe a different flavor than the front range.

    Thanks
     
  14. bluespruce

    bluespruce New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Thanks. The plan is early/mid June and with shore power we’ll have electric heaters and/or the propane furnace. Honestly, I’d rather have 50/60s than 80/90s any day.
     
  15. Dan Wilson

    Dan Wilson Active Member

    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    134
    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2019
    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    I would put the Royal Gorge on my list. South of Colorado Springs a ways but worth it.
     
  16. Fless

    Fless Active Member

    Messages:
    948
    Likes Received:
    196
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2012
    Location:
    Colorado
    Having stayed only at the Grouse Mountain part, I'm not sure what they call the "camper services" building but here is where the coin shower, laundry, and playground is for your map: 38.895107, -105.182642. Snow is possible, since you're at 9,700 feet or so, it just depends on the spring weather. I would think a somewhat low probability around that time. Don't forget about the Fossil Beds at Florissant and the walking tour in Manitou Springs, where you can taste naturally carbonated water from various soda springs. Parking in Manitou can get tight.

    I don't recall much to "do" up on the Grand Mesa, but there are lakes and other things to see. If you go South from there you can stay at Black Canyon of the Gunnison. A FS dry campground is Monarch Park, on the north or east side of Monarch Pass (US 50), on the other side of Gunny. Not much to do there, either, but a pretty area.
    _
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.