Crystal C.
Sunset, TX
Joined July 2018
I’m a travel blogger with a focus on budget travel so I camp a lot!! Check out my ig and YouTube BunnyPlaysHere
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.
Options For Every Camper

When traveling to Kansas there are 26 state parks to visit.     It might be a bit difficult to decide which you would like to consider for your outing however I would like to encourage you to give Wilson Lake State Park a thought.    There are several reasons which you might find appealing however one of the most impressive I have found is the sheer amount of camping you can find featuring a variety of options.

Wilson's Lake State Park has everything from primitive camping to Cabins and everything in between.   There are sites designed for RVs both small and large offering everything from standard electric to full connections.    With 240 sites on location this can quickly be considered as one of the best camping of this area.

Lake views are accessible from almost every campsite at the Park with up close and personal access in several of the loops.     Prices vary from Primitive to Improved sites  from $13 to $26.   

I found that while some of the loops provided more primitive restroom accommodations others had very nice flush toilets and showers.   There is a playground central to the park and several areas which you can launch smaller vessels such as canoes or kayaks and a larger boat ramp.

I checked out the various loops while visiting and found that many of the loops were semi even and provided various levels of shade to help you even on the hottest of days.   When I visited there had been a lot of recent rains which elevated the lake levels and lessened the beach access dramatically however typically there is a very nice beach area near two of the camping loops.

The outdoor space of the park has been a point of focus and the creation of a large bike trail was constructed to allow people to get out and enjoy the surroundings.    Many additionally, hike this path to see a bit more of the nature of the area which include deer, rabbits and foxes.

I really enjoyed my visit to the park.   Upon meeting the camp host I learned that the booking policy for the campground is very flexible and they do encourage you to make sure you try to book in advance during peak traffic season.

TIPS:   

  • Try to book in advance of 2 months for a cabin.   These spaces are very limited and often from June to September they are booked all weekends.
  • Bring your fishing pole.   There is a great access point for those wanting to fish from the shore before you get to the park entrance and another just after entering.
Most Coveted Campground of the State Park

Wilson’s Lake in Kansas is something of a departure from surrounding areas of Kansas. If you take a moment to pull just a slight distance off the major highways and toward the Wilson’s Lake area you will be pleasantly surprised as the world begins to roll and open up into vibrant hillsides winding their way though the area. 

I honestly stopped myself for a moment and checked the map thinking to myself in such a cliche way,“ We are not in Kansas anymore.”

 But just as the map proved, I was in fact still in the same state, I noticed more and more signs for Wilson’s Lake State Park and found it was a must see while visiting the area. 

The road winds you down to the park and down to what seems like a dead end just at the Yarrow Campground. This campground is one of the most coveted in the park because of its location, its convenience and its size.

When visiting Wilson Lake you might want to consider this loop for improved camping.   When I visited I noticed that the roadways in and out of the campsite were well structured to provide ample movement for larger units with back up capabilities.   While this loop also offers tent camping, it really is designed for the small to mid-size RVs.     

Each campsite was equipped with a picnic table and fire ring, although I must say that some of the tables in this area were lacking a bit and needed some updating.    The sites also included water and electric hook ups with reasonable spacing between sites.   Pull- in/ back-in sites were graveled and semi level while the area between the spaces were grassy and lush.    During summer months this would be a perfect retreat for families looking to have a little fun together but still have convenience.   

What I liked most about this particular site was the proximity it had to the swimming beach and also the restrooms.   Within 100 yards of one another you could access flushing toilets and showers or fun in the sun.     This was the best overall campground for accessing both of these amenities and therefore I believe would bring about the most fun for the family overall.   Additionally, a playground was located nearby.

I would definitely recommend arriving early if visiting on a weekend or making reservations online to ensure a site at this campground in particular.   The most popular of this lake region, Yarrow, stays booked well into the later portion of summer on weekends and is hit or miss on weekdays.

TIPS:

* Check out the rental shop just outside of the park where you can find anything from a paddle board to a canoe.   Also this is a great place to check in if you are needing a few last minute supplies.

* Make sure to check out park rules at the kiosk before entering, this can be very valuable information especially when crowds are flocking to the area.

Ranger Review: Charcoal Banner & Oak Scout Hat At Great Salt Plains SP

CLICK HERE for full video on this location including camping accommodations and dig site information

Finding a campground which also offers unique activities is something I truly enjoy. While many might have hiking or lake activities, finding something which is a bit outside of the box is a little more of a rare find, especially in certain areas of the country. Living next to Oklahoma and exploring it most of my life, I always thought that Oklahoma’s camping was just an extension of Texas, very similar in nature, climate and vegetation. That was until I discovered the Great Salt Plains State Park in northern Oklahoma. 

Removed from much of popular civilization the campground is pretty well off the beaten path. Neighboring the small community of Jet, you will drive for miles and miles seeing only farmland with an occasional silo marking a town in this section of Oklahoma. Then out of nowhere the farms transition into a white glaze which is unmatched by the lands around. It almost looks as though snow is laying in the distance, but snow it is not…. It is salt!

Campground Review: 

Pulling into the Great Salt Plains State Park there are a variety of options for accommodation you will want to explore. Offering cabins at a reasonable$99 a night, unimproved camping for$14 and RV camping from$22-$25 per night the price point is right on target for most campers. But one thing to note is that the campgrounds themselves are not directly on the Salt Plains, instead these are located closely to the waterways of the location, giving a much cooler and more shaded place to enjoy your time away from home. 

With a variety of camping options also comes a variety of vantage points, with some campsites in the more improved locations highlighting the shoreline of the Arkansas River while others overlook the lake from beyond the spillway. I was very pleased with the views available and the variety of options for anglers, boaters and campers alike. This did not feel strictly like a lake campground like so many of the camps do in this region.

 The office of the grounds does close rather early at 4 p.m. so it made catching staff a bit harder as there didn’t seem to be anyone actively patrolling the park, with the exception of the dig site for the salt plains…(yes, I said dig site… but we will get to that in a moment). With that being said and also limited cell service, you really need to make sure you are prepared before coming to this remote location. 

Of the many camping loops, the one closest to the campground office seemed the least interesting to me personally. There was limited tree coverage, spaces were closely packed together and the restroom was only a port a potty, which in the Oklahoma sun can become a little less than desirable to visit. This portion of the park seemed to be designed mostly for RVs. 

Another one which slightly was confusing to me was the official primitive site campground. There is a small community of homes which border the lake on this side and a small stretch of campground separates the homes from the shoreline itself. This seemed a bit uncomfortable for me camping solo to be basically right in someones backyard. This site had beautiful tall trees, great site spacing and the view was amazing so it was a bit unfortunate that this site was so close to everyone’s backyard. 

The most appealing sites to me were those along the river which had amazing views and some of the most improved restrooms at the park. These were capable of accommodating both tents and RVs and had connections and amenities which would far surpass other campsites. Here you could find running water, flush toilets and showers in addition to a playground for the kiddos, fish cleaning stations and trash services. A small outdoor chapel/ampitheater was available in this area as well which would be ideal for a group camp. 

