Posts Tagged With: camping

Camping at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Our second camping trip of the summer took us to Great Sand Dunes National Park.  We arrived at the park on a Friday afternoon and set up the tent just in time for the rain to start.  It only rained for a few hours and gave us enough time to check out the sand dunes before dinner.  Apparently, we brought the one type of sled that doesn’t work for sledding down the dunes!  Sorry boys!  We will have to remember that for next time!

The next morning it was warm and sunny…the perfect day to hit the dunes.  I decided to climb up the 699′ High Dune while the boys played in Medano Creek and Chris attempted to catch up on some reading in the shade.  The hike up High Dune was one of the most difficult hikes I’ve ever done, but I made it.  The view from the top was well worth it!  While I was hiking, Henry was working on his Junior Ranger badge and is now sworn in to protect nature.  We headed back to the campsite just in time for more rain to come.  After it stopped raining, we headed over to do the Dunes Overlook Trail, which you can read more about on the boys hiking blog.  We had just enough time to eat dinner before the rain started again.  It quickly became clear that this rain was not going to let up.  We finally gave up any hopes of sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows and headed to bed early.  It pretty much rained all night!

We only stayed for two nights, but we could have easily stayed for longer.  Well…I can say that now that we are home and dry.

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Camping at Spruce Grove

Pictures from our first camping trip of 2014 at Spruce Grove Campground.  This is easily one of the most beautiful campsites I’ve stayed at in Colorado.  We were in site 24, which provided some shade.  Most of the sites were very exposed and this campsite was PACKED.  The walk-in sites looked amazing, but if you have a lot of gear, that walk to get to them might be a pain!  It was freezing at night.  There was  a trailhead right in our campground, so you can read about the hike we did at our hiking blog: Kids Hike Colorado.

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Camping at Monarch Park

For our second camping trip of the summer, we picked Monarch Park Campground, which is near Salida.  It was a long drive from Parker (about 3 & 1/2 hours) but it is beautiful in that area.  The campground is really pretty, with lots of pine trees and two streams running through it.  Our campsite (#4) was a tent-only site situated in the middle of the two streams and was huge!  We had room for the tent and lots of extra room for running around and playing.  Our camp neighbors were also from Parker, and had kids that were the boys’ ages, so they loved having neighbors to play with all day long!

And YAY!  the fire bans have been lifted in Colorado, so we were able to have a campfire this time!  We wasted no time in getting a fire going.  Have you seen those super large marshmallows?  I thought I was being Supermom by treating the boys to them, but they were a mistake!  They were so hard to eat and impossible to make a S’more!  But, hey, we’ve got a campfire!

The elevation at the campground is 10,500 feet, so we were expecting chilly nights.  We were not, however, expecting the rain!  Chris and I were sitting by the campfire (the boys had long ago fell asleep) when a thunderstorm started.  We quickly put the gear away and gave Cosmo a quick walk.  Not two minutes after climbing in the tent, the rain came POURING down.  It was so loud in the tent that Chris and I were SHOUTING just to be able to hear each other.  The boys are such great sleepers they didn’t even budge!

The next morning, we got another fire going to warm up and then we were off for a hike.  (You can read about the hike at the boys hiking blog by clicking HERE.)  After the hike, we headed back to camp and Chris and I got to relax while the boys played with their new friends.  It’s nice that the boys are now at the age where we can give them a little bit of freedom to explore.  Luckily, since our camp was surrounded with forest and streams, they didn’t need to go to far to get away from the parents!

Unfortunately, it also started to rain again.  We were able to eat dinner, but it was just too cold and wet to keep a fire going, so we got in the tent.  It rained ALL NIGHT LONG.  As relaxing as the sound of rain can be, a torrential downpour on a tent isn’t soothing at all.  We were freezing, damp and exhausted from lack of sleep, so we decided to pack it up the next day.  We were supposed to camp one more night, but there was more rain coming, so there was no way we could get everything dry and warm.  The boys were ready to leave too, which made the decision easier.

Monarch Park is a beautiful campground!  Almost every site there is large and shaded.  It’s definitely going on my list of favorite campsites and we are looking forward to camping there again.  Maybe in a pop-up camper or rented RV next time?  😉

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Camping at Guanella Pass

It feels weird to say we were up in the mountains enjoying our beautiful state of Colorado when half of it is on fire.  But, we did.  We headed up to Guanella Pass, just outside Georgetown.  We camped here a couple of years ago and loved it, so it was our first choice for camping this year.  Unfortunately, no campfires were allowed, but we were willing to give up a few hours of fun if it would help keep Colorado safe.  There was some sort of snafu with our reservation, and even though I had reserved a site by the creek months ago, they put us in the wrong site.  Since the creek sites were occupied, there wasn’t a whole lot we could do, so after some initial grumpiness, we decided to make the best of it.

Our campsite was surrounded by tall pine trees and lots of places to explore.  We were very close to the creek, so the boys were having a good time.  After we set everything up, we took a walk around the campground hoping to spot some wildlife, but we were out of luck.  Unfortunately, the campsite was swarming with mosquitos!  They were everywhere and they were awful.  Maybe it was a good thing we weren’t by the creek!  When we stayed at this campsite before, we didn’t see a single mosquito.  (Of course it was a lot colder  when we were there before.)  Without a campfire to smoke them out, they were incredibly annoying!  We covered everyone with bug spray, put on long sleeves and long pants and set the citronella candle in the fire pit.  We sat around our “campfire” and read The World According to Humphrey. (One of those rare chapter books that adults like as much as kids!)  Since the night was clear, we actually got to see Mars and Saturn in the night sky.  Then it was off to bed for an evening of freezing and not sleeping.  (I’m getting too old to sleep on the ground!  I’ve gone from looking at campers in RVs with scorn to being insanely jealous of them.)

Tuesday morning I was up at 6:00 (did I ever really go to sleep?) and took Cosmo for a walk.  Once everyone was awake, Chris and I debated if we were going to stay a second night.  No sleep and 8 billion mosquitos will do that to you!  We decided to hold off on making a decision until the afternoon.  We went for a hike on Square Top Lakes Trail (you can read more about the hike HERE.)   It was raining when we returned, so the boys played in the tent and Chris and I sat at the bench under the sun shade we just bought.  (I can’t believe we’ve gone for so long without one!)  We decided that we don’t get to go camping much, so we were going to stay for one more night.  We have one more camping trip planned this summer, but considering it’s proximity to the Waldo Canyon Fire, we may have to cancel it.  Might as well enjoy the one we are on!  Since it rained, the mosquitos were even worse, so we hung out in the tent playing card games.  Turns out the boys love Uno!  We braved the mosquitos long enough to have dinner and read a few more chapters of Humphrey, then we went to bed around 8:00 p.m.

Everyone got a much better night’s sleep than the first night!  The boys got to explore the woods and creek once more while Chris and I packed up the car.  That’s got to be the worst part of camping, right?  On our drive back down Guanella Pass we finally saw some wildlife, an American Marten and a mule deer (at which Cosmo barked her head off!)  Overall, we had a great time.  It is such a beautiful area on Guanella Pass, and it’s great to get all of us away from electronics for a few days.  They boys get to explore nature and use their imaginations, and Chris and I get to just sit and relax without thinking about what chores need to be done next.  We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful state!

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