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Dispersed Camping at Leadville Colorado

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This is Mt. Elbert, the highest mountain in Colorado and second highest in the Lower 48. This picture was taken from County Road 11 on the way to my camp.  As soon as you enter the forest you’ll start seeing campsites–you can camp in any of them.

This is going to be the last of my posts about my summer travels in 2015–it’s a good thing too because next week I start my spring travels of 2016!! I have more photos than I want to put in one post so it will be a two-part post, the second will be mostly scenery photos.
We’d been at Steamboat Springs, Colorado for about a month and really enjoyed it, but because it was at 9600 feet we could already feel a chill in the air as fall crept up on the high-country. After a summer of constant travel I had enjoyed staying in one place for so long, but even I was starting to get itchy feet, so it was time to move on. But where to?
Leadville is one of my favorite towns in Colorado because its surrounded by beautiful mountains and has everything you could reasonably need in it. I had spent a summer there (May through September) as a campground host in 2008 so I was quite familiar with the camping in the area. At 10,400 feet it’s slightly higher than our camp at Steamboat Springs but the weather forecast called for it to remain warm for the next 10 days so we decided to risk a stop-over there.
Because I had spent a summer there I knew exactly where I wanted to camp, but we stopped by the National Forest office anyway to see if anything had changed, it had not. The only difference as that when I was here before there was no Verizon signal down the valley but now there was. In fact where I camped this time had a good 4g signal but we had to be careful to look for it–it was spotty, many places had no signal.
Mao-leadville-large use
This si a great ca,ping area, if you go far enough back you'll be just above the river with no one around.

This is a great camping area, if you go far enough back you’ll be just above the river with no one around. You can see the pin in this photo, that’s where we camped. We had a good 4g Verizon signal there, but as we went further back it disappeared.

Leadville is an old town and as you can see in the photos it is very picturesque. Unlike many places in Colorado it hasn’t been yuppified and turned into a snobby place full of California money, it remains a working mining town. You rarely see Ferrari’s or Lamborghini’s, and if you do you can be sure they are from Denver or Aspen and are just there slumming it with the little people! Instead it’s mostly dirty, beat up old trucks, SUV’s and Subaru’s. Standard apparel are Carharts or Levis and the only $500 jeans you see are on tourists.

Leadville’s main street is very pretty and very old.

The town has a nice Safeway grocery store. a laundromat with $5 showers, and a place that will receive mail and packages for you. Everything y could need!

It has a nice Safeway grocery store, a laundromat with $5 showers, and a place that will receive mail and packages for you. Best of all it has a very good 4g Verizon signal  all around town and in camp. Everything you could need!

There are three main reasons so many tourists come here; 1) for the stunning beauty all around it, 2) to get out of the heat–at 2 miles high, it stays cool all summer, 3) outdoor activites like Jeeping, mountain climbing, mountain biking and fishing.
This is Emerald lake which was just a couple of miles up the road from me. When I was a campground host, I came here everyday to clean the toilets and collect a day use fee. It's stocked with fish so it has very good fishing.. That's Mt Elbert in the background.

This is Emerald Lake which was just a couple of miles up the road from me. When I was a campground host, I came here everyday to clean the toilets and collect a day use fee. It’s stocked with fish so it has very good fishing. That’s Mt Elbert in the background.

I’m there for the photography! With the two tallest mountains in Colorado just outside of town (Mt Elbert at 14, 439 and Mt. Massive at 14, 429) and pretty lakes and rivers just below them, it’s hard not to take great photos there! The one handicap is the dense forest makes it harder to get a clearing to  get both a great foreground and background together but if you look around you can find great shots like the one above of Emerald Lake.
Our camp in the forest.

Our camp in the forest.

This post was primarily about the town and camping there, the next post will be all about the photography so check back for some of the shots I liked the most from there.

I’m making Videos on my good friends James and Kyndal’s YouTube Channel. See them here:

Thanks for supporting this site by using these links to Amazon. I’ll make a small percentage on your purchase and it won’t cost you anything, even if you buy something different.


Mt. Massive as seen about 100 yards from my camp. It's the second highest mountain in Colorado.

Mt. Massive as seen about 100 yards from my camp. It’s the second highest mountain in Colorado.



  1. Lucy

    Just gorgeous, Bob !! What are the plans for 2016, where are U going ?
    My regards, Lucy.
    PS: Have a wonderful trip, enjoy @ whole a lot & please post some pictures.

    • Bob

      Lucy, for now I’m going to Zion and the Alabama Hills, after that the possibilities are endless!! I haven’t figured out the summer yet, it’ll come together at the right time.

  2. Doug Rykerd

    One of my favorite areas in Colorado. So much to see and explore. I love taking Half Moon road all the way to the end, to the mine. Definitely not doable in a van, but worth hitching a ride in a 4×4 if you can. Several long stream crossings with rough rocky bottoms. But some amazing scenery and even fewer people than lower down.