Sites in this area are the highest of the park ranging between $22 and$25 but they are equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, grills, lantern hooks and easy to pull in and out areas. You can literally walk to the water and be in the river playing or fishing in seconds from any site in this location. 

But now to the points of interest of this park…. The Salt Plains! 

The unique ecosystem of this area is one to come out and see. There are several observation points in which you can view the birds and other wildlife which call this area home. But one of the things which makes it differ so much from other habitats are the Selenite crystals which can be found as a result of the salt and water table in this area. Birds are drawn to these and often you will find small nests housing eggs lined in crystals. It is unique to say the least. 

But if you are not a bird watcher, there is still something for you…. Digging for Crystals!  Yep, you can get hands on and dig into the plains around 2 feet down and find that the water will start flooding into the hole you created. From here you simply need to splash water along the sides of your new dig and expose your jewels to take harvest. Sound to good to be true? Well it is not! It really is that easy!! 

And unlike the locations across the country which tell you to not take the sands, dirt, rocks or formations with you, you can take everything you find home with you!! 

It is a great activity which can leave you busy for minutes, hours or even days and something which is fun for the entire family. On my trip we started early on an August morning and dug for approximately 3 hours. We brought our own sifters, a few jugs of water for cleaning off our finds and a shovel which seemed to be all we needed to find more than our fair share of crystals. 

Crystals come in many shapes and sizes but the most coveted are large clusters or hourglass crystals. The crystals are mineral rich and appear to have a chocolate brown to redish tone based on the contents found in the soil which create them. And the unique thing about them and why we are allowed to take what we find home, is they are constantly regenerating. 

Dig site is closed from October to April for migration of wildlife so you will want to plan a trip during the peak months to assure you will be able to dig. Don’t worry about crowds it isn’t terrible even on the most busy of days and there are plenty of crystals to be found.

TIPS: 

  • Come early if you need park assistance. Offices close at 4 p.m. however you can check into sites through the honor box system. 
  • Make sure to cruise Highway 11 when in the area and check out the Artesian Well which offers motorists a cool drink of water along the way which is fresh and delicious. Bring your jugs and fill them up if you would like. 
  • Cabin rentals must be booked in advance as there are limited numbers available.

Product Review: 

For this trip knowing that the shade would be limited on the Great Salt Plains I made sure to pack the Banner& Oak Scout Hat in Charcoal Grey. This hat is designed as a summer hat with a snapback and breathable meshing to allow heat to escape and wind to come through. 

I wanted something which would provide a bit more shade for my face than simply wearing a bandana to pull my hair back and this was a great fit for doing just that. 

The hat itself is easy to size and while it is a men’s hat it easily could be sized down to fit my head and still feel comfortable yet secure. It did not appear bunched in the back like some men’s hats can when worn by women, I personally have a relatively small head so this is a huge deal to me. 

The charcoal color did not attract as much heat as I thought it might and I felt comfortable even being out for 3 hours diggings and 2 hours exploring the day before. 

The design of the hat is a must for anyone who, like myself, loves tent camping as the patch is a tent with a unique design and a great way to express yourself even in the most simplistic of ways. 

I think a lot of people neglect to realize that they can wear a basic camping or exploring outfit and then completely change the vibe with the addition of the right hat. From the design and color to the way you wear your hat, all of these things are expressive of your own unique personality. I will definitely be adding this hat to my stack of hats I take on lengthy road trips, it has great feel to it, the brim was shaped well and mesh back makes it perfect for warm to hot climates.

TIPS: 

  • Don’t be afraid to explore different styles from Banner& Oak. There are several styles which are available to both men and women which can be great for taking your camping look to the next level. 
  • Never forget a hat, this is not only fashion but function as it provides a shade for your face and also can greatly aid in your internal temperature control. During winter months especially this is important as you lost the vast majority of your body heat through your head.
Tent accessible.... but is it??

This location is a quaint privately owned location easy to access and close to the community of Rush Springs.

Although they do have shady areas ideal for tents and we did see some tent campers there is no real facilities for a tent camper to use. I would not be able to personally stay here in a tent without being friendly with someone in an RV because there is also no privacy for outdoor restroom.

Sites are available on a nightly, weekly or monthly stay at a reasonable rate. There is a common trash area and RV connections are present.

Sites are a bit close together for my personal liking.

Small First Come First Serve Peninsula Camping

One of the smaller camps around the park this only has 6 slots available but the views are available on 3 sides of this peninsula style campground.     Available on a first come first serve basis there are no frills with camping at this location as it is primitive only style camping.   

Small RVs or Vans could use this campsite however it really is designed with the tent camper in mind as it has great grassy areas which are semi flat.    

Each campsite is equipped with the basics a grill ring and picnic table and there is some shade in the area scattered throughout.    Access to playground and restrooms is very close by so this could easily be a great location for families looking to spend some time at the lake.   

The shore line alongside 2 of the 3 sides of this area are rocky and ideal for fishing while there is also a sandy beach which is directly alongside the camp.  When I visited recent rains had forced the lake levels to be very high and this made a portion of the beach submerge below the waters edge but this is not typical.      

Prices here are very reasonable at only $13 a night but they do quickly fill during peak season due to the lakes popularity.

TIPS:

  • Rent a watercraft from local retailer.   Information on all those which have units is available online or on the kiosk just inside camp.   There are a variety of options ranging from paddle boards to small fishing boats.
  • Take the bike path trail which loops through the park.   This is a great way to have a little fun outdoors away from the lake activities.  The course is pretty well known in Kansas.
First to Review
Well Maintained Campground Amidst Rolling Kansas Hills

I took a detour off the flat highway land in search of the town of Lucas where I had heard great things about their art installations. As I drove along the land began to open up to large rolling hills and beautiful landscaping with a turnoff just off the main road marked by some very interesting stones and a pavilion. I took a moment to pull off and noticed a kiosk which told the history of the area and some very impressive information about Lucas Park. 

I was impressed by the information and one of the signs detailing the trails which led from just outside of the campground all the way to a very special cliffside which is renowned in the state of Kansas. So naturally I had to go check it out!! 

Pulling into camp it had rained recently and some of the gravel roads were a bit slick for my small car, but I did notice they had some road work signs where they are working to improve these areas. The rest of the property was well developed and had great improvements including full service restrooms which were placed throughout camp and nice playground equipment for the kiddos. 

The campground is divided into two separate areas. Each with their own unique appeal. I personally liked the campground closest to the pay station as it seemed to have better overall access to amenities such as community water. There was a good mix of campsites at this location with pull through and back in options with sites ranging vastly in overall spacing.

 As a tent camper, I typically look for shaded areas which provide a little shelter from the elements and they did have several of these in this campground. Water access to the lake was also very close by although I didn’t see a swimming beach at the time of my visit. This could have been in part due to the rains and the lake levels or it could be that there indeed was not one in this area.

 I had decent cell signal at this campground on AT&T. 

