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LibertyMan

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Posted: 05/16/19 05:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So I am in the beginning phases of planning a Colorado trip for June 2020. I have my reasons, but I am a State Park kinda guy so that's where I want to stay. I was thinking about the RMNP but dang all of the negative things I have come across. Mainly overcrowding and reservations just to hike some trails. Plus I really don't care all that much about having to go through Denver. But, if the wife overrules me I was looking at Stagecoach or Golden Gate. Which of the two do you prefer as far as avoiding crowds. And, which one of the two is easier to access RMNP. The other option I am heavily weighing is Ridgway SP. The area looks really neat and not that I need full hook-up but Pa-Co-Chu-Puk looks inviting with its full hook-ups. If Ridgway wins the decision, is that the better campground or do you all prefer Dakota Terraces or Elk Ridge. Again, I'm just looking for less crowds and good views. Thanks


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Busskipper

Arnold,Md/Superior, CO

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Posted: 05/16/19 09:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

LibertyMan wrote:


So I am in the beginning phases of planning a Colorado trip for June 2020.

Good thing you are planning on 2020 as Colorado State Parks fill early - Especially Golden Gate and Ridgeway.
Couple Questions - How Long? - and when - what season - Summer starts on Memorial Day (Schools Out) and ends in Mid August when schools restarts. Summer is Crowded - and likely reservations in SP's for every weekend. If you were to get a little creative and had some adventure, in your bones, Fall is great in Colorado


I have my reasons, but I am a State Park kinda guy so that's where I want to stay.

Good choice as they, State Parks in Colorado, are really pretty Good.

I was thinking about the RMNP but dang all of the negative things I have come across.

Lyons has a small campground and then you can drive up every morning - Beautiful Drive. Other Option is to stay over by Grand Lake - and do Trail Ridge a few times.

Mainly overcrowding and reservations just to hike some trails.

Everything in Colorado will require Reservations - at least on the summer Weekends. Unless you really are inventive - you will find people in most of the places that are Popular.

Plus I really don't care all that much about having to go through Denver.

Timing is critical in Denver and it Helps to know where to go to avoid the traffic.

But, if the wife overrules me I was looking at Stagecoach or Golden Gate.

Golden Gate is likely the most popular park in the State, so keep that in Mind. StageCoach is not close to anything except maybe Steamboat. Golden is woods and nice and cool - StageCoach is sunny and warmer, both are great.

Which of the two do you prefer as far as avoiding crowds.

StageCoach is likely less crowded, warm and is right on the lake - Beautiful.

And, which one of the two is easier to access RMNP.

Neither, IMHO - if RMNP is not easily worked into, think about Snowy Range in Wy - https://www.travelwyoming.com/listing/centennial/snowy-range-scenic-byway - is Beautiful and not as fully discovered as RMNP. Lakes and reservoirs are always available.

The other option I am heavily weighing is Ridgway SP.

Ridgeway would open up the San Juan's - HEAVEN in Colorado - Ouray - Silverton - Dunton - Telluride - Lake City - 4 X 4 trails to die for - also could get you to Black Canyon of the Gunnison - maybe even Marble.

The area looks really neat and not that I need full hook-up but Pa-Co-Chu-Puk looks inviting with its full hook-ups.

Not sure about this one?

If Ridgway wins the decision, is that the better campground or do you all prefer Dakota Terraces or Elk Ridge.

I'm not a big FHU guy in Colorado, more of the Fanrgs Blog type - so many secret places to find in Colorado.

Again, I'm just looking for less crowds and good views.

If less crowds and easy camping is your desire come for say the Last week of August through Mid October - that's when we Love Colorado and the Rockies.

Thanks


Check out this web site for more info - https://2fanrgs.blogspot.com/ - good to know of some other options [emoticon]

Keep in mind Elevation will be Key in the summer to not needing an A/C - Golden Clear Creek is a great little in town CG - Leadville is Great - Buena Vista and the Collegiates are Great - Independence Pass (In the Toad) is great and allows you to see Maroon Bells in Aspen - Crested Butte - ................ Why the Fall is the Best time to see Colorado I could go on and on this is my second Home.

Hope this helps.

Best of Luck,



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patperry2766

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Posted: 05/16/19 10:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

First of all, Colorado State Parks are excellent, probably the best I've ever been to. We have been to Mueller & Ridgway and the parks are clean and the bathroom & shower facilities are top notch.

