This is a BLM dispersed camping site north of Salida on the road to Hecla Junction Recreation Area. The river access is about 5 miles away down a steep dirt and gravel road. The BLM site is very basic with no facilities. The campsites are not marked but easy to identify by the campfire rocks and road patterns. You can’t beat the price if you are looking for free camping near world class river rafting. Like all dispersed camp sites you get a diverse mix of users from long term residents to temporary van and tent campers. The site is located immediately off the access road to the river and provides some tree cover for the sun and wind. It can be a rather windy and dusty spot. So you will need to have a good tent or other cover in the summer or during wind events. The site is patrolled by BLM and other park officials. They have some great hikes here and nice scenery. However, the highlight here is the proximity to the Arkansas River and river rafting. The the Hecla Campground is full this could serve as a good plan B for free. You will need your own toilet, food, and water. You will also need to pack out your trash as they do not have any trash removal. If you are used to dispersed camping, this will be straightforward.
It’s a Monday evening and only a few campers dispersed in a beautiful little canyon. Great sunset views of Princeton.
Several spots with rock fire rings. Good views. Room for smaller trailers and RVs and flat for tents. A bit more road noise than I prefer, but not too bad. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again given the opportunity.
Camp Site Review:
I came across this spot from a previous Rangers review! We were looking for something in the Buena Vista/ Salida area. The spots are about 20 south of BV and about 10 minutes north of Salida. A great base camp for a multitude of activities. The Arkansas river is a minute down the road, it is the take out spot for the popular Browns Canyon section. Within 20 minutes of driving you have multiple Colorado 14ers to hike, amazing fishing, miles of mountain biking trails and 2 amazing towns with great places to eat or grab a beer.
The spot itself is very basic, as most BLM sites are. A simple rock fire ring built by past occupants and a small spot to park. That is about it. No bathrooms, no tables and no designated spots. I counted about 8 or so "spots", all fairly spread out. There were a few RV's parked, so plenty of room if that is what you are driving. Did i mention its free!
Vey easy to find, follow highway 285 until you see the Hecla Juntion forest service sign. Once turning off 285 onto country road 194, you will drive about 1/4 mile, looking on your right for a small white sign with some rules for camping and the BLM logo.
Overall i was very impressed with this spot. Easy to get to and the spot was large and flat for tents. The view was the best part, multiple 14ers directly in eye shot while hanging around by the fire. Cant beat it.
As a Ranger of The Dyrt, i sometimes get to test out products. At this campground i tested the Wenzel Camp Quilts. My first impression was i loved the look. The design on the quilt is beautiful and vibrant. The feel is that of a sleeping bag, it is very soft and comfortable. The reason i wanted one of these quilts is because i live in Colorado and even in the middle of summer, most camp spots will get down to the mid 40's. The quilt did not disappoint. It was very warm when sitting out side and around the fire. To really test it out, i decided to not use my sleeping bag and just use the quilt. The temp got down to 43 degrees and i woke up extremely warm. The only negative i have here is that i feel the blanket will get beat up using it outdoors a lot.
We are loving all of the free camping on BLM land in Colorado. Salida North was no exception! We easily found a place to park and had plenty of cell service (and Verizon hotspot signal) to work while we were there. There are pretty mountain views from the sites as well. We felt really safe here – a ranger even drove through every day checking on things. We easily found a spot for our 30’ RV and there were really awesome tent sites there as well. This was a perfect free spot for us to set up for a few nights while enjoying the super cute town of Salida (be sure to check out Elevation Brewery)!
As a Dyrt Ranger, I get to test products from time to time. I was fortunate to be able to test the Outdoor Element Firebiner. I am so happy to have this product! It is super lightweight (only 1 ounce) so carrying it on every hike is a no brainer. It has all kinds of useful tools – a bottle opener, a safety blade and a screwdriver to name a few. However, my favorite feature is the fire starter. I currently carry a flint and steel in my pack, but I definitely struggle to get a spark with that. I have no trouble getting the Firebiner to spark! I feel way more confident having the Firebiner with me than I ever did the flint and steel. It also has 100 pound capacity as a carbineer too. This product’s price point is great, and the functionality is even better. I have my Firebiner clipped to my pack and I couldn’t be happier about it!