Catching a Corner of CO

Sometimes it’s hard to leave a place that you’ve loved like Bluewater State Park, but other times the signs are clear that it is time to move on.  The Easter weekend crowds were a great sign that we had had our fun at Bluewater and now it was someone else’s turn to enjoy our site with a view.  So we fired up the RV at 5am and hit the road; our destination was the surprisingly bustling city of Farmington, NM, where we would ditch the RV at a park, grab a rental car, and start our Easter road trip through the mountains of Colorado.

 

When you drive an RV, steep and winding mountain passes are a gut wrenching thought. Yet, we both love driving a good scenic mountain road, not to mention experiencing the sheer beauty of Colorado’s stark peaks and vast valleys.  So we decided to rent a car and spend the holiday weekend driving across the state.  We began in Farmington, NM and drove up to Denver where we grabbed dinner and crashed at an Airbnb.  The next day we drove back to Farmington, taking a different route of course.  Now, if you don’t think that spending 15 hours over two days in a car is fun, then we simply disagree on this point.  We had a blast!

 

 
 

 

The following Monday, we headed up towards Cortez for what was promised to be a rock star of a boondocking spot.  Turns out we were only half right: the forest road was full of big, beautiful, free campsites with a great view and good internet signal… the only problem was the locked gate at the entrance to the road.  Although the weather was beautiful, the road didn’t open for the season for another few weeks.  Discouraged, we ended up at another road a few miles closer to town that we weren’t too sure about.  Although the only site we’d fit into was unlevel and had a few deer skeletons, it ended up being a pretty nice work week there.  Very quiet, a view of Mesa Verde, decent internet signal, and free - it’s hard to complain about 4 days in a site like that.

 

 
 

 

The funny thing about boondocking as much as we do is that if you find enough of the dramatic and breathtaking sites - you start to really crave them.  So we spent a few hours that week searching for our next spot, intent on making it a stunner.  We ended up getting in touch with the creator of one of our favorite websites, freecampsites.net, who helped us with impeccable details on a lesser known spot in the nearby Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.  We knew it would be hard to get up to it, but we felt good about the amount of intel that we had going in so we decided to go for it.

 

That Friday night, we stayed in the Cortez Walmart as usual to stock up for the coming week and hit the road early on Saturday.  This is a very common Friday evening practice for us and typically goes without mention, but this Walmart was across the street from an incredible Mexican Restaurant and I wanted to be sure to mention them here, even if mainly for our own archives. Ironically enough, the creator of the previously mentioned camping website happened to pass through the same parking lot that night, and sneakily stuck a couple magnetic beer koozies on our bumper for us to discover in the AM. Thanks again, Jenn!

 

Next we began the drive up to the ridge in Canyons of the Ancients that we had been looking forward to anxiously.  Every turn went exactly as described to us, then we got to the dreaded ‘last mile’.  We had been warned that the last mile was an extremely rough road, but that it would be passable if dry and would open up at the sites along the ridge.  Honestly, had Jenn not specifically told us that the road is passable, I never would have driven the RV down it.  This was a rocky, tire rut type of road that was terrifying to look at from behind the wheel of a 32’ motorhome.  So we turned left, drove slow, clenched stomachs, and made it just fine.

 

 
 

 

We got set up in the exact site that had been suggested to us, took one look at the view and settled in for the week, our dramatic campsite craving satisfied.  Aside from the view of McElmo Dome and the powerful canyons around it, we could also see Mesa Verde on the eastern horizon and Monument Valley on the western horizon.  The ironic thing is that this place had blazing fast internet signal, yet we spent most nights outside just taking in the view.  It’s an odd thing when the view of the landscape before you can make you emotional, it’s even odder when that feeling persists every time you step outside for a week straight.  

 

It’s no surprise why this area has had so much significance to its ancestral inhabitants for thousands of years.  Anyone having a hard time grasping the immensity of the land in the intermountain west, could do well with an hour standing on this ridge.

 

Camping Links:

Campendium - Co Rd 34

Freecampsites - BLM Land at Mesa Verde

Campendium - Cliff Camp

Freecampsites - McElmo Dome