Camping at Steamboat Springs, Colorado
It was the end of August by then and it was hot, I needed someplace at a high enough elevation to be nice and cool and yet it had to have very good internet. Oh yeah … it had to be beautiful too! The the very best place anywhere that fits that description is Colorado and since I was very close to the Colorado border, that made it an easy decision. Now all I had to decide where in Colorado.
I know it’s hard to believe but I’m still not through telling you about my summer travels in 2015! I drove so much and camped in so many places I couldn’t keep up with the posts. Then Fall got here and there were lots of other things for me to post about so they just got pushed aside. But!! It’s starting to get hot here in the Arizona desert and I’ll be moving north this week and start in on a while new series of spring and summer camps–so I’d better get done!! In today’s post we’ll pick up where I left off which was on the Snowy Range Scenic Byway near Laramie Wyoming and talk about dispersed camping near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
I loved the Snowy Range because of it’s stunning beauty, but I was tired! It had been a very busy summer of chasing every beautiful place I could find in Wyoming and I was just plain wore out! I really needed to find a campsite which was cool and had great internet so I could just sit and recover. I would have stayed in the Snowy Range except it had zero internet! That rarely happens but it did there and and two days without internet is the longest I could go so I had to move on. But where?
I’ve explored a lot of the state but one area I’ve never been to is the area in the center of the state that borders Wyoming. The largest city there is Steamboat Springs and I’d often heard how beautiful it was but it was never along my route so I’d never been there. Now was the time so it was my destination! It took about half a days drive to get there and it was just as beautiful as I had heard. I came at it from the east on Highway 40 and to get there you climb up onto the Rabbit Ear pass which is at 9426 feet. From the east it’s a fairly long, gradual climb so it’s quite easy, but on the west side of the pass it drops hard and fast on a very long 7% grade down into the town of Steamboat Springs. I dropped down into town and stopped at the Public Lands Information Center there and got a MVUM. I asked about camp sites and especially one with a strong Verizon signal and she said the best signal was up on Rabbit Pass. So I filled up on water and got supplies and headed back up the long hill.
Rabbit Pass is a fairly long, flat plateau and when I got up there I got out my Verizon JetPack and started watching for a signal. I came on an area with 4 bars of 4g and that was so great I pulled over and got out my maps searching for a nearby campsite. I located a Forest Road that went pretty far back and headed down it. As is my usual habit, every time I came to a turnoff onto a smaller and worse road I took it. Eventually I was on a road that no RV could take but was easy for the van. I headed up it and came to a pretty bad rock field–I’m certain the van could have gotten through it but I found a nice campsite just before it so I decided to call that home! And what a spectacular home it was!
It had some really big trees but mostly it was open meadow looking down a slope at pretty mountains in the distance. Although I was at 9900 feet the temperatures were perfect so being in the sun was very pleasant, but best of all the wildflowers were either at their peak or just slightly past it–they were spectacular!! Almost every where I looked there was a carpet of yellows and red and even a lot of the pretty purples of Fireweed in bloom. Some of them were starting to fade so it was past peak but it was still lovely beyond description.
During the month I was there I probably made 6 trips down into town and I really liked Steamboat Springs. You have to remember that it’s a tourist town and so it’s full of “tourist stuff” for sale and visitors and traffic all the time. Some people hate tourist towns because of the consumerism, traffic and crowds but I tend to like the energy they have. They’re full of alive people who are coming and going and having fun and adventures. Some people prefer “sleepy” towns with no crowds and nothing going on, but not me. I’d much rather put up with extra hassles and feel the energy of people who are living their lives instead of people who are enduring their lives and using the least amount of energy they can doing it.
I judge an area by how many pictures I take and towns by how much I enjoy just sitting and people watching the people and their rigs. I took lots of pictures in camp and loved people/rig watching in town so I give Steamboat Springs an A+!
I stayed there for about a month working and relaxing. The walking was very pleasant so Cody and I went on lots of walks. I worked and caught up on the website and after about three weeks Judy returned from her summer back East spending time with her new grand-daughter. By the time she got there it was September and at those high elevations the seasons change rapidly. The days were still nice but the wildflowers were all gone and the evenings were getting cool and we knew it was getting to be time to think about our next camp.
I’ll pick up there in my next travel post.
I’m making Videos on my good friends James and Kyndal’s YouTube Channel. See them here:
In that one photo it looks like Cody is wondering how you got through the craters in the road.
But thanks for this report. Colorado is in my summer plans this year.
Al, that was the easy part of the road, I could have gotten through those no problem. Right past my camp was a rough boulder field and I’m 90% I could have gotten through it, because I saw another van go through it!! But, I was happy with that camp so I stopped there. Up till then it was easy
Here’s the thing, our vans can go through more bad things thank we think, but our in-experience convinces us they can’t. A lot of people would have been scared of the first part of the road but I’ve been over much worse so I knew it was nothing. It’s just a matter of slowly pushing your boundaries.
“Here’s the thing, our vans can go through more bad things thank we think…”
Right. They’re pickup trucks underneath. A few days ago I drove an infamous 25-mile stretch of nasty, boulder strewn, cratered, rutted, unpaved Mexican road. I felt so macho until I saw people doing it in small sedans.
Al, that is discouraging! I was really proud of myself for one of my camps but sure enough a little sedan got through. She did say she was lost and pretty sure she had damaged her car, but she made it.
It’s just a question of risk aversion!
It’s not just our vans, either. Our spirits can do more than we expect until we go there.
