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Aurora, COLORADO
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Lovely forest area near a lake and hiking areas

Good amount of space between spots, lots of lovely tree cover and near a great hike.

There is a lodge close by in case you want a hot meal at some point as well.

Pit toilets were exactly as you’d expect.

I came in from out of state and got pretty altitude effected so we had to cut the trip short, but it was lovely nonetheless.

Aside from the one at the picnic table, photos are from the hike and not the campground.

The Forgotten Valley Backcountry Camping

There are a few areas at Golden Gate Canyon State Park, but Forgotten Valley is my favorite. Access to fishing at Tallman Ranch Pond, and Monutain Lion Trail leads to the summit of Windy Peak.

Forgotten Valley has 4 backcountry campsites and a backcountry shelter for overnight camping. All backcountry tent sites and shelters are first come, first serve. You'll need to check in at the visitor center to reserve the campsite, and pay for a park pass.

Park at the Bridge Creek Trailhead, and take Burro Trail to access Mountain Lion Trail, which leads into Forgotten Valley.

Site #15 is my favorite in Forgotten Valley. It's settled in an Aspen Grove, and is more secluded that the other sites.

Bear lockers are available for each campsite.

Ranger Review: Mountain House Fusilli at Chatfield SP

When I was asked to join the ranger team for Questival I was very excited, perhaps so excited that I was the first to arrive at the Chatfield State Park.     Pulling in ahead of schedule did however have its advantages as I was able to scout the location a bit before meeting my fellow rangers.     It was May and the weather was unpredictable, with temps dropping into the 30s upon my arrival and slight snow sprinkling off and on.   I had no idea what to expect so I took my time and explored a bit.

The Campground:

Chatfield State Park has several camping loops, all of which are one way entrance, something to note but not a deal breaker if you turn in going the incorrect direction.  I found our loop and drove for a bit looking for our exact site which was very close to the end of the loop.   This had a bit of an advantage as I was able to see that there were several restrooms sprinkled throughout camp as well as water spigots.   

From the C loop there was also access to a parking area which you could walk a very short distance from and be on a beach right next to the lake.    At this access point is an area for campers to discard of their trash in large dumpsters.   

Each of the campsites had large pull through parking which we determined was large enough for 4 cars, none of us have larger vehicles.    The electrical post was directly beside the pull through parking and offered great connection options for those needing this service.     Additionally, the campsite had a picnic table and fire ring, probably the cleanest fire ring I have ever seen at a site, these were both placed on concrete as well.

For tent campers the sites are perfect.   They have plenty of soft grassy space and allow 2 tents per site in this loop.    When everyone arrived a bit later we had 2 tents and a roof nest set up in the space with plenty of space to spare.

The location we were in had easy access to all amenities including a playground, a water spigot, heated showers and restrooms and a laundry.   We also had some really great neighbors which were very cool considering we were there on a mission and might have been a little more loud than usual.

This location would be perfect for large RVs or tents alike.   The size of the sites are very large in comparison to many other state parks and this allows not only movement in your own site but also a bit more privacy from your neighbors as there is plenty of distance.   

I noticed while there, several bunnies and squirrels and for some reason some geese were very interested in our camp early on.

TIPS:

  • Book this campground in advance, spaces fill up very quickly.   Even early in the season we found that there were very limited sites available on the weekend.
  • Check for construction.    When we traveled here for Questival we found that one of the entrances did not lead you to the campgrounds currently because of construction.   Call in advance or check the website to find out which entry would be the best to enter.

Product Review:

I am a HUGE fan of Mountain House, but didn't really know what to expect with the new Fusilli.   My experiences with the pasta dishes have been mixed, in large part I think due to operator error…lol

I was excited to be able to check out the newest of the flavors as a part of The Dyrt Rangers for this adventure and be able to share with 3 other rangers who I knew would also not hold back on their thoughts.   

It was a chilly night, night one of Questival, and we had finally made it back to our campsite to complete a lot of tasks on out mission list.    Already well into the evening we were starving and so it was a good thing that Mountain House only takes about 15 minutes to prepare.    

Ranger Hayley took the chef hat and began to boil our water while we worked at the campsite.     We opened the packaging and took a good sniff before adding the water and even dry it smelled very promising.    When water was added the scent of the package began to mimic that of a good Italian restaurant.   Before we knew it time had passed and it was time to dig in for a first taste.

