My Vacation: Camping in Colorado

Hub-a-dub and I recently spent a week camping in Colorado. We spent the first four days in a tiny little historic town that no one’s ever heard of nestled in the San Juan Mountains. Then we drove north to the Rocky Mountain National Park near Boulder, where we finished our trip with another couple of days.

But what you really want is the pictures, right? So I’ll get on with it…

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Our view from our campsite the first morning. Click photos to enlarge.

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A little inside joke for the handful of people who’ve read my zombie manuscript. (Hubs was like, “Thank God we’re leaving before then.” Haha!)

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American Basin, one of the most beautiful spots for wildflowers in the country.

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The last time we were there, we took an ATV (4-wheeler) around the Alpine Loop Back Country Byway – a 65-mile tour that includes two 12,000 foot mountain passes. It’s rough terrain in the most gorgeous scenery imaginable, boasting ghost towns of old mining sites, historic landmarks, and more. And more importantly, it’s where Hub-a-dub and I saw our first marmot.

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The best part? I’m convinced that we saw the exact same guy, Mr. Marmot, in the exact same spot on the loop this time – three years later. (We didn’t get as good of a picture this time, though.) I can’t tell you how hard that made me laugh. I guess he’s just been up there at altitude, chillin’ out, being a marmot for three years now. Pretty cool.

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I don’t know the first thing about photography, but I’m pretty proud of this picture. Through the ruins of an old mining building.

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One of the plethora of abandoned mines that dot the mountains.

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Broken mine-cart tracks leading off the ledge. Below, you can see the buildings clustered in the center of the valley.

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A super-special off-the-map find that we lucked into. I named it Marmot Pond.

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Drinking fresh mountain water straight from a waterfall (we have a steripen) is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I look all wind-blown from the ATV; it gets cold up there when you’re going fast! And yes, that was some damn pure water.

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After a whole day of the loop, we went off the beaten path and camped here. This shot is our view in the morning.

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Second day back on the loop.

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We stopped at The Garden of the Gods on our way up to Boulder.

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On our 10-mile hike in the Rocky Mountain National Forest.

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Me being awed by Loch Vale on the way to Sky Pond.

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I am a known tree-hugger.

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Case in point. (From Colorado in 2009.)

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Nearing the top of our hike. Look closely; I’m at the bottom of the falls!

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Practicing my mountain meditation at the top of our hike. 🙂

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Sky Pond!

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A look back at our hike’s path; we came from all the way down past that lake.

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A friendly Elk cow we ran into. We were a little anxious to be so close to such a large animal unexpectedly, but she was super chill!

I have hundreds of pictures, but I have to end the blog somewhere. The one thing I didn’t get a shot of that I wish I had was the nosy little jackrabbit who got stuck between our tent and the rain fly, in the small, maybe two-foot square vestibule area. He woke us up with a loud thump-thump-thump as he tried to jump through the wall of our tent; he couldn’t see the mesh in the dark. I was so afraid that we’d run into a bear that night, since we’d packed in and were pretty isolated, but a hilarious little bunny was a nice surprise.

I thought for sure he’d freak out when we turned a light on and he realized he was trapped, which is why I didn’t take a picture, but he was totally calm. He just sat there and stared at us all like, “Hey guys. What’s up? You sleeping? That’s cool.” We couldn’t open our tent to undo the rain fly, though, because we didn’t want him to hop into our actual tent or scratch us. And we couldn’t go around to unzip it because both of our shoes were under that side of the vestibule and it was pouring rain all night. Finally, Hub-a-dub shone the light under the tiny two-inch gap between the vestibule and the ground so Mr. Bunny could find his way back out. He hopped over, nibbled on our boot laces, and wiggled under. 🙂

We had an incredible trip! Are any of you going on vacation this summer?

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  • Melissa Crytzer Fry

    SO jealous because 1) I haven’t had a vacation with hubby since 2005 and 2) this is THE kind of vacation I’d love. Wow. Reminds me of a Yellowstone trip we took. Glad you had such fun. The bunny story was hilarious.

