20 Years Later! Hassayampa Inn and The Dells

Way back in the Dark Ages of 2004, a long long time ago, back when flip-phones were cool, when “social media” was a phrase no one had heard of and a “big screen TV” was smaller than 40 inches, Mark and I tied the knot.

Hurray for 20 years of wedded bliss!

FB Valentine's Day Way Back When

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It was a second marriage for both of us, so we didn’t want a traditional wedding. Visiting a Justice of the Peace on Valentine’s Day was just our speed.

Well, it was just our speed until Mark read an ad in the newspaper (yes, there were newspapers back then!) for a big Valentine’s Day celebration taking place at one of the newer and swankier resorts in Phoenix.

The event, “Lover’s Lane on Main,” was happening in the Kierland Commons plaza between all the boutique shops next to the fancy new Westin Resort and Golf Course.

Complete with horse drawn carriage rides, a big band playing romantic favorites of yesteryear outside all evening, and wine tastings and chocolate sampling going on in the boutique shops, the highlight of the event was going to be three weddings.

To top it all off, the three lucky couples getting hitched would receive a one night honeymoon stay at the Westin Resort!

All you had to to do to be one of those happy couples was write a paragraph about why you wanted to be married during this unusual event. So easy!

I got my most poetic thoughts together and wrote a little Harlequin Romance description of how fun it would be to ride down the resort’s Main Street in a horse drawn carriage as a newlywed couple. Lo and behold, we won! We were the 7:30 p.m. wedding. (There was one at 7:00 and another at 8:00).

On Valentine’s Day morning, we showed up at our weekly bike club ride and invited everyone to come to Kierland Commons that evening for our wedding. At the appointed hour, the minister asked that everyone who knew us come forward from the crowd to watch our special moment.

After the magic kiss, we were whisked away in a horse drawn carriage to the Westin Hotel. What fun!

We’d barely gotten settled into our beautiful hotel room when the bellhop knocked on our door and brought in a cart loaded with all kinds of colorful boxes and packages wrapped with bows. It turned out the various boutique shops were sending gifts up to our room!

“This is just like a real wedding!” Mark said, laughing.

At 10:00 pm that night, we flipped on the TV and watched ourselves getting married on Fox10 News! They’d covered the event, filmed our “I do” moment, and interviewed some of our friends. I called the station for a copy of that brief clip, and that became our wedding video!

The next day, when Mark returned his tuxedo, the owner of the tux rental shop asked him, “Do I know you? Are you someone famous? I saw you on TV last night!”

What a total hoot.

Wedding pic 4

A night to remember!

One of the funniest moments happened after our carriage delivered us to the Westin Hotel. The enormous hotel lobby was chock full of people, and as I looked around, I realized I was one of five brides in fancy white wedding dresses in the crowd!

Three of us were slightly older brides (all second marriages) who’d just gotten married outdoors under the little arbor at Lover’s Lane on Main. The two others were younger brides wearing big fluffy dresses with elegant veils and holding bouquets of flowers. They’d just arrived by limo from more traditional ceremonies to host their receptions in the grand ballrooms.

Of course, stars were in our eyes as we gazed at each other and drifted through this incredible evening, and we had no idea what lay in store for us in the coming years.

Arizona Delorme Atlas

If someone had said, “You’re going to run off in an RV and have a ball traveling full-time for 13 years and sharing your pics and stories!” we would have laughed and shaken our heads, “No way!”

If they’d added, “You’re going to sail the whole Pacific coast of Mexico and fall in love with Mexican culture,” we would have thought they were crazy.

Looking back at that fabulous kickoff to our married life, we decided this year that we wanted to celebrate our 20th anniversary in a special way.

After tossing around a few ideas, we settled on going to the Hassayampa Inn in Prescott, Arizona, a historic inn in a historic cowboy town that caters to couples in love with Romantic Getaway offerings.

More important, the Hassayampa Inn caters to four legged guests too. That cinched the deal for us!

Happy 20th Anniversary at Hassayampa Inn Prescott Arizona

Happy 20 at the Hassayampa.

The Hassayampa Inn was built in 1927, and the owners have kept it as original as possible. The lobby is a big open space with comfy chairs in the middle, arches along each wall, southwestern tile accents and a beautifully decorated ceiling.

Hassayampa Inn lobby in Prescott Arizona

The Hassayampa Inn has a big and inviting common room on the main floor.
A cozy fire was burning in the fireplace throughout our stay.

Ceiling of the Hassayampa Inn Lobby Prescott Arizona

The ceiling is very cool.

A man was playing piano at one end of the room. As soon as we’d taken our bags to our room, we came back downstairs to relax in the cushy chairs, listen to the music and savor a peaceful moment.

Music in the Hassayama Inn lobby in Prescott Arizona

Piano music set the mood just right.

Right opposite us we noticed there was a little window with various coffee offerings. Perfect! We promptly indulged, Buddy most of all.

Territorial Cafe at Hassayampa Inn lobby in Prescott Arizona

The Territorial Cafe was serving fancy coffees.

Puppaccino at Hassayampa Inn

Buddy dove into his puppaccino

Guests with dogs can order food from the dining room to be brought up into the lobby common room where there are two dining tables ready to go. They were still serving breakfast at nearly 2:00 in the afternoon, so we made ourselves at home and ordered eggs Benedict and blueberry pancakes.

This was living!

Pancakes at Hassayampa Inn

The blueberry pancakes were out of this world!

Buddy promptly stretched out in the sun while we enjoyed our late breakfast at the table. He looked over at one point and said he really liked this 20th anniversary thing!

Happy dog at Hassayampa Inn lobby in Prescott Arizona

“Can we have another 20th anniversary next week?!”

We mentioned in passing to our server that this was our 20th anniversary, and she brought us a fabulous complimentary fruit tart with ice cream. How cool is that?!

When we checked in, I was given a lovely single long stem rose. Up in our room a bottle of sparkling cider was chilling on ice along with two champagne glasses and a platter of the most delicious homemade chocolate covered fresh strawberries. (Champagne had been an option but we love sparkling cider!)

It was so much fun to be pampered.

If your Arizona travels coincide with an important occasion in your life, consider splurging for dinner or for a night or two at the Hassayampa Inn. When we were traveling full-time by RV and sailboat, the times that we stepped out of our those lives to do something different for a night or two all stand out as being among our best memories (here, here and here).

Rose and shadow

Me and my shadow.


RV patio mat 9x18

The town of Prescott is a fun blend of old shoot ‘em up cowboy history and modern artsy flair. Doc Holliday and Wyatt and Virgil Earp all hit Prescott’s bars on Whiskey Row and there’s a fantastic modern performing arts theater on the Yavapai College campus.

We roamed the main Courthouse Square at dawn and at dusk and loved seeing the area lit up in shades of pink and orange.

Yavapai County Courthouse and band stand in Prescott Arizona

The band stand and Yavapai County Courthouse at dawn.

Downtown Prescott Arizona at dawn

Looking up Gurley Street at sunrise. The Hassayampa Inn is the further building on the left

Painting of downtown Prescott AZ

Here’s the above photo converted into framed a painting via Photoshop!

Mark even snuck out an hour after sunset to get a fabulous photo of the Hassayampa Inn all lit up in its evening finest.

Hassayampa Inn in Prescott Arizona at night

Hassayampa Inn at night

Prescott sits at a much higher elevation than the Sonoran Desert areas of Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma, so they have four distinct seasons. The heavens had just dumped two feet of snow on the town in the weeks before we arrived, first one foot of snow and then a second foot of snow a few days later.

Dog and snowman in Prescott Arizona Courthouse Square Arizona

We’d arrived in Prescott right after back-to-back snow storms!

Although it was cold outside, the bars on Whiskey Row were filled with laughter and warmth.

We stopped at Matt’s Saloon, but Buddy is still underage, so we could only look in through the door.

Matt's Saloon on Whiskey Row Prescott AZ

Buddy’s too young for a brewski…

I just had to check out the swinging saloon doors, though. They’re right out of an old Western. What fun!

Swinging doors at Matt's Saloon on Whiskey Row in Prescott Arizona

I’ve always loved swinging saloon doors!

Just beyond the north edge of town, there is an incredible outcropping of fantastic rounded granite boulders next to Watson Lake known as The Dells. We had explored this area a little bit last spring when we took our trailer to Lynx Lake, and we were excited to explore a little more once again.

The Dells in Prescott Arizona

The Dells in Prescott

Ryobi drill set

The easiest place to get into the heart of The Dells is at the main boat ramp in Watson Lake Park, so we made a bee-line there.

Buddy recognized the parking area before we were parked, and he started scrambling to get out of the car before the door was open!

This has to be one of his all-time favorite places.

Puppy in the Granite Dells Prescott Arizona

Dog heaven

The Dells at Watson Lake in Prescott Arizona

The Dells is a wonderland of boulders and water.

Granite Dells Prescott Arizona

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We had hoped to catch The Dells with some snow on them. Most of the rocks were bare, but we did find a few spots with snow.

Granite Dells in Winter Prescott Arizona

Curvy snow.

On another day we hiked the Peevine Trail. This is a rails-to-trails path that goes along the eastern side of the lake.

Peevine Trail Prescott Arizona in The Dells

Peevine Trail is a wonderful rails-to-trails path

The first 1/2 mile has no views, but then all of a sudden you find yourself walking between fabulous rock formations and cliffs. You can just imagine a train making its way between the cliffs that were carved away just so it could pass. What a score it would have been for an engineer or conductor to be assigned that route!

Granite Dells in Prescott Arizona

Views everywhere.

A little further on we caught a glimpse of a small cove that is just exquisite.

Peevine Trail View in the Dells in Prescott AZ

View from the Peevine Trail.

View from the Peevine Trail in Prescott AZ

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On our way back Buddy plopped down in a shaded snow patch to cool off. He was one happy dog!

Dog resting in the snow on the Peevine Trail in Prescott Arizona Dells

Buddy cools his jets in the snow.

And so were we. Our little excursion to Prescott was the perfect getaway to commemorate our beginnings and to give us inspiration for our RV travels a few months from now.

Granite Dells in Prescott Arizona

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RV hose Water Bandit

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Northwest Passage Scenic Byway (US-12) RV Trip

June 2022 – Traversing the state of Idaho between Montana and Washington, the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway (US-12) follows fast flowing and wildly zig-zagging rivers for about 200 miles, paralleling part of the 8,000 mile route that Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery took on their famous out-and-back cross-country expedition in 1805-06.

We had eyed this route on the map several times and had heard how beautiful it is from friends, but we’d never ventured down it with our RV.

What a wonderful RV trip it turned out to be, especially the eastern portion in Montana and just over the border into Idaho!

Camas in bloom in Packer Meadow at Lolo Pass on US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway Montana

Camas flowers in bloom on the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway in Montana

Starting on US-12 in Lolo, Montana, just northwest of Missoula, the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway goes for 200 miles, branching into two forks west of Kooskia, ID, that reconnect in Spalding, ID, and ending at sister cities Lewiston, ID and Clarkston, Washington.

