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Camping Location Advise

Trailhead conditions, directions, roads, parking, camping, etc. Trailhead Info/Status
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Camping Location Advise

Postby CincinnatiJeff » Sun May 06, 2012 8:20 pm

My daughter and I plan to drive out there this summer, and are going to try to hike 2 or 3 14er's (no preference as to which ones they are). We want to camp in a location central to those two or three so we can set up camp just once and return there each day. Does anyone have advise on where to try to do this - and then which 14ers would be good ones to hike? I'm driving from Cincinnati, so farther east would save some driving time. Thanks for any help you can give us!

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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby BKS » Sun May 06, 2012 9:14 pm

Its hard to know where to start on such a wide open question. Almost anywhere in the 14er areas there will be plenty of camp spots with easy access to multiple mountains.

Lets talk type of camping options first:

National Forest Service sites: maintained by NFS. amenities: usually pit toliets, picnic tables, fire rings, common water source (often hand pump), sometimes level gravel tent sites - around $10-15/ night. These are usually very senic, good road access, well maintained, clean and quiet at night. They are plentiful around the state. Locations can be found online at the NFS site or from a Colorado Atlas topo Gazetter (something like that) available at a lot of gas stations in the state. Well worth the $20 or so. These maps will show you where all these sites are located. Most places do no require reservations (except high traffic areas like ASpen).

Primitive sites: no services whatsoever. find a tent spot, filter water from stream, build a fire if so desired. YOu have to be in the area to know where these sites are, but they also are plentiful. Have to be careful about private land issues.

Commercial Campgrounds: KOA etc. These will have plenty of ammenities and are pricey. Colorado topo map as described above also provides locations for these. They are not as plentiful as NFS sites. Generally, I don't think they are as scenic, are more noisy, and offer little sense of wilderness. Most of the larger mountain towns will some options like this. Buena Vista, Leadville, Salida, Lake City, Ouray, Gunnison etc.

Hostels: another option I've recently found. ARound $20/night/person. Dormitory style sleeping with common bath. For winter, I've enjoyed these places at Leadville and Aspen.

Two favorite locations for multiple easier mountain access around a base camp:

1. Twin Lakes: easy access to Elbert, Massive, and LaPlata. Belford, Oxford, MIssouri & Huron will take 20 minutes by car to get to. There are several different NFS sites, the ones above the lakes (Lakeview, I think is what it is called) are some of the most scenic in the state. This would be 2 - 2 1/2 hours from Denver.

2. Beuna Vista: lots of NFS sites in all directions from town. All of central Sawatch is within 30 minutes. Yale is an excellent first mountain.

Plenty of other options. Camping is availbe in Summit co around lake Dillion, but you have to drive a little to get to Quandary, Gray & Torrey's, Democrat, Lincoln, Bross, & Cameron. These are probably the easiest moutnains. But there alot of camping close to these trailheads.

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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby schrund » Sun May 06, 2012 9:34 pm

The "furthest East" range is the Front Range, which is often the most crowded in Summer months since it is closest to Denver. This Campground would give you access to Bierstadt and Evans, with pretty close access to Greys and Torreys. But, BKS is right the Sawatch Range has many more options and is maybe 2 hours further driving from points East.

http://www.reserveamerica.com/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=70623&topTabIndex=CampingSpot
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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby OmahaAdam » Mon May 07, 2012 1:38 am

I third BKS's suggestion about the Sawatch. If you head up hwy 82 from Twin Lakes there are some ridiculously awesome places to camp. It's worth enduring the extra couple hours of gorgeous scenery.

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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby huffy13 » Mon May 07, 2012 7:41 am

CincinnatiJeff wrote:My daughter and I plan to drive out there this summer, and are going to try to hike 2 or 3 14er's (no preference as to which ones they are). We want to camp in a location central to those two or three so we can set up camp just once and return there each day. Does anyone have advise on where to try to do this - and then which 14ers would be good ones to hike? I'm driving from Cincinnati, so farther east would save some driving time. Thanks for any help you can give us!