TIPS: 

  • On weekends make sure to book in advance, the lake is one of the biggest draws of the area. 
  • Drive into town and check out the“US Largest Toilet Bowl” art installation,“Garden of Eden” and the downtown district where you can find a few unique pieces. Don’t forget to stop off and try some of the famous Lucas bologna. 
  • Check out the trail on the property to the rocks!
Easily Accessed From Highway

On my way north of Oklahoma City I was in search of a gas station on a pretty baron strip of highway. I saw a few signs for a local community of Perry and thought I would check it out along the way. Just off the highway at exit 185 heading toward Highway 77 there was a small truck stop but more surprisingly located just beside as a part of the same property was roadside motel and RV stop.

 I inquired within and was informed that they have nightly as well as weekly rates available and often are frequented by tourists passing through on the main highway. 

There are only 16 pull through locations but they do allow overnight tent stay, although there is not a discounted rate for tents. 

The property is limited on shade but does have basic amenities and proximity to quick feel before hitting the road again. 

The restrooms are quite nice and offer showers and laundry services as well. They do allow pets and didn’t seem to have an additional charge for this. If you are looking for an easy access location this one is great for a quick pull off however if you are looking for more recreational style campgrounds look at Perry Lake which is only a short distance away.

Ranger Review: Stream2Sea Travel Size At Beavers Bend State Park

When it comes to Oklahoma one location which continually is brought up is Broken Bow, OK where you can find a great escape from the DFW area or a retreat from your own location which is like no other. Offering a paradise of water activities for summer, cozy cabins for winter and a vast array of amenities for any taste you can find something within this park on pretty much any budget.

Campground Review 

I visited Beavers Bend State Park and took a moment to explore the accommodation options and WOW oh WOW!! From primitive tent locations to full hook ups and cabins outfitted in a variety of styles and sizes there truly is something for everyone at this park. You can find sites located on the waters edge for quick boat launching or further removed for forrest and trail access. 

During the wet season there is a waterfall which rests at the end of a scenic hike, during summer various locations rent everything from paddle boards to kayaks and there is an abundant supply of fishing equipment which can be found for those wanting to try their hand at fly or rod and reel fishing.

 When I visited mid week during early summer the park was filled with life yet did not seem crowded. A small half way stop where a private owner offers horseback riding, train rides and affordable shopping was buzzing with a filled parking lot. The swimming beach was filled with those wanting to have a little fun in the sun. The visitor center was bustling. Yet even with all these areas seeming very lively, the park itself is large enough where I never felt overwhelmed by the people around me. There were still plenty of quiet moments to be had in areas which seemed very remote, despite being no oh so far away from these populous areas. 

The real feature of this park is by far the water! If you can follow the water you can see how amazing this area of Oklahoma truly is. Around this area the trees thrive and area green and beautiful. You find that even through the world around this section of land is flat, the world opens up when you arrive and you are met with hills and low laying mountains. It is unique in its location to say the least. I found that the primitive campgrounds as well as improved campgrounds were very shaded and each came equipped with a picnic table, fire ring and lantern hook. The main differences in the sites other than the obvious electricity were in the restrooms. Restrooms near improved campgrounds were much larger and nicer, they included flush toilets and showers unlike the vault style toilets of the primitive sites. 

When booking online during peak season there is a 2 night minimum required currently on weekends. On holiday weekends during peak season you must reserve for 3 nights when it comes to cabins. For campsites there is no requirement. I did notices however that many of the campsites are on a first come first serve basis and after speaking to several park employees during peak season the grounds fill up quickly as of Thursday evening for the upcoming weekend. You will want to get there as early as possible especially to secure an improved campsite. 

Prices are very reasonable for tent and RV patrons at only$12 for a primitive site and$20 for an improved location. Pets are allowed in these areas however if you choose to bring your pet to stay in a cabin there is a pet fee.

TIPS: 

  • Plan ahead and stop in Broken Bow for supplies. While Hochatown is also close by the prices in that community are much higher than in the main city of Broken Bow. 
  • Take time to stop at the visitor center and nature center area they are worth it because of the rich history of the area which are made visible through the museum.
  •  If you are renting a watercraft check out the stop closest to the swimming beach. They have miniature golf for the family and also the best selection of options including paddle boats, kayaks, canoes and paddle boards.

Product Review 

When checking out new locations many times I get the opportunity thanks to the Dyrt to test out products on my adventures. For this fun filled day in the sun I was able to check out the Stream2Sea Face& Body Sunscreen in the 1 oz Travel Size. 

This product is perfect for a person on the go and has just enough to reapply several times throughout the day to keep you safe and protected from the UVA and UVB rays. The product itself is mineral based and does not appear sticky or tacky on the skin once applied. Although I will say it does take a little while to fully absorb which can leave you appearing a little more ghostly until it does. With this being said, this also makes it very easy to know where the sunscreen has been applied and where you might have missed a spot. 

The sunscreen is water-resistant which is perfect for a location such as Beavers Bend State Park where you will likely be in and out of the water in a multitude of ways. The product is unscented so it will not attract mosquitoes. I think this aspect is potentially one of the best qualities of this particular sunscreen because it allows you to have fun and adventure without worrying about the unpleasant feasting which bugs often do when they area attracted to sunscreens which have fruity or floral fragrances. 

When I wore the product I truly did test it to the max on my fair skin. I reapplied every 80 minutes per instruction and then decided that I would skip my last application to see if it continues to work. I did learn they make these directions for a reason so follow instructions for application and do not miss reapplication times.TIPS: 

  • Apply before you get in the water by at least 5 minutes to allow your base layer to fully absorb. 
  • Follow the schedule for reapplication relatively close to the 80 minute mark.
  • This is a body and face product and works well on either so do not forget the face!!
Centralized Cabins, Tent & RV Camping

When searching for a unique camping experience you might check out something a little bit outside of the box. Offering tent sites and RV sites Tiny Town might seem normal on paper but when you were arrive they have a lot of options which might be considered a little bit different. 

I pulled into Tiny Town I noticed right away the unique experience which they offer. Though RVs were parked in the front and on the right I noticed a community of tiny homes just beyond the bounds. Many tiny homes were under construction however a few options were already up and running in a variety of floor plans ideal for any traveler visiting the area. 

The property it’s self is small but does offer a few amenities including a restroom and laundry as well as a small play facility. The big draw to this area is the quick and easy access to beavers Bend State Park and other attractions around the Broken Bow area. 

The offering of cabin rentals varies from humble three person dwellings all the way up to a 20 person“Deck-A-Saurus”. Cabins are all equipped with standard furniture including couches and beds, making it ideal for those who just want to pullin and immediately jump into comfort. The RV area it’s self accommodate 17 spaces in three various sizes. Each side includes full hook ups, and barbecue pits. The larger areas have private fire pits as well as picnic tables. 

When I visited I noticed that the area was a little void of large trees. However the area is currently working to re-landscape and provide better shade accommodations along the perimeter’s which would be very beneficial to tent campers. While they do not market the smaller sites as tent only facilities I did notice there were several people staying in vans or tents in these sites along the outer border. 