Mark always jokes that if there’s a big straight freeway and a little narrow squiggly road nearby, I’ll always put us on the twisty route. Well, there isn’t a freeway option with this route, and it’s about as squirrely a route as you can find on a map.

I confess, I was a little nervous when we started.

US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway in Montana and Idaho

US-12 is EXTREMELY twisty and made us a little nervous driving a big ol’ RV on it!

But it turns out that what looks like a crazy, kinky and possibly scary road with a big RV is actually a beautiful and wide highway that gently winds steadily downhill if you start at the east end of the Byway in Montana. Towing our 33’ fifth wheel toy hauler on this road was not a problem.

Northwest Passage Scenic Byway US-12 highway in Idaho and Montana

It turned out the Northwest Passage Scenic Drive on US-12 in Montana and Idaho is actually easy to drive with an RV as it’s fairly flat with gentle sweeping turns.

We stopped at Lolo Pass to learn a little about the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway. We found out later that this is the only place on the road with information about what lies ahead until you get to some of the big towns near the western end of the Byway. It’s also the last spot for reliable cell phone and internet access. So, if you take this RV trip, stock up on whatever literature you’ll need at Lolo Pass and do whatever online research you need to do before you leave that visitors center!

A ranger mentioned that the Packer Meadow lies out back behind the visitors center and that the famous Camas flower was in full bloom at that moment.

We’d never heard of the Packer Meadow or its famous flower, but we discovered we’d been fortunate to arrive here when the flowers were at their peak. A big flower festival was going to take place there the next day, so right now was the best time to enjoy these flowers by ourselves without hundreds of fellow tourists.

Buddy was thrilled at this news and promptly ran into the meadow.

Sitting in the wildflowers

Buddy ran into the meadow and then stopped to smell the flowers!

The sun was getting low in the sky and we quickly made the most of this incredibly special opportunity.

Photographing Camas flowers Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

We were so fortunate to see Packer Meadow at sunset at the peak of the Camas flower bloom. We’d never heard of either the meadow or the flowers until a ranger told us to step out back and check it out!

B&W Gooseneck Ball for Ram Trucks

We later learned that Packer Meadow is a place where the Lewis & Clark expedition stopped on two occasions.

The first was on September 20, 1805, when the Corps of Discovery met members of the Nez Perce trib. They conversed a bit in sign language and then the Indians offered them some tasty buffalo meat and soup.

The second occasion was on their return trip on June 11, 1806, when the “quamash” flowers were in full bloom!

Lewis wrote a very detailed botanical description of the flower, complete with drawings and the latest in anatomical descriptions according to the botanical books they carried in their portable library. Besides his extremely precise description of this flower, he wrote eloquently:

“The quamash is now in blume and from the colour of its bloom and at a short distance it resembles lakes of fine clear water, so complete is this deseption that on first sight I could have swoarn it was water.”

And so it was during our visit 216 years later.

Blooming Camas flowers Idaho US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

“I could have swoarn it was water…”

In addition to making sure we saw these mesmerizing fields of lavender tinged blue flowers, the ranger had also mentioned that we absolutely had to stop at the Lochsa Lodge about 16 miles further down the Byway because they had the best huckleberry cobbler in the world.

With visions of huckleberry cobbler dancing in our heads, we hustled down the road and found a spot to stay next door at Powell Campground. We were up first thing the next morning to check out the cobbler at the lodge!

Lochsa Lodge is a beautiful rustic log cabin with a fabulous dining and bar area inside and a large porch overlooking the mountains out back.

Lochsa Lodge Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Lochsa Lodge is famous for its huckleberry cobbler.

And the huckleberry cobbler is truly out of this world. They served it with a big scoop of huckleberry ice cream and four big dollops of whipped cream.

Huckleberry Cobbler at Lochsa Lodge Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Nevermind breakfast — this was a feast fit for a king and queen at 7:30 in the morning!

Despite the early hour, we dug in with gusto.

Eating Huckleberry Cobbler at Lochsa Lodge Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Nope, our eyes weren’t bigger than our stomachs. This went down very easily!

Powell Campground is a very pleasant USFS campground with paved loops, reservable sites with hookups and a few first-come-first-serve dry camping sites.

We liked it so much we ended up staying for four days. And we hit the Lochsa Lodge for a piece of huckleberry cobbler every single day!

Kids had a blast riding their bikes all around the campground loops, and there were some wonderful stands of tall fuzzy white flowers in the woods.

Powell Campground Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Powell Campground was full of happy kids riding their bikes on the paved loops.

Unusual flowers Powell Campground Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

These unusual flowers filled the woods all around the campground.

While we were at the lodge one day, we started chatting with a fellow at the next table who seemed to be a regular. It turned out he was in the area getting trained to man a wildfire lookout tower, a job he did each summer.

“My wife does it too,” he said casually.

“That must be really nice to have all that quiet time together in the tower,” I said, kinda wondering to myself how all that togetherness would work out.

“Oh, no, actually, she takes a job in a different tower!”

Well, I guess having lots of quiet time apart can be beneficial too!!

He told us there was a fire lookout tower right across the street up on a mountain, so we took the RZR on the dirt road over there and went hunting for the tower.

Forest road view from a Polaris RZR

We headed out in the RZR in search of a fire lookout tower up some mountain somewhere!

The road climbed up and around and we felt out way at the various intersections, sticking to the bigger trail at each one. Eventually we spotted the tower in the distance.

We were at a pretty high elevation by now, and there was a huge patch of snow on the ground in front of it. Pretty good for mid-June!

Fire Watch Tower Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

There was still a patch of snow on the north side of the fire lookout tower.

Happy Camper Holding Tank Treatment

There didn’t appear to be anyone in the tower, and there was a sturdy metal door blocking the stairway that went up into it.

Fire lookout tower Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway-2

We couldn’t go up the stairs, but the fire lookout tower sure had a great 360 degree bird’s eye view!

The watchman keeps watch in a single room at the top that has windows on all sides. They’re in communication with the other towers in the area and with a central office too. If any of them spots smoke, word spreads quickly.

Fire lookout tower windows have panoramic views

Looking out from this tower, the watchman can let the USFS know if there’s smoke anywhere.

Years ago, I met a man who was spending a summer in a fire lookout tower in Flagstaff, Arizona. He was delighted to have a curious visitor on a mountain bike show up at the base of the tower, and he gave me a tour and told me a little about the job.

It seemed like a pretty lonely job, but he explained there was a real need to have eyes on the surrounding forest at all times. He was working on a novel, and he said that if he couldn’t get his novel written in these gorgeous and utterly isolated surroundings, then he never could!

Today there’s lots of sophisticated technology available to detect smoke and heat sources out in the forests, but in certain places a watchman is still needed.

This fire lookout tower sits at the top of a mountain with views in every direction.

View from Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

The views around the lookout tower went on forever.

Views from Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

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The wildfire tower watchman stays at the tower for extended periods, so there’s a wood stove inside and an outhouse down the hill.

Outhouse on Montana US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

“Hmmmm…what’s in here?”

Unlike most bathrooms, this outhouse had a lock on the outside of the door instead of on the inside.

Outhouse door lock

The outhouse door locked from the outside…

Once inside, we understood why: to keep the wildlife out! The toilet had a special cap under the seat that came with instructions to keep it in place when the toilet wasn’t in use so the critters wouldn’t make a mess!!

Toilet seat instructions in an outhouse

Keep the critters out!

The Northwest Passage Scenic Byway follows the Lochsa River downstream. There had been a lot of snow that past winter, so the spring runoff made the river run fast and furious.

Lochsa Rivder Idaho US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

The Lochsa River was running very fast.

Lochsa River on Idaho US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway 2

We took little excursions from Powell Campground down US-12 in our truck to catch glimpses of the river and visit some of the pack mule bridges that cross the river. These are historic old suspension bridges that make it possible to get from the highway side of the river to the rough trails on the other side.

Suspension bridge on Idaho US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

There are several suspension bridges that cross the Lochsa River

RV Keyless entry door lock
Suspension bridge on Idaho US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway 2

The trails on the far sides of the suspension bridges were pretty rugged.

We also hiked the Warm Springs Trail. This easy out-and-back trail took us deep into the woods. Buddy was completely in his element running ahead of us on the soft dirt trail under the towering pines. He had to wait for us slow pokes a lot, but he was okay with that.

Hiking Warm Springs Trail Idaho US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Buddy waits for the two slower hikers in our group on Warm Springs Trail.

Warm Springs Trail Idaho US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Warm Springs trail was a lovely stroll on a soft pine needle bed beneath ramrod straight towering pines.

Mark was in his element too. What a beautiful place!

Hike Warm Springs Trail Idaho US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Mark was in his element.

Sun in the trees Idaho US-12 Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

The sun peeked through the trees every now and then.

Tree tops

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes.
– e.e. cummings

Here and there we spotted tiny wildflowers blooming too.

Wildflower in Montana

Such perfection. This flower was tiny.

We finally tore ourselves away from Powell Campground and continued down the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway with our trailer in tow.

We caught a glimpse of the Selway River and then made our way through the small towns in the western portion of the Byway until we landed in Clarkston, Washington.

Selway River Idaho

The Selway River branches off near Kooskia, Idaho.

Selway River Idaho 2

The Selway River was a little calmer than the Lochsa River.

Much of the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway is simply a winding road between two walls of tall pines, and we stopped in the various small towns at the east end to check them out, but these pretty spots in Montana at the west end were our favorites.

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Sego Canyon, Utah – Hidden Histories of Vanished People!

September 2023 – We were chatting with friends the other day about travel research and travel prep, and we agreed that the most exciting travel experiences usually show up unexpectedly, without any advance planning!

And so it was in for us in Utah as we were flying down I-70 with our RV in tow at the end of our summer travels in Colorado. Little did we know that we were about to embark on a thrilling adventure of discovery about remote Sego Canyon, Utah, a place whose history dates as far back as several millennia and as recently as just a few decades ago.

Sego Canyon Rock Art and Mining Camp History 3

As we cruised out of Colorado and into Utah, some beautiful cliffs on the north side of the freeway caught our attention.

Cliffs seen from I-70 near Thompson Springs Utah

These cliffs lured us off the highway!

Peering at them intently (at highway speed), we saw there was a freeway exit and a dirt road leading into their midst, so we decided to stop and look around. This turned out to be the exit for the town of Thompson Springs and the start of a wonderful adventure on our Polaris RZR side-by-side.

Polaris RZR 900 side-by-side ready for a ride

Our magic carpet ride to adventure.

It was a beautiful morning, and we zipped through the dilapidated town of Thompson Springs fairly quickly. There were a few homes and many abandoned buildings. What on earth happened here that made everyone leave? It was like a modern day ghost town.

We continued on towards the cliffs and got onto a dirt road. It weaved right and left between rolling scrub covered hills.

A dirt road in the countryside in Utah

The road into the canyon twisted and turned between scrub-covered hillsides.

Suddenly, we found ourselves surrounded by fantastic rock formations. Huge overhanging cliffs were covered with desert varnish. It looked as though black paint was dripping down the beige cliff walls.

Desert varnish on the cliffs at Sego Canyon Utah

One of Mother Nature’s modern art drip paintings.

