We’re on Gothic Road north of Mt. Crested Butte in the back country. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Al and I are in our element. The road continues to narrow and get rougher. We notice the occasional tent or small trailer here and there but no campground just yet. We continue our trek and share the road with ATV’s. Hmmm, do they know something we don’t?
Finally we come across a sign, “Gothic Campground”. We turn in and the sign says FULL. All four sites are occupied. Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise! (note the Gomer Pyle accent, that is if you’re old enough to know who I’m talking about) We continue up the road and the road gets rougher and we see more ATV’s than vehicles. Perhaps it’s time to turn around….Plan B……Lake Irwin. Lake Irwin was our plan for night two. New plan calls for two nights at the campground at Lake Irwin, providing it isn’t full. Back to the town of Crested Butte we go. Once in Crested Butte, we head west on Road 12 (Whiterock Ave) and continue out-of-town on paved road which quickly turns into gravel. After 7 miles, we head north on Forest road 826 and arrive at Lake Irwin 2 miles later.
Al and I are getting tired. It’s 4:00 in the afternoon and the sky is darkening with storm clouds. Thank goodness, there are about half a dozen sites open. We drive around the campground a couple of times and choose site #15. We quickly set up camp and fix sandwiches for dinner. We set up our chairs and admire our surroundings. I don’t think it took but five minutes and Al and I look at each other and say, “I’m cold”. Time to get our sweatshirts on!
Lake Irwin sits at an elevation of 10,200 feet at Keebler Pass. It offers 32 sites and a publication says it can accommodate RV lengths up to 35′. Al and I are super glad we didn’t bring the 5th wheel. We’re still a little new with our 31′ rig and Al likes to have lots of room to maneuver and this place, well let’s just say things are on the tight side. Perhaps down the road we would reconsider bringing the rig.
Once camp is set up, we take Bear for a stroll down to the water’s edge. This is one of the most beautiful campgrounds Al and I have ever stayed at. Facilities include picnic tables, fire grates, hand pump for water, and vault toilets. This campground is usually open from late June to mid-August. However, this year with the extremely dry winter and unusually warm temperatures, Lake Irwin opened Memorial Weekend and should stay open until mid-September, weather permitting. Al and I are already considering a return visit mid-August. This pristine campground quite often fills on weekends.
As the sun sets, the temperature drops. With the ridiculously hot summer we’re experiencing at lower elevations, the crisp, cool, clean air is a welcome pleasure. The three of us head off to bed and dream about wildflowers. Don’t tell Al I said that 😉 Tomorrow we continue our explorations.