We prepared 2 packages for 4 people and added a small side salad just to make sure we had plenty of food.     Realistically we could have all been satisfied with the Fusilli but the salad was a nice touch for making it really special at the campfire.    

The flavor of the pasta was amazing.   It was texturally cooked to perfection, the robust flavor of the sauce was so tasty and the spices used really brought the dish to another level.  Overall I was very impressed and I think that the rest of the crew was as well.   

TIPS: 

  • When traveling with a larger group think about packing a side such as a salad or tortillas to stretch meals.    The pasta option is great for strenuous days on the trails because of the carbs, but if you are super hungry rather than making a second meal add sides.
  • Bring a longer spoon, spork or tool the packages are pretty deep so if you have something a bit longer it is much easier to stir contents for more even hydration.
An AMAZINGLY Beautiful Backcountry Lake.

If your looking for a backcountry lake to camp at and its close to the front range you better give this one a try. Being an hour away from Boulder to start your hike in makes this a gem!! Im sure some might get upset that I am telling about this but I feel everyone should experience the pristine beauty. Please just take the time to be a stewards of our land and respect our fragile lands ecosystem by learning the basics of leaving it the way you found it. LEAVE NO TRACE RULES AND PRINCIPALS.

This hike starts outside of Netherlands in a small town called Eldora. You will be starting at the 4th of July trailhead at the end of a bumpy dirt road. Don't worry your 2 wheel drive car will make it. Make sure and get your permit from the Boulder Ranger District. Give them a call at 303-541-2500.  They only allow 6 permits per night at this lake but being this hike takes you onto the western side of the continental divide getting a permit is not very hard.  The hard part is the hike.

This is an 8.8 mile out and back hike that takes you to 2,600 ft elevation gain. This hike takes you across the continental Divide and drops you down into this pristine high alpine lake. Get an early start at this hike as you don't want to start late and get hit with an afternoon thunderstorm that are all too common here in Colorado. Also the parking lot can fill up fast. I try to get started by no later then 6:30 am. If you do get a late start there is a shuttle that will take you to the trail head from Netherlands. This hike takes you threw a bunch of different forest life from dense forest to hi alpine above tree line. Make sure and bring enough water or something to filter your water with. There is water all the way to your camp site. Once you summit the divide you will see a lake on the western side that looks like its straight down. This is your camping destination. Switchback after switch back and you find yourself in the midst of something that looks like its straight out a fairy tell. It looks too good to be true. You can camp anywhere on the lake as long as your 100 ft from the water. There are times during the year you can start a fire. But call the ranger district and see if it's available. Being that this lake is tucked up so tight against Mnt Neva and the divide its not windy at all. 

Keep you eyes open for moose as the moose love to frequent this lake in the morning. Lots of wildlife  around this lake. Wheb you decide to leave you can either hike back up the divide or you can leave a car at monarch lake on the western side and hike out that way. No matter how you decide to get into this lake I  guarantee you that you will fall in love. Indian Peaks Wilderness is amazing. Please keep it clean for many of our generations can enjoy the peace and solitude that I am offering you. Leave a review if you like it!

Thank you 

Jake

Beautiful views, but windy

This was a beautiful little area that we heard about after not finding any campsites at other local places. It had gorgeous views, and even at 2pm I’m a Saturday in late July, still had plenty of spots. We had one neighbor for the night and then around 10pm a couple trucks showed up across from us and they hung out until about 1am having a small party and then left.

The biggest problems at this campsite was the wind and the glass. There were crazy wind gusts since we were at the top of the peak, if we go back again, I’d want to camp somewhere a bit lower and in the trees. The wind was on and off all night but kept me awake since it was shaking our tent loudly. But again I can’t say how this would be in a camper or at a different site.

There was also quite a bit of glass and trash, which I guess is to be expected, but be careful if you bring dogs. We carried out as much trash as we could to help clean up the area, but there was a sleeping bag and a comforter that had been left there before us that we just didn’t have room for.

Lastly, you should have an all wheel drive car to get to this, or at least something with a higher clearance. The Caribou road was rocky, and only got worse the further up the mountain you drove.