“This looks like a place that might have petroglyphs!” Mark said eagerly.

We scoured the walls, and then he spotted a rock art panel. Bingo! Such eagle eyes he has!

The images were the familiar trapezoidal people typical of southwestern rock art plus some bison and horses, all overlaid with more modern graffiti.

Ute Rock art in Sego Canyon Utah

Mark’s sharp eyes spotted this very cool rock art panel on the cliff wall.

We were so thrilled to have made this “discovery” simply by heading down an inviting dirt road. A Jeep pulled up, and a woman got out and began telling us how excited she was to visit this spot and see the petroglyphs.

We realized that this is actually a known destination, remote as it is! We learned later that this spot, the Sego Canyon Rock Art area, is managed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). It turned out that this particular rock art panel was etched by the Ute people, probably between 1500 and 1880 AD.

The logic for archaeologists giving the etchings those dates is that there appear to be horses in this rock art panel yet horses didn’t arrive in North America until Christoper Columbus brought them here on his second voyage in 1493. At the other end of the date range, the Utes were moved onto reservations in the 1880s so they wouldn’t have been in this location after that.

We kept studying the cliff walls to see if there were more petroglyphs, and around the corner, we found another rock art panel. These petroglyphs were quite different than the others, much more clearly defined and more deeply etched into the rock face.

Fremont Rock Art Sego Canyon Utah

We found another rock art panel of petroglyphs nearby!

Again, the people were trapezoidal, but the etching was far more distinct and the people were wearing elaborate headdresses and jewelry and were depicted without arms or legs. It has been suggested that these figures resemble mummies.

Interestingly, to the right of the right-hand figure is another ghostly image with a similar shape but it isn’t outlined. Whether that was original or added later is hard to tell.

Fremont Rock Art Sego Canyon Thompson Springs Utah

We learned later that this is presumed to have been created during the Fremont period.

Fremont rock art is considered to date from the first century through the 1300s.

There were some cloven hoofed bovines with long curved antlers near the people. Although these types of animal images are often labeled “big horn sheep,” to me they don’t look much like big horn sheep. Big horn sheep have shorter and very sharply curved horns and no tails per se. These animals (which are very common in Fremont rock art) seem more like ibexes to me — but ibexes aren’t native to this continent!

There are other critters in this panel that could be a beaver and a grouse.

Fremont Rock Art Sego Canyon Utah

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Utah Delorme Atlas

We prowled around some more and came across a THIRD rock art panel that, again, was completely different than the other two!

We later learned that this third panel is from the Archaic Period which is estimated to be between 8000 BC and 1000 AD.

These are pictographs which are images rendered onto the rock with paint or dye. They are different than petroglyphs (the technique used to create the other two rock art panels) which were pecked out of the rock with a tool.

Considering how difficult it is for us in our current era to get house paint to last for twenty years, it is incredible that this dye has endured out in the elements and unprotected for thousands of years.

Archaic rock art panel Sego Canyon Utah

Ghostly figures of the Archaic Period (8000 BC to 1000 AD).

If the Ute and Fremont images with their odd looking humanoid shapes had been a little bizarre, this Archaic Period rock art panel was way out there! Also, for its age, it was the best preserved of the three. In fact, it seemed that the least durable rock art was the most recent work created by the Ute people just a few hundred years ago.

The Archaic Period images are more rounded and less angular, and the people have a very ghostly appearance with huge hollow eyes.

Archaic Rock Art Sego Canyon Utah

Otherworldly.

Archaic Rock Art Sego Canyon Utah

It turns out this particular rock art panel was etched by the Ute people, probably between 1500 and 1880 AD.

Archaic Rock Art Sego Canyon Utah

Odd things on its head.

It is intriguing that this one area inspired ancient peoples to make their mark on it across several millennia in very different styles. It’s impossible to know why they put their mark in this spot or what it depicted — especially the very odd humanoid figures — but it is fascinating to ponder.

The BLM is the most secretive of the government’s land management agencies. There are no big signs announcing the location of this special place, and it gets just a brief mention on their website. Like most of their incredible treasures, this spot remains as it always has been, totally unprotected.

Vandalism is a serious problem with every ancient site, however, and all the land management agencies have to deal with the trash that visitors leave behind as well as clean out the vault toilets and move that waste from those toilets to sewer treatment plants periodically.

The BLM often approaches all this with a sense of whimsy, and sometimes they post amusing signs reminding people to be considerate. In the vault toilet at this site we found a metal sign hanging on the wall above the toilet. It was complete with a pictograph person waving to grab our attention:

BLM vault toilet warning sign

This sign was hanging on the wall inside the vault toilet.

Several dirt roads criss-cross this whole area and go in different directions. A few other people were out enjoying the beautiful day on their side-by-sides too.

Side by side on the BLM roads in Utah

The rugged dirt roads in this area are popular with ATVs and UTVs.

Our little trail scout, Buddy, wanted to show us the way to our next discovery.

Trotting down the road in Sego Canyon Utah

Buddy leads the way.

Before long, we noticed a structure off the side of the road. It was built very low and somewhat into a hillside. Perhaps it was an old root cellar. But who lived here — and when?

Ruins of a root cellar in Sego Canyon Utah

What is this??!!

1000 Places to See Before You Die

We turned around and spotted a large and very well constructed building in the distance. What the heck?!

Remains of a building in the Sego Canyon coal mining camp

Oh my! Gotta check that out!

When we got closer we were impressed by the size of this structure. It had three large openings in the front that must have been windows. But what was it doing in the middle of nowhere down a rarely used dirt road?

Remains of a building in the Sego Canyon coal mining camp

This is a big, important and awfully well built building for such a remote place!

We later learned that there had been a coal mine back in here and a mining camp with homes and commercial buildings! Coal was first discovered in the area by rancher Harry Ballard, and it was very high grade. A hardware store owner named C.F. Bauer bought the property and formed the American Fuel Company and began developing the area in 1911.

In its heyday, there was not only the American Fuel Company Store (the building we saw), but a boarding house, some mining buildings and settlement homes all around.

American Fuel Company Store in Sego Canyon coal mining camp

The old American Fuel Company Store.

Inside the American Fuel Company Store in Sego Canyon coal mining camp

There had been a basement level and a main floor with high windows near the ceiling.

Inside the big building, plaster was peeling off the walls revealing the masonry work beneath. We’ve seen plenty of imitations of this effect in modern replicas of old buildings. How very cool to see the real thing!

Peeling plaster on a wall of the American Fuel Company Store in Sego Canyon coal mining camp

There was classic peeling plaster on the interior walls.

A short ways away there was another building in ruins. Behind it were the remains of a car. It looked to be a 1940s vintage car but we couldn’t determine anything about it, not even the make.

Building ruins in Sego Canyon coal mining camp

This ruin was nearby.

Old car in Sego Canyon coal mining camp

At one time, someone was thrilled to drive this home from the dealership.

Nearby we found a massive pile of wood. We later discovered that this was the old boarding house. It was still standing in 2011.

Fallen down boarding house in Sego Canyon Utah

The boarding house was still standing in 2011 but is now just rubble on the ground.

We drove further on the dirt road and found another building. All these buildings were about a century old, but the masonry work was holding up pretty well.

Ruins of a building in Sego Canyon Utah

Another solid building.

Ryobi drill set
Well crafted bricks and lintel in a ruined building in Sego Canyon Utah

We could see the saw marks on the stones.

We came back to the trailer marveling at what we’d seen. At that point we had no idea what any of it was — it took some digging on the internet later to figure it all out.

But what a cool layering of history we found, all within a few miles. From far ancient times, possibly thousands of years BC, up to half a century ago, people lived and worked in this canyon.

Beautiful Utah skies

The extraordinary breadth and depth of human history can be found even in a remote Utah canyon.

Who Were the Most Recent Inhabitants of Sego Canyon?

In 1914, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad built a 5 mile long spur line from nearby Thomson to the mining camp, but the mine was never as profitable as hoped. The low water table made the mine inoperable at times, the trains had problems on the tracks, and a big investment in 1927 to obtain electricity from Columbia, Utah, 100 miles away all contributed to meager profits.

At its peak, the mine employed about 125 miners and there were 500 people living in the community around the general store building we’d seen. However, the mining company missed their payroll a bunch of times, paying the miners in scrip to use at the company store instead. Disgruntled, the miners joined the United Mine Workers Union in 1933 and they began being paid regularly.

It didn’t last, however. Employment dwindled to 27 miners by 1947. They pooled their money to buy the mine and had high hopes. Unfortunately, two years later, a fire destroyed the huge structure they used to load the coal into the rail cars, and then the train ceased operations.

When I-70 was built and came through about six miles south of the canyon in the 1970s, the mines closed and everyone left. A bitter blow came in 1973 when two carloads of treasure hunters showed up with metal detectors. They burned all the buildings and took whatever they could find in the smoldering ashes.

In 1994, Amtrak moved their passenger rail stop from Thompson Springs to Green River in 1994, and the town of Thompson Springs that had once connected Sego Canyon to the outside world withered away to just a handful of residents.

What a dizzying story this was to uncover. When we’d pulled off of I-70, we’d just hoped to see some cool cliffs up close!

But for us, that is the sheer joy of travel — accidentally bumping into unexpected gems!

Brooding sky and camper in Utah

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Ken Burns National Parks DVD Set

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Shelter Island – The Heart of San Diego…on the Waterfront!

October 2023 – We recently made a quick weeklong RV trip to San Diego and had an absolute ball. As soon as we got there and set up camp at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park Campground, we made a beeline for Shelter Island, our all-time favorite place in this beautiful city.

It was a foggy morning, but seeing the sailboats bobbing at anchor and hearing the seagulls mournful cries warmed our hearts!

We had been fortunate to live on Shelter Island in our sailboat, Groovy, for two weeks before our sailing cruise of Mexico and for six months afterwards. For us, it is the heart of San Diego, offering truly elegant waterfront living right on the banks of San Diego Harbor.

Flagship passes by Shelter Island San Diego California

A tour boat makes its way through the fog past Shelter Island in San Diego Harbor.

Shelter Island is a manmade barrier island that was created by dredging some marshy flats and piling up the mud to make a long skinny “island” that parallels the shoreline of San Diego Harbor. It isn’t a true island, however, as a road lined with businesses attaches it to the mainland.

Behind the island — in the dredged area on either side of this access road — there are rows upon rows of boats moored at a series of lovely marinas.

Sea of boats on Shelter Island San Diego California

There are more boats in San Diego’s many marinas than we’ve ever seen anywhere else!

So, being on Shelter Island puts you right in the middle of all the waterfront action of a big city harbor. The “front” side of the island faces San Diego Harbor, with the city skyline in the distance, while the sheltered “back” side of the island is filled with marinas and resorts and is very peaceful and tranquil.

Ryobi drill set

As we drove down Shelter Island Drive onto the island, we had to stop at Marvelous Muffins. When we lived on Shelter Island in our sailboat, Groovy, for 6 months at the end of our Mexico cruise, Marvelous Muffins was a frequent morning stop for us, no matter what we had planned for our day!

Marvelous Muffins Shelter Island San Diego California

Marvelous Muffins was a favorite morning haunt for us!