    • Bob

      Doug, yeah I never did make it very far even though I had a 4×4 pickup when I was a host there. Like you, I love that area!!

  3. Al Christensen

    I’m antsy to get up on the Colorado Rockies this year. Come on, weather, warm up.

    • Bob

      I’m with you there Al, I’ll get up there sometime this summer! Maybe our paths will cross.

      • Noah Duff

        Hello Bob! I am reading your book on living in a van, and my brother and I are starting the van dwelling life next year! Thank you for your inspiration and wisdom.

        • Bob

          My pleasure to provide a little inspiration Noah!

  4. Jeff Johnston

    Looks like Leadville here I come. Thank you so much for the info! Jeff the nomad.

    • Bob

      Jeff, don’t go now, it’ll be cold and full of snow!! Just teasing, I think you’ll love it!

  5. Omar Storm

    Hi Bob,
    Great post as usual. I should be in Zion NP no later than Thursday 03/24. Any chance you will be around at the time? I’ll be in the Alabama Hills tomorrow 03/22.
    Hopefully we cross,

    • Bob

      Wow, it’s small world Omar! Are you going to pass through Pahrump, NV? That’s where I am now, and if you are going through Death Valley it would be along the way. If so stop by. My plans are pretty loose but I don’t think I will get to Zion before March 28. But it remains to be seen. I could go earlier.

  6. Ming

    another one for the travel list! Thanks for the details on getting to your camp.
    One day I look forward to putting your instructions to use to find my own boondocking spots.
    I look forward to the photo post.

    • Bob

      Thanks Ming!

  7. Hunter

    Dear Bob,
    Would you please let us know what your current communication equipment and tactics are? How do you optimize your cell signal? How do you find a good place?

  8. Timmy Woodruff

    Its amazing how Leadville is able to maintain its simplicity and beauty over the years. Hope to visit there someday and go fishing on Emerald lake

    • Bob

      Timmy, it is surprising because so many Colorado towns are very yuppified and to me unpleasant. Aspen and Vail are two prime examples. I think it’s because it’s not famous for it skiing,it draws a different crowd.

  9. David

    Bob, Is there a way to “subscribe” to the blog posts. It would be nice to get them straight to e-mail similar to what Becky does with Interstellar Orchard. Thanks, David

    • Bob

      David, yes there is! Go to the website and scroll down and watch the right hand side-bar. One of them says, “Stay Connected with me” just enter your email address and you’ll get my blog posts in the mail.

  10. jim

    Bob … parump? Lol. I finally make it to quartzsite and your in pahrump. Oh well, would love to meet you someday. You’ve made a huge positive impact on my life.

    • Bob

      Sorry about that Jim, and I’m taking off this weekend to travel Utah. I’m sure our paths will cross one of these days!

  11. Wendy

    Hi Bob! Jer & I will be in Colorado most of May, then on to our camp host job at Mirror Lake in Utah June-Sept. We’d love to meet up if you’re in those neighborhoods when we are. I love Leadville and visited there last March. 🙂 Great pictures! Makes me anxious to head back!

    • Bob

      Wendy, that would be great but as of now I don’t know what I’ll be doing in May. You can email me and ask anytime you are on the move. My email is

  12. K. Bayquoi

    Pictures sure are pretty. I guess one can fixate on the good and/or bad in any lifestyle. Yes, I do enjoy your nature videos. Sure I would love to be there and experience it too, in the moment. But the sacrifices of being without convenience of plumbing, gas/electric readily available without effort, dealing with incredibly tight spaces, no comfortable chair, always on internet, and most importantly, not having to live through breaking down in the middle of no where, or on a highway, waiting for 3/6 hours for a tow, while speeding cars and trucks whizz by at 70 mph, and wondering how much the small mechanic in the next town is going to screw me because I have no other place to go, for his shoddy service that has to be redone later. At least being settled in one area, I know where to get good service, where everything is in the grocery store isle, and where on the internet I can look, if I want to see nice videos of pretty scenery without having the hassle of moving and/or having to be concerned about finding a spot to park and sleep every night. Life is full of trade offs. I see you have been inspirational to some, I would bet, there are others(maybe many) that naively jumped into that lifestyle perhaps from your inspiration or others, not realizing all the downsides, and later regretting it. At least you do show some of the downsides. (For me, your pooping in a bucket video, was enough for me to know I could never live like that)

    • Bob

      K Batquoi, wow, we live very different lives!! I have never lived in any way what you described!! What a sad and pathetic view you have us. I know no one who lives in any way the way you describe. But it reminds me of a life-changing quote that I love:

      “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”


