the dyrt
Annie C.
St Charles , MO
Joined July 2016
I'm a hiker, explorer, road tripper, and camper with wanderlust in my veins.
Ranger Review of Rom Outdoors Vertical Limits Ski Pants at Lake Glendale

Located in the Shawnee National Forest, this sweet little campground has it all. Wooded, semi private sites (at least for tents), full hook ups for RV’s, great campground hosts, CCC buildings, new shower house, amazing trails at Lake Glendale and other nearby areas. Even on a rainy afternoon, there were plenty of campers at Lake Glendale, which resulted in us not getting a preferred site (46) but a perfectly good site instead (49). The sites were spotless and well maintained, with some having space under the trees for tents and some having just gravel pads. Our site was close to, but not on, the lake with easy access via trails. There were a few sites with good lake views, with the majority of those in the RV loop. The trail around the lake is about 3 miles; a nice hike that really gives you a good look at the park. On the hike you pass two large shelters built by the CCC as well as the boat ramp, damn, and swimming beach. For more wild hiking, go down the road 15 minutes to Bell Smith Recreation area (which has its own campground) and hike to the natural rock bridge (and climb the steel ladder), springs, or Devils Backbone.

Rom Outdoors Vertical Limits Ski Pant

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, from time to time I get gear to test and review. On this trip I tested out Rom Outdoors Vertical Ski Pant. In the midwest we rarely get snow before Thanksgiving, and our little ski hill usually doesn’t open until close to Christmas (when they have been able to make enough snow for skiing), so I felt really challenged with this product. However, with a full day of cold rain and overnight temps in the low 30’s, I gave it a real go. A few weeks later we had a sizable snow (for early November and the St Louis area) and was able to further test these out. Here’s what I found: The pants are really waterproof! I didn’t get wet at all even after setting up and taking down a tent in the rain, hiking through tall grass in the rain, and later, hiking several miles in the snow. At first I thought the pants were a bit short and almost exchanged them for a larger size. But then I realized that they are designed with length in mind for wearing ski boots. And I could adjust them a bit by adjusting the suspenders. Overall I was very happy with the ski pants, if only we could have real snow and real ski hills.

Pro’s:

  • Waterproofing is solid
  • Tons of storage pockets that have double closures (zippers and velcro) to protect your stuff; side pockets are deep and large
  • Cuff zippers to help with putting on/taking off ski boots and to vent
  • Zippered vents on insides of the thigh area
  • Adjustable, removable elastic suspenders
  • Fleece lining is super warm and removable if too warm
  • Adjustable waist with velcro as well as belt loops

Cons:

  • Unisex sizing (women are shaped different from men!); no tall sizes for slim builds
  • Only comes in one color, black
  • No reflective areas
  • The adjustable waist is only adjustable by two inches overall
Dispersed camping on the North Platte River

This tiny dispersed site is on the North Platte River with boat access and a few weedy, private sites spread out in this area tucked inside private property. Since you have to drive over private property to get here, be mindful of speed on the dirt access road and clean up after yourself. I did not camp here as all of the sites were taken but I did visit with a couple traveling from Canada. They liked how quiet it was and loved how secluded it was. They said the mosquitoes were horrific, but worth dealing with to camp in such a great spot. Just up the road is the actual public access to the river, but in the campground there is a small boat ramp that you could use to launch a small boat or canoe. I'm keeping this one on my list for future reference- free, beautiful, and secluded. Hope I can get a spot in the future.

Free camping downtown

In the city of Lander you can camp for up to three days for free at the city park. It’s a pretty good deal as the the tent area is set back behind the stadium in a nice grassy area with access to flush toilets in the parking area. It was pretty busy while I was there, with quite a few families and cyclists taking advantage of the free camping. The Popo Agie River runs next to the park which makes for a nice sound machine to fall asleep to.  If you need a shower head over to the Recreation Center and pay $5 for use of the facilities. In town are some great restaurants (Cowfish is my favorite, with a microbrewery attached), and outside of town is some great hiking in Sinks Canyon and the Shoshone National Forest.

Tight little campground.