Nothing about it had changed. Sophie, the charming muffin maker and shopkeeper, was still there to greet us, and her muffins were as delicious as we remembered them being. Naturally, we bought a few extras to take back to our trailer!

Marvelous Muffins owner Sophie Shelter Island San Diego California

Sophie has been making muffins here for over 20 years!

The air was still heavy with fog when we got to the waterfront. San Diego Harbor is a very busy harbor with boats heading to and fro all the time, no matter what the weather! As we watched the goings-on, the Flagship tour boat headed past us on an excursion, the deck filled with eager tourists.

Overhead, Navy helicopters buzzed around constantly. Across the harbor, the Navy runway was very busy with jets that were so loud we couldn’t head each other talk when they took off!

Navy Helicopter Shelter Island San Diego California

The whir of Navy helicopter blades fills the air all the time!

Far out at sea, a really unique looking tri-hulled Navy ship approached. What an unusual beast!

Tri-hull Navy Ship Shelter Island San Diego California

A unique Navy ship approaches through the fog.

Gradually, the fog lifted and streaks of blue filled the sky. We could see the San Diego skyline in the distance beyond a string of sailboats that were anchored along the edge of the harbor.

San Diego Skyline from Shelter Island

Ahhh…San Diego!

The side of Shelter Island that faces the harbor is a wonderful long grassy park. A walking path runs between the grass and the shore. It ducks under flower covered trellises and passes by children’s play areas, picnic tables and statuary along the way.

Bougainvillea Trellis Shelter Island San Diego California

Shelter Island has several trellises along the walking path that are covered with vibrant bougainvillea flowers.

Bougainvillia at Shelter Island San Diego CA

We love it here!

Down at our feet, we noticed that when the sidewalk pavement was poured, someone drew a stick figure of a sailboat. How fun!

Stick drawing of sailboat in the sidewalk Shelter Island San Diego California

Someone captured the spirit of this special place before the pavement dried.

Fabulous enormous trees provide shade throughout this grassy park, inviting all visitors to sit for a spell and enjoy the view.

Sitting in the grass on Shelter Island San Diego Harbor

The vast grassy lawns on Shelter Island are very inviting.

Happy dog in the grass Shelter Island San Diego California

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Buddy thought this place was heavenly and promptly took a snooze!

Dog in the grass

“This is my kind of place!”

There are park benches along this walking path too. It is a very romantic waterfront!

Magma Stackable RV Cookware
Sailboats and park bench on Shelter Island in San Diego CA

If you don’t want to sit in the grass, try a park bench!

The romantic air isn’t just for people either. A pair of seagulls was enjoying a quiet moment of togetherness too.

Twin seagulls Shelter Island San Diego California

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One of the more famous statues on Shelter Island is the tuna fishermen. These three guys are straining for all they’re worth, pulling up an enormous tuna together. Their fishing rods are anchored in belts around their waists, and the fish is fighting mightily.

Tuna fishermen Shelter Island San Diego California

Tuna fishermen strain to land their catch.

A few steps away we saw several fishermen casting their lines. They were after smaller prey and they said they were having pretty good luck!

Fishermen Shelter Island San Diego California

Waiting for the big one!

A seagull kept a close eye on them to see if they might start cleaning their catch and throwing out scraps!

Seagull at San Diego Harbor on Shelter Island

“You got anything for me?”

There’s a small beach on the harbor side of Shelter Island, and now that the sun was out, a few sun bathers settled into the sand to catch some rays.

Beach at Shelter Island San Diego California

“Lazing on a sunny afternoon!”

A man came running past with his dog bounding ahead. Leashes are required, of course, but this lucky pooch was given a few minutes of freedom on the beach. He took full advantage, and plunged into the water for a swim. He emerged looking a little bedraggled but very happy!

Happy dog after a swim

“Come on in, the water’s fine!”

RV Log Book Journal

Shelter Island is home to some truly exquisite resorts that are lined up along the back side of the island. Their fronts faced the grassy lawn park and the harbor. One of these resorts is Island Palms. It looked truly regal under the towering palm trees.

Island Palms Hotel Shelter Island San Diego California

Elegant Island Palms Resort.

With fancy resorts comes stunning landscaping, and there were glorious exotic flowers of all kinds in bloom everywhere.

The climate in San Diego is very temperate, never exceedingly hot or cold. While we were there in late October the daily highs were 75 degrees F and the nightly lows were 65 degrees.

Unlike the vast southwestern desert that stretches for hundreds of miles right up to the coastal mountains that separate San Diego from its arid inland neighbors, this city sees very minimal temperature swings from day to night.

Bird of Paradise flower Shelter Island San Diego California

A tropical Bird of Paradise flower.

Morning glories

Flowers were in bloom everywhere.

Unusual flower

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On the backside of the island there are several marinas, and this is the area we called home for six months. It is incredible that you can live in the heart of San Diego, right on the water, wedged between top flight resort hotels, for the price of a boat and a slip.

When we were there, the country was in the throes of the financial crisis that began in 2008, and although it took several years to make its way into the boating community, when it did, it hit hard.

Before the crisis there was a waiting list for boat slips in the marinas, and the price per month was sky high. However, by the time we lived there, open slips were in abundance and the price was very reasonable. We were blessed with really fortunate timing!

Gate to Kona Kai Marina docks Shelter Island San Diego California

Behind this gate to the boat docks lies a vast field of dreams.

Lots of sailboats at Shelter Island San Diego California

Boats, boats and more boats.

Taking a walk down memory lane, we strolled along the shore and admired the hundreds of boats. We didn’t see any Hunter 44DS sailboats (Groovy’s model), but we did see a Hunter 41DS, the same layout but a little shorter. Then we strolled along the small beach that is opposite the boats. What a place to live!

Resort hotel Shelter Island San Diego California

The back side of the resorts have a view of the boats in the marinas,
and there’s a thin strip of very calm beach too.

Kona Kai Resort & Spa is a gorgeous property, and the fire pits just begged for groups of friends to gather around. Meanwhile, the swimming pool looked sooooo inviting!

Kona Kai Resort Hotel Shelter Island San Diego California

Grab some friends and enjoy a sundowner and a campfire on the beach!

Fire pits on the beach Shelter Island San Diego California

The Mega Yacht Dock is opposite the Kona Kai beach — Nice!

Resort swimming pool Shelter Island San Diego California

Where day-to-day stress melts away.

Down on the beach there were some shade ramadas with cushy seating for intimate gatherings. There was no shortage of places to relax around here!

Picnic ramada Kona Kai Resort Shelter Island San Diego

Buddy got a great taste of tropical resort life.

What a place to call home for a while. While we lived at Kona Kai Marina, we were allowed to use the gym facilities at the resort. Needless to say, the minutes passed a lot faster on the elliptical machine when you were staring out the enormous plate glass windows at all the activity in and around the marina and resort!

Beach chairs at the Mega Yacht Dock Shelter Island San Diego California

Shelter Island, San Diego.

RV vent insulator

If your RV travels take you to San Diego, be sure to swing by Shelter Island. There isn’t an RV park there, but even if you visit for just a few hours, you’ll find that it is a wonderful community unto itself. And for us, it is the true heart of San Diego!

Where to Stay in an RV in San Diego?

On this trip, we stayed at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, a pleasant park on the southeastern side of the city. The advantage is that it is fairly reasonably priced for San Diego. The disadvantage is that downtown San Diego is a 30 minute drive away via several freeways.

Some of the campground loops were under construction during our stay (October 2023), making it quite noisy during the day. The construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023.

Also, they have a very serious problem with minuscule sugar ants. The ants have been there for years, and they know all the tricks for how to get into your rig. Diatomaceous Earth and Amdro ant granules help, but when you shut down one spot they’ve been getting in, they promptly find another! We had the exact same issue with sugar ants at the KOA in Chula Vista in 2009, so it may be a common problem with many RV parks on the south side of San Diego.

There are lots of other RV park options in San Diego. We enjoyed staying at Campland on the Bay in our popup tent trailer in 2005. It’s family oriented and full of lively activity and kids. Next door, Mission Bay RV Resort is popular with full-timers and snowbirds.

A new RV park that is closer to downtown was very tempting for this trip — Sun Outdoors RV Park. If you look at the rates now, in November 2023, your eyes will pop out of your head. But last summer they were running a special for wintertime advance booking that was right in line with the other RV parks in the area, about 35% more than Sweetwater County Park. Many people seem to have been very happy staying there and we might try it next time if we can snag a good advance booking deal.

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Hartman Rocks – A Different View of Colorado near Gunnison

July 2023 – During our stay in Gunnison, Colorado (our jumping off point to see the incredible wildflowers in nearby Crested Butte!) we visited Hartman Rocks Recreation Area just south of town. Hartman Rocks is a 22 square mile recreation area managed by the Bureau of Land management. It is filled with 4×4 roads, hiking and biking trails, camping areas and exotic outcroppings of rocks. And it’s a very different kind of landscape than the soaring mountain peaks of the Rockies.

Hartman Rocks Colorado RV trip

Hartman Rocks shows off a different side of Colorado — no towering snowcapped peaks here!

We drove our RZR side-by-side on some of the many 4×4 roads and stopped frequently to crawl around on the various rock formations.

Side-by-side at Hartman Rocks Colorado

Hartman Rocks Recreation Area is filled with 4×4 trails and roads.

View at Hartman Rocks Colorado

Huge boulders poke up out of the earth here and there.

There are some golf course communities just beyond the edge of Hartman Rocks Recreation Area that made a wonderful lush green contrast to the arid desert rocks.

Hartman Rocks Colorado

From our arid vantage point at Hartman Rocks, the lush golf course communities looked very inviting!

Golf course view from Hartman Rocks Colorado

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There are 50 dry campsites scattered throughout Hartman Rocks. The most picturesque spots are tucked between the rock formations and are a good size for tent camping.

Tent camping at Hartman Rocks Colorado

Some of the most scenic campsites at Hartman Rocks are set between the boulders, ideal for tent camping.

We did find two or three campsites that would have been big enough for our trailer, but it was way too hot for boondocking in the dusty high desert in July!!

Even though Gunnison, Colorado, is at 7,700’ elevation, we were surprised by just how HOT it was in the summertime. After all, Gunnison’s record high for the month of July is 95 degrees Fahrenheit! For August it’s 105!! Temps hovered in the low 90s during our stay.

But of course, every summer is different. The record lows in this area are the mid-30s…brrr! So, be prepared for any kind of weather!

The bottom line for us, though, is that Hartman Rocks would be better for boondocking in the spring and fall, especially since there’s no shade in the bigger campsites we saw.

Hartman Rocks Colorado

We had fun climbing around on the boulders.

View between the trees at Hartman Rocks Colorado

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Regardless of the heat, mountain bikers were having fun out on the trails…

Mountain biking at Hartman Rocks Colorado

There are 45 miles of single track mountain biking trails at Hartman Rocks!

And Buddy found a shady spot by a rock to take in the view.

Happy puppy at Hartman Rocks Colorado

Buddy found a bit of shade that was just his size.