Back to Ridgway, stated the first night in Pa-Co-Chu, loop B by the river. Mosquitoes were so bad that it was impossible to go outside without being swarmed. The park was very accomidating and was able to move us to Dakota Terrace for the remainder of our trip. Nothing bad to say other that there was a lack of large trees in that part of the park.

When we go back, Elk Ridge, Loop E, sites # 177, 179, 181, 184 will be the ones we try to get. They overlook the area and have the best scenic view. Ouray is a neat little town.

If you have a hard sided camper, it won't be as bad, but we have a large pop-up and there were a lot of extra precautions and things to do since the park is in bear country. If you've never been in a park like that, read up on it so you can have a better idea of what to expect.


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LibertyMan

Alabama

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Posted: 05/17/19 07:43am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

[quote=Busskipper][quote=LibertyMan]
So I am in the beginning phases of planning a Colorado trip for June 2020.

Good thing you are planning on 2020 as Colorado State Parks fill early - Especially Golden Gate and Ridgeway.
Couple Questions - How Long? - and when - what season - Summer starts on Memorial Day (Schools Out) and ends in Mid August when schools restarts. Summer is Crowded - and likely reservations in SP's for every weekend. If you were to get a little creative and had some adventure, in your bones, Fall is great in Colorado


Thank you for your input. Very helpful indeed. As far as when and how long.........I am looking at the first part of June and it will be for a full week. Unfortunately, June and July are my only options (school is out and I have three kids) I figured the first part of June would be less crowded and cooler if I did not have AC as an option. I have a decent generator, just never used it in 8000 plus feet so not sure how it would behave.

Busskipper

Arnold,Md/Superior, CO

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Posted: 05/17/19 08:24am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

LibertyMan wrote:

Busskipper wrote:

LibertyMan wrote:


So I am in the beginning phases of planning a Colorado trip for June 2020.

Good thing you are planning on 2020 as Colorado State Parks fill early - Especially Golden Gate and Ridgeway.
Couple Questions - How Long? - and when - what season - Summer starts on Memorial Day (Schools Out) and ends in Mid August when schools restarts. Summer is Crowded - and likely reservations in SP's for every weekend. If you were to get a little creative and had some adventure, in your bones, Fall is great in Colorado


Thank you for your input. Very helpful indeed. As far as when and how long.........I am looking at the first part of June and it will be for a full week. Unfortunately, June and July are my only options (school is out and I have three kids) I figured the first part of June would be less crowded and cooler if I did not have AC as an option. I have a decent generator, just never used it in 8000 plus feet so not sure how it would behave.


At 8,000 feet it will be easy to sleep at night - really no need for the A/C.

Look over this post for a few ideas - #6 Colorado and .............. - A week will need to be well planned - as there is so much to see and do there.

Kid's usually want Kids to be around - Active and easy would be the Buena Vista Area - Trails - Hikes - River - Colorado - if you have more time look to Ridgeway and the San Juan's too much to see in just a week. Just a tease - Link - San Juan's

I could go on and on - Big thing is to really plan if you only have a week - Everything packed and leave right after work on Friday to get a big jump on the Drive - Wal*Mart it that first night or two and then enjoy Colorado.

Best of Luck,

Thom02099

Loveland,CO

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Posted: 05/17/19 08:39am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

LibertyMan wrote:

So I am in the beginning phases of planning a Colorado trip for June 2020. I have my reasons, but I am a State Park kinda guy so that's where I want to stay. I was thinking about the RMNP but dang all of the negative things I have come across. Mainly overcrowding and reservations just to hike some trails. Plus I really don't care all that much about having to go through Denver. But, if the wife overrules me I was looking at Stagecoach or Golden Gate. Which of the two do you prefer as far as avoiding crowds. And, which one of the two is easier to access RMNP. The other option I am heavily weighing is Ridgway SP. The area looks really neat and not that I need full hook-up but Pa-Co-Chu-Puk looks inviting with its full hook-ups. If Ridgway wins the decision, is that the better campground or do you all prefer Dakota Terraces or Elk Ridge. Again, I'm just looking for less crowds and good views. Thanks


RMNP has no hook up campgrounds inside the park. If you're OK with that, then consider Glacier Basin as the place to stay. There are 4 loops there; A and B are in the trees and a bit tight, IMO. Loop C is a mix of trees and open, but don't allow generators. Loop D is where I stay, it's open and has a great view of Longs Peak that is different from the usual view. Moraine Park is the other CG there, but it's very hard to get reservations in, so you'd have to be willing to compromise and have several choices in mind. Of the 2, Glacier Basin is the easier one to get reservations.