True. However, there have been times I’ve accomplished more than I thought I could but was left wondering whether why I went to the trouble. 😉
Me too Al, me too!
So I don’t have to simply scream out loud!?
John, screaming out loud always helps!
Very good point Calvin!!
Beautiful pictures. My kids and I dispersed camped around the Snowy Range and in Colorado several years ago, too. We were in my Camry though, so the roads can’t get too bad. Can you just pick any forest road to camp or are there only certain areas where that is okay?
Danell, I assume it’s the Forest Service’s job to tell me if a road is closed to camping and so I take it they are all open unless they are marked otherwise.
I just love your photographs!!! Such beauty, thank you.
Bob, you and Cody are awesome. Your posts are uplifting and inspirational. Just yesterday I was trying to imagine life lived entirely in nature but with the comfort of a vehicle.
I have a husband, 2 cats and 2 elderly dogs. One dog is blind. And my little house is nearly paid off. Those things sound like a life that many would want. And I do love all of them.
But what I crave the most is anonymity. No phone, no GPS, no bills except car insurance. I don’t even want solar.
Thank you for the hope I’m sure you provide to many.
Karen, it really is my pleasure! I hope you find exactly what you are looking for, and don’t settle for less!!
I usually summer in New Mexico. But I may just head north for a month. Very nice. Thanks
Cae, I’m very biased but to me NM is nothing compared to Colorado.
I’ve been to rabbit ears pass campground but your spot looks so much more fun. It never occurred to me that one could just camp out in the wild, that it was legal. Thanks
Teri most people aren’t aware of it but it is totally legal and of course free. As you can see, you can find some very pretty places!
Bob, not to be picky, but it’s called Rabbit Ears Pass. I know the area well, as I grew up near Steamboat Spgs. Your photos really bring out the beauty there.
PS I forgot to add, not sure where you are right now, but I hope you’re in Death Valley getting some photos of the superbloom.
I’m on my way there right now! I leave tomorrow for Pahrump, NV which is only an hour or two for DVNP. I’ll get right over there.
Did I write something different? Silly mistake! It is a beautiful!
Well if I’d only known. My wife and I actually camped on Rabbit Ears Pass the last weekend in August. We stayed at the camp ground as that suits my wife better. We spent a day exploring north of town also – going to Steamboat reservoir and taking a very scenic dirt road around it and back quite a ways to a junction with the highway. Beautiful area of the state that I need to spend more time exploring. Thanks for the memories.
Doug, we were there at the same time and within a mile of each other. Small world!!
When you travel, do you prefer fall or do you also get out a lot in the spring?
Canine, because I spend nearly all my travel time in the National Forests, generally, most aren’t snow-free until mid-May or even June, so that limits when I can start. Some places are best in summer, some in Fall. Colorado can be spectacular in October but then too cold and snowed in at any time. Zion NP is by far best seen in November. Moab is Also great in October. The Pacific Northwest starts getting rain in September or October.
Bottom line is you can’t really generalize. Mid July to Mid August is the best time for wildflowers in the mountains, so it is my favorite time of year.
Beautiful, another one for the travel file!
I’m quite happy with your timing of these posts, spreading out the good weather travel bits all through the super wet winter we’ve had up here.
Ming, I actually had that in mind and it’s one reason I kept some for the end. But, I’ve only got one location left and it might be one or two posts. It’s Leadville, Co.
Good photos hey Bob glad you made it to duh boat as I call it I have been living in the area for thirty year now got to the boat in 1986 still around I moved to Craig cheaper rent stboat is getting worse to live in high rents legal pot also made it more crowded I still am in town alot overall folks are great in town but it has it,s ups and downs like any town food is high ski bums are sorta a pain I do not ski much any more so I only enjoy the mountains for myself but you really have alot to explore during the summers glad you enjoyed the area it can stick on you maybe I will run into you next time you are around I,m heading to moab in or around March 5 th for a month if you are in that area look me up
You seemed to have had enough fun on the hilly sides. I really love the view and although I knew that Colorado has got some cool spots, I never knew they could be these extreme. Thanks for the share and keep sharing the fun.
Cindy, I love Colorado, it is amazingly beautiful. I especially it during wildflower season when it’s beauty explodes with beautiful colors and shapes. Then in the fall it does it again with golden yellows as the trees turn. It’s quite a show-off!
Really enjoyed all of your videos does the gentleman with the truck camper not worry about someone getting it when he is not around looks like it would be easy for someone to keep an eye on it and when he’s going get it and be going before he know what happened
Jim, for part of the year we are together in the desert so security isn’t an issue. But when he is alone most of us just do not have all the fear city dwellers have. The bad guys live in the cities where the easy prey is. It just is not much of a problem the more remote you get.
Bob, I’m looking forward to more insights from your blog and helpful vids for my own newbie vanlife. Wait, that should read VanLife. I ride out to CO on April 1, painting enroute to CA.
Have a good trip Craig, I love CO, but it still could be cold and snowed-in in April.
Going to buy a truck camper on a 4×4, and travel I want boon dock. I will be alone with my dog. I want learn how to find those places.
here are some posts to help you:
Love your photos and videos Bob!! Your website and videos have inspired me to get a used Sprinter Van. Trading in the SUV, converting and van!! Hope to be on the road soon and may see you somewhere out there!! Thanks again!!!
Those Sprinters are great, my camp is always open to you. Bob
I am heading up to steamboat and am looking for a place to take my travel trailer ( We usually take it boondocking ). Its a little more off-roady than most trailers but it is still almost 30′ long. Think I can get it up in there?