Happy Camper Holding Tank Treatment

We returned at the end of the day as the sun was beginning to set and the rocks were beginning to glow. Buddy still kept to the shady spots.

Puppy explores Hartman Rocks Colorado

The rock formations took on a beautiful golden hue at the end of the day.

We loved seeing the rocks light up in the late afternoon sun.

Golden hour at Hartman Rocks Colorado

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There were rolling hills in the distance and mountains further on. The main 4×4 road through the recreation area squiggled off into the distance while flowers poked their heads out from between the cracks.

Rolling hills at Hartman Rocks Colorado

The views from within Hartman Rocks range from lush green grass to rolling hills to neighborhoods in the distance.

View from Hartman Rocks Colorado

Good evening, Gunnison!

Flowers at Hartman Rocks Colorado

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This whole area is definitely a dog paradise. Buddy was happy to meet several new furry friends. In between tail wags and sniffs with these new companions, he kept a close eye out for mice and chipmunks in the rocks!

Puppy sees the view at Hartman Rocks Colorado

“I know there’s a mouse out there!”

Suddenly, the sun sank behind the horizon.

Sunset glow at Hartman Rocks Colorado

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The colors and patterns of the sunset were a little different in each direction.

Sunset at Hartman Rocks Colorado

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Views at Hartman Rocks Colorado

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Hking Trail at Hartman Rocks Colorado

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Sunset at Hartman Rocks Colorado

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We headed back to the trailer for dinner. We were staying at Palisade Senior RV Park (55+). It is a very quiet park in a quiet corner of town, and most of the guests were staying for at least a month. Many were there for the whole season. We even met groups of friends who had been spending summers together at the park for the last 10 or 15 years!

Moon RV USA Routes

We appreciated the lush grassy lawn and big shade trees at this RV park as well as the proximity to downtown Gunnison.

We were fortunate to be visiting the area during the new moon, so after dinner, we headed back to Hartman Rocks to see the Milky Way. We stumbled around a little on the uneven terrain, but the night was clear and the Milky Way was easy to see.

Millky Way at Hartman Rocks Colorado

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On our way home, Mark noticed a very cool old motel sign, a throwback to another era.

Cool hotel sign at night Gunnison Colorado

They just don’t put signs like this on motels any more. We have expected the lower electric sign to say, “Color TV!”

While we were in this area, we spent as much time a possible among the wildflowers up in Crested Butte where the temps are cooler (Crested Butte is at 8.900’ elevation).

On our way, we often stopped at Mochas Coffeehouse & Bakery to get a muffin to go. They make absolutely scrumptious muffins!

Gunnison Sign in the IOOF Park in Gunnison Colorado

We really liked this small park in the middle of Gunnison.

There is a lot to see at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area (in addition to the 45 miles of single track trails, there’s 45 miles of 4×4 roads too!). We hope to get back there when it’s not so hot to explore it a bit more in depth!

RV hose Water Bandit

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Creede, CO – Mining History & Championships + 4th of July!

July 2023 – Creede, Colorado, is a very small town that is tucked into a canyon at the end of the road in a remote part of Colorado. With just 257 residents (2020 census), it is the most populated place in Mineral County. What’s more, it’s the only incorporated municipality in all of Mineral County to boot!

Despite its small size and remote location, Creede hosted the Colorado State Mining Championships for three days and was our choice this year to celebrate the 4th of July.

Creede Colorado RV Trip

Looking up Main Street.
Creede, Colorado, backs right into a canyon.


Like many Colorado towns, Creede has its roots in mining. Silver was discovered in the area around Willow Creek in 1869.

20 years after that initial silver discovery, Nicolas Creede yelled “Holy Moses” when he hit the “Holy Moses” silver vein on East Willow Creek. The town’s name was soon changed from “Willow” (for the creek) to “Creede” (for Mr. Creede)!

The town quickly became a silver boom town. Within three years it grew from 600 residents to 15,000, and its name was changed to Creede!

Colorado Ghost Towns

Nicolas Creede wasn’t done with his discoveries yet, though. He also found an amethyst vein along West Willow Creek which turned out to be the richest in US history.

In no time, not only were there silver mines, but there were amethyst mines with names like “Happy Thought Mine” and “Last Chance Mine.”

A plaque out along Willow Creek shows a photo of Creede in 1892 when the town was booming. There were buildings under construction, piles of lumber, people milling around, and a horse drawn buggy all filling the dirt street and wooden sidewalk.

Main Street Creede Colorado 1892

Creede as it looked in the midst of the silver boom in 1892.

At the peak of the boom, Creede was growing by 300 people a day. Every inch of flat ground in the area was built upon.

A photo of a line of mules loaded down with lumber shows just how challenging it was to build the mines, the homes and all the commercial establishments at such a fast rate back in those days. The mountains were steep and the trails were narrow!

Mules carry building supplies in Creede Colorado late 1800s

It wasn’t so easy to haul building materials back in 1892!

Unfortunately, silver prices plummeted with the passage of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893. Amethyst mining alone wasn’t enough to sustain the crowds, and Creede’s population quickly plummeted to just 1,000 people!

Today, Creede’s Main Street is once again a lively and colorful place. It’s full of tourist boutique stores and eateries, and in the summertime the tourists outnumber the locals by many to one. Most of the roads in town are paved these days, and the sidewalk on Main Street is concrete!

Love Rings in Creede Colorado

Creede is a colorful town.

Holy Moses...Spare a Keg in Creede Colorado

Holy Moses, it’s a spare keg!

Reese Goosebox

The miner’s pick-axe and shovel are icons for this area, and we spotted them on signs and in artwork around town.

Moose and miners in Creede Colorado

We saw the miner’s pick-axe and shovel in a lot of unusual places!

As we had found in most of Colorado, except for Rocky Mountain National Park, dogs are welcome in Creede! Their owners, however…well, they can come too, I guess…

Dogs welcome (people tolerated) in Creede Colorado

Four legged visitors are fine…but the folks at the other end of the leash? Not so much!

Being snow and ski country, it was only fitting that a row of chairs outside a store were made of old skis. Even better, the cup holders were ski bindings!

Chairs made with skis in Creede Colorado

Reminders of what Colorado is like in the OTHER season!

Ski chair cupholder is a ski binding

What a perfect cup holder!

We visited Creede in early July, and flowers were blooming everywhere.

Flower baskets in Creede Colorado

A beautiful hanging basket of flowers.

Columbine - Colorado state flower

The delicate columbine is Colorado’s state flower.

Bleeding hearts in Creede Colorado

Dainty bleeding hearts.

Evening primrose Creede Colorado

An evening primrose.

After window shopping for a while, we wandered to the far north end of town where the pavement ends and Main Street becomes Forest Road 503, a gravel road.

This was a really scenic spot and we returned several times during our stay.

Beautiful Willow Creek in Creede Colorado

Just steps north of the last buildings in town, we found a lovely oasis.

Dawn at Willow Creek Creede Colorado

Willow Creek.

Willow Creek Creede Colorado

Reflections.

If you continue beyond this pretty spot, you are on the Bachelor Loop, a dirt road loop that goes past several old mines. It is an interesting drive that can be done in a passenger car or a Jeep or side-by-side, and that’s where we saw the plaque with old photos of Creede and the mules.

Renogy 200 watt solar panel

As we travel around with our RZR, we’re finding that the issue of side-by-sides and ATVs being allowed to drive around on the streets is handled differently in every town and state.

Creede has a very good system. The town is long and narrow (it fits into the mouth of a canyon) and the streets form a grid pattern. So, there’s a long Main Street down the middle and a few other long streets that run parallel to it on either side. Then there are a bunch of short cross streets that connect these roads.

Side-by-sides are not allowed on Main Street, but they’re allowed on two outer dirt roads that run parallel to it. They’re also allowed on a few of the cross streets.

So, if you’re driving a side-by-side, you can get close to where you want to go, park, and walk the remaining little bit.

Creede Colorado Main Street

Side-by-sides and ATVs can’t drive on Main Street, but they are allowed on two parallel streets on either side of it. “OHV” signs made it clear where we could take our RZR.

We found Creede’s Main Street was really crowded with cars all day long, largely because the southern portion of it is also the major “highway” in the area. Keeping the side-by-sides to the smaller outer streets works out really well for everyone.

We visited Creede during the 4th of July week, and when we came into town on the big day, we found a fantastic chalk drawing of the Statue of Liberty on the sidewalk.

Statue of Liberty sidewalk chalk drawing in Creede Colorado

Happy 4th of July!

Buddy was dressed in his Independence Day finest, ready to watch the parade.

Handsome pup on 4th of July in Creede Colorado

Dapper Dog.

There was a lot of excitement as the town geared up for the parade. Buddy wasn’t the only one who dressed for the occasion. We saw lots of wild and creative outfits!

Dressed up dog 4th of July parade Creede, Colorado

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Costume for 4th of July in Creede Colorado

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Dressed for 4th of July Creede Colorado

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Little kids decorated the pavement with chalk while some very buff looking bigger kids posed for us as they waited on their float for the parade to begin.

Decorating the street with chalk before the 4th of July parade in Creede Colorado

Kids had fun drawing in the middle of Main Street.

Buff people on a float in the 4th of July parade in Creede, Colorado

Lookin’ good!

Creede’s 4th of July parade was unique, probably due to the commmunity’s small size. There was no American flag carried by proud military veterans. There were no high school bands to play the Star Spangled Banner. And there weren’t any dance teams or rodeo queens.

However, there was still a lot of spirit. After the Grand Marshal drove by sitting on the trunk of a convertible Austin Healey, a solo bagpipe player appeared.

Bagpipe player 4th of July parade Creede Colorado

The parade begins.

Lots of vehicles were decorated to the hilt, and there were literally dozens of side-by-sides too!

4th of July parade in Creede Colorado

Going all out!

Side-by-sides in 4th of July parade Creede Colorado

The side-by-sides kept coming and coming, and they were all decked out for the parade too!

Every single vehicle that went by threw out candy (or bead necklaces) for the kids. Many would stop for a minute to pass the candy directly into the kids’ outstretched hands.

Candy handouts in the 4th of July parade in Creede Colorado

A little girl gets some goodies while a camera in the truck captures the moment.

Most kids came well prepared for collecting candy and brought large bags for their loot. A few adults also handed out bags to ensure no child went without!

It was like Halloween. But the candy came to the kids rather than the kids going door to door to ask for it. Afterwards, the street was littered with candy that hadn’t been snatched up!

Kids get candy in the Creede Colorado 4th of July parade

“I’ll trade ya!”

A beautiful display of handmade quilts went by, and then a toddler wobbled down the street driving her own wee side-by-side. It turned out that her mother was at the controls behind her. So cute!

Quilt display 4th of July parade Creede Colorado

Beautiful quilt — and a cool truck too!

Remote controlled side-by-side 4th of July parade Creede, Colorado

Before we realized Mom was at the controls, we wondered how and when this toddler got her driver’s license!

Buddy loved it all, and at the end he suddenly threw his head back and let out a howl!

Howling dog

“Ow-oooooooh! That was great!”