In the Sinks Canyon, this is a nice little campground wedged between the highway and the river and mountains. Campsites are small and close to each other, but level and clean. Each site has the usual picnic table, fire pit, and bear box; but the concerns were less about bears and more about moose. There are Yurts for rent here too. The family I met that had reserved one was really happy with their yurt. There are nice hiking trails on the other side of the river (moose warning signs and all), and some nice trails on the other side of the highway. I’d camp here again even though it is so close to the road because the river drowns out the highway noise. Be careful if you decide to dip your toes in the river; the flow is really fast!! Just down the road about a mile is the Sinks and the Rise, where the Popo Agie River disappears into a cave at the base of the mountain and then miraculously reappears gushing out of the base of a mountain on the other side of the canyon.

Awesome campsite near O’keefe territory

Great campground sitting up from the lake with awesome views. Free showers, several loops, tents separate from RVs- what more could you ask for! There is lake access nearby and some nice hiking trails, but to be honest, the main attraction is Abiqueu and Goergia O’Keefe country. Tons of great hiking to places she hiked to and painted. The campground is just a few miles from the town of Abiqueu, which was O’Keefe’s main home. Be sure to stop in and visit with the librarian, she’s a great resource for information about the area. And the gas station at the bottom of the hill has a pretty good restaurant! Sites don’t have any trees, but the sage provides a bit of protection from the winds. Be sure to stake your tent well as it gets very breezy in the daytime (winds die down with the sun set). One of the nicest amenities (besides the free showers) were the lantern hooks/posts. You just don’t see those very often. Camper beware, the tent only loop is next to the group campsites, so expect some noise.

First to Review
Beautiful setting where Georgia O'Keefe Painted

While many say that Georgia O’Keefe owned Ghost Ranch, that’s not true. She actually only owned 7.5 acres of the large ranch. The whole ranch has been turned into a top notch facility with campgrounds and motel rooms, horses for rent, classes, and great hiking. The campground is large with several interconnecting loops. There aren’t many trees, but the sites are not on top of each other so there is a semblance of privacy. Showers and laundry are available in the campground. It's pretty nice that this campground is pretty much open year round, and even better with tents and RV's kept separate. There are some great hiking trails heading out of the campground as well as from other parts of the ranch. Stop in the visitors center to get a map of trails and some advice about what to hike and when (don’t plan on any mid-day hikes as it is just too hot).

Set back in the pines

A nice campground set north of the town of Jemenz Springs. There was a fire ban in place and the Forest Service was planning on closing the entire forest the morning after I showed up. I had enough time to camp and get in one hike to a social spring before they came through and closed everything up for safety. The campground was nice, but there was no water available (it had been shut off in preparation for the closure). The campsites were nice and well spaced with lots of pine trees around each site, so there was a lot of privacy. There was an abundance of pine needle duff covering the ground which would have been great until you considered the fire danger. Each site had a picnic table and fire pit (with bright tape over it to remind you not to use it).

Beautiful location

Just south of the town of Jemez Springs was this really nice campground wedged between the road and the river. Super nice campsites, some with pavilions over the picnic tables, some with river access. The campground was closed when I got there but the really nice hosts let me in to check it out. I liked the sites at the back that either had river access or pergolas. This campground was super clean; I wish I had camped here the night before as there was water available and the bathrooms were more modern and clean.

Great views and access to trails

A nice little campground with one loop. What I liked about this was the great hosts (who seemed on constant patrol in their golf cart), the level sites for tents, and the great access to trails. There was a trail that went under the road that led to the lake and another that went up to great views and the Arizona Trail. There was tons of elk scat on the upper Trail but I never saw any elk. At the top of the trail you had to go thru a gate into open range to get to the Arizona Trail. It was obvious from the cow patties that this was a popular spot for the cows as well. As for amenities, the tent pads were level and clean, there were fire pits (no fire due to the ban), and clean vault toilets. I’d stay here again.

Set back in the pines

On a side trip from Route 66 I headed down towards Sedona, camping on the way down and back. I ended up at Pine Grove Campground. It was a pretty nice campground, and pricey as a result. Mostly Rv’s and some tents, at least this campground had pay showers and a very attentive campground host (mostly due to his Very Very alert little dog). The campground is large with more than one loop, set back in the pine trees. There were great opportunities for hammocking and visiting with your close neighbors. Every site had the usual picnic tables and fire pits, and for the RV set, there were full hookups and a dump station. The best part was how quiet it was back in the trees. However, it was so dry you could not have a fire without some major trepidation. The nearby lakes were more than 10 feet below normal levels.

