So, before our Radium dry camping we had been in Steamboat Springs for a couple days. Our daughter was at college orientation for Colorado Mountain College and so we took my parents 5th wheel to be our traveling hotel. We stayed 6 miles west of town at this RV park: http://www.eaglesoaringrvpark.com
It was quiet and mostly all RVers. No tent sites. There are bathrooms, washer and dryers and coin operated showers. We had full hook ups and free wifi. There is a group fire ring. It worked and was ideal if you are spending time in Steamboat. Cheaper than a hotel! At the time of this post it was $45.
10 miles from Green Mt Reservoir going north on Hwy 40 is Trough Rd…on your left. Taking this and following the signs to Radium (watch for a sharp turn around on your right) will get you to a couple of camping places that revolve around rafting the Colorado Headwaters (Blue River). We went to the Radium Recreation Site that is within site of the very small “town” of Radium. Colorado River Runs Rafting is here. This campground is $6 a night or a day use area on the river. We had my parents 5th wheel that is 30 ft long. There were plenty of RV, tent and 2 group sites. This is BLM land and I believe you call the Kremmling BLM office for reservations of the group camping. No hook ups, pit toilets, picnic tables…no shade. For some reason we were the only ones camping there on a Friday night. There is a train that comes through a few times. Campground is clean and has some great views. I highly recommend rafting with Colorado River Runs and Ian! We caught up with Ian and because this was a spontaneous camping night for us (on the way home from Steamboat) he offered to bring us firewood and also let us know that the only place for groceries was 5 miles away at Rancho Del Rio. We bought frozen burritos, Jimmy Dean sandwiches and raviolis for $33!! Ah well, if we’d been a bit earlier there looked to be a nice little restaurant. Kremmling was about 30 minutes away.
On the way to the campground we saw another small campground by the river. It was full…I would have liked to stay at this one and I’ve included pics of it.
P.S No cell phone coverage! Pay phone at the campground…$1 for 10 minutes to Denver!
The other campground…
We took this trip the first weekend of June 2012. Camping the first weekend of June?! Well, normally that’s a pretty chilly weekend but because of the dry winter and hot spring we gave it a go. Of course, we ended up happy we did it as soon after the fires began raging out of control and the statewide fire ban was put in place. It was a bit chilly at times and we had a few storms…but plenty of good weather to enjoy this gem of a spot!
Getting there: To get to Yampa from Denver we took 170 to Silverthorne and then hwy 40 to 134 and then 131. You may continue on 170 to the Steamboat exit as well…… From Yampa, go 4 miles west on county rd 17 then 6 miles west on county rd 15.
This is a small “campground.” No fees, reservations or host…but there was a vault toilet. 10 spots. It was fairly full when we pulled in Friday afternoon. We pulled up next to the lake and repaired a fire pit and had a great spot! This was a group camping trip for us so there were actually 2 very large spots side by side. We thought this was Crosho Lake…as it turns out you go a few feet from our campsite up a little bluff and there is the bigger lake. However, we loved camping right next to this littler lake. This area is beautiful and it was very quiet despite having people nearby. Great hiking trails as well. You are in Routt National Forest.
Here is a slideshow showing the area…including other views of the campground and both lakes.
We decided to head south for a trip to Buena Vista and the surrounding area. This was a camping trip…but more of a site seeing trip. We actually were leaving for the trip from La Junta, Colorado..rather than from Denver. Growing up; I always stayed in KOA campgrounds! Though we really enjoy dispersed camping for many reasons…we decided to do a KOA trip! We ended up staying at the Cotopaxi KOA along Hwy. 50. This is a great campground that has a really nice family that owns it. It has an outdoor pool, nice bathrooms, an evening hayride and even some craft nights. We really liked staying in one of their “deluxe” sites along the Arkansas River and had a nice flagstone patio with furniture. We are living it up now! We used this site as a base camp to visit Cottonwood Lake and Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. On the way home we headed to the great and weird Bishop’s Castle!
Cottonwood Lake: This lake was originally where we were going to camp before we decided to “resort” it 🙂 As you drive past the lake you will come upon some dispersed camping. However, this is a great day lake and has plenty of hidden picnic spots…it’s really quiet and stunning. We didn’t do well fishing…but we were mostly relaxing.
Mt. Princeton Hot Springs: Love this place! We went for the pools and the river. There is also a great resort and restaurant. This can be an inexpensive outing or a luxurious weekend! There are 2 outdoor pools along with the river…as well as a water slide up the hill. You buy one wrist band to enter all of the pools. It was raining when we were there most of the time..but it was still really nice to sit in the pools during the rain.