RV hose Water Bandit

Throughout the 4th of July festivities, the three day long Colorado State Mining Championships were going on in town too!

Miners showed off all kinds of unusual skills as they tried to best each other. One competition was a race to see who could drill into a huge boulder to a certain depth fastest. It was incredible to watch these men handle that drill. It takes a huge amount of strength and coordination to keep it under control!

Mining Competition Creede Colorado

Miners competed with each other in all kinds of mining skills at the Colorado State Mining Championships.

On the evening of the 4th of July, there was a fireworks display right over the big new RV park just south of town. (The park is Mountain Views at River’s Edge RV Resort — excellent and popular, book early!).

We decided to head up onto a hillside to watch the show from a distance. It was a cool vantage point that was slightly higher than the fireworks.

Lights in the neighboring homes were lit up, which added a special intimacy to the show.

Creede Colorado fireworks

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Creede Colorado 4th of July Fireworks

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Creede is a little bit out of the way. However, if you find yourself on the Silver Byway Scenic Drive, it’s a natural place to stop and a great place to hang around in an RV for a while!

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Buena Vista Colorado – What a Place for an RV Breakdown!

August 2023 – Buena Vista, Colorado, is a wonderful destination for an RV trip and a great place to spend a few weeks in the summertime. When our truck was suddenly unable to tow our trailer over Colorado’s mountain passes, we were stranded near Buena Vista for several weeks as we waited for parts to arrive. As it turned out, Buena Vista was a great place to be “stuck!”

Buena Vista Colorado - Great RV trip destination

Choo choo!

Buena Vista, affectionately known as “BV,” is a small town of less than 3,000 people that sits in a mountain valley at an elevation of 8,000′.

Back in the 1880s, it was the hub for three major railroads, as commemorated in a mural on a building in town. Settlers had been drawn to the area because its plentiful water was good for farming, and agriculture has been an important part of the community ever since.

Buena Vista means “Good View” in Spanish, and good views are in abundance! The Collegiate Mountain Range stands to the west of town and several peaks are named for the most prestigious colleges in England and America, including Mt. Oxford, Mt. Harvard, Mt. Yale and Mt. Princeton. Many of the mountains in the range are fourteeners, that is, their summits are over 14,000’ in height!

Collegiate Mountains Buena Vista Colorado_

An Airstream and two Ferraris pass each other in front of the Collegiate Mountain Range.

Colorado Scenic Drives

The downtown area in Buena Vista is a pleasant place for a stroll, and there are quite a few eateries and coffee bistros that were always very busy when we went by.

Downtown Buena Vista Colorado

Historic downtown Buena Vista.

Buena Vista has a sense of whimsy, and there’s a mastodon statue outside of the courthouse!

Buena Vista Colorado courthouse and mastadon statue

A mastodon in front of the courhouse ?!

On the east side of town there’s a new neighborhood called South Main Street that we found absolutely delightful. The architecture is very pretty and the area is quiet.

South Main Street Buena Vista Colorado

Quaint buildings along South Main Street.

The homes resemble houses you might find in a city in the eastern states with covered porches right on the sidewalk. We saw families gathering on these porches in the late afternoons. I’m not sure if these were residents of Buena Vista or if they had rented these lovely homes for a vacation. Either way, the whole neighborhood was very inviting.

Houses on South Main Street Buena Vista Colorado

The tree lined streets and covered porches are reminiscent of homes back east.

Tree lined South Main Street Buena Vista Colorado

We loved walking along these sidewalks.

There’s a small grassy park at the end of the street that hosts outdoor summer concerts. The stately and rather grand Surf Hotel overlooks the park.

South Main Street Buena Vista Colorado

The Surf Hotel is next to a park that hosts outdoor concerts.

Surf Hotel? Where would you ever find surf around here? This hotel belonged on a beach somewhere!

Well, it didn’t take us long to discover that Buena Vista has both SURF and BEACHES!

The Arkansas River runs through the eastern edge of the town, and there are many access points to the river. One river access is a boat ramp, and at the end of the ramp we saw people enjoying the water

Swimming in the Arkansas River at Buena Vista Colorado

The Arkansas River is a great place to play in the water.

The whole area around the Arkansas River is called River Park, and there is a fun hiking trail that goes along both sides of the river. It crosses two bridges that take you from one side of the river to the other and back.

Bridge at Buena Vista River Park Colorado

The Town Bridge (pictured here) and the Beaver Falls Bridge make the two riverbank hiking trails into a loop.

Buddy noticed a very inviting sign posted at the trailhead, and he promptly gave the whole trail system a huge Two Paws Up.

Trail sign at Buena Vista River Park Colorado

Dogs are not just welcome on the River Park trail, they’re recommended!

Needless to say, during our stay in the area, we hiked this trail loop many times!

Trail at Buena Vista River Park Colorado

The River Trail’s rugged side.

The trail that runs between the bridges on the town side of the river is wide and easy to walk. The trail on the opposite side of the river is more challenging, and in some places there are scrambles up and down rock outcroppings. We loved it all!

River Park at Buena Vista Colorado

Buena Vista’s River Park was the highlight of our stay!

Best Colorado Wildflower Hikes

The town of Buena Vista has done a great job creating their beautiful River Park. Not only are there trails on both sides of the river, but there are several human-enhanced rock formations in the river itself that make cool standing waves!

Relaxing at the Wave at Buena Vista River Park Colorado

Here’s a nice spot to catch up on some summer reading while lounging in front of a standing wave!

The biggest wave is in the middle and it’s called the Pocket Wave. People were playing in the Pocket Wave all day long. They used boogie boards and tested their skills standing in place on the wave or lying on their stomachs. They were having a total blast!

The Wave at Buena Vista River Park Colorado

This kid rode the Pocket Wave in place like that for at least 5 minutes!

No wonder the hotel next to the river is called the Surf Hotel!

Other folks love to tackle the whitewater sections of the river with short inflatable kayaks. These fantastic little boats are light enough to carry around and easy to pack in the back of a car and inflate by the water’s edge.

Happy rafter at Buena Vista River Park Colorado

Out for a joy ride.

Whitewater rafting at Buena Vista River Park Colorado

What a blast!

The two bridges at either end of the park were favorite spots for people to stop and grab a photo of the river. We did too!

Arkansas River Buena Vista Colorado

Arkansas River seen from the Beaver Falls Bridge.

There are also lots of mini beaches and rocky spots on both sides the river that are just big enough for a couple of people and a happy dog to enjoy the water. We’d always pause to enjoy the view, and we often met other people doing the same.

Rocks in the Arkansas River in Buena Vista Colorado

We loved the big rocks in the middle of the river.

Rocks in the Arkansas River in Buena Vista Colorado

Silky smooth!

Happy camper at Buena Vista River Park Colorado

Taking a breather under the bridge.

US-24 runs right through the town of Buena Vista. On the west side of the highway there’s a big city park with a pond called McPhelmy Park. McPhelmy Park holds free outdoor concerts at their Legacy Stage. There are also outdoor music concerts in the South Main Street neighborhood in front of the Surf Hotel. So, if you like outdoor music, Buena Vista is a good place to visit!

Concert at Legacy Stage Buena Vista Colorado

There were free concerts at the Legacy Stage every week.

Buena Vista had a train depot in the late 1800s, and although it wasn’t open during our visit, an old train was parked outside for kids to climb on. It is remarkable to imagine a rickety wooden box like this rolling across the rough American countryside nearly 150 years ago!

Train at Buena Vista Train Depot Colorado

Long ago, passengers were excited to see this train arrive at the depot.

We peeked inside the train, and the accommodations were quite simple. I’m not sure exactly how this particular train was used, but traveling any kind of distance in it would have been very uncomfortable. Yet, it was probably much better than a stagecoach and a whole lot faster too!

Inside the Train at Buena Vista Train Depot Colorado

Spacious bench seats with space for luggage underneath, opening double-hung windows, and a woodstove in the back. At one time these were hailed as modern comforts!

B&W Gooseneck Ball for Ram Trucks

There’s a pretty manmade waterfall just beyond the train depot, and upstream in the center of the park the pond was loaded with kids.

Waterfall at the City Park in Buena Vista Colorado

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We discovered that while half the town was on the banks of the Arkansas River at the River Park on the other side of town, the rest of them were here at this pond! The small beach is ideal for toddlers, and the placid water is perfect for paddling.

Pond in Buena Vista Colorado city park

Kids were enjoying a summer afternoon at the beach.

Paddleboarding in the city park pond in Buena Vista Colorado

A woman took her dog out for a spin on a paddleboard.

Kids kayaking in the pond at Buena Vista Colorado

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Buena Vista was originally called Mahonville after its founders, James and Martha Mahon. However, in 1879, the citizens changed it to Buena Vista.

Interestingly, the woman who recommended the new name wanted the pronunciation to be an Americanized form: “Byoona Vista” (“byoo” as in “beautiful”) rather than the proper Spanish pronunciation, “Bwayna Vista.” Everyone else agreed!

Most of the locals, especially longtime locals, still pronounce the town’s name in its Americanized form. So, when you’re there, if you want to sound like a local, say “Byoona Vista” rather than “Bwayna Vista!”

Happy dog at the Arkansas River in Buena Vista Colorado

“Never mind how you pronounce it. Buena Vista’s River Park trail gets Two Paws Up!”

Sometimes traveling in an RV brings unexpected surprises. We’d been through Buena Vista in our travels twice before, but we’d given the town just a brief glance. If it hadn’t been for the truck engine failures on this trip, we probably would have passed it by yet again.

However, our truck mishap forced us to stay in the area for nearly three weeks. This gave us a chance to see Burro Days in FairPlay and visit Antero Reservoir and Frisco. In between, we got to know Buena Vista pretty well, and we found the town truly delightful!

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Reese Goosebox

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Rocky Mountain National Park & Trail Ridge Road: RV? Dog??

August 2023 – We were busy enjoying our stay at Lake Granby, Colorado, so much that we almost forgot why we took our RV there in the first place! It was because we wanted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and drive the famous Trail Ridge Road scenic drive that soars over the peaks!

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado and Trail Ridge Road scenic drive

America’s Alps!

Rocky Mountain National Park is a huge Park. The 48 mile long Trail Ridge Road runs between the town of Grand Lake at the west end and the community of Estes Park at the east end. In between, it ascends 4,000’ to its summit and winds between the mountains, going from one gorgeous scenic overlook to the next.

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park has breathtaking views.

Fellow RVers had told us Lake Granby was a great place to stay while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, but other RVers had told us their favorite part of the Park was on the east side near Estes Park. Unfortunately, the eastern portion of the park is 50 miles from Lake Granby where we were staying!

So, we weren’t sure how much of the eastern side of the Park we would see, but we were excited to get going as we hopped in the truck and headed into the Park.

The roads were super quiet at 9:00 in the morning as we pulled up to the entrance gate. To our complete surprise, the ranger asked us for our timed entry reservation permit.

Our what??

Trail Ridge Road at Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

During certain hours, Rocky Mountain National Park requires visitors to reserve a timed entry permit in order to enter the Park.

It turns out that Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the National Parks that now uses a timed entry permit system to cap and control the number of visitors that enter the Park at any given time.