    • Yes, we love this trip because it’s very inexpensive for us. We drive up there in our own car, so we don’t have to fly, and we camp, which is cheap to free, so no hotels, plus we pack our own food (mostly). It’s a great way to make the trip feel special but still be able to go somewhere every couple of years! And of course, we just love the outdoors. =)

  • Russell Linton

    Love Colorado. Our go-to place is Mueller State Park on the west side of Pike’s Peak. We went last year. Envious of your backpacking spouse – had to buy a travel trailer to get mine to play in the woods with me 🙂

    • Russell Linton

      Oh, and your photos look great! You should be proud of the window shot. Usually people tend to over/under expose those type of shots where the closer stuff is a bit too dark or the stuff in the distance is an amorphous blob of light. A few shots from Mueller by the way:!i=2035783219&k=Dd5K7J8

      • Thanks! Your photos are gorgeous! I’ve never been to Mueller before. Yeah, we got lucky that the hubs and I both enjoy outdoorsy stuff, although we come from different worlds of it. I just always grew up being a wood-rat in the country, and it’s actually my husband’s job, so he comes at it from a more trained, knowledgeable perspective. Since it is his job, though, sometimes he gets burnt out from work trips and it takes some convincing to get him to go for our own leisure.

  • Julia Munroe Martin

    Wow, these are gorgeous pictures and brought back great memories. We used to live in Boulder and some of our best camping memories are in the Colorado mountains. Thank you for the memories! (p.s. I’m a treehugger too 🙂

    • Thank you, Julia! My husband absolutely adores Boulder; in fact we went mostly so he could show me his favorite spots and what-not. 🙂

  • Cynthia Robertson

    Oh lovely! Amazing how chilly it looks up there, even at this time of year. Sky Pond is beautiful – great photos.

    • Thanks Cynthia! Yes, it can get quite chilly, especially when the wind kicks up!

  • Regina Richards

    Sounds wonderful! Especially Funny Bunny.

  • Compared to me, you’re the Indiana Jones of adventure. I thought the marmot was a groundhog. If I’d have been there, by the time I got back to civilization, the bunny story would’ve turned into “The Attack of the Fifty-foot Killer Rabbit!” Eek! :O

    • Bahaha! That makes me think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “What, behind the rabbit?” “It is the rabbit!”

  • jclementwall

    Your pictures AND WORDS are gorgeous. I’m about to camp for four days in Shasta. I’m very jealous of your longer trip. Hoping for that next year. In the meantime, thank you for sharing. I’m not above vacationing vicariously!

  • Ah, so jealous of this trip! I almost went to Colorado this summer, but couldn’t make it work with time off and the cost involved. I’ve been to Rocky Mountain National Park before and done the Sky Pond hike; it’s so gorgeous! And I liked being able to look back down the way we’d come, which does look an impressive distance. 🙂

    • Cool! Yeah, 10 miles (there and back) is the longest hike I’ve ever done all at once, for sure, so looking back and seeing the distance at the top was really powerful for me. Not to mention that the elevation kicked our asses, so I was pretty pleased that we powered through!

  • A. B. Davis

    This was such an awesome experience to vicariously live through! 🙂 Thank you for it. It looks like a beautiful place that anyone seeking an adventure should endeavor to see. Your pictures are awesome! That one with the frame in it–fantastic! No vacation for me this summer 🙁 Hopefully a trip to Europe in the near future….? (as in the next three years possibly). I’ve never been out of the country, but perhaps I should start a little smaller. Get my feet wet in some beautiful location on our own American soil like Rocky Mountain National Park. Any advice for newbies to camping out and hiking in territory like this? You and hub-a-dub seem pretty well-versed in such treks.

    • Thanks Ashley! Europe sounds exciting! I’ve been a few times (once in a college tour and a couple with my family when I was a kid), but I feel a little overwhelmed by the prospect of planning such a big overseas trip by myself as an adult. That’s probably part of why hub-a-dub and I tend to stay in-country. That and I think we’d rather take less expensive in-country trips more often than big expensive overseas trips less often. (Or maybe we’re just lazy.) Are you going to be camping and hiking in Europe?! If you’ve never been camping or hiking before, I guess my advice would be to start with a low-pressure weekend trip. That way you can 1) be sure you actually enjoy it, and 2) check what gear you’re missing or need to replace. Little things like the wrong shoes or socks make a huge difference if you’re doing some serious hiking!

  • Nina Badzin

    That does sound like an incredible trip!! LOVE the pictures!

  • Cheryl Martin

    Looks like near Ouray. Great pics.

  • richweatherly43

    I’m a little late replying to this post but loved it. You visited some of my favorite places. My favorite photo is the one with aspens in the foreground and a small waterfall in the background.

    • Thanks Rich! I believe that waterfall is part of Nellie Creek. 🙂