River camping in Arizona

Another small roadside campground that hugs the side of the hill. Sites were small and on top of each other. The best sites (taken, of course) were set back next to the creek and swimming hole. They were also the biggest sites, but I don’t think they were group sites. Watch out for snakes, there were signs everywhere. Every site had a picnic table and fire pit, but a burn ban was in effect so you could not have a campfire. I thought the price for the sites was a bit steep considering how close they were to the road (literally right next to the road) and the lack of amenities- no hook ups for RV’s and only a fairly dirty pit toilet.

A hot desert gem

Stopped here on my grand Route 66 adventure this summer. I really liked this park for several reasons. 1. It’s convenient to Route 66 (and Hwy 40); 2. It’s close to Petrified Forest National Park, which is pretty cool to explore on its own; 3. Free showers!!; 4. The campground is set back from the main park so you have a bit of privacy from day trippers; 5. Tent sites were level and well maintained (mine was raked!!); 6. All sites seemed to have hook-ups whether you needed them or not (maybe there were tent only sites, but it was all one price so no big deal); 7. The park has some great trails for hiking; 8. There is ancient pottery shards everywhere (don’t take it! Leave it for everyone to enjoy); 9. Free showers!!; 10. Not too far from Winslow, AZ, where you CAN stand on the corner.  

Overall I enjoyed my stay here, though I got in at sunset and left shortly after the main park opened at 8am. This might be my only negative about the park. The main park and the best attractions don’t open until 8am (a ranger actually comes and opens the gates), which is much later than I tend to get moving (up with the sun and all). And with the heat of the day starting at 9:30, it’s hard to get to the sites and get in a good hike before it’s too hot.

Busy campground on the Colorado Trail

Nice little campground on the Million Dollar Highway heading between Durango and Silverton, with the Colorado Trail passing right through the campground. There is a main loop spread out over a few close ridges, and a secondary small loop that ends in at the day use parking and vault toilet. It seemed that the “group” sites were closest to the vault toilets next to the day use parking, witch could present an issue as it was very busy. The “group” sites were very crowded, which could have been just too many people in a small area, or the area could have been just too small.  Sites further away from the toilets were more spacious, but no site was huge. All sites seemed to have good hammocking trees. It seemed the best sites were the ones closest to the entrance: the parking pads were up next to the road and the tent pads and fire rings were set back from the road down a steepish grade. This was a great spot to camp as a home base for hiking the Colorado Trail. There are great trails heading out of the campground in both directions. The usual picnic tables, fire pits, and bear lockers could be found at all sites we looked at.

Great camping near Leadville

Sitting above Twin Lakes Reservoir is Lakeview Campground.  There are several loops of camping, with no real separation between RV and tent camping. We got here late in the afternoon after checking a few other campgrounds and not finding any sites and were lucky to get one of the last two sites available. The camp host was friendly, but not much help in deciding between a slightly sloped site and a site lower down that might be breezy. We rolled the dice and took the lower site (loop E I think) and lucked out when the wind died down with the setting sun. There are no showers but fairly clean vault toilets and lots of access to water pumps. And of course, the usual picnic table, fire pit, and a nice addition of  standing grills. There was plenty of dead sage and some downed limbs to gather for our campfire. There wasn’t much privacy from other sites as there really isn’t any underbrush and no real trees. Which means nowhere to hang the hammock in our site (it looked like some other sites had a couple nice trees for hammocking, but not all sites were so lucky). The Continental Divide Trail goes right through the middle of the campground, so you have access to great hiking. There is also a nice trail that goes partly around the reservoir; or at least I thought it was a trail until it petered out into nothing, not even a game trail.  The campground is close to Mount Massive Wilderness, Leadville, and Independence Pass, so lots of hiking and sightseeing nearby.

Dispersed camping next to the creek

Dispersed camping along the South Mineral Creek. This is dry camping with a vault toilet- no hook ups. This is popular with RV’ers and OHV’ers as it is free. The limit is the usual fourteen days. Some “sites” have fire pits, and there are a few picnic tables scattered about. There are a few sites right on the water. Further back in at some larger sites that could accommodate small rvs. The plus is the free camping right on the “river”. The minus is that the road to the forest service campground and the Ice Lake trailhead is very close, very busy, and very dusty.