The facility itself is very clean and well-maintained. You can really tell there is attention to detail at this location and that as it continues to grow and be developed that this will be a continued point of interest. 

Standard nightly rates run between $30 and $45 depending on the site for RV or tent camping. They do also offer both weekly and monthly rates but do impose strict guidelines for those who are staying long-term to keep the facility clean and not looking unkept. 

The Broken Bow Area offers beautiful unique attractions. If you like fishing, hiking,canoeing or trying something a little new this area is perfect. This park offers easy access to not only the outdoor features but also the nice Intown features such as restaurants making it a perfect place to stop if you’re in the area.

The only downside I could see to this campsite is that it is not as remote as some.    While it does provide great amenities and access points to everything around with easy pull ins for RV traffic, it does lack that in the woods feel that many other campsites provide.   You will be a little close to your neighbors here.

Quiet Large Camping Sites

On my last trip to Colorado I had crossed paths with this campground and vowed that this time I would make it a stop on my journey. I love the location and though it is in a decently traveled area it is not close enough to the road to hear any traffic. The location is great for having that Colorado forest feeling for sure with towering pines and great spacing around the campground itself. 

While this campground does have a formal campground host on site there is a fee station and no money changes hands in person. The host also mentioned that the location is patrolled by forest service rangers to add a bit of additional accountability and safety. As a solo traveler who many times travels during off season or off days for travel this brought me a very settling feeling to know.

 The campground itself does not have connections of any kind, however there are a few water spigots(non drinking) throughout the camp for usage and also vault toilets for usage. Price point is fair at$17 and during the early portion of the camping season this location was pretty quiet. A few scattered campers were present but even if this was a full site it would still allow for plenty of spacing between campers with large parking for each and sites which are both deep and wide. 

All the locations included a picnic table which looked shaded, I did not see many spaces of full sun around camp at all in fact. There were also fire rings and marker poles for each site where you can hang your receipt for camping. 

Unlike many campgrounds I visited in this region where pine needles or leaves were everywhere, this one was very clear. Even downed limbs had been collected by rangers and host to keep the sites open for usage which was very nice. Though I didn’t see any marked pad sites at this location the ground was nice and even in most of the sites for a tent or many had large enough area for RVs of various sizes. I did not see any pull through sites however. 

This location they do recommend you reserving online before coming to camp, however they did have envelops for payment as well. I can see how online reservation would be very important during busy season and I truly believe they are trying to move to an exclusive online pay system for sites like this and others. I think this will prevent some of the box theft which has occurred around some of the more remote or unattended sites. 

I loved how quiet this camp was, how open it was and that it provided great access to the wildlife area which was only a short drive up the road. 

TIPS: 

  • Prepare for your stay ahead of time by bringing everything you could need to camp this includes firewood and water. 
  • Bring your own toilet paper. Though the site is maintained and has a host the paper is not guaranteed to be stocked so remember to come prepared.
  •  If you have solar you are wanting to use pull up a map in advance to find the best location because of the shade.
Fair Site Pricing & Nice Amenities But A Few Additional Fees

I wanted to stop into this area after exploring a few campgrounds designed more so for tent campers in the area. I noticed some of these spaces were not ideal for those wanting to bring their RV and have amenities and that really was something that I know many of the people I know really look for when finding their locations for travel. Loveland is a little further away from the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park but it offers many great things to those wanting to explore the area and still be within comfortable distance of the park itself. The RV Resort is designed for both larger and smaller rigs and offers a variety of comfortable amenities for campers of this style. 

There are 4 basic styles of offerings at this location including full hook up, oversized full hook up, premium and premium back up sites. These prices range from$56 to$65 for base single night stay. They do offer both weekly and monthly rates as well for those really wanting to enjoy the area. 

Something which I have found very common amongst these style of locations is that while they do offer base charges which do not include tax there are many times additional fees depending on certain amenities. This campground was no different with additional charges for parties of over 4 people, extra vehicles or pets. Additionally they do have a sizable$20 dump fee, I found this to be quite high, especially considering there is a free dump station only a few miles up the way at another facility which allows campers or passers by alike to use their dump station. 

Something nice is they do offer a Good Sam discount if you belong to the affiliated program which is a few dollars off the price of nightly stay. 

Additionally amenities include a pool and mini golf which were quite nice and a clubhouse with several really cool things inside. They have a playground for the kiddos and a dog park for the furry family.

 Overall the park itself seemed to have wide roadways for navigating and though for my personal taste the sites are located pretty close together they were pretty typically placed for an RV style park. Unlike several parks I have encountered in the area and others, this place did not have the long term stay option readily flagrant and while they might offer it you do not see people who look like they have moved in and allowed their area to become homely and run down. Quite the opposite, the grounds were very clean and inviting, everyone was very friendly and nothing looked like a“there goes the neighborhood” moment.

No Frills First Come First Serve Alternative For RMNP

When traveling in this area and looking to explore Rocky Mountain National Park or the surrounding areas finding camping ahead of time is very important. During summer months campground fill quickly and overflow camps like this become your backup plan which sometimes can be difficult to squeeze into last minute. 

From May until September this campground opens its doors to the masses for only$12 per night. Clearly a lot less expensive than some of the campgrounds offered in the area, this camp is quite appealing for those who wish to find inexpensive camping and can enjoy their time in nature without all the frills of an improved campground. This campground is first come first serve which is very important to know if you are wanting to stay in the area and will be arriving later in the day or near a weekend. 

When I visited the season had just opened, literally the day of and there was no one on a weekday at the campground early in the day. I took a stroll around the campground and noticed there is an honor box for paying camp fees and that rangers were in the area driving through the various properties placing kiosk signage up and checking sites. 

This campground offers no running water for those camping here. There are toilets but they are primitive and non-flushing. The sites looked comfortable and like they would be great for camping in a tent or mid-sized RV however they could become a little cramped if visiting in larger units. 

The floor of the campground is blanketed with pine needles which give a fragrant welcome. 

Each campsite has a picnic table and bear box on the site in addition to a fire ring with a small grill on top. You are encouraged to bring your own fire wood and not collect the fallen and absolutely cannot cut firewood in this area. 

Just across from the campground is a pull off and picnic area for Roosevelt National Park which does not offer camping but does have additional areas for hiking and enjoying the nature of the area. There is also another restroom in this area. 

One of the things I found to be very helpful about this campground for controlling traffic and also for accommodating groups was the placement of a few larger sites with additional parking toward the front of the campground. I noticed when I pulled in that in the front portion of the loop there were wider areas which made navigating a bit easier for RVs and also near the dumpsters in this area there seemed to be additional parking. Again during the first part of the season with no traffic passing through this might have been deceiving but it looked to be a great option. 