Devils Thumb Lake-45 min from Denver 12 mile hike out and back

This is a backpacking trip. 12 mile out and back. This is part of the Indian peaks wilderness you must obtain a permit from the boulder forest service. Permits are 5 dollars for up to 14 days. This lake is amazingly beautiful. Lots of places to pitch a tent. The trail is not easy you work for it. But its all worth it when you get to the top. The directions are from the trailhead not directions to the lake. Arrive early to the trail head before 6:30am. Parking is hard during the summer but just get there early. This trail has water available along the entire trail. I only take a 1 liter bottle and filter all my water as needed.

Beautiful Area

The campground and lake are very nice. There are several campsites that sit right on the water. There are also campsites that sit further up on the mountain. You get lake views from almost everywhere. The campsites right on the lake are kind of close but the lake access can’t be beat. If you’re looking for more privacy I would get a site up on the mountain. There are also several group sites. There are no motorized boats allowed on the lake. There were a lot of people with paddle boards, kayaks and canoes. The only downside was the road to get there. It wasn’t maintained very well and there was only room for one vehicle at some points. I would highly recommend this campground if you want to get away from it all. There is very little if any cell access.

Great spot!

Lucked out and got site 6 around noon on a Saturday. Had access to the creek and hiking trails. Felt secluded. One of our favorite spots in Colorado!

Very close to city

5 minute drive to restraunts and stores. Quiet campground. Clean. Well maintained group areas/picnic areas. Only DoD ID card holders can use it, so there is not as much noise and partiers.

Beautiful

Beautiful sites, lots of room between eachother.

Quiet, clean and picturesque - but no water on site

Very nice, well-maintained campground near Wild Basin section of Rocky Mountain National Park.  No water on site but it is available a short distance away from Crystal Springs in Allenspark (https://sites.google.com/site/apwaterandsanitation/gui-information/crystal-springs)

A mixture of reserved and walk-up sites.  Campground hosts were helpful trying to accommodate those who arrived without reservations but found campground full [a fair number of sites with reservations were not occupied during our stay].

Nice tent pads on all sites and bear boxes.  Site sizes vary and larger RVs had difficulty with tight turns or limited space in some sites.  Some noise from highway even on sites furthest from road, but not generally an issue.

Beautiful site, very busy

Our site (#2) was perfect. Beautiful and mostly private. Bathrooms (Vault toilets) were very clean. Unfortunately, with it being an all “first come, first serve” camp ground, there was a lot of traffic in and out all weekend. We had some people try to snag a spot on our site, and they were very insistent that they had rights to do so, because there was a parking spot available. It started to get a bit heated when we declined their request for squatting on our site. Not so relaxing. Our neighbors were there to party hard, lots of language and up until 2-3 in the morning. Definitely didn’t adhere to the quiet time guidelines 10pm-6am. Made it hard for our kiddos to sleep and we had to keep explaining that they were never to use that language. I was super sad. We decided this type of camping wasn’t for us, and would be finding a more remote site next time. If you don’t mind a lot of traffic, loud neighbors (possible) and sharing your site with a random stranger…you will love this place. It was very beautiful, fresh air, and clean bathrooms, the dumpsters were nice too…keeps the trash smell out of your car. Also, great hiking nearby. We did the silver dollar trail, beautiful!!!

Do not follow directions link on this page

The directions under the description are not correct they bring you to this back road in the middle of no where. Looked like people had camped there and would be a great place to camp but very remote and obviously no amenities. Not sure who put those directions up.

Beautiful and easy backpacking

A short hike downhill to many dispersed campsites along the creek. Beautiful and easy! A must-see.

Very open

Very open campground, we camped in a tent but probably better for an rv

Great free site

No true “sites”. Good spot to spend the night if you’re traveling through. Good views and lots of hiking spots.

Great campground

Great hike in campground. It was our first hike in and we loved it! Spots aren’t too close to each other and there’s great views!

Typical for a Free Forest Service Campground

Camped here for one night in August. Like the title suggests, this campsite is typical for a free forest service campground. Prior campers have left some trash, bullet casings and obviously neglected to dig cat holes. After a quick clean up, the site was fine for my purposes. I hammock camp and  I was happy to see that many of the sites here have more than adequate trees for hanging. The roads can be a bit rough so the further back you go the necessity for a high clearance vehicle increases. There are several off road and hiking trails directly attached to the camping areas. I noticed that the forest service had erected wooden barriers at several of the campsites in an effort to control where people park. At my campsite #6 someone had obviously pulled off road vehicles into the campsite and tore the ground up pretty good. Tent camping at this particular site would be difficult due tot he lack of flat spots. Other sites seemed to be flatter. All in all this was a great place to camp for free with several nearby hikes and attractions.

