"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best Campgrounds of 2016 & 2017 Plans

Placerville, CA
Storm Valley Ranch

Before 2016 ticks away, I want to say what a great year it was!  We had so much fun in SW Colorado where we spent most of the year.  Our favorite spots are below with detailed info on all of them after and at the bottom our plans for 2017.

Here are our favorite camping spots of 2016 (in no particular order):

1.  Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ
     Beautiful, sparkling clean campsites, nicely spaced with a spectacular view of the Superstion Mountains and great hiking!  $30 to camp, some spots have electric and water.
Lost Dutchman State Park.  We stay here each year.

2.  Boondocking in Mancos National Forest, Mancos, CO
     Great camping with lots of choices, right off the highway, easy to get to and level with lots of privacy.  Close to Mesa Verde National Park and Durango. Durango/Silverton Railroad is here.
Mancos, CO. We stayed here twice.

3.  Boondocking at Hecla BLM, Salida, CO
     Nice, private spot in a little box canyon just off the highway.  Close to Salida and Buena Vista.  Gorgeous mountains to hike (many over 14K ft. elevation), rivers to fish, bike paths and dirt roads.
Hecla BLM.  Stayed here two different times.

4.  Boondocking in Leadville National Forest, Leadville, CO
     About 2 miles out of town.  Level, easy access, surrounded by pines, mountains to hike, bike paths, and much to explore in the old mining town.  Great 4th of July festivities!
Leadville, CO

5.  Boondocking in the San Isabel National Forest, Nathrop, CO
     One of our very favorites.  2 miles off the highway, level, easy access, lots of pines, more hiking/fishing/biking in the surrounding mountains, lakes and rivers.
 Nathrop Area, we stayed here twice.
6.  Thistledown National Forest Campground, Ouray, CO
     Gorgeous spot, level but up a steep gravel/dirt road.  On the river.  Just outside of town with endless hiking and 4-wheeling and a cute town.  Small fee to camp, no water or electric.
Steep climb to get to this tiny campground, but worth it!

7.  Rio Grande National Forest Campground, Creede, CO
     Right off the highway, level spots with decent access.  Right on the river.  Hiking, 4-wheeling and lots of dirt roads and nearby mining towns to visit.
Near Creede, right on the river. Gorgeous!

8.  Boondocking in the San Juan National Forest, Silverton, CO
     Tie for our favorite.  1 mile off the highway, easy access, level, park right next to the river.  Hiking, fishing and lots of off road fun.  Durango/Silverton Railroad is here.
Right on the river!  Another winner!
Not surprising, all but 2 were boondocking for free.  We had good internet in all of these places.
This is the types of camping spots that WE love.  Some we get from other RVers, Apps and friends and some we luckily stumble upon.  We look for privacy, easy access, gorgeous views, on or very near water for fishing or kayaking, nearby hiking and biking trails, not too far from towns for amenities, entertainment, good food and water/dump.  We also love areas with history, breweries and other fun things.  Again, might not be what others like, but these are right up our alley!

For those that might be interested, here's a breakdown of all of the places we stayed, and the costs:
The boondocking includes BLM, National Forest, LTVA and family.

                                      Stays                 Nights                     Total                 AVG (per night cost)

Fairgrounds                     5                         31                      $508.50            $16.40                     
Boondocking*                 12                      149                       $80.00                  .54
Private Parks**               8                          56                      $435.00              $7.77
State Parks                      7                          51                    $1200.00             $23.53
County Parks                  6                          26                       $556.00            $21.38
Casinos                           2                            5                         $44.00              $8.80
National Forest***        3                          22                       $342.00            $15.55
Forest Service                 2                          15                       $307.00            $20.47
National Rec. Area         1                            7                         $22.00              $3.14
Other****                       2                            4                              0                    0

* Boondocking includes dispersed camping in National Forests, BLM, my brothers ranch and a one time BLM LTVA fee of $80 otherwise all boondocking would've been free.

** Our time at one of the private parks ended up with us having 8 days free.  See the "Hurley Incident".  Normally nice private parks will be $30 or $40 and up.  This skewed the numbers.

*** National Forest, these were fee campgrounds within the NF.

**** This includes 3 nights at a free parking lot and 1 night at a Walmart (we usually have several of these for quick overnights).

AND FOR 2017??

Our main destination is Maine!  While we've been here before, it was when the kids were little and not with the 5th wheel.  We will be spending time in Virginia with Steve's family and attending his 40th class reunion.  We chose a route that will take us through the mid states as we have spent the least amount of time there.  Also we will have a "theme" this year.  We are going to hike the highest peak in each state we are in.  That's about 28.  The lowest is 448 feet in Deleware and the highest at 8749 in Texas believe it or not.  That's higher than any peaks in the Appalachian.  Surprisingly Kentucky, Kansas and Nebraska have peaks around 5,000!  Most will have trails but some are piles of rocks in the middle of a potato field on private property.