TIPS: 

  • Check out Lucy Lake and the Camp Church in the area. The lake is an amazing location to see some of the picturesque views of Long’s Peak and hike without having to actually go into the park. The church is an actual Catholic Church build originally for a summer camp, its unique design and location are worth a pull off. 
  • Bring everything you might need with you. The closest store is more than 15 miles away so you will not be able to pick up last minute supplies without running into the larger community. Make sure you bring plenty of water for everyone and anything you might need for your stay. 
  • Check the reports for the area before you tent camp. This area has bear and upon occasion they have a few rogue bears visiting camps. You can find information in advance by checking out tourism centers in Estes Park or by looking at the Rocky Mountain National Park site.
Ranger Review: ROVR Cooler At Dancing Deer Meadow

For My Full Video CLICK HERE

I always look for campground which have a unique location, interesting features or points of interest which appeal to me for exploring by day. When I was challenged to visit the Dancing Deer Meadow Campground by the Dyrt on a recent Bounty Mission I was more than a little excited by the location itself. Nestled on a stretch of land which borders the Red River, I knew the location would allow me to enjoy a unique set of activities all within a 2 hour drive of my home. However with recent rainfall I was a little unknowing of what exactly to expect since the River does often overstretch its bounds and create flooding onto low laying lands in the area. 

I called into my camp hosts to assure that all would be ok with my what was going to be 2 nights of camping on their two separate campgrounds. What was going to be Riverfront beach camping on one night and meadow camping another was adjusted accordingly because of recent rains and they had already moved my reservation to the high ground meadow camping to ensure my optimum enjoyment. 

When I arrived I could see why before even arriving to the campground, the Red River, which I am very familiar with and typically has large sand bar shores was flowing like a mighty river instead of a casual stroll and the sand bars were nowhere in sight. 

The Campground: 

Dancing Deer Meadow is a part of a multi campground privately owned facility which rests just inside the Oklahoma border in a small community referred to as Garvin. Once crossing the river from the Texas side immediately you will find a small gas station and gaming center which is very convenient for any last minute camping needs. Just beyond that less than a mile is a small double gate with a winding drive which carries you around to the property itself.

 I recommend calling ahead for arrival because they really roll out the red carpet when you do by greeting you and telling you a bit more about the property, the amenities and also the mission they have to help rehabilitate animals. This is where the trip really started to get exciting actually as I pulled in and were greeted by my hosts which not only introduced themselves but also some of the furry friends they have on site including baby raccoons, skunks and foxes, such an amazing treat!! From there they escorted me to the campsite and let me know a bit more about the site itself before letting me get settled in for the evening. 

During various points of the year they host nature hikes which allow you to learn more about the native plants. They not only rent sites both on the river and in the meadow for those coming fully prepared like myself, but they also have tents available for rent for those who might not yet own a tent but want to give camping a shot. I think this is a great way for people who do not know much about camping to get a taste before fully investing. These tents are available for only$10 a night. 

When the rains have not hindered beach camping their other campsite offers over a mile of beach camping with vault toilets scattered along the beach front to offer you limited amenities. In he meadow fire rings, vault toilets, trash cans and picnic tables are offered under large shade trees. Those trees were a phenomenal retreat for me when visiting from the bright sunlight of first light and during summer provide a cooling shade for those camping at the site. 

The site does not offer water or electricity but that wasn’t an issue for me of course because I come prepared for any electronics I could possibly need and always bring my own water anyway because you never know what the water is going to taste like at a location. I do recommend if you are planning on drinking wanter from the river to bring a filtration system which is tested against heavy clay concentrations. 

As the night set in the fireflies came out to play and with that and the moisture some pretty large mosquitoes, but that can be expected camping pretty much anywhere in this area. I suggest bring repellant of your choice and also potentially a citronella source to further repel the pesky critters. 

The nights here are filled with the echoes of crickets, you can potentially see deer grazing and the sky is filled with millions of tiny white beaming stars which make for the most wonderful of locations far removed from the masses of additional campers. When I was here I had the entire site to myself on a Wednesday evening and really loved the feeling the solitude offered for my experience. This would be a perfect location to bring a family wanting some time in nature and also to experience something a bit different.

 I do know that when the river front camping is available those locations are very popular for those wanting to play, fish or even do some light ATVing, however this is not a mud-buggy campsite and they wish to preserve the beaches instead of offering this feature. I really respect that because, unlike a lot of properties which border the Red River where that seems to be everywhere, this offers a place for those who don’t want a party atmosphere and instead truly like to enjoy the natural spaces. 

TIPS:

  • You will be driving to your location through a semi uneven pasture land if you are in a car with low clearance I would not recommend this. I drive a Nissan Versa and am not far off the ground but managed just fine, anything lower I probably would not have felt comfortable navigating. 
  • Keep an open mind when you pull up and get to meet the furry family. You never know just what kind of experience you can have when you allow yourself to pet a new kind of animal and truly interact. 
  • Ask about horseback rides. While they do not offer this as of yet the camp host mentioned they would like to in the future so it could be available when you visit. 
  • Always close the gate. This is a working farm facility and property and they do have horses. You may come and go as you please but they do ask you latch the gate as you leave so as to not let any of the livestock out. 
  • Check out the neighboring communities for additional activities. Just outside of the camping area is a community which used to be the location for some pretty big names of Country music to come and play. A little beyond that is Idabell which offers amongst other things has the Museum of the Red River with some very impressive Native American art and also a scale model of one of the dinosaurs found in the area. If you really want a treat you can visit Hugo, nicknamed Circus City where there is an Elephant Sanctuary  and some extremely unique Circus memories for Carson & Barnes and Kelly Miller Circus. And lastly, Broken Bow is the home of the Beavers Bend State Park and a unique Petting Zoo which actually has some very cute furry ties to the campground itself, the Hoochatown Petting Zoo.

The Product: 

On this very exciting Bounty Mission I was given the opportunity to test out the ROVR Cooler and share a little feedback about the features of the product. I was very excited because I haven’t had a larger style cooler to travel with in some time and really liked the option to be able to store larger food items as well as drinks when on a longer trip. I really wanted to see how long I could keep items cold for future reference and just how easy or difficult the coolers large style would be to do everything from load to maneuver in my campsite. 

Upon first arrival I was shocked as to how large the cooler really was. 60 quarts is very large, large enough to place 2 1/2 24 packs of water and still have room for ice. The cooler was available in 4 color options orange, green, white and blue. I really liked the green so when I selected it I had a grand idea of naming my cooler the Bunny Hulk and taking it everywhere I would go because it would be rugged with its large rolling wheels, tough handle and massive storage bin designed for carrying anything that didn’t need to go inside the cooler. When it arrived I knew my selection was perfect!! 

The box itself is massive and unboxing the cooler on my own was somewhat of a task in itself because they pack it for safe keeping from the warehouse to your home. It took me a few moments and a lot of wiggling but finally I was ready to rinse it out and load it up for the big adventure. 

I packed my cooking supplies, my meals and camera equipment into the bin which in my small car took up one entire side of my back seat. The cooler itself rode in the other side of the back seat and that was pretty much all the room I had for items unless they would fit in the floorboard. This is one of those coolers I could take with myself and one other person when riding in the car but it does not fit in my compact car trunk and because of the handle cannot ride in the front seat either. If I were in a truck or SUV my space would not be as limited clearly but for a person who travels like I do this is definitely something to consider.

