Thursday, July 03, 2008

Camping in the Rockies...for real this time!

Describing our weekend, all I needed to say to our friends was – “we went camping in the rocky mountains…” and there…just like that they had framed “the” picture in their minds, as if I special-ordered it for them!
Clear blue skies interspersed with powder-puff clouds, monolithic towering granite structures piercing through the painted canvas, evergreens and fields of Aspen lacing the slopes, lush green meadows and wild flowers lining the valleys in between highlighting the contrast in shapes, color and contours, fresh snowmelt laden waterfalls for a road-side diversion, and the mighty (and at times turbulent) Colorado river raging parallel alongside the road throughout. What more could one ask for…except for perhaps wildlife that is native to this wondrous land. Trust me, we saw plenty of those as well.
Setting up camp is a ritual I have now begun to really enjoy....tearing one down, is still something I am working on. 

If this isn’t the picture that you framed in your minds, then you are amongst those that really need to visit the place and see it to believe it for yourselves!There are numerous camping options that this scenic place offers…our friends and hosts chose Bogan Flats campground in Glenwood Springs, Colorado for our visit. Let me start by saying that the campsite locale was excellent. Although nearly 4 hours by road from Denver, there are detours plentiful to indulge in along the way. The campsite has the crystal river flanking it on one side, the mountains and gorgeous scenery on the other. Once you get used to the sound of gushing water, it almost lulls you to sleep. If I didn’t know better, I could have easily mistaken the sounds for the ocean waves…very peaceful and Zen. What you don’t get used to…is waking up to behold the stunning mountains and evergreen panorama that greets your morning. It is an imposing image that envelops you to make you one with nature.

Each campsite was spacious enough to accommodate 2-3 medium sized tents or a couple large sized tents…we were 6 of us in 3 medium sized tents as you see in the picture and were very comfortable with plenty of room to spare. In addition to that, there are trees, a picnic bench, fire ring with grill and space to park your vehicle. These campsites in addition to being spacious were quite private as well. With plenty of space and trees in between adjacent sites, you had your own little private world amongst the surrounding beauty.

Taking an early morning walk alongside the river revealed many campers and RVs parked in different sites with plenty of room for kids to have their play tent set up…adults to have their own tents and additional space for other “stuff”…I guess I have made my point, these sites were huge!

How you make the camping experience memorable is entirely up to you and your group. Ours will be a memorable trip mostly because of the great company and the choice of place. We grilled, made smores (the holy grail of camping outdoors), sat around the campfire and shared stories…and really took in all the place had to offer.
Setting up camp is a ritual I have now begun to really enjoy…tearing one down, is still something I am working on. This place tests you severely on the “tearing-down” part. Who would want to leave such a remote, wild and pristine place unless maybe a strong urge to shower!! Worry not mates, known for its Hot springs, Glenwood springs (the nearest town) has plenty of options to soak in commercial sulphur baths for some serious R & R. During peak season, these tend to get crowded. If you are adventurous enough, there are other options amidst rivers but you have to find just that right mix of hot ‘n cold to enjoy your dip.

TIP: Although Bogan Flats campground didn’t have shower facilities, it had the cleanest and most well maintained restrooms (vault kind) that we have come across. Hardly 5 miles shy of Bogan Flats, the Redstone Campground has showers and allows Bogan Flat permit-holders to share some of their facilities.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The First DETOUR - Mt. Evans

The first DETOUR…
Located about 3.5 hours from the city of Denver, it is not exactly close to the suburbs…however the drive comes packaged with a truly unique experience that blogs are written about! So, who’s complaining? Not me! Plus, there are several must-have detours and attractions along the way to keep your appetite for outdoors and nature going.
Mt. Evans Scenic Byway is also known as the Road-into-the-sky-drive.
One such detour was the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway also known as the Road-into-the-sky-drive. No points for guessing why it is called so. In just 28 miles, this beautifully paved byway climbs more than 7,000 feet to reach an altitude of 14,264 feet! The upper section of this road is the highest paved highway in North America.
Although, the vantage point from the seat of our car was very picturesque and comfortable, don’t be surprised to see avid cyclists, training uphill along the way to the summit. (Click on view more photos) With steep gradients amplified by the elevation, it calls for sheer endurance, determination and lung power.
Along the way, you pass through alpine lakes – Echo Lake and Summit Lake, several trail heads, trees and forested areas to finally reach elevations above the tree line. The Byway is dispersed with an amalgam of hardy mountain wildflowers, lichens and grasses where rock-jumping mountain goats and bighorn sheep can be spotted calmly grazing in the tundra. This along with the partial snow-capped mountains adds dramatic color and vibrancy to the viewing palette.
Closer to the summit you get to see the big picture—the entire Front Range and Continental Divide stretching out for miles in all directions. This highest of Rocky Mountain highs brings you to the rarefied world above timberline. We were told that it could be 90 degrees in Denver and 40 degrees at the top of Mount Evans...and it was!! Also, we are talking“Rockies” here….they are capable of creating their own weather systems…one moment clear and sunny, and next total clouds with white-out conditions and blowing snow!! Be prepared for sudden weather drifts. We were lucky to enjoy beautiful sunny, clear skies on our visit in July.
I overheard a fellow hiker mention that there are plenty of recreational activities to indulge in at Mt. Evans – Hiking the many trails, horseback riding, fishing in clear mountain lakes, camping, biking to name a few. Of-course the winter weather brings ski enthusiasts as well to this part of the Rockies.
Photographing the summit marker on top of Mt. Evans at 14258 feet adds proof to the pudding (or in my case to this blog). It’s definitely a memory you want to keep and relive for a long time to come.

TIP: Fall is a particularly delightful time of year to explore this area. However, due to the unpredictable weather conditions do call ahead for road closures and other park restrictions before heading out on a long drive. Located just off Highway I-70, in Idaho springs area, the article is aptly named a Detour for a reason. 

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Camping in the Rockies

“Camping in the Rockies”….just the phrase has a ring to it…that perks your curiosity and paints a vivid picture in your mind about a far-away gorgeous place untouched by nature, pristine and wild in its beauty and utterly refreshing in its atmosphere.

Bogan Flats campgrounds in Carbondale, Colorado did live up to that utopian-like image and our weekend camping trip was enough reason for me wanting to go back again!