After our week-long stay at Ridgway State Park, we begrudgingly packed up and moved onto our next destination. We were working our way toward Denver to attend a wedding. If it weren’t for the wedding, I’m not sure hubby would have gotten me to cross the continental divide. I have become quite smitten with Colorado’s western slope.
Since we weren’t in a big hurry to get to Denver, we decided to stop near Dillon, Colorado for a few days. Lake Dillon and much of the land surrounding the lake (reservoir) are part of the White River National Forest. Although we’ve been to Dillon many a time in the past, it was usually to take the kids snow skiing in the winter. Thus, we were unfamiliar with the campgrounds in the area.
I just love the blogosphere. Thanks to all the fellow bloggers out there sharing their adventures, we’ve discovered some pretty sweet spots to explore. It was in part due to Amanda‘s post on the Peak One Campground that brought us to the area in search of our own favorite spot to call home.
During our explorations, we discovered the Frisco / Keystone area around Lake Dillon offers 5 different campgrounds; Peak One CG, Heaton Bay CG (most popular), Prospectors CG, Pine Cove CG (basically a paved parking lot), and Lowry CG. Lowry CG is the least popular, most remote, furthest from the lake, but offers electric hook-ups. Heaton Bay offers one loop with electric but since it’s located close to Interstate 70, we felt the traffic noise was unacceptable. All the rest of the campgrounds are strictly dry camping.
We found a nice large pull-thru site at Lowry Campground and were quickly reminded of the night-time temps that drop at 9,600 feet in elevation……burrrr. I was grateful for the furnace in the RV and the electric hook-up as those overnight temps dropped down into the 30’s (Fahrenheit) and it’s June…..June in the Rockies.
Al and I did drive around allfive of the campgrounds and made notes on our favorite sites for a return visit. As is quite common with National Forest Campgrounds, most of these campgrounds were developed many, many years ago……long before today’s modern RV’s were even a glimmer in granddad’s eyes. Thus, the majority of sites are designed for tents, pop-up trailers, and smallish travel trailers.
Since we didn’t have a reservation (yes, they do take reservations over at recreation.gov), we did have a little difficulty finding an available site that would accommodate our 31 foot 5th wheel WITH room to park the trucks. Next time we’ll make a reservation. Most of the sites were too short for us, but since it was early in the season we did manage to score a nice pull-thru site. Once the weekend rolled around, our campground was full.
I’ve had a great weekend visiting my brother and his wife in Grand Junction, Colorado, and it’s now time to head home. I miss my boys….hubby, Al and dog, Bear.
I contemplate the return drive to Pueblo West, Colorado. Friday I drove to Grand Junction via Highway 50 and although it was a beautiful drive I opt for a change of scenery today. Therefore, I decide on Interstate 70 and plan to head east driving past Vail and over Vail Pass. Once I get to the town of Frisco, I’ll turn south on Highway 9 which will take me through the center of Breckenridge, Colorado.
After a quick breakfast and two cups of coffee, it’s hugs goodbye. Skies are overcast and within thirty minutes a light rain begins to fall. Living in an arid climate, my windshield wipers haven’t been used in a while. So they skip across the windshield making a rather annoying sound….very irritating.
Just west of the town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is the Glenwood Canyon. I was fascinated by this stretch of Interstate 70 the first time I drove through here back in the early 1980’s and I still find it fascinating today. The Colorado River winds it’s way through this rock canyon and Interstate 70 meanders along the river elevated. It’s basically two long bridges like the causeways you see in Louisiana or Florida. East bound traffic sits at a level closer to the rushing Colorado River while westbound traffic continues highly elevated above the river.
Due to the rain, it was rather difficult for me to capture this amazing road system. And guess what? It’s construction season. So shortly after this photo was taken, traffic was diverted via the next off ramp to the upper deck. The lower deck, eastbound lanes, are being totally redone/replaced thus turning the 2 westbound lanes into two way traffic – one lane in each direction. Speed limit down to 45 mph. At least traffic is moving. If you have a fascination with bridges or construction like I do, click here for a little more info on the construction of the Glenwood Canyon corridor.
At this point, I’m wondering when the rain will let up. The windshield wipers are still making that irritating noise from time to time. Now with the interstate down to one lane in each direction AND raining, I need to keep my eyes on the road and can’t take in the gorgeous scenery surrounding me. The original plan to make several stops along the way is scrapped with the promise to retrace this drive another day.
As I approach Vail, the rain is turning to sleet. Nope, won’t be stopping for a photo-op. Sorry folks. I wasn’t planning on snow today! I continue east, the road climbs in elevation as I approach Vail Pass. The summit of Vail Pass sits at 10,662 feet and as I climb the rain and sleet quickly turn to snow. Since the pavement is relatively warm when the moisture hits the road fog starts to form playing with visibility. Fog, snow, potholes, semi-trucks, twists, turns, up, down does not make for a relaxing drive.
Here’s some photos I snapped out the windshield. Click on any photo to view larger and FYI…the date all these photos were take; May 20, 2013.
Interstate 70; Vail, Colorado
May snow in Vail, Colorado
Once over Vail Pass, it’s a mere ten minutes before I exit Interstate 70 and pick up Highway 9 at the town of Frisco. I head south toward Breckenridge. It’s still raining and at times pouring, but thankfully no more snow. I stop for gas and a bite to eat in Frisco. Darn rain. I had all kinds of ideas for photos to share with you.
leaving Breckenridge, Colorado
Downtown Breckenridge- construction
As I head south out of Breckenridge, the road climbs once again. I need to get on the other side of the Continental Divide. After a series of switch backs, I climb up and over Hoosier Pass (11,542 feet in elevation) then down into South Park and the town of Fairplay. Yes folks, there really is a South Park, Colorado. Highway 9 between South Park and Canon City is pretty remote with ranches here and there. Therefore, when I stopped in Frisco for gas and lunch, I sent Al a text message letting him know where I was. The next 2 hours I’ll be in and out of cell phone range and pretty much have the road to myself.
These are some of the folks I saw along the way……
Road hazards along the way
A rancher raises Bison
Al and I have traveled this stretch of Highway 9 plenty of times, thus I’m not surprised to be out in the middle of no where by myself. Years ago, this former city slicker would have felt very uncomfortable traveling through this environment alone. Today, not so much. I make sure my CD player is loaded with music because good radio reception is also sparse around here.
Are we there yet?
Canon City here we come
Just me and my little red truck for miles and miles
no cell service for a while
scenery along the way
65 mph is sometimes way too fast as the road twists and turns
Pike National Forest
I’m cruising along enjoying the scenery and thinking how grateful I am to call Colorado home. It was at this point the CD player changed discs…..The Moody Blues…..wow, a flood of memories waifs over me. Nights in White Satin……I hit the repeat button at least three times. Click here to listen. As I reflect and reminisce about years past, I’m careful to keep my eye on the road. The speed limit may say 65 mph, but I assure you many of the curves require reduced speeds of 35 or 45 mph.
My journey continues. I enjoy the music and scenery. As I come around another bend, an on coming pick-up truck flashes his brights. Now normally I would think there’s a cop trying to catch speeders, but out here? It’s got to be wildlife. So I slow, looking around to see why he flashed his lights. Sure enough, Mule deer on the side of the road. I roll down my window and catch this gal as she scales the fence.
Six hours and 328 miles later, I pull into my driveway. Yep, I figured this route would be shorter, but I think I prefer the route I took Friday. Hmm, maybe if the weather had been nicer and I could have stopped here and there for photo-ops. Maybe then I would have enjoyed it more. Perhaps a repeat is in order 😉