I am a fanboy of Rocky. I'm up there frequently, have multiple trips planned. The trick to Rocky is to be willing to get up early to hit Trail Ridge Road, or very late in the afternoon/early evening. "Problem" with evening is that the elk will be out in abundance, and thoughtless drivers will stop in the middle of the roadway for the photo op, backing up traffic significantly.

Another trick to Rocky is to use the shuttle system, which is required at some locations such as Bear Lake. Shuttles run from various locations in the park, including the CGs, and also goes into town.

Neither Golden Gate Canyon nor Steamboat SPs are close to RMNP. Steamboat, in particular, is a couple hours drive from the west side of Rocky. Golden Gate is about an hour or so south of Rocky and the east entrance. If you're into hiking it's closer to the SE entrance at Wild Basin, which has some great hiking.

I'm heading up to Golden Gate Canyon SP for Memorial Day weekend. It's a wonderful SP, but it is always crowded due to it's popularity. The campground there that you want is Reverend's Ridge, which has electric at all sites, common water, and a dump station that's easy to access. Loops B and E are all pull thru sites, Loops A, C, and D are all back in sites, but easy to get in. The road and pads are all paved. For the back in sites, try to get one that is at the beginning or end of the circle drive, so you won't have neighbours on both sides. H E R E - RRCG is a map to the CG, look at Loop D, for example. I have #43 reserved, it's great site and I won't be looking at someone else's RV. I've also stayed in C Loop and have reservations in E Loop.

GGCSP is a reservations only park now, as are others in the system. In a random check of various SPs, appears that the whole system has gone reservations only. So competition will become tougher. If this is of interest to you, make SURE you book at exactly 8am EST on the 180 day window date. This is true for all of the Colorado State Parks, the 180 day window. Set up an account ahead of time and be logged in or ready to log in immediately at 8am EST.(I say EST because you will be booking in December or January prior).

Depending on where you're coming from (not necessarily where you're FROM), you don't have to go through Denver, but even if you do, timing can be important. And if you're coming from the east, you may be able to avoid Denver completely. If you want more info, feel free to PM me.


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ppine

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Posted: 05/17/19 08:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I lived in CO for 5 years before moving to Wyo. I went to RMNP once, never to return. I can't remember ever being in a state park. Too crowded.

The State has ample room and public land to camp almost anywhere you want. If you have a need to arrange for a place to stay ahead of time, you can try some FS campgrounds. It is a wonderful place to camp and I miss it all the time.

Busskipper

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Posted: 05/17/19 11:54am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thom02099 wrote:

LibertyMan wrote:

So I am in the beginning phases of planning a Colorado trip for June 2020. I have my reasons, but I am a State Park kinda guy so that's where I want to stay. I was thinking about the RMNP but dang all of the negative things I have come across. Mainly overcrowding and reservations just to hike some trails. Plus I really don't care all that much about having to go through Denver. But, if the wife overrules me I was looking at Stagecoach or Golden Gate. Which of the two do you prefer as far as avoiding crowds. And, which one of the two is easier to access RMNP. The other option I am heavily weighing is Ridgway SP. The area looks really neat and not that I need full hook-up but Pa-Co-Chu-Puk looks inviting with its full hook-ups. If Ridgway wins the decision, is that the better campground or do you all prefer Dakota Terraces or Elk Ridge. Again, I'm just looking for less crowds and good views. Thanks


RMNP has no hook up campgrounds inside the park. If you're OK with that, then consider Glacier Basin as the place to stay. There are 4 loops there; A and B are in the trees and a bit tight, IMO. Loop C is a mix of trees and open, but don't allow generators. Loop D is where I stay, it's open and has a great view of Longs Peak that is different from the usual view. Moraine Park is the other CG there, but it's very hard to get reservations in, so you'd have to be willing to compromise and have several choices in mind. Of the 2, Glacier Basin is the easier one to get reservations.

I am a fanboy of Rocky. I'm up there frequently, have multiple trips planned. The trick to Rocky is to be willing to get up early to hit Trail Ridge Road, or very late in the afternoon/early evening. "Problem" with evening is that the elk will be out in abundance, and thoughtless drivers will stop in the middle of the roadway for the photo op, backing up traffic significantly.

Another trick to Rocky is to use the shuttle system, which is required at some locations such as Bear Lake. Shuttles run from various locations in the park, including the CGs, and also goes into town.

Neither Golden Gate Canyon nor Steamboat SPs are close to RMNP. Steamboat, in particular, is a couple hours drive from the west side of Rocky. Golden Gate is about an hour or so south of Rocky and the east entrance. If you're into hiking it's closer to the SE entrance at Wild Basin, which has some great hiking.