So, not only do you need to buy a Park Pass to visit this Park (Federal annual and Senior passes are fine), but you have to make an appointment for the exact time you wish to enter the Park and pay a fee for that too. Holy smokes!

Rocky Mountain National Park Guide Book

A few of the most popular National Parks are using this new timed entry permit system because they were being overrun with visitors. The roads and overlooks inside these Parks had become too congested.

In 2023, Rocky Mountain National Park required visitors to reserve the timed entry permits between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. between May 26 and October 22.

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado scenic overlook on Trail Ridge Road

Incredible views at Rocky Mountain National Park!

We hadn’t made a reservation to enter the park, but fortunately, with the road completely devoid of cars and a friendly ranger gal at the window and the official time being just a hair after 9:00 a.m., she let us enter rather than turning us away as she would have a few minutes later. Phew! We got in under the wire!

For those that are early risers or who prefer more spontaneous travel, the trick is to enter the Park either before 9:00 a.m. or after 2:00 p.m. when the timed entry permits aren’t required.

Trail Ridge Road views in Rocky Mountain National Park

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The first ten miles or so of the drive into the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park is badly scarred from 2020’s East Troublesome forest fire, the largest wildfire in Rocky Mountain National Park’s history.

The fire burned a total of 302 square miles of which 33 square miles were inside the Park. As we drove Trail Ridge Road through the forest, every single tree was burnt to a crisp.

Colorado National Parks Book

Eventually, however, Trail Ridge Road took us way up into the mountains where we saw some wonderfully dramatic views. The dead burned trees gave way to living green trees, and the vistas at each overlook were wonderful.

Overlook at Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado on Trail Ridge Road

Towering mountains and alpine lakes.

Trail Ridge Road twisted through tight turns, and with every bend we got another look at mountain views that went on for miles into the distance.

Scenic Overlook on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

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Trail Ridge Road Views at Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

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There was still a little bit of snow on the mountain peaks in mid-August. At one overlook, there was a bowl of snow on a nearby mountainside and an ice-filled pond in its midst. There were bright blue alpine lakes in the distance.

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado snow in August

Snow surrounds an icy pond.

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A bright blue lake shimmered in the distance

We were the only car on the road and the only people at several of the overlooks we stopped at. As the morning wore on, though, the traffic picked up and we had company when we stopped to take in the views.

As always, Buddy attracted lots of attention from the younger set!

People and dog at Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

A sweet toddler and a cool pup.

Buddy checked out the views alongside Mark, but I’m not sure it was the dramatic mountain scenery that caught his interest. He seemed to be looking down more than out!

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado person and dog

“See the views?”
“Yes, but I see something else too!”

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado dog looks over the edge

“There’s something in the bushes down there!”

That’s because Buddy was totally focused on the chipmunks!

The chipmunks in these parts are quite brazen and very savvy. They darted between the cars and people, looking for snacks on the ground or handouts from tourists.

Chuckit Dog Ball Thrower

I was amazed that somehow the chipmunks knew exactly how car wheels behave. Even though they took wildly risky chances running between parked car tires, we didn’t see any get run over when the cars started moving again.

Buddy was transfixed!

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado chipmunk

These cute little guys know all about tourists and their cars!

The drive and the views reminded us of the Beartooth Scenic Highway in Montana. However, the Beartooth Scenic Highway is a public highway traveled by Montana residents, tourists and truckers alike. There is no entrance fee to do the drive and no timed entry permit system either!

I hate to say it, but for us, the Beartooth Scenic Highway seemed to boast more dramatic scenery too.

Colorado Scenic Drives

However, we drove the Beartooth Scenic Highway in late June, just a few days after the road opened (it closes each winter due to massive snowfall and dangerous icy turns). The mountain peaks were still covered with snow.

In contrast, we were driving through Rocky Mountain National Park in mid-August, almost two months further into the summer season. Most of the snow was gone from the mountain peaks by then, and all that remained was small pockets of snow dotting the hillsides.

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado view on Trail Ridge Road

These mountain peaks have more snow on them earlier in the summer season.

Rocky Mountain National Park has lots and lots of hikes of all different lengths and difficulties that take hikers out to incredible vistas.

However, dogs are allowed only in the paved parking areas at the overlooks that are along the paved roads. Oddly, dogs aren’t even allowed on the very short paved paths that go to some of the overlooks.

What a contrast this was to the super dog-friendly South Rim of the Grand Canyon where dogs are welcomed on the 5 mile long paved Rim Trail! But rules are rules, so, walking and hiking weren’t on our agenda on this visit.

Rocky Mountain National Park No Dogs Allowed

Dogs are not allowed on this 50 yard paved path that goes to a viewpoint.

Despite the restrictions, we had a lot of fun at the scenic overlooks anyway. The views were fabulous, the air was crisp and clear and we were super fortunate to be out here enjoying the Rockies.

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado peeking from the edge

Goofing around at an overlook.

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado enjoying the view on Trail Ridge Road

Everyone sees something different out here.

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado selfie with dog

Happiness on the ridge.

Trail Ridge Road has a lot of tight switchbacks that ascend steep climbs where the speed limit is 15 mph. RVs are allowed to drive on the road, and we found the driving was not difficult in our big dually truck. We just took our time.

Rocky Mountain National Park Guide Book

However, Trail Ridge Road might be quite challenging with a large RV and it would be difficult to find room to park at the overlooks. We saw some vans and short Class C motorhomes on the road, but that was it for RVs traversing this road.

For RVers with bigger rigs who want to get from one end of the Park to the other, it would probably be best to do your sight-seeing drives on Trail Ridge Road in a tow vehicle or toad first and then simply drive the RV straight through from one end to the other without stopping.

RV driving on Trail Ridge Road at Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

A Class C motorhome on the Trail Ridge Road.

We were impressed to learn that Trail Ridge Road is the highest paved road in America. It climaxes at a breathtaking altitude of 12,183’.

Before we’d arrived at Rocky Mountain National Park, we’d already taken the truck and trailer over several of Colorado’s highest mountain passes with summits over 11,300’. But the peak on this road was 800 feet higher!

Alpine lake at Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

These mountains are very tall!

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado overlook on Trail Ridge Road

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Down at Lake Granby where we were staying (8,284’ elevation), the midday temps had been warm enough to wear shorts. However, up here at this towering height it was downright freezing cold. Mark was happy to have a warm dog in his arms as we took a selfie in a biting wind.

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado selfie

Even in mid-August it’s COLD in these high mountains!

We turned around about halfway down the descent into Estes Park. The eastern side of the Park was dramatically warmer than the than the western side or the area around Lake Granby.

I know we missed some really beautiful scenery around Estes Park, but it was a long drive back to Lake Granby. We’ll return someday, and on our next visit we’ll stay in Estes Park and explore the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park in greater depth.

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado panorama on Trail Ridge Road

Goodbye, Rocky Mountain National Park…til next time!

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RV hose Water Bandit

More info about Rocky Mountain National Park:

All the National Parks, Monuments and World Heritage Sites we’ve visited – It’s quite a list!

Other scenic drives we’ve enjoyed, including the Bear Tooth Highway and it’s companion, the Chief Joseph Highway

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Lake Granby Colorado RV Trip – A Summer Beach Vacation!

August 2023 – Lake Granby Colorado is ideal for an RV trip, and we met several RVers from hundreds of miles away who were enjoying a summer beach vacation there. Lake Granby is picturesque, great for boating and kayaking, and is lined with small beaches and quiet coves that are perfect for a day in the sun.

Lake Granby Colorado RV Trip - A Summer Beach Vacation!

Lake Granby is a great spot for a summertime visit!

We love it when our RV travels take us to places by the water. Although we had just come from a stay at Antero Reservoir and evenings alongside the Blue River, we soon fell in love with Lake Granby.

We often get our travel advice from fellow RVers who have just “been there and done that” at a cool place. And so it was with Lake Granby. I mentioned to an RVer back in Crested Butte that we were aiming for Rocky Mountain National Park, and her instant reaction was, “We always go to Lake Granby!”

Lake Granby Colorado with a kayak on the beach

Ready for an evening cruise on Lake Granby.

I made a mental note and was surprised when the next RVer I mentioned Rocky Mountain National Park to said the same thing: “Don’t miss Lake Granby!”

With two solid recommendations, I started studying the map. In no time, I met a third RVer whose response to “Rocky Mountain National Park?” was a simple, “Lake Granby!”

Lake Granby Colorado Speed boats and mountain scenery

Speeding past the mountain views on Lake Granby.

Lake Granby and Arapaho Bay (a long narrow tail of the lake at the east end) both have several USFS campgrounds on or near the shore. There are also two other similarly sized lakes nearby that have waterfront USFS campgrounds as well: Shadow Mountain Lake and Grand Lake. So, there are all kinds of shoreside RV camping options in the area.

Colorado National Parks Book

Traveling early in the week, and showing up before 10:00 a.m., we were able to snag a campsite. The name of the game at any of these lakes in the summertime is either to plan ahead and make reservations well in advance, or to show up early in the week AND early in the day for one of the few first-come-first-serve campsites, and start scouting!

Waterskiing on Lake Granby in Colorado

What a ride!

Lake Granby is a perfect spot for a summer beach vacation. Not only were there waterskiers flying by at top speed, sailboats tacking placidly in zig-zags and kayaks and paddle boards floating around near the water’s edge, there were fishermen catching dinner from the shore.

Fishing on Lake Granby Colorado

The fish were biting!

One evening, a fellow RVer and new friend knocked on our door holding out a plate full of delicious crappie (pronounced “croppy”). His day of fishing had been so successful, he and his wife couldn’t finish it all! We’d never had crappie before, and it was absolutely delicious!

Human fishermen aren’t the only people reeling in fish at Lake Granby, however. Some resident osprey who have set up housekeeping on top of human-erected nesting poles around the lake were out at dawn each morning catching breakfast for their broods. We heard their piercing calls all around the lake all day long!

Osprey at Lake Granby Colorado

Quite a few osprey were fishing at the lake.

Osprey flies over Lake Granby Colorado

“Maybe there are more fish over there!”

Early in the morning, Lake Granby is wonderfully calm. We walked along the thin strip of beach and breathed deeply. The water and air were perfectly still.

Then, a soft zephyr blew across the water’s surface, making ripples of sunlight dance on the sand in the depths.

Ripples in the water at Lake Granby Colorado

Sunlight plays with the sand and the water.

This reminded me so much of my childhood days spent playing on a very calm beach on Massachusetts’ north shore. The movement of the sun’s rays through the water always fascinated me. I was tickled to capture it with my camera here in Colorado!

Ripples in the water at Lake Granby Colorado

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Sunlight in the water at Lake Granby Colorado

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Our dear pup, Buddy, was busy making his own special memories on the beach. He trotted happily on the sand.

Lake Granby Colorado beach

Buddy LOVES the beach!

Faster than a speeding bullet…able to leap tall driftwood in a single bound, he dashed back and forth with sheer delight.

Flying puppy at Lake Granby Colorado

“Look at me – I’m flying.”

Dog at Lake Granby Colorado

“Did you see how fast I am?”

