July 15 – 24, 2017
Buena Vista and the surrounding mountains have always been a favorite area. I have been there many times to backpack or hike the 14ers. So after finishing up in Denver, I decided to come back for a few days.
One of the wonderful things about camping in the west is the huge amount of public lands available. There are many national parks and forest as well as BLM lands. The neat thing about national forests and BLM is the ability to disperse camp. This is not readily available in the east. So for those who aren’t familiar with this concept, generally one can camp anywhere on national forest or BLM land unless camping has been specifically prohibited. Each land unit has it’s own regulations governing dispersed camping. Most areas you are limited to say, 14 days at a camp and then you have to move somewhere else that is a specified distance away. The details vary with each district. And when dispersed camped there are no campsite fees. Also in the developed campgrounds at national forests and national parks, the fees are much less than commercial parks. Campsite fees may range from $10 to $20 per night. A senior passholder receives a 50% discount on the rate. So these are very reasonable. There are exceptions, but generally national park and national forest campgrounds don’t have water, electric or sewer hookups. And of course, no hookups are available when dispersed camped.
My intent is to disperse camp (or dry camp/boondock), as much as I can. Being in a commercial RV park where you are 10 feet away from the RVs on each side of you doesn’t really appeal to me. I like the peace and solitude of being out in nature. And paying $35 to $50 or more every night for an RV park site would not really be in my budget. In order to be able to boondock more than a couple days at a time, it is necessary to have a source for electric power. Many people have generators, but more and more people are choosing to install solar power systems. I like the idea of solar power rather than a generator. No gas to purchase, the hassle of carrying gas cans, starting up the generator and the noise they make are all reasons I plan to have a solar system installed. I will be doing that the first week of August.
So in the meantime I am going to kick back here in Buena Vista for a few days of R&R! When I arrived in town Saturday evening I went to the rodeo grounds and camped for two nights. I had read on another blog that camping was permitted here.
There was only one other rig there. It was very quiet with a great view of Mt. Princeton.
On Monday I moved to a dispersed campsite in the national forest. There were lots of hummingbirds flying around. As soon as I arrived and stopped the truck one flew right up to the windshield asking for food!
The monsoon season had arrived, so it rained pretty much everyday. My trailer came with a 20 watt trickle charge solar panel, but it wasn’t enough to charge my batteries. Even though I was conserving on electric as much as I could, each day the batteries got a little lower. So finally after 5 nights I had to move down into town to an RV park where I could get electric hookup. Oh for my solar system! It was still raining a lot so I didn’t get to do any hiking. And really, I was pretty tired and just wanted to relax.
One day I stopped by Snowy Peaks RV Park where I stayed the first week I had the Nash. I wanted to say hello to Joyce and Dorty who are working there. They are from Florida and are in Colorado in their motorhome. We visited for a little bit before they went on duty and Joyce and I made plans to go to lunch the next day. We went to House Rock Kitchen on Main Street. Their menu items are made from scratch with natural ingredients. The food was excellent! Afterwards we decided to take a drive up in the BLM land that is off Hwy 285 east of town. Someone had told Joyce that the drive up to Antelope Ridge was nice. So we decided to try it. Joyce had driven her Scion to the restaurant. It only has about 4 inches of clearance! So it got a little dicey before too long. We finally did turn around but we went over some pretty rocky terrain. Fortunately no damage occurred!
One afternoon I took a walk along Main Street. There are some lovely historic buildings and the setting at the foot of 14,000 ft peaks adds to the beauty.
My last night in Buena Vista was Monday the 24th. I met Joyce and Dorty around 4pm when they got off work. We decided to drive up Lost Canyon Road. This goes up to just above tree line to a saddle that looks north to Twin Lakes. We took my truck this time 🙂
Afterwards we went to the little town of Twin Lakes which is on the Independence Pass Road. I had never realized there was an actual town up there. They treated me to dinner at the Twin Lakes Inn. The decor is rustic chic and the food was wonderful! Thank you Joyce and Dorty for a lovely afternoon and dinner! You two are awesome!
The next morning I set out on my trip to California where I would have the solar system installed.