 When I left town for the day I had packed one small bag of ice into the cooler with only bottles of water. I wanted to see how long things could literally sit in the cooler without going hot so I didn’t want to pack food in it for this first outing. Texas is so hot during summer so imagine a 97 degree day then imagine being locked in a car for about 3 hours on that day where temps creep up to almost 130 degrees inside. This was the life of my ROVR cooler on its first outing. I was really going to put that 2 inches of insulation to the test. 

By the time I arrived to my campsite late in the afternoon after my day of travel and many stops the single bag of ice had been sitting for over 7 hours with me reaching in and out of the top and sealing it 3 or 4 times. Before dinner I opted to grab some water and check my ice and noticed that it had melted quite a bit. Now typically they do recommend more ice in the cooler than what I initially placed inside of it, but I wanted to see how the bare minimum of one bag could hold up. I was really quite impressed that with the beaming heat it still had large chunks of ice and though there was some melt it was freezing cold inside the cooler itself. 

ROVR is pretty interesting because it does offer a variety of attachments for the cooler to customize your experience. There is a cutting board style prep board, umbrella holder, stash bag and even a cup holder which can attach to the cooler in a variety of ways to make it more user friendly. For this trip I went with the bare minimum but will be purchasing attachments in the future to trick out the“Bunny Hulk” because I feel after using the cooler it is worth the investment to upgrade further because I will be using it often. 

I used the cooler for a table for cooking and additionally a seat for my campsite itself so I didn’t have to bring an additional chair. It serves many purposes well beyond just being a cooler. 

By morning most of my ice had melted away, there were a few remaining chunks but they were few and far between so I opted to drain the cooler of the excess water and see how long the waters themselves would remain ice cold. I didn’t predict they would have much of a chance as temps heated up again to the high 90s but I was surprised to see that the water itself retained the chilling cold throughout the day and was refreshing as ever well into the evening when I arrived back home. I definitely had not expect that!! I left the cooler in the car overnight instead of unpacking it and in the morning when I went to move it around, the water was still chilled. 

I was very pleased overall with the ROVR cooler’s ability to keep my items cold. The ice was a bit deceiving and new trip in addition to adding the recommended amount of ice I will probably refreeze a couple bottles of water to keep the temps of the lower levels and upper levels evenly cold. I think this will increase my length of overall cooling for longer trips. I can honestly say that I feel confident putting my fresh veggies and meats in this and safely and securely stowing them away for my trips and might even prepackage several meals for lengthy trips just to cut down on at campsite prep time. 

The only downside for me was the amount of space it consumes within my personal vehicle. For solo trips this is not a problem but if I am traveling with friends and there is additional luggage this could really be something to consider in my car.

Ranger Review: Stream 2 Sea Tinted Sport Sunscreen At Missile Site Park

While traveling through Colorado I wanted to check out some of the many campgrounds available that have unique features.    The state is filled with options for travelers looking for everything from the average to the unique for sure.     I wanted to find something which was right on target for a tent campers while also providing a great budget friendly option near Greeley.   That is when I stumbled upon Missile Site Park located only a short distance from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Campground Review:

Full Video Review. CLICK HERE

The park itself is open year round however camping does not officially begin until June 1st.    Regular season at the site runs from June to October, during which time all facilities are open for usage, this includes a bath house with running water and an RV dump site. 

So what is there to do when it is not open you might ask?   Well the thing that makes this site unique is that throughout the year you can visit a very special and unique portion of the site, the missile silo site, used during the cold war.   

Constructed originally for usage in 1961 and deactivated in 1965, the site was one of four sites which were used as a part of the Atlas E program in Weld County.     Now just a few hundred yards from the campground, you can take tours by appointment of the facility and see some of the many items which explain the cold war, the contribution the site played and the history surrounding one of the most tumultuous times in the United States.  And best of all it is FREE!!

If you do happen to visit during the regular season, you can have a front row seat to some of the most amazing views of the valley and flatlands surrounding the Greeley area with a mountain view in the distance.     Sites are $20 for tent campers or RVs and amenities include the raw basics:   picnic table and grill.     But one advantage of staying here is that you have great outdoor spaces to spread out in, spaces are relatively well spaced so you won’t be right on top of your neighbor and will be able to enjoy placing up to 2 tents on the spaces.

One of my favorite things about this campsite was that picnic tables are all covered.   During the heat of summer this could prove to be essential since there is no water at the property available for individual campers.    

One downfall of this site however is that there are no reservations available for the spaces. First come first serve can be tricky depending on time of year, so arrive early if planning on camping at the location. 

For Booking Information For The Missile Site CLICK HERE

Tips:

  • Remember to bring your ball or horseshoes!   The site has great outdoor spaces for families to enjoy activities together.
  • Call ahead for tours of the missile site.    While tours can be scheduled Monday through Friday if you are only going to be staying a single day, make sure you book your tour in advance to align with your trip.  I tried to book a tour same day and they could not accommodate me.

Product Review:

Full Product Review CLICK HERE

I wanted to check out a variety of sunscreen options to help me along all of my adventures and had the opportunity to check out the Stream 2 Sea Tinted Sports Sunscreen while on this adventure as a Dyrt Ranger.     I was very eager to test an option which could provide coverage and options for me to use as an alternative to wearing tinted moisturizer or makeup.   While I realize this isn’t a concern for all campers, for me this is a big one, I wanted something which would blend well or could stand alone on days I wasn’t feeling like rocking a full face.

Upon opening the packaging I was a little afraid of the coloration, it looked quite dark despite being considered to be a natural tone.     Maybe in my head my version of natural is a bit more pale than others.     

I first performed a patch test on my arm and hand, something I recommend anyone do when trying a new product on their skin.   Though the ingredients are much more natural than your typical sunscreens you find, it is always best to try a small area first before applying to the entire body.

When doing the test, I noticed that the coloration of the product still was looking a bit darker than my skin when applied, however after a few moments of allowing it to set it started to blend down much closer to my actual tone.    

The lotion was not as thin to apply as many other sunscreens I had tried, it was easy to move on the skin but didn’t feel tacky and quickly absorbed into the skin leaving it moisturized feeling but not oily or greasy.     I allowed it to continue to sit for 20 minutes before finally determining that I would now try it on my face, this is a face and body product.

I put it on my face without makeup and noticed it allowed me to have a sun kissed glow look without actually having had any sun.   It did not have a hard blend line at the jawline or in any areas which might not have been rubbed in as well.   It seemed to match my tones and create an even canvas.     

The sunscreen is destined to be water resilient and can last up to 80 minutes in hard sweat or water.    I noticed that after 80 minutes or normal activity it was still holding in tact and hadn’t become runny or discolored.   I did notice over time that after reapplying since I wasn’t really being “sport” active that it did feel a bit oily in my naturally more oily areas.     

I would definitely feel comfortable using this sunscreen by itself or under my make up, however I would probably not wear a full coverage foundation which tends to be heavier on the skin if using this product below.    I also would stray away from moisturizing my skin within hours of putting the lotion on my face.   