Dog Bowl with Kibble Storage

Lake Granby is a very big lake, and at one end we found a pretty sailboat bobbing at anchor in front of a mountainous backdrop. There’s also a marina that has a lot of sailboats lined up at the docks and many more moored out in the bay.

Sailboat for a summer beach vacation at Granby Colorado

Morning peace.

Late in the afternoon, the setting sun peeked through the trees on a trail down to the beach, casting light and shadow through the woods.

Sunset hiking trail at Lake Granby Colorado

Day’s end.

The sunsets at Lake Granby were wonderful. We went to a different part of the shore each afternoon, never knowing what kind of sunset might materialize.

Lake Granby Colorado sunset

Sunset at Lake Granby Colorado.

Sunset at Lake Granby Colorado

There were lots of interesting trees and driftwood at the water’s edge.

Sunset at Lake Granby Colorado

Mystical sky.

Sunset at a picnic table on Lake Granby Colorado

We visited different parts of the lake each afternoon.

Lake Granby Colorado sunset starburst

The last ray of sun before bedtime.

Buddy loved these outings and waited patiently while we fussed with our cameras.

Lake Granby Colorado sunset with a dog

“I’ll wait right here.”

What a beautiful lake this is!

Lake Granby Colorado summer sunset

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Summer sunset at Lake Granby Colorado

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I don’t know if it happens every year, but this summer the late afternoon monsoon activity was intense in this part of Colorado. Each afternoon the clouds would build until the sky grew dark. Then the wind would suddenly pick up, and it would pour!

Lake Granby Colorado clouds

The clouds built every afternoon during our stay.

This pattern of calm sunny mornings transforming into stormy wet afternoons was surprisingly consistent. Equally consistent, though, was the sunshine that pierced through the clouds after the rain ended, just before dusk. It often creating a dramatic sunset that began with shades of gold that faded to orange and finally deepened to a rich pink.

Lake Granby Colorado sunset

Gold reflections.

Sunset at Lake Granby Colorado

A few minutes later the gold became orange.

Lake Granby Colorado sunset

And then it deepened to pink.

Nights along the shores of Lake Granby were magical too. Lights from the homes on the far shore shone across the water, and stars filled the sky above.

We were fortunate to be there during the new moon, and I was determined to see the Milky Way tumbling into the lake. So, I snuck out of the trailer very late one night. Mark wished me well in a muffled voice as he pulled the covers over his head!

When I got to the beach, the scene was ideal. The Milky Way filled the sky and the lake was smooth and calm below it.

Lake Granby Colorado Milky Way

Milky Way above Lake Granby.

I stayed out on the beach for quite a while, and the Milky Way slowly walked across the sky, moving from left to right as it always does.

It was eerie being out on the beach by myself in the pitch dark. Suddenly, the wind began to blow and waves noisily lapped the shore by my feet. A few steps away, a swimming dock creaked and groaned in the growing swell.

I tried to ignore the noises and focus on my photos, telling myself there was nothing to fear. But suddenly I heard a loud bark right behind me! I jumped and felt a shiver of goose bumps ran up my spine. Fumbling for my flashlight, I swung it in the direction of the noise, but there was nothing there. Of course!

I told myself it was okay and turned back to the task at hand even though my hands were shaking.

Photographing the Night Sky

When I got back to the trailer, I dove under the covers, safe and sound.

Astrophotography always has its thrills and chills and funny stories that come from tromping around in the pitch dark on moonless nights. However, those little frights are always worth it.

My favorite photos of the stars reveal the calmness and certainty of the infinite, something most easily seen in the night sky. It is the true backdrop of our lives.

Lake Granby Colorado Milky Way

The stars are ever present.

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Remote RV Camping: Antero Reservoir & Blue River Colorado

August 2023 – During both summer and winter, Colorado’s popular ski resort towns and other spots with mountain views get very busy. However, you can still find some fairly remote RV camping areas away from those locales. Both Antero Reservoir South Shore Campground and a few places along State Route 9 next to the Blue River offer not only scenic views but quiet nights too.

Remote RV Camping- Antero Reservoir & Blue River Colorado

A summer thunderstorm brings a beautiful double rainbow off the beaten path in Colorado.

Antero Reservoir South Shore Campground

Denver Water, the entity responsible for providing Denver’s city water, has some rustic waterfront dry camping campgrounds at their reservoirs. One of these is Antero Reservoir South Shore Campground where we stayed for a few days.

Antero Reservoir Campground offers remote RV camping in Colorado

Antero Reservoir South Shore Campground in Colorado.

Antero Reservoir is a very beautiful lake that has distant mountain views in every direction.

Even better, Antero Reservoir South Shore Campground is FREE!!! And it’s not the only free campground operated by Denver Water. It turns out that several Denver Water lakeside campgrounds are free!!

Antero Reservoir Campground provides remote RV camping in Colorado

Sunset on the shores of Antero Reservoir in Colorado.

Well, it turns out that the Denver Water campgrounds are free for now.

A ranger informed us that, beginning in 2024, Denver Water will charge $18-$22 per campsite. Because these campgrounds are on Denver Water land rather than Federal land, the popular Federal Interagency Senior Pass discount won’t apply.

So, we felt really fortunate to have found this campground before that change took place!

Sunset near Antero Reservoir in Colorado

We had a ball chasing sunsets with the RZR!

While Antero Reservoir is very beautiful and utterly devoid of crowds, especially on weekdays, what it lacks in quantities of bustling tourists it unfortunately makes up for in quantities of buzzing bugs!

During our stay, the deer flies were really thick. Deer flies bite hard and their bites hurt! So, outdoor pursuits were a challenge. But the lovely surroundings were worth the constant swatting.

Sunset near Antero Reservoir Campground in Colorado

What a colorful sky!

Sunset at Antero Reservoir Colorado

A last glimpse of the sun.

If it weren’t for the bugs, Antero Reservoir South Shore Campground would be a top destination for RVers and daytrippers too. It’s first-come-first-serve now (we’re not sure if that will change too), and every site is just steps from the water. Just take your bug spray!

When I emailed a friend about the bugs accompanying the beauty at this campground, she recommended we try a bug spray by Sawyer Products which she’s found works wonders, smells good, isn’t toxic and lasts for 12 hours. We couldn’t get it ordered fast enough to use during our stay at Antero Reservoir, but it’s on our list to order and keep in our truck so it’s always with us!

Sawyer Bug Spray

Every night we were at Antero Reservoir, we wandered along the shoreline watching the sunset. The patterns of colors were constantly changing.

Sunset near Antero Reservoir Campground in Colorado

Reflections at a small inlet.

Antero Reservoir Campground in Colorado at sunset

A burst of color behind a mountain silhouette.

Antero Reservoir is also a great place for dogs, and Buddy met many during our stay. Big ones, little ones, young ones and old ones–he made friends everywhere.

When we were indoors, his favorite activity was watching the Outdoor Channel at his window. There were lots of chipmunks running around and he knew where they all lived.

Puppy watches the Outdoor Channel from inside his RV

Buddy kept a close eye on the chipmunks.

Way beyond the campground limits, we found a huge open meadow where he ran to his heart’s content, full speed ahead. It’s not often that he has acres and acres of open land to run wherever he wants and show off how fast he is.

Puppy runs free in the Colorado countryside

“This place is FUN!”

After all that running, he cooled his jets for a bit in the water.

Puppy in Antero Reservoir in Colorado

“The best way to get a drink is to wade right into the water bowl!”

There are several dirt roads in this area, and he just loved taking rides in our Polaris RZR side-by-side.

puppy loves riding in his Polaris RZR side-by-side

“Make it go fast!”

At one point we looked up on a ridge, and we saw a stately pronghorn antelope standing there framed by puffy white clouds.

Pronghorn antelope at Antero Reservoir in Colorado

A pronghorn antelope looks down at us.

The antelope watched us closely and then turned away. I loved the way the clouds billowed behind him.

Antero Reservoir in Colorado pronghorn antelope

It is so exciting to see one of these exotic looking creatures.

Then he took off at an elegant trot.

Running pronghorn antelope at Antero Reservoir in Colorado

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Corps of Engineers Campgrounds

The winds built all morning every morning, becoming quite wild and woolly by the afternoon. Wind waves crashed on the shore and we saw some serious whitecaps further out in the lake. By then, the boats and kayaks were long gone!

Waves at Antero Reservoir in Colorado

Wind wave action.

Antero Reservoir is primarily used by fishermen, and many of the people camping in the campground had a boat of some kind with them.

But we loved just walking along the shore, watching the patterns and energy of the waves.

Antero Reservoir Colorado splashing waves

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State Route 9 on the banks of the Blue River

Moving on from Antero Reservoir, we drove up State Route 9 which runs alongside the beautiful Blue River north of Silverthorne. In some places, the water tumbled over rocks on its northward journey to the Green Mountain Reservoir.

Beautiful Blue River in Colorado

The Blue River in Colorado north of Silverthorne.

There are several USFS campgrounds along the river and around Green Mountain Reservoir. Last year, near the end of our summer RV adventure, we camped at the Green Mountain Reservoir and really enjoyed our stay (blog post here…see the second half of the post).

This year we explored the rest of the river between Silverthorne and the reservoir.

The Blue River moves fast, and we had a wonderful time blurring the cascades as they flowed over the rocks using various slow shutter speeds.

It’s always hard to choose — do you go for the striated lines in the water that give a sense of its speed and movement, or do you go for the totally silky look that gives the scene a deep and otherworldly serenity?!

Blue River Colorado-2

Fast moving water.

Blue River Colorado

A serene moonscape of rocks.

Sunset was the best time — and not to be missed!

I lolled around in the camper, though, just not in the mood to run down to the river at that particular moment to take photos. However, Mark was Johnny on the spot, and he got some fabulous photos.

I was totally jealous when he came home and showed me what I’d missed! No more lolling around at sunset!! As Ansel Adams said, “Chance favors the prepared mind,” and mine had been somewhere else!

Blue River Colorado at sunset

The Blue River at sunset.

Sunset at Blue River Colorado

Another view of the Blue River at sunset.

Reese Goosebox

Towns and villages — even small settlements and homesteads — are rare in this neck of the woods, and we felt one with nature. The distant mountain peaks lit up in a deep burnt orange as the sun slipped from the sky.

Rocky Mountains at sunset near Blue River Colorado

The day ends in a blaze of glory.

Colorado sunset at the Blue River

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RV at sunset by Blue River Colorado

Goodnight, Colorado!

This year, the summer monsoons were very active in the Colorado mountains, and we saw quite a few rainstorms late in the day.

One afternoon, we got a doozy of a thunderstorm, complete with enormous black clouds, huge thunderclaps and lightning.

RV under stormy skies at Blue River Colorado

Monsoon storm clouds gather over our RV.

After it was over, the sun came out and a huge double rainbow appeared in the sky.

RV under a double rainbow in Colorado

A reminder of God’s promise.

When we think of Colorado, our first thoughts are always the famous mountain towns like Ouray, Durango, Telluride and Crested Butte. But there are quiet, out-of-the-way places too, and they are just as wonderful!

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