Bishop’s Castle: Well, until you go there and see it AND listen to the owner talk…you won’t really “get” it. He has hand built this castle for years and years. He is very anti-government and sometimes will “preach” it from the castle as he builds. Though, we found him mellow this trip. It’s free to get in..but donations help build the castle. There is a little gift shop as well. It’s worth it…atleast once in your life. I have been going my whole life and it was time to take the kids!
Follow the links embedded above for all the directions and websites to these locations. Let me know if any of them aren’t good links. Thanks! Below is a slideshow of our few days.
We chose Jackson Lake for it’s proximity to Denver and because it had a group camping area with RV hookups. This was a church weekend that included a wide age range as well as many different camping methods. This site also had a nice covered pavilion for our group meal. There were pros and cons to this location. Nice large area for camping with hookups and lots of privacy was certainly a “pro”. It also had a nice bathroom facility, a great group fire pit and easy access to the lake. Plains camping is very different from a mountain lake, however! It was really warm and then we ended up with a pretty strong string of storms. The lake had a nice little beach area near our site…..but it was realllllly green!! The kids didn’t mind much. Speaking of green, there were the toads! Lots and lots of toads at night….like covering the ground in a moving carpet! Nonetheless, it is an option for a group that worked out pretty well. I prefer the mountains, but not opposed to exploring the outdoors of the whole state! This is a Colorado State Park…..which there are 42 of BTW. Perhaps we will make a point of visiting them all!
Getting there from Denver: East on I-76. Take the second Wiggins’ exit (Exit 66). Turn left (north) on CO 39/CO 52. Drive approximately 9 miles. Drive ½ mile past Goodrich to T-intersection. Turn left onto County Road Y.5. Stay on County Road Y.5 (It will turn north after a couple of miles.) This will take you past the south side and into the main park area on the west.
Jackson Lake State Park
Last summer we went to Steamboat Springs for a wedding. The wedding was held at Steamboat Lake Outfitters and we did a little half day excursion to Pearl Lake. The resort was a great little place! There are multiple cabins, a store, a restaurant and many opportunities for recreation. The cabins are different sizes and the prices are very reasonable. Horses are on site. You’ll note that they are also a hunting outfit when you go to the website link below.
This area is north of Steamboat Springs and seems to be pretty quiet. I haven’t been to Steamboat Lake, but perhaps this is a less populated choice. Pearl Lake is one of Colorado’s State Parks. We headed over to the lake for a half day of fishing and hanging out. Gorgeous lake. There is a campground at Pearl Lake as well–and based on others recommendations, I can say that it is a great find!
Getting there: From Steamboat Springs, go west two miles on US 40 to county road 129, then turn right. Go north 23 miles to Pearl Lake Road, turn east and drive two miles to the park.
Steamboat Lake Outfitters Resort
Pearl Lake Colorado State Park
This is the view from the front of the resort.
We had a storm just before the wedding ceremony and then it cleared up to be beautiful! (I think this was a really great place to have a wedding!)
We have camped a couple of times in Golden Gate Canyon. This is a Colorado State Park. Both times we camped in Aspen Meadows Campground…..a tent only campground. There are other campgrounds in the park that have hook-ups. The sites are pretty spacious and we have been able to do group camping “of sorts” in this campground. This is a campground where you need reservations. Both times we were planning a church camping trip–so we called in the Spring when reservations opened up to get spots together. Lot’s of fishing is nearby as well. We went to Dude’s Fishing Hole.
Here is the link to the park for more information and also the link to Colorado’s State Parks.
Golden Gate Canyon
This was a group camping trip. We decided to try a “limited facilities” campground so that some would be a little more happy with the bathroom situation. This campground had a vault toilet that was a bit of a walk and was meant for about 50ish people to share (more about this later!)
West on 1-70 to Silverthorne
Take the Silverthorne exit and head towards Steamboat Springs..this is Hwy. 40
Green Mt. Reservoir is on your left—we took the first turn in (before you see the lake)
I will note here that the first intention was to camp above the reservoir at Cataract Lake–this is a great spot! However, it fills and so we had to drive around looking for a different spot. We ended up at Elliot Creek Campground.
As mentioned this was a limited facilities campground with one vault toilet. We got a pretty good group camping spot large enough for 3 tents and a pop-up. We took a day trip to Cataract Lake. Again, this is really a beautiful spot with hiking around the lake.
The downside to this campground…..Party Central! Limited facility campgrounds, especially so close to Denver means lots of parties till the wee hours of the morning. Could have been an active weekend…perhaps they are working on this problem. But, the cops eventually came. In the morning, we were also surprised to see all sorts of new campers around us in random places. Essentially they showed up in the middle of the night and just crashed. We did make sure that they moved 🙂
Lots to do around this area and there are lots of campgrounds. The trip wasn’t a bust by any means…but we are really leery of unhosted campgrounds.