I'm heading up to Golden Gate Canyon SP for Memorial Day weekend. It's a wonderful SP, but it is always crowded due to it's popularity. The campground there that you want is Reverend's Ridge, which has electric at all sites, common water, and a dump station that's easy to access. Loops B and E are all pull thru sites, Loops A, C, and D are all back in sites, but easy to get in. The road and pads are all paved. For the back in sites, try to get one that is at the beginning or end of the circle drive, so you won't have neighbours on both sides. H E R E - RRCG is a map to the CG, look at Loop D, for example. I have #43 reserved, it's great site and I won't be looking at someone else's RV. I've also stayed in C Loop and have reservations in E Loop.

GGCSP is a reservations only park now, as are others in the system. In a random check of various SPs, appears that the whole system has gone reservations only. So competition will become tougher. If this is of interest to you, make SURE you book at exactly 8am EST on the 180 day window date. This is true for all of the Colorado State Parks, the 180 day window. Set up an account ahead of time and be logged in or ready to log in immediately at 8am EST.(I say EST because you will be booking in December or January prior).

Depending on where you're coming from (not necessarily where you're FROM), you don't have to go through Denver, but even if you do, timing can be important. And if you're coming from the east, you may be able to avoid Denver completely. If you want more info, feel free to PM me.


^^^^^Good Info - Thom Knows Colorado - Great Source^^^^^

4runnerguy

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Posted: 05/17/19 02:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lots to talk about here. First, the two SP's you mention to visit RMNP give you access to the two different sides of the park. Stagecoach is a long two hour drive just to the Grand Lake area. Golden Gate is 1 1/4 hours to downtown Estes but plan on another 15 to 30 minutes to actually get into the park. So you're looking at three to four hours of commute time every day just to get to the park.

The two different sides of the park are quite different. The hiking on the Estes Park (east) side is more accessible and you reach lakes in much shorter distances. But being on the Denver side of the park, these trails and roads are much more crowded. Estes Park itself is a zoo during the summer months. Getting through town can take quite some time. But there are more tourist shops there if that's your (or your wife's) interest.

On the east side, we prefer Moraine Park CG within the park. No hookups, but there are flush toilets (which makes the DW happy). Also a dump station on the way out of the CG. There are great views of Longs Peak from the sites above the road to Cub and Fern Lakes (campground map). Overall we prefer Moraine Park CG to Glacier Basin as most of the trees that used to be in Glacier Basin were removed due to pine beetle or other such organism. (Maybe they've done similar thinning at Moraine Park in the last year or so since we've been through there.)

On the west side, Timber Creek CG is the only option in the park. But further south, check out Stillwater NFS CG if you need water and electric hookups (dump station there too). Again, very few trees left in this CG.

The town of Grand Lake is much calmer than Estes Park and is right on the lake. Kind of reminds me of what Estes Park was like when I first went there in the 60's. But there's less "easy" hiking on the west side of the park.

As for Ridgway SP, it is nicely located near some amazing mountains around Silverton, Ouray, Telluride. But as it is located in a rather arid area, it doesn't have the same mountain feel. Plus view of the San Juans is pretty limited for most of the campsites at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk since the CG is below the dam.

One thing to consider is that it is further to Ridgway than to RMNP.

As Busskipper already noted, another area you might want to consider is the Upper Arkansas River Valley from Leadville down to Salida. Chaffee County's slogan is "Now This Is Colorado" and that's appropriate. I don't know the age of your kids, but there's river rafting for all experience levels, fishing, biking, hiking, ghost towns (don't miss St. Elmo), plus some really interesting towns. Salida has great restaurants, river tubing right through town, free music in the park along the river and an interesting art scene. (How can any kid or kid-at-heart adult not love a place like the Bungled Jungle? Leadville is a real honest to goodness mining town with some great old architecture. As you travel US 24 between Leadville and Salida there are a string of 14,000' mountains on the west side of the highway for the entire distance. Our nieces grew up in the mountains west of Vail and they still love visiting this area.

One more thing to be aware of. Even in a normal snow year, during the first week in June many trails may still be blocked by snow at the higher elevations. Even as I write this at 2:00 p.m., it's snowing on Vail and Monarch Passes!


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RAS43

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Posted: 05/17/19 03:45pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One thing to keep in mind: a number of Colorado's state parks, including Ridgway, have become reservation only for campsites. Which means you cannot drive up and take an empty site. You have to call an 800 number or use the internet for all sites. Check their web site for which parks are involved and the rules.

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