We got out to Colorado last week for the first time ever NOT in the summer. We've always wanted to see the Aspens in the Fall and got really lucky. We figured the colors would be over but we got the last of the colors plus a couple of good snowstorms. It was an epic trip!
Crossing the Plains
We stayed with family in the Denver area for a few days and were able to go visit Jage and family and meet his twin girls. Per his request, I'm NOT going to post pics of him in his new parent glory. He looked a little tired but the girls are healthy and beautiful and they are all very happy.
My wife nabbed a great pic of Pike's Peak (I think) in the afternoon light driving back from Jage's
Leaving Denver we headed up to Poudre Canyon per Jage and Derek from CCV's advice. We weren't disappointed, except for all the great USFS campgrounds that we passed that were gated
We pulled our Jeep for the first time. I was impressed, though it does add another variable to traveling. The good part was that other than the headwinds in Kansas and the steep grades in CO, I only lost 1 MPG towing the Jeep. This is great because the van is a 5.4 and I still got 12-13 towing vs. 14 or so usually with just the van. The van is 9500lb. loaded, the Jeep is 3000lb, so it's not really adding much flat towing. I drove 60-70 and benefited from the SCT towing tune without a doubt.
We took Hwy. 14 west out of Fort Collins into Poudre Canyon and it was deserted, mostly due to the shutdown I'm sure. We boondocked at by a beautiful lake (Chambers Lake) at the edge of the snow and had a very nice, but cold night.
There was frost on everything the next morning and a big ball of ice on my propane regulator.
Next we took Laramie River Rd. (County rd 14) up towards Laramie/Medicine Bow. Lots of mule deer, beautiful ranches and other wildlife
Medicine bow was eery. Like being on the moon. No one around but evidence of hunters only by all of their campers along the sides of Hwy 130. My daughter was happy to play in some snow since we never see it before mid December
Shortly after that we decided to go over the pass in search of Aspen Alley, a place we heard of on the West side of Medicine Bow off of Hwy 70 near Baggs Wy. Rain quickly turned to snow and above 8000 ft it got bad pretty quick. The pics of Battle Pass show how hard the snow was coming down
Coming down the other side of the pass was tough. It was not really bad as far as driving in snow is concerned, but 2wd with the Jeep behind me on 8% grades in unfamiliar territory was fairly, um, intense.
Good ending, we found Aspen Alley but the leaves were mostly gone and snow was still coming down hard. If you've never seen a pic of Aspen Alley in the fall, Google it. It's a beautiful thing. We were a little late but it was still beautiful to see it in winter.
Next, we dropped back down into Colorado near Craig and took 131 south just west of Steamboat Springs. We were in search of a couple more nights camping, preferably without snow, so we took 24 over Tennessee Pass, then through Leadville headed down to Salida/Gunnison area on Hwy 50 where we knew it would be warmer and drier.
We found a beautiful private RV park, which I never like the idea of, but we were in need of power, showers, etc. after 4 nights out in the snow and rain. The place we found was just about to close for the winter but was possibly the most picturesque site I've ever had. Here it is at dusk.
The next morning was glorious
And I nabbed the best shot I've ever taken with an iPhone
Then the long drive home. 3600 miles, 8 days. Fuel: about $1200, including 1.5 tanks in the Jeep
Yes, $57 total!!!!