As for my body, I found this to be perfect product for evening out my tones on my shoulders and arms and while my arms were exposed all day I did not experience any burn despite this only being a SPF of 30.   Usually I am having to use a much higher SPF in other products to not worry about burning.

***UPDATE***  Overall I would rate this particular sunscreen a 4 of 5 stars because it is a little dark when first using.    I liked how durable it was but also found it to be over time a bit heavy when layering every 80 minutes as directed.     I wore this several days while traveling through the state and noticed that on my face specifically it did start to combine with my natural oils and create less coverage so it had to be reapplied.   By the end of the day I was wiping off a considerable amount of product onto my make up wipe  even when not wearing any make up and this started to reflect in my skin quality when wearing over the span.  I would definitely recommend for a day at a time of wearing but not as an every day product for someone with combination skin on their face.   My body did not experience the same issue and because it is less oily I had no problems.

TIPS:

  • While they do have a larger size I would suggest sticking with the 3 ounce for travel, not only is it TSA approved for beach destinations but it is also the best size for keeping in your bag for your destination.     They also have a small 1 ounce version great for a smaller bag or for your day to day.
  • Remember reapplying is important to keep consistency of product especially when being active.    Every 80 minutes a quick once over will be enough to keep your product in tact and protect you against both UVA and UVB.
Great Proximity Comes At A Prince

When visiting Estes Park if you are wanting to be close to all the action the KOA of Estes Park is the place to be.    Offering a midsized tent section, a large close together RV section and several cabins to provide the perfect retreat for those visiting the location is within walking distance of the lake and within a short drive of some of the best attractions of the area including the Stanley Hotel, hiking at Lily Lake or Long’s Peak and the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park.   

I found this campground to be well organized, although it was less remote and did not feel like as much of a mountain retreat as many of the outlying camps of the area.     The tent area seemed a bit less bustling than the RV section as there was a bit of green space versus the sandy and clay landscape of the RV and cabin area.   

Something that really drew me into this campground was the deck spaces which offered elevated viewing of the surrounding.   It was a really interesting component which allows you to see a much larger range than the camp itself and created a unique setting for enjoying the mountain breeze on a hot day or gave a nice view of the stars at night.

This location epitomizes the idea of KOA campgrounds offering elevated services such as WIFI, Cable TV connections and a dog park.     In addition there is a store which offers a variety of items including propane and firewood.

Since I am a tent camper I really wanted to explore more of the tent area than other areas of the park.  I noticed they had both water and electric sites and electric only sites.    Each of these accommodate up to 6 people, although I would say that would make me feel a bit to crowded.     The tent camps also allow small vans or pop ups in this area.   

But here is the BIG KICKER…. The Price!!

Staying in Estes Park and being so close to everything comes at a HUGE price point.   To have all the amazing amenities you will pay $53 or $58 for a tent site.    To me this is WAY above budget and while it is a prime location the price point is not within reason for me personally.    You can stay inside Rocky Mountain National Park at a price point that is half that of this park.   You are paying here to be in the community for sure and have the access to the local shops and restaurants.   

One special feature that comes along with staying in the area but is not included in the price is one of the best features, the wildlife!    It is known that the most likely reason for a traffic jam in Estes Park comes from the elk and Moose in the area randomly hanging out in public spaces.    It is not uncommon for them to roam into camp and make their presence known grazing around on any green space they can find.   A stay here is a chance with an encounter of something which cannot be purchased in a price point.

Property Has Potential But Lacks Solid Response When Inquiring

This campground is a bit of a mystery.    If you call ahead you are often quoted one price only to arrive and be told another.   Not sure why this is the case.    I was passing through the area and wanted to check it out, drove in and went to the area which was noted to be the “office” but did not have any luck actually speaking to a person.     There were some people at the camp who were staying there and they said the host would be returning later.   

I spent a few moments driving through the camp and checking out the location noticing they had recently made improvements to the playground and also the bathrooms.    The bath house is a small building but provides all the needs you could require when staying.   There is also fresh water at this site.   

I noticed that the sites I would be most interested in were right by the water, a gentle flowing area of the river which looked serene.    Just down the waterway there was a collection of unsavory looking RVs which looked as though they were long term campers at the site which did not maintain their locations to the same standard I would normally want for my camping neighbors.    

The tent campsites each were equipped with picnic tables and fire rings and were pretty well taken care of as a whole.  They were not much higher than the river itself so this could quickly be an area which would flood in case of torrential rains.

I stayed on property waiting for the hosts for a while and no luck which made it impossible to stay at the site.     There are no significant locations to go and spend time while waiting so after really being discouraged by the lack of ability to communicate I opted to speak to those staying there to solicit information about the location.    I had mixed reviews by campers regarding the amenities and some who were locked into a longer term stay gave less than favorable reviews which I could see to be possible when glancing around camp.

The cons seemed to outweigh the pros on my visit.   I opted to move on. 

I called in following my departure and spoke to a person who then seemed scattered on their responses, this reaffirmed the comments of the campers which I had spoken to.  It was a shame because the property had great potential.

Price Per Camp To High For Limited Tent Amenities

I am not exactly sure why this area looked so much more dusty than other photos I had seen but when pulling into this campground I was a little shocked and underwhelmed.     I am used to KOA camps having some of the best amenities in the camping world but this one seemed a bit outdated.   While they did have some nice amenities, the campsites themselves seemed to have little to no shade and were more dust and gravel than anything.    

As a tent camper I have slept on some hard surfaces before and learned to pad my site accordingly for comfort, however there were a lot of large rocks in the area where tents would be located which were rather large.   With these present it is hard to imagine other tent campers having a positive experience here or having moved them for comfort.   Perhaps the best bet when staying here would be one of the unique cabins or RV options.   

Tent sites were very high considering they have no hook up connections.   After tax $40 this just was a bit over the top in my opinion.     The no frills style of camping in this area has a picnic table and nothing else to justify the price point. 

A positive to staying in the area was the proximity to many hiking trails and places to explore along the river.    I noticed that within a 5 minute drive I could easily be in several access points for recreation opportunities ranging from fishing to hiking.    The snowcapped mountain passes were only a short distance as was the ghost town of St Elmo.     This is a huge positive for the campsite.

One thing I really did enjoy about this site was the camp cook area which is accessible to everyone staying at the park.  In addition, there are a lot of small prairie dogs which make for a fun view throughout camp, especially near the road way.

On a negative note however, the bathrooms were outdated and in need of some TLC and the outdoor recreation space was in need of some soft space as opposed to the rocky landscape.

Book In Advance Before Camping

Boyd Lake State Park was a very appealing place to visit when in the Loveland area.    I had passed through this area and wanted to check out what all the State Park had to offer after visiting the two local sculpture parks in the area.   I was excited after having seen how close it was to my location and so I took the short drive to the area.     

GPS was not friendly when searching for the entrance using AT&T, but after finding the correct road it was relatively easy to find.  I recommend following signs versus GPS.    