I would suggest camping at Winfield and heading up Huron Peak as well as La Plata from the west...and if you still feel up to it you can get Oxford, Belford and Missouri back up CR 390 just a few miles. Me and son and daughter camped at Winfield a couple of years ago and drove up to Leadville and bagged Sherman from Iowa Gulch on the first day(it took about a 45 minute drive to get from Winfield to Iowa Gulch) and then did Huron on the second day. If we hadn't been under a time crunch I would have liked to have stayed there a couple more days and gotten Belford, Oxford and at least La plata, if not Missouri also. You can probably also be to Massive and Elbert's THs within 45 minutes from Winfield also.

Winfield was just a great area...fairly secluded, awesome scenery, neat old mining ghost town to check out(some of the old buildings are private property, so just be aware of that) and the small stream that runs through there is really nice. Just my 2 cents but that is my suggestion!
Seems like the times that I need a mountain the most are the times that I can not get to them.

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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby schrund » Mon May 07, 2012 7:55 am

Winfield is a great suggestion. Just don't go on the weekend of August 18-19, 2012, as there is a huge trail run passing through there that weekend and traffic along the road will be near impossible to navigate.
We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams... as "wild". Only to the white man was nature a "wilderness".
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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby rnordman » Mon May 07, 2012 8:51 am

Depending on the age of your daughter I would suggest Elbert Creek Campground at the trailheads of Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive and short driving distance to several other 14ers and Leadville. We are from the Chicago area. I took my 2 sons ages 9 and 12 to this campground last summer and it had everything we envisioned and more for our first Colorado hiking/camping trip. Our spacious camp site was right next to Elbert Creek which is a beautiful mountain stream that you can wade across or float down (but the water is coooooold). The campground has no running water. There are outhouses. One evening it started to rain so we just drove into Leadville had dinner and grabbed a cheap motel. The Mt. Elbert trailhead is right there. The climb to the top of the highest point in Colorado was not that difficult and the scenery is beyond words, but start early. One day we went to this Ghost town named St. Elmo near Nathrop CO. We ended up taking this short hike to Agnes Veil Falls. This ended up being one of the highlights of the trip. We are returning this year to the same location for a few days and then heading to the Lake City area.

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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby climbing_rob » Mon May 07, 2012 10:02 am

schrund wrote:Winfield is a great suggestion. Just don't go on the weekend of August 18-19, 2012, as there is a huge trail run passing through there that weekend and traffic along the road will be near impossible to navigate.
+1 on the Winfield suggestion, or at least somewhere along the road. Tons of great campsites along here, and great access to nice, gentle 14ers.

But, Dear OP: Can you bring some cans of Skyline along? I'm fresh out, and jonesing for some...

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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby djkest » Mon May 07, 2012 11:00 am

Just a heads up, I think La Plata Peak is one of the most scenic of the Sawatch mountains. It's fantastic. Missouri was nice as well. I've heard Huron is pretty awesome and it's pretty mild as far as the trail goes. I'll bet you have a fantastic time no matter what you do!
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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby peter303 » Mon May 07, 2012 11:10 am

BKS wrote:Its hard to know where to start on such a wide open question. Almost anywhere in the 14er areas there will be plenty of camp spots with easy access to multiple mountains.

Holiday weekends and summer Saturday nights can be pretty full.

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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby MtHurd » Mon May 07, 2012 1:23 pm

The Cascade Campground near St. Elmo might be a good one with less people. This primitive campground is between Antero and Princeton.

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Re: Camping Location Advise

Postby gdthomas » Mon May 07, 2012 2:05 pm

First off, from one Cincinnatian (former) to another, welcome. As BKS has said, National Forest campgrounds offer a good balance of outdoor camping with amenities without being too primitive or commercial. If you go on the NFS website for Colorado and access the link for the San Isabel National Forest, I would focus on NFS campgrounds in the following areas: Buena Vista, Leadville, Nathrop and Twin Lakes. Camping in thess area provide access to the Sawatch Range 14ers, some of which are suitable class 2 climbs depending on your level of fitness - Mt. Yale, Mt. Elbert, La Plata Peak, Huron, Mt. Belford, Mt. Princeton (if you can drive to the radio towers), Mt. Antero (if you can drive to the stream crossing) and Tabeguache Peak. I've camped in many of these campgrounds with some of my favorites being Collegiate Peaks, Father Dyer, Mt. Princeton, Twin Peaks (doesn't take reservations), and Lakeview. Since you're driving 1,200 miles, I would make reservations as soon as possible to ensure you have a campsite. Of course the campground you select will depend on the 14ers you wish to climb.

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