This is an aggressive route and since I've only started the planning, we may not actually be able to hit them all.  Some are grouped somewhat together so we can hit 3 states within the same campground.  This will give us about a week at most campgrounds and sometimes 2 or 3.  We will most likely wing most of it with very few reservations in advance.  Just like we like it!

Happy New Year Everyone!!



  1. Those are some beautiful spots in Colorado! We will have to spend some quality time in that state some day. We are headed to Maine in '18, cannot wait to see how you guys like it!

    Happy New Year!

    1. We've been to Maine before but want to visit it differently since it's just us and no kids. I haven't even gotten that far yet in the planning though. Some things we'd repeat but there is much more to see too! Happy New Year!

  2. Looks like some great places to boondock, we'll be following along as our plans will take us back to the northeast in '19. Happy New Year!!

    1. Darn it. We'll miss ya by a year. Where will you be this year?

  3. All of your favorites are gorgeous spots! Once we get set up for boondocking we'll give it a try. We need another battery and either a solar panel or a good generator. Happy travels to you in 2017. I hope our paths cross somewhere 'out there'!!

    1. I'd get a portable panel and the generator along with another battery. I know we'll cross somewhere along the way!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Ellen. Wish we could've included Florida, but just can't fit it all in!

  5. It is always fun to have a theme. Have a great 2017!

    1. Just something I thought of to do in those mid-states as we pass through. I'm sure there will be other things to see too. Happy New Year to you!

  6. We seem to have similar plans again this year. Our east destination is also Maine for 2 months and Guadalupe National Monument has the highest point in TX and that is also on our stop list when we visit Carlsbad Caverns. Safe travels.

    1. Well then hopefully we'll cross a few times! I don't have schedule quite yet. Just a rough draft that can change if we can't fit things in along the way. We most likely will be in TX April, probably the last 2 weeks? I'll update my blog sidebar as I get that figured out. Do you have a schedule of where/when you'll be along the way? We'll probably be in Maine July/Aug sometime. Would be fun to hike Guadalupe together!

  7. You really did Colorado right! We must go back and spend more time in that corner - it's so pretty. Sounds like a fun theme for the new year and Maine is the one NE state we didn't see in the Fall. Safe travels and Happy New Year to you and Steve.

    1. The time worked perfectly. As usual, we could've stayed a couple of more months and added a few more destinations, but we'd have run out of nice weather. We started with a little snow and ended the same way. Looking forward to getting to Q in a couple of weeks. Will you be stopping by?

  8. Love your stats, Debbie! With all that boondocking, what are you doing for electricity? I'm not seeing solar panels on your roof. We are planning on doing a lot more boondocking this year, so I'm interested in knowing how you manage your power. Thanks!

    1. We hope to add roof top solar, but for now we get by with one 100 watt portable panel. It really just keeps the laptops going (for Steve to work). We usually run the generator for an hour in the am and pm. Sometimes two. Never been a problem, but rooftop would be nice as we really like to do more boondocking. We may add another portable panel. We also have 4 six volt deep cycle batteries.

  9. Thanks Debbie and Steve for sharing your 2016 highlights! I have a good feeling that we'll be slipping into a few of your favorite Rocky Mountain spots next year. We're going to lend a hand at the spring RV Dreams rally and then point our compass west.

    1. You will love the SW of Colorado! Breathtaking! Nice you'll be going back to another rally. We enjoyed helping a bit at our second one too. Looking forward to your upcoming adventures!

  10. I'm finally getting caught up on your blog! You sure do have a knack for finding great spots! I'll have to bookmark this for when we have more time in CO!
    As I've already offered, NJ and SE PA are our specialty - as well as some DE and NY! Any help we can offer - just ask! One thing I want to mention is you will prob not find so much free boondocking - so ready your credit cards! There are SP's and the like, but not cheap! Also - you may want to reserve at least the weekends - they will fill up! Also - don't know how you route - but there are more low clearances than out west! Sounds like it will be a great year!

    1. I know we won't find as much bookdocking, but I'm going to try! We started our first year up and down the east coast plus we used to live in upstate NY, so we've camped all around the NE before. But it's been a while and we like to try different areas! I will definitely let you know when and where we plan to be so you can give us some good pointers to those "special" places! Thanks!

  11. Thank you so much for your awesome boondocking information. I've pinned many of your blogs and we are so excited to see some of the beautiful places this year that you've written about.

    1. You're welcome. When the time comes I can give you geo coords or more detailed info on where they are if you need it.

  12. I'm excited to hear about all your adventures in 2017. I hope the journey is filled with many fun adventures. :)

  13. Thanks for sharing this. You always find the best places and it's great to see them in a summary form like this. Appreciate your sharing Internet coverage in those areas as well.

    1. Pretty easy to find great spots in SW Colorado!


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