January of 2019 the park, like many in the state moved to a reservation only system.  I was unaware of this when pulling up to the park, so though they had open sites I could not reserve them without using the booking system, which consequently charges a service charge for booking.     This to me was incredibly silly if I was speaking to an actual park employee and yet could not book a site when they were the ones telling me there was in fact a site.    This kind of left a bad taste in my mouth about the property so I opted to visit it as a day use property first and then if I was excited enough to trek back into town so I could have better signal for booking online I would do so.

When I visited, mid May, the water level was very low.   Though I was informed that they were higher than other lake properties, it seemed very low in comparison to other places I had visited in the region.     Sandy beaches were very telling of the water level with an abnormal amount of shoreline exposed.   

Lake activities for me were limited as I didn’t have a fishing license or my own boat.    If you had either of these I could see how the property would be a lot more fun.     I enjoyed exploring the property including the Cottonwood Campground which offered pull through sites which were quite large and nice green spaces right near the water.    There are 6 loops you can camp on with a variety of different services offered and a few overflow parking lots for parties which have additional vehicles.    

Sites were $36 which I felt were a bit high, though the camp was nice and well put together.   For the value however and me not wanting to utilize the lake it seemed unreasonable, especially knowing I would have to go back into town and book the site instead of being able to do so in person.   I can see this location being great for a group of friends or a family for a retreat or for those really wanting to capitalize on the lake itself.   However, for myself I found there were other campgrounds in the area which better suited my needs at a much more reasonable rate.

TIPS:

  • If you visit this location be sure to check into the visitor center if you need a fishing license or need to register your boat.   They do these type of inspections at the property.
  • Visit the community of Loveland if traveling here and see the two amazing sculpture parks, they are known for their art contributions nationwide.
  • Be sure to pay for day use at the pay station if no one is at the entry station.   You need a window sign to signify you have paid for your entry otherwise you can be fined.
Ranger Review: Wenzel Ridgeline Tent At Clear Creek Reservoir

CLICK HERE for FULL video about Clear Creek Reservoir and Wenzel Ridgeline Tent!!

Nothing in this world can beat an amazing campsite in a picturesque location, but how often can you luck into one of those right?? When traveling it is few and far between than you are fortunate enough to find these types of locations but I wanted to find my own oasis while traveling though Colorado and managed to do just that at Clear Creek Reservoir located just north of Buena Vista. 

Campground Review:

When searching in the area just beyond the frozen slopes of Aspen and Leadville, I found a series of listed campsites all located on lands which allow free camping.  I am not one to pass up a good free campsite or at least a good look at one, so I made the trip and found as the snow subsided and the grounds became increasingly more green that the weather was shaping up to be very pleasant for tent camping.    

As I finally turned onto the unpaved road I cringed in fear of the road condition in my small car but also was optimistic based on what I had seen from other campers.     The road a mixture of clay and old gravel turned out to be a little bumpy but nothing major and after passing the lake and wrapping back toward the backside of the water I noticed the small sign for dispersed camping.

I had found the location from a person who is a full time RVer and so I knew the sites would be large enough for a decent sized rig, but I was so surprised how much room really was there!  Wrapping alongside the shoreline of the creek are campsites scattered at various distances.     The campground on a Wednesday had a handful of campers, of which I couldn’t even find them til I really started driving through the far side of the campground and they all seem to have collected along that bank due to large shade trees.   

I opted for a site on the right hand of the entry in a large open space near the base of the Colorado Trail hill which goes through camp.    There were a number of established looking campsites with river rock fire rings and large portions of the area cleared of scattered rocks or limbs.     I had very little work to do to prepare my tent site before just setting up.   

The campsite does have a single vault toilet.  It is located on the side nearer the tree line in the more open area to the right of the camp.    While this was a little far for me compared to my usual wants at a campground which offers any amenities, I was glad to give up a few hundred yards for a much better view alongside the river.    

The sites are very basic, you will have to literally bring everything you want with you, no tables or lantern hooks, no electricity, not even trashcans!  Sometimes with views like these it is all worth it.     If you enjoy a good primitive site or can be sustainable off grid in your camper this is perfect.

The waters here are icy cold from the snow melt and provide a great contrast on a warm day.  They are clear and when the occasional fish does happen to pass you see it easily, though they do say you are more likely to catch fish in the lake itself.   

I was elated to see the wildlife in the area throughout the day which included some very cute prairie dogs, a very curious humming bird who was very impressed with my pink shirt and some beautiful songbirds.   

CLICK HERE for basic fishing Information at the Clear Creek Reservoir

TIPS:  

  • There is no cell service for AT&T at this campsite, I you are needing to make any important calls you will need to drive about 3 miles away from camp to sustain signal.   I advise dropping a pin if you have a friend of family member you check in with before you come to select your site.
  • Remember your firewood if you are wanting to have a fire.    There are several sources for your fire starters but none really for your actual campfire.
  • Pack Out Everything!!  There is NO trash collection at this site and since it is such a beautiful free site it is important that we remember to keep it clean and able to be used by the next person.

Product Review:   

As a Dyrt Ranger upon occasion I am given the opportunity to try out a new piece of camping gear and provide a little feedback on my experiences.  I was in the market for a smaller tent when I sent a Wenzel Ridgeline 3 Person Tent.    50 inches in height this would be a good solution for many small tent needs and allow comfortable sitting up and crouching while inside.     It also seemed the 7 x 7 size would easily meet the needs I might have, typically I like to use a 3 man tent for 2 people to provide some room for comfort since I travel with friends often.

Something I was most excited about with this tend is the Lite Reflect System.   This is a fancy way to say that the tent has a mesh basket which clips to the top panel inside.   You can place your headlamp of a small light inside this basket and it shines upward to create a reflection which illuminates your entire tent.    This is a ver thoughtful addition to a design to help allow more livable space in a tent at night when you need to be able to see.     This means that now instead of being stuck with your headlamp blinding another person or only being able to see a small portion of your tent without having to ransack through things, this technology would allow you to alleviate both of these issues. 

With any new tent there is a learning curve to assembly.    The poles on this tent were easy to snap together and after spreading the tent out I was able to feed them through to prepare the hoisting process within a matter or 2 minutes or less.    

 The problem for me came when the poles were such a tight fit within one of the corners that I was nervous to snap it in place.   This was not entirely the actual fits fault however, a small breeze had started to come through and pushed on the back of the tent, the only window zipped closed and not venting.   This created shifting of the tent against the pole and it made for a little tricky snap on that last corner.     Had the wind not have come along I would have had the entire tent up in less than 7 minutes.

After fully securing the tent with the tent stakes the winds continued to blow, but the tent remained in tact which allowed me to comfortably stay throughout the evening.   Sometimes I have noticed when a tent feels like it has a bit higher clearance it can get whipped around a bit, but this tent seemed very secure.

TIPS:

  • On a windy day it can be a bit more difficult to assemble this tent solo. The tent can easily catch wind and make it a bit harder to set up. While it can be done, it will take a bit of patience and creativity securing the tent base. My suggestion is to place items inside the tent before erecting the poles on a windy day.

  • The base of the tent is very durable but on a cold or rainy night it can still gather condensation. To prevent this lay a tarp down before placing the tent.