Beautiful, summer is busy

If you go any time outside of the busy summer time it’s quiet and not packed. It is beautiful though!

Fun, flexible and convenient to Denver---yet worlds away...

I've stayed here twice; once via tenting and another with a yurt full of fun people. Both stays were wonderful. The facilities are clean, convenient and easily accessible. Golden Gate Canyon park has loads of moderate hiking trails with beautiful pine and Aspen views. Highly recommended.

Nice campground

Nice campground with clean bathrooms and showers

Great getaway

We went here with our 2 dogs for a quick overnighter-only about 45 minutes outside of Boulder. It was a Sunday morning and the lot was almost full when we got there around 9am. We packed it in and walked the whole trail looking for the best spot and ended up backtracking about half way to a site we saw across the St. Vrain. We crossed the creek by foot and set up right under what we later learned was a mountain lions apartment. We were far enough away from the trail that we were not bothered by day hikers. The stars were AMAZING and the sky was perfectly clear. Lots of firewood around-we brought our hand saw and cut enough feld wood to last until around 4am. We were about to go to bed around 11pm when our dogs started barking. My wife went to quiet them down and when I shined my head lamp toward the tent I saw a mountain lion perched above where we were camping on some rocks about 30 feet away. We yelled and made a lot of racket but it didn’t phase the lion. We threw rocks at it (something we had laughed at when we read about what to do in the event of an encounter) and that got it to slowly walk off into the night. About an hour later it came back and our dogs alerted us again. This time it was closer. We did the same thing-made a lot of noise and threw rocks at it until it went away. We stayed up making noise and being scared until our wood ran out and then passed out in our tent for a few hours until the sun came up. It was a scary experience but the next time we camp here we will stay closer to where everyone else stays at the beginning of the trail. When we got back to our car there was a big dusty bear paw print on our passenger side door. Colorado nature folks!

Great campground close to Red Rocks with lots to do!

We chose this campground to be close to Red Rocks for a show. We didn’t expect much from it, but we really liked it! Yes– as some reviews say– you can see Home Depot from the campground. However, there are tons of trails and a lake to explore as well!! The sites are electric only, so make sure you dump/fill before you get set up. Also, the showers are coin operated. The hosts were awesome here. We really enjoyed chatting with them! The campground is super popular so if you are thinking about going and there is actually availability, book it!!

Skip the numbered sites

We arrived late (3pm) on a Saturday and all of the numbered sites were taken. Luckily, we stayed on 233 and found an awesome spot at the top of a very steep and rocky hill. Our Nissan Rogue handled it pretty well, surprisingly. Highly suggest a vehicle with high clearance that can handle sharp rocks and steep incline.

The view was amazing at the top! Felt very “secluded” with the exception of an occasional child yell or music from a nearby site.

Also - tons of trash! Our site was littered with shotgun shells and casings.

All-in-all pretty good spot for a last minute trip.

Relaxed and friendly

Most of the time I am camping in the mountains, but Boyd lake is one exception. If you’re looking for an easy to get to campground, with fires allowed, this is a great spot! Boyd lake is adjacent to the campground, making it very accessible and beautiful to look at.

First come first serve

All along Dakan Road (also known as Hidden Valley Road), there are dispersed campsites marked by a sign with a tent on it. They are all first come first serve, but offer great solitude in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Dakan Road is mostly known as an Off-Road vehicle Road, so 4x4’s are suggested to get up to the sites. However, a Subaru Forester and similar cars can do it as long as they plan their round around the bigger rocks. All around a great area to camp for free.

Perfect

This campground lines the east ridge of pinewood reservoir. Each campsite is dugout into the hillside, with a perfect view of the lake. Shaded by large pines, and a great view of the sunset. I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a beautiful site away from the crowds, but wants to keep their vehicle close.

We enjoyed!

Clean pool, laundry facilities, daily trash pickup and so many helpers on site! Our first stop at a park, and we loved it! The only downsides are that the campsites are very close and showers could be a bit cleaner.

Location Fail

The staff is friendly, the bathrooms are clean, and there’s a restaurant across the street and a pizza place on site. However, the location is a disaster. Literally right next to highway I-70, there’s no way you’ll get a restful nights sleep. Maybe in a RV or renting a cabin you’ll have better luck, but as a tent camper it was brutal.