  13. K. Bayquoi

    Well Bob, I certainly do not begrudge you at all, if your lifestyle brings you happiness and content. As I expressed on your YT channel, this living in the moment, I believe to be somewhat short sighted with no concern or preparedness for what will happen in the near future when you do grow older and when you can no longer live like that. (It will happen, sooner than you think) Are you going to live off government subsidies? There appears to be no planning on the part of anyone doing this, as to what happens in later life. Further I did camp many times in a larger RV while maintaining a full time job and still kept building a pension(I am 70 years young now and retired). I even lived full-time in a larger class A for last 5 years of my working life, while maintaining a full time job. Also during my life, I completely changed careers(yes, started over) when a job became too boring and dissatisfied. There are many other alternatives. I do see some people (especially some of those that are willing to make the leap into what you do) reach a level of frustration with their daily lives and choose that as an alternative. But to me, that choice is very dramatic and short sighted and lacks the ability to build a pension for later life, that I so much appreciate now, not having to worry where my next meal is coming from, and yes, being able to enjoy a fine restaurant, a movie or play sometimes. Also I enjoyed the last 5 years I full-timed (in a class A while working) but it too became boring and yes very frustrating after a while mainly because of some of the sacrifices I mentioned above. Yes, I guess we do travel in entirely different circles and I maintain, especially for those that want to escape their present life situation to seriously consider ALL of the alternative and consequences. My only concern about your website and others that continually advocate this lifestyle so vigorously, it does have an effect on some, especially those that might have hit bottom with their present life, and see this as an alternative without realizing there might be other alternatives out there, not so drastic(the word drastic is of course my opinion, not yours). And my point of view is living this lifestyle in the moment may be fun for a while, but for some, may realize it too can reach a point of frustration having to deal daily with all the things you do to survive. For me, camping, looking at beautiful scenery, was inspiring for a while, but can easily became too routine and even grow to be taken for granted after a while, and then, what you have to do all the daily things you do to survive, can also because just as stressful and frustrating… same feelings some have, at a normal job. And as stated, I am so happy now, that I was able to stay challenged at the work I did, and built the pension I have now, to be able to maintain a decent lifestyle as I grow older. Yes, growing older does involve dealing with old age issues, but one thing for sure, being concerned or fearful of how I will support myself while dealing with these issues, is not one of those problems I have to deal with. “Pay now, or pay later.” ( That quote may not be as thought provoking as your quote…I simply did not want to take the time to research the many quotes out there, that would augment my point)

    • Bob

      Here’s the big issue you’re leaving out of your thinking–the economy you grew up in is 100% different than the economy that exists today, and I am certain will never exist again.
      Baby Boomers (inculding you and me) grew up in a time when a pension was the norm and working at a job for life was standard practice. We earned enough to live reasonably well and save and still build up a pension and social security at the same time. There are lots of people like you and me around now living the golden life for our last few years.
      That’s gone!!!! Period, the statistics will 100% verify that! Pensions are rare or you will be laid off long before you can draw it. Minimum wage jobs are the norm and many are working part time at multiple jobs and still living check to check. We are a low wage service economy with virtually no manufacturing going on. Look at up, nearly all the jobs that have been added since the crash have been in the service sector like the food industry and restaurants. All very low wage jobs with no benefits. Compare that to when you were working, it was exactly the opposite.
      The simple fact is that this generation will retire with nothing but SS and because they made so little at minimum wage jobs there will be very little in it for them. It started with the 2008 crash and has only continued to get worse and there is nothing on the horizon to change that–that is America from now on.
      What you are suggesting people do is gone–not an option for the vast majority of people.
      I’m offering a much better alternative to what exists today in the real world.

