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July, 2013

10 Things that Made Our Campsite Great – with Pictures!

Last weekend we went camping down at Wellington Lake outside of Bailey, Colorado for a few days.  Just prior to leaving I read through Trail Sherpa’s 89 Tips to Elevate Any Campsite again to get some ideas.   If you get a chance to read through it, I highly recommend it.

I’ve spent many years backpacking and hiking and camping as a boy scout, river guide, mountain guide and outward bound instructor, but sometimes camping with the kids means car camping – and doing it well.  That’s what this is about.

Here are my 10 things that made our camping trip better.

1. Camping near water.  Wellington Lake is a very pretty lake.  Although it’s about 12-15 feet low right now, it’s still really pretty.  They also allow swimming and it actually wasn’t very cold.  There are a couple floating docks and a small floating trampoline.  You can also bring your own non-motorized boats.

Wellington Lake

2. A view from your campsite is a must!  They call this the Castle and it was quite an impressive view from our campsite.  This part of Colorado is really rocky and scenic.  There’s a trail up to it but it wasn’t great for small kids.

Sunset on the Castle

3. Find a nice clearing in the trees and set up your most comfortable 8 person tent for the 4 of you.  We have this great 8 person North Face tent that fits all 4 of us on air mattresses really nicely.  Because the campground allows campfires, the ground and lower parts of the trees have been picked clean of all wood and branches.  So there’s very little to do to clear a space.

North Face 8 Person Tent

4. Bring a hammock, not to camp in, but for naps and reading books (don’t forget your pillow).


5. Have a strong knife that you can really use for everything from making kindling to marshmallow roasting sticks.

Strong Knife

6. When possible, make a fire.


7. Everything tastes better wrapped in foil and tossed on the coals (Thanks AdventureTykes! More recipes here.)

Campfire BurritoCampfire Burrito Cooked

8. Have a nice hiking destination.  This waterfall in this cool grotto was a perfect destination for all of us, including the kids.  It’s on the way to the Castle, but was a perfect place to stop and spend a couple hours playing.

Hiking destination


9. Duct Tape.  Always handy to patch things that hold air like air mattresses when you discover that one had a hole.

Duct Tape

10. Enjoy the sunset!




And a bonus.  Bring a rope for a clothesline.  With kids and water, you know that some of you are gonna get wet.

Randomness on the Trail

Since @WildernessDave posted a story about his recent Grand Canyon trip and random stuff on the trail, I finally had to post this.

When we are at Grand Canyon over spring break, my wife and I got to take a good chunk of the day and hike down the South Kaibab Trail.  We didn’t have all day, but, enough time to make it down the 3 miles to Skeleton Point and enjoy a snack while looking over the river and then back up.  It was a great hike, and like most tourist hikes, we saw hundreds of people, most of whom were unprepared for a spring hike into Grand Canyon.  As a member of a mountain rescue team, it’s very sad to see so many ill-prepared people who feel the need to tempt fate by heading out with little or no water, preparation or fitness.

Anyway, on the way back up, we were passed by this lovely bit of randomness:

South Kaibab trail hiker with a suitcase

I particularly like the clothes hanging out and flapping in the wind.  But, this young man may have everything he needs in the suitcase and the shoulder bag to last for a while; maybe a tent, water bottles, a little stove, some food, etc in this lovely, bright blue, wheelie, hard case luggage. We’ll never know…

Getting to Know Staunton State Park

Last week we had a chance to do some hiking in Staunton State Park to get familiar with the newest Colorado State Park (in case we get some SAR missions out there).  It’s always good to get to know new areas for many reasons, and that day, we weren’t disappointed. I’m pretty excited to explore more of this park before it gets too crowded. I encourage you to do the same!

We’d been in that area off of Shaffer’s Crossing once before a few years ago, but there was no sign of there being a park, just fences with state land signs and nondescript, locked gates. We tried driving around to see if there was any way in, but had to leave disappointed.  In case you didn’t know, the park has a lot of rock climbing in addition to nice trails for hiking and biking, but the climbs aren’t that close to the parking lot, so I don’t expect it’ll be too crowded for climbing yet. They’ve done a lot of really nice development of the trail system and the climbing routes that I expect will be a big draw.  Especially since it’s higher up in elevation and not too far away to drive.

We were able to hike to the base of some great rocks to see a lot of different routes – some bolted and some not. (Here’s a link to a great PDF resource on the climbing routes). Then we hiked around to the top of the rocks for some really amazing views.  But, this was just one area we explored.  We didn’t make it around the long loop or to the waterfall, which I hear is pretty cool, but 10 miles round trip.  Next time, maybe I’ll bring my bike… 🙂

Here’s a few shots of this beautiful park.

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