We were on our way to Salida/Buena Vista area but decided to do a couple days along the way around Del Norte. The locals pronounce it "Del Nor". We were hoping to see Summitville Ghost Town. It's supposed to be one of the most intact old mining towns up in the mountains above 11,000 feet. Other than that and a brewery, not much more we were going to do but rest up. The Rio Grande River in town, like all the other so far, is still running too fast and muddy.
What's that up on top of the mountain?
A huge Elk Statue. Cool.
I had what looked like a great boondocking site. Had a fellow blogger stay in the area so we didn't bother to check it out first. The satellite view looked wide open so I didn't think we'd have any problems. Wrong. I've been on a bad streak of finding bummer sites.
Looks good enough so far. Nice, smooth dirt road. Not the prettiest area. High desert. Problem was it was very windy and we were getting sand blasted. Also, with the raised berm alongside the road, there was hardly anywhere to turn around. We had to drive much further in than I wanted. There were a couple spots that were ok, but they had no privacy and were right off the road. The prime spot I was looking for required us to drive through a wash and some pretty big ruts. All this to end up with a spot that was very sandy, had huge gopher holes, ant hills and 3 dead animal carcasses. YUCK!
Plan B. In town I found a county park you can overnight in for free. These usually are very nice. This park turned out to be a gem. We could park right along the grass next to the river.
|Yes, Hoss needs a wash!|
What a great front yard for the night.
Another bonus was a fundraiser going on in the park to raise money for the local trails. It was a very small gathering and free to get in. We were going to ride our bikes down main street to find something to eat and visit Three Barrel Brewery. As it turned out, the brewery was at the festival and you could sample all the beer for free! Steve loved the IPAs. There was a couple food trucks with some great food too. That's where it ended though.
The band was actually pretty horrible. I could've sung better. And those that know me know what I mean! It was a fun day/evening and we ended it by taking Hurley for a nice walk on the river trail.
We drove closer to Salida the next day and since we were going to be boondocking, we decided to stay at a private park and enjoy some FHUs (full hook-ups). This way we could scout out some spots without taking the trailer. Best way to do it when possible! We stayed at Heart of the Rockies RV Park. It was ok. For $38 I expect more though. It was going through new management and getting an upgraded water system. The flow was very poor so we just used our water pump instead of hooking up. It was nice to dump the tanks, fill up the fresh and do laundry though. Very helpful staff.
We drove out to the National Forest Office in town and asked about dispersed camping. We found out you can dump/fill at their facility for a fee. Good to know if we need that later. We got maps and a few spots to check out. The first was along the Arkansas River which we heard good things about from another RVer. Didn't care for it. It was very cramped and a lot of homeless stay there. Not that there's anything wrong with that, just not our favorite type of spot. Another said you can get 30ish foot rigs up the hill. NOT! It was a very narrow, steep, rutted 4x4 dirt/rock road. Maybe jeeps, small trucks and tents! Not looking too good so far.
We checked out a couple more and fell in love with one about a mile off Hwy 285 on CR194. Easy access, flat and the road dead ended in a little box canyon. Room for about 5 rigs, very private and spaced out. The ruts weren't bad and the rain hadn't started so we could easily get in. We went back and got the trailer.
Gorgeous spot on BLM land at the end of the road from the blue dot.
When you drive up 194, left takes you back 18 miles to a tiny campground on the river (nothing over 20ft) and to the right takes you right to the box canyon on BLM land. Free camping for 14 days! This spot not to be confused with Hecla Junction at the very end of CR194.
Steve checking it out to make sure no one was in "our" spot.
The road ends just around that corner.
Looking back towards CR194.
Our spot up against the rock wall. It was also the only area with a few trees. We had some nice shade and a great fire ring.
The outside office.
Looking toward the end of the canyon.
View from the end of the canyon looking towards us. This spot at the end was really big and had a nice firepit, but was a little too uneven for us.
You can't tell, but it's not as flat as it looks. Later in the week some kayakers tented out here. Otherwise, we had the place to ourselves!
This was one of our very favorite boondocking spots so far! Since I get so many questions on how we find our awesome spots, I'm writing the next post about the process I use.
We enjoyed this spot for 14 days. It was a perfect location to investigate Salida, Nathrop and Buena Vista. The Arkansas River runs right along all 3 towns. Gold Medal fishing!