      • K. Bayquoi

        YES, Bob, I do agree with you 100% about pensions and I am not blind to all the life changes to which you refer. What you suggest here and being laid off at the drop of a hat, did indeed happen to me during the last years of my working life. (fortunately for me, I already had the pension built up) There are lots of things different today in the work place now, no question. One would have to make enough money and be self disciplined enough to save to a 401K now himself/herself without depending on the employer. I agree that would be harder. We may have to agree to dis-agree on a few points though. Not everyone is dissatisfied with their job or working toward building a career or working for “the man” as you seem to suggest. Also not everyone could or would want to live like you do.(certainly no offence meant here, but I am sure there are many that would find living your lifestyle a severe hardship). I won’t try and quote any facts or figures here, that would be presumptuous of me, but if a lot of what you say were true, many many more would be doing it. Further your lifestyle certainly does not lend itself very easily for raising a family, kids to college, etc.etc. And I believe you will reach a point in your life(hopefully not too soon) where your body will no longer co-operate(for instance you no longer can drive) but are still very much alive can still enjoy life and will have to find a way to survive. As I mentioned, I full-timed on the road for last 5 years of my working life, (while consulting), I made many many friends that I keep in touch with. We were all full-time RVers(maybe not quite what you are doing but with the same dreams of enjoying the freedom and nature, similar to what you do) Not one, is still on the road. Trust me Bob, I am REALLY not as naive as you make me out to be, here.
        Perhaps I am mis-interpreting your intentions, (or perhaps not) but I constantly see you and a few others advocating this lifestyle almost as though it is a utopia, because you seem to believe society is a living hell, so to speak. For many, that simply is not the case. I understand your feelings about life expressed because of what you witnessed with your father. But that simply does not happen for everyone. One fact IS, people ARE living longer than ever before. And I suspect that I am older than you, because I watched old age creep up on me, much faster than I wanted, but I am still here and very much enjoying life. However, I am thankful now that I can live comfortably(not rich by any stretch, just comfortable) on a pension, and one of my main arguments was that your (utopia) lifestyle you advocate appears to me, to be living in the moment and not planning for the inevitable future. I don’t begrudge you one bit. It of course is your choice, and I like to see people happy and pursuing their dreams. I am happy for you. I am also VERY happy with my lifestyle. For those that read your blogs and see your videos, I think they should also be very aware of all the consequences and sacrifices(my interpretation, not yours) and further, in many cases, it will be MUCH harder to return back into society(at the same level they left) if they find it does not work out for them. I would strongly disagree that the alternative you offer is better than what exists in the world today. What you suggest is a highly personal opinion. You are pretty steadfast in your opinion. I would maintain that you are the one that is naive to think it is a better alternative for everyone. Not everyone, in fact I suspect, very few in this world, would want to live and rough it, like you do. And I think it presumptuous to assume what you offer, IS better for everyone. I mean no disrespect, I do admire that you have found what truly makes you happy. I do wish you all the best, and hope the videos do continue.

  14. K. Bayquoi

    With all due respect to you and Herbert Spencer, your quote is very mis-applied here. I speak from information I gathered from a lifetime of experiences. Quite frankly, that quote could easily be espoused by anyone wanting to dismiss certain realities and/or ideas that one does not agree with.
    Please do not get me wrong. I DO enjoy watching your videos, find them informative and do see areas of the country I would never see, otherwise, and I will continue to do so and hope they continue. I just know from my own experience, that lifestyle, is not the utopia that some try and make it out to be. There will always be consequences to every choice we make in life. Having said that, I sincerely do wish you all the best, in your travels.

    • Bob

      Thanks K. Bayquoi!

    • Bob

      Here is a quote from a person I admire more than all others. She sums up my beliefs extremely well:

      It is very important that you only do what you love to do. you may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do.
      Otherwise, you will live your life as a prostitute, you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. and you will not have a pleasant death.

      Elisabeth Kubler Ross
      Some people want to live their lives for the last few years, I live mine for my last few hours and minutes–so that I can die with no regrets and full of joy at how I lived.

      • K. Bayquoi

        Yelp, you sure do seem to have a bag full of quotes you use to inspire you(and others, I assume). I can see based on your beliefs expressed, why this might have meaning for you.

  15. Russ Tallmadge

    Hi Bob,
    I just found your page tonight via one of of enigmatic nomadic’s videos (I believe it was the one about SuAnne living in her Prius).
    What I am writing about now is the note from further up this page: “I’m making Videos on my good friends James and Kyndal’s YouTube Channel. See them here:
    I went to the site and found only one very brief video of yours. Are you just getting starting on the YouTube videos? If not, how can I navigate to your vids?
    BTW, a couple of months ago I watched and very much enjoyed the video where you are interviewing Laurie, Randy etal about RV living. I was hoping to be able to follow them via YT, but last I looked they haven’t made any videos in quite some time. Just from what I came to know of them on “Without Bound” I can hardly imagine that they have left the lifestyle though I realize the only thing that really remains the same in life is change.
    I would Love to pack up the RV and go tomorrow, but my wife is not quite there yet. She is 70 and I am 67 and though I Love my job (as she does hers), I am really wanting to get this show on the road while we are still young and healthy and able to enjoy this part of our lives traveling full-time as much and as long as possible.
    Anyway, I digress, but as I said would really appreciate a link to any videos, other than the brief one I already found.
    I can see it is going to take me many hours to take in everything on this site, but I can already see that it will be an enjoyable and rewarding endeavor.
    Peace, Russ~*

    • Bob

      Russ, I don’t understand, that link takes you to Enigmatic Nomadic where there are many videos and many of them I have made. When we joined together we started making videos together and there is nothing in them that says who made them. In fact with James in Mexico right now I am making nearly all the videos, but there is no way for you to know who makes them except it is my voice or you see me. This is the link to our channel.
      Does that make sense?
      No, neither Randy or Laurie make videos but they are both happily living full-time. They were just interviewed for the documentary, they don’t make videos.

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