Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Colorado: October 7, 2009. Summary of our Colorado Trip.

(For details of the trip start with our June 14th entry and continue to this entry.)
(Lots and lots of pictures!)

We spent a really nice summer in the mountains of Colorado from June 18th to October 2th, about 3½ months. We drove the Bug about 1800 miles in Colorado and about 1800 miles round trip from San Antonio and back. We also drove the Blazer about 5600 miles in Colorado sightseeing.

I highly recommend a visit or lengthy stay in Colorado. There are lots of scenic and historic areas to visit. We didn’t spend any time to speak of in the major cities. Almost all our time was in the National Forests and National Parks.

We were in Colorado only three days when I realized I made the mistake of starting our stay at too high an elevation, at 9200’. We both had problems with mild altitude sickness. Nausea, headaches, and a definite shortness of breath. I had hoped, since we spent the first night at 3000’ near Lubbock, and two nights at 6800’ in Capulin NM, on the way to Colorado that we would be OK at 9200’. Wrong!! It took us nearly a month to feel comfortable at the 9000’ to 10,000’ elevation. Old age I guess! We would move down to about 5000’ to 6500’ for several days and then back up to 8000’ to 9500’. Finally after about a month of this we were finally acclimated to the altitude. Still a bit out of breath, but no nausea.

Part of the problem is that most of the scenic National Forest and National Park areas along the Front Range (just west of IH25) are in the 8000’ to 10,000’ range. If you start your trip on the western or southwestern part of the state, there are a number of scenic areas in the 6000’ to 7000’ range. If/when we go back we won’t make the Front Range our starting off point.

A review of our trip:

Map of Colorado Tour

We started our stay in Pike National Forest about 25 miles NW of Colorado Springs and made a counter clockwise tour of the state

After three nights at 9200’ in the mountains of Pike NF, we moved to a few miles west of Canon City at an elevation of 6200’. That took care of our altitude sickness. We were just a few miles from Royal Gorge. I wasn’t impressed with Royal Gorge. It is an over hyped tourist attraction! For a fee of $24 per person you can walk across the bridge and take a tram ride across the gorge, and a couple of other entertainment ride type attractions. Kind of like visiting a Six Flags amusement park.

From Canon City we moved up to 8200’ to a boondocking site along CR77 (Terryall Road) six miles north of Lake George. We spent a very pleasant 12 nights here parked under big Ponderosa pine trees with a nice view of a valley. This was the longest period we have spent w/o water, electric or sewer hookups. We did have to refill our fresh water tank once, but the black & gray water tanks served us fine. We were very conservative in our water & toilet usage! We spent the Fourth of July weekend here. The altitude didn’t affect us too badly at 8200’. While staying here we toured the area extensively and drove to the top of Pikes Peak, elevation 14,110’. We were definitely out of breath at the top! The drive and scenery was well worth the $10 per person entrance fee.

When we left our Terryall Road boondocking area we moved to 9500’ for one night and decided that was still too high for us.

So it was off to the small town of Loveland, elevation 4950’, for a few days. Loveland is about 35 miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain NP (RMNP). This gave us a few days at lower altitude and allowed us to take a day trip into RMNP. This way we got an overview of the park and made sure there was a campsite in the park which would suit us.

After a few days in Loveland we moved into RMNP to Glacier Basin campground, elevation 8600’. We spent three days here exploring the park and I was able to take a beautiful 4 mile hike, but the headaches returned, so it was time to move to a lower altitude again.

It was off to Poudre River Canyon, elevation 6750’, west of Fort Collins. We spent a very nice week here, at Kelly Flats NF CG, exploring the canyon, the area and in general, just chilling out.

Time to go back up in altitude! We moved to Dumont Lake CG, in Routt NF, elevation 9600’. Dumont Lake is about 25 miles east of Steamboat Springs. It is a pretty campground with lots of wildflowers. We spent about 2 weeks in three different campgrounds in this area. Finally, we are pretty much over our altitude sickness problems. We still are a little short on breath at times, especially Sharon with her asthma problems.

Sharon’s father used to go deer hunting near Meeker, Colorado every fall. While we were in NW Colorado, we wanted to visit the area. Meeker is a pretty little town with lots of history. While were in Meeker, there was a county fair and rodeo. All the participants in the animal showing competition and rodeo were children from 3 to 17 years old. Yes, that is right, 3 years old. At 3 years old they participated in a rabbit chase. The fair and rodeo were very enjoyable. Small town or county rodeos are much more fun than the big professional rodeos. We really enjoyed our stay in Meeker.

From there it was a quick visit to the Dinosaur National Monument and then down to Grand Junction. On the way to Grand Junction we had the engine check light come on in the Bug (we call the motorhome The Bug). We spent two nights camped at the Cummings diesel repair facility getting the Bug fixed.

On to Silverton, we boondocked in San Juan NF for several days and then off to Mesa Verde National Park for 12 days, including Labor Day weekend.

After that we headed to Curecanti National Recreation area, west of Gunnison, for a few days and then up into the mountains NE of Gunnison to Taylor Park Reservoir in Gunnison NF. We had snow at Taylor Park Reservoir one afternoon. The snow was gone by the next morning.

The last part of our stay in Colorado was in the Buena Vista and Leadville area, followed by three nights in the Denver area. We left Denver, October 2nd and arrived in San Antonio, October 6th.

We hope you enjoy reading about our travels and seeing all the pictures.

Al & Sharon

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