Perfect location in Ouray

Above the town of Ouray with great views of the the town below and access to an awesome trail that circumnavigates the town, hitting the best sites along the six or so miles. The trail takes you to the Bathtubs, the Ice Climbing area, several waterfalls, some cool footbridges, and past the Recreation Center (where you can get showers). The campground itself was very tight with several small loops that hang on the side of the mountain. We were there about two weeks after the fourth of July and all of the vault toilets needed to be serviced. The host was aware of the problem and said he had called it in, then shrugged. In town the visitor’s center had some great information about the town and had several preprinted hiking maps for popular trails with difficulty levels noted. In town was a nice full service outdoor shop as well as several micro breweries.

RV camping in Silverton

In downtown Silverton, the Red Mountain Lodge is a large RV campground with some cabins and motel rooms. It was a bit confusing trying to navigate the access roads in the campground as it was extremely large. However it had several amenities including a pool, free showers (that campers from outside of town can come use for a small fee), full hook-ups, access to the many off highway trails heading out of town (including trails that start in the campground), access to the Silverton Railroad Station (a few blocks away), jeep rentals, hot tub, rec center, laundry, and a playground. There is a SMALL tent area that is really just a grassy lawn between two of the rental units. The rental units are older and in need of some sprucing up (the paint on the exterior was peeling in large swaths). A short walk down the road takes you to some good restaurants as well as a microbrewery. Across the street is the grocery store/general store/post office, and a gas station is just down the road.

South Mineral Campground

Down an access road about 4 miles is South Mineral Campground. On the way there you will pass several single dispersed campsites next to the river or in the reeds by the beaver ponds, as well as a few semi developed dispersed campgrounds. South Mineral is set back between the base of Ice Mountain and the river, with a really nice and fast rushing waterfall/cascade. There are essentially two loops, with around 25 sites that are nicely sized and spaced with great hammocking trees. The campground is fairly level with handicap access to several sites. There is no electric or water hook ups, but there is water available. There is a day use parking area for those who want to fish, as well as a parking area across from the entrance of the campground for hikers and backpackers heading up to Ice Lake or Clear Lake and beyond or just peak bagging. The vault toilets were clean-ish, but in the need of servicing (it was not long after the July 4th weekend). If you are in need of a shower, head into Silverton and go to the Red Mountain Lodge RV park office. You can get a key to the shower for $5. The showers are clean and not too busy in the middle of the day.

Great camping next to the East Fork of the San Juan River

This campground is pretty sweet. Set back from the main road, it is in a pleasant bend of the San Juan River. Sites on the outside of the loop are spacious and fairly private. If you can, the best sites are on the backside and back up to the river. If you don’t get one of these prime sites, no big deal as there are access trails from the campground that lead to the river and some nice fishing holes. Great place to camp if fly fishing is your bag. We had an inside the loop site and were very happy. The sites were well spread out and all had great hammock trees. The bathrooms were very clean and well maintained. The campground host, while she liked to sleep in late, was definitely putting in more than the required hours to maintain the campground. If you need a shower, head up the entrance road to the private campground and pay $5 for an unlimited time shower in an interesting cabin like shower house. The difference between the private campground and the forest service campground, besides the access to showers, are that the forest service campground is not available to RV’s or horse trailers. I’d definitely camp here again (as we extended our stay extra nights since we were so happy with the site).

Dusty West Fork

If you are into off roading or four wheeling, this might be the campground for you. West Fork sits up from the main road on the way to lots of ATV trails as well as some nice #hike #getoutside #go #explore #hiking #nature #freshair #adventure #wildernessculture trails. That said, it can be very noisy throughout the day as campers as well as visitors race up and down the mountain trails. It is also very dusty. The campground is a small/tight loop with lots of trees and smaller sites, some that allow the pleasant sound of the West Fork to drift up, but none with views or access to the Creek. The back portion of the campground has sites large enough for small trailers and RV’s. When we were there the only access to water was in the back portion of the campground at a hand pump. The vault toilets were clean-ish, but in need of being emptied. The campground host did not seem to be worried about maintaining the campground or maintaining his records as he moved us twice in the same day as he double booked several sites. While we planned on staying for two or more nights at this campground, we ended up packing up and moving to much better camping at the East Fork campground.