Back in the cocoon

When we pulled out of Grand Junction, Colorado, it was another overcast day. I must say, the fickle, inclement weather was getting a little old. Let’s face it, excessive rain can easily put a cramp in any hiking and exploring plans. I am, however, grateful we were not caught in any floods or tornado’s and my heart goes out to those who haven’t been as lucky.

Basalt ColoradoSo looking on the bright side, we moved on to our next destination  making the most of whatever breaks we could get in this crazy weather.

Two hours east of Grand Junction was our first stop.  We stayed on private land about 15 miles south of the town of Glenwood Springs.  This was our third time staying here and it was the perfect venue to hide over the Memorial Day Weekend.  As much as I wanted to revisit the Maroon Bells, the weather had other plans.  Thus, Al and I stuck close to home with the occasional stroll up to the grocery store and back.  It was fun spending a few days living in a residential area.

dry camping

Not a bad view. Perfect place to spend the holiday weekend.

Once the holiday weekend was over, we hit the road for our next stop; Dillon, Colorado.  I’m never fond of driving Vail Pass and more times than not the weather is ugly.  This time was no different.  Around noon on May 26th we experienced a little rain, then a little sleet with a snow flake here and there for a touch of added drama.  Oh, and let’s not forget all the semi-truck traffic and occasional potholes as we summit at 10,662 feet in elevation (3,250m).  This stretch of Interstate 70 is a major east west route through the country and I’m always a bit of a white knuckle driver passenger along this stretch of interstate.Dillon Reservoir

With Vail Pass behind us, we safely navigated to our reserved campsite in the Heaton Bay Campground at the shores of Lake Dillon.  Talk about glorious views in all directions.  We spent some time here last year as well and love the area.camping near Breckenridge

One of the things I didn’t give much thought to when setting up our May schedule was  weather in the high country.  Last year we visited Dillon in June and it wasn’t quite as cold.  When we pulled out of Phoenix, Arizona, on May 7th our travels took us on a continuous slow uphill climb in elevation.  And that meant a temperature change….  a drastic temperature change.  Let’s see, where have we been during the month of May…..

  • Phoenix, Arizona              elevation 1,124 feet  (331m)   day temps 90+
  • Moab, Utah                      elevation 4,025 feet (1,227m)          60’s
  • Grand Junction, CO         elevation 4,593 feet (1,397m)          60’s
  • Glenwood Springs, CO    elevation 5,761 feet (1,756m)          60’s
  • Dillon/Breckenridge CO   elevation 9,115 plus feet (2,777m)   50’s

In early May, we were basking in temperatures in the 90’s (32c) with clear, blue sunny skies in Phoenix.  Even the night-time temps were in the upper 60’s.  I had the bed made with crisp cool cotton sheets topped with our medium to light weight comforter.  Every night we slept with the windows open….. aaahhhh!

And then we moved up to Moab where we were greeted with cool overcast skies and cold nights which required us to add our couch throw on top of the comforter for just a little extra added warmth for sleeping.

Onto Grand Junction where a steady stream of storms rolled through bringing with it rain and cold.  We occasionally woke up during the night due to the cold and would need to flip the furnace on.  Brrr….. and to think, we’d be venturing into even colder territory.  I know, what was I thinking?

Camping near Breckenridge Colorado

That’s us – middle right. Heaton Bay Campground on the Dillon Reservoir … only 20 minutes south of Breckenridge.

With the temperatures getting colder, it was time for me to bring back the “cocoon”.  By that I mean, I brought out the flannel sheets and the second comforter.  If you’ve never tried flannel sheets, I highly recommend giving them a try next winter.  The bed cocoon was ready for some great sleeping.  Keep in mind, when we’re dry camping we really don’t want the furnace running and zapping our batteries. Thus, we set the RV furnace down to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night.  We keep it on to assure our belly/pipes keep warm just in case temps unexpectedly drop below freezing.

Breckenridge camping

Frost on the picnic table.

Probably a good thing that we kept the furnace running as we did experience cold enough overnight temperatures that we woke up to a thick layer of frost covering the truck and picnic tables on more than one occasion.

camping near Breckenridge

Toward the end of May, water is let out of the reservoir to allow for snow melt. Each morning we were there, the lake was rapidly receding. All part of water management.

During our stay in Dillon (the last week in May), high’s were in the 55° to 62° range with night-time temps dropping into the thirties.  Even though it was rather cold getting out of bed in the morning, while in bed we were snug as a bug and comfy in our cotton flannel cocoon and slept great.

Lake Dillon

the hiking and biking opportunities around the towns of Dillon, Breckenridge, Keystone and Frisco are endless. Gorgeous country that we find ourselves returning to each year.

Did you know, the average snowfall for the month of May in Dillon is 7.3 inches? (18.5cm)  And to think, Phoenix gets on average 7 inches of rainfall a year.  As beautiful as it is around Dillon and Breckenridge, I’m ready for those crisp cool sheets again.   I think we’ll save future visits to Dillon, Colorado, for the months of July and August.  So lower elevation here we come.  I can’t wait to see all the signs of summer!bumble beeFor those of you interested in camping info…. There are four campgrounds situated around Lake Dillon aka Dillon Reservoir and they are all part of the White River National Forest. Lowry Campground and Loop C in the Heaton Bay Campground offer electric. The rest is dry hiking near Breckenridgecamping only. Prospectors and Lowry Campgrounds are located near Keystone, while Peak One and Heaton Bay are located in Frisco.

Also note, the campgrounds are run by an independent concessionaire and camping fees are actually $21 a night instead of the $19 listed on the Forest Service website – half off with the senior pass. $2 more a night for holiday weekends (info as of May 30, 2015).   I’ll hold my tongue about these private entities and their free rein.

We chose to forgo an electric site because Loop C is near a highway and the Interstate and therefore a fair amount of traffic noise is heard. It’s also the busiest, meaning without a reservation, it’s tough to score an open site in Loop C.  Lowry campground is located high above the lake and is not as picturesque as the other campgrounds and therefore folks find it the least desirable.

Larger RV’s might find it challenging navigating around here (at all four campgrounds), not to say there aren’t sites large enough, it just takes some looking around and a little creative maneuvering.  We barely had enough room to park our truck on site E78.  Our 5th wheel is 31 feet long.

Heaton Bay has paved campsites while the others are gravel.  There are vault toilets and the occasional water spigot scattered throughout the campgrounds.  No showers and no dump station but the scenery is spectacular.  Shopping is close by, location is great, and the outdoor activities are endless.

Heaton Bay Campground

Heaton Bay Campground – Site E78

Pinzon Lightweight Cotton Flannel Sheet Set – Queen, Floral Grey
Coleman Water Carrier (5-Gallon, Blue)


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