Cool Dispersed Camping at 10,000 Feet in Colorado

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Along the drive from Leadville to Steamboat Springs: Bob Wells

By Bob Wells –

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Co. — After Randy and his group left Leadville for Salida, Colorado, I knew we had a record-setting heat wave coming so I liked the idea of staying up at high elevation. I decided to start working my way north so my next stop was Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

I had camped there last year for about a month on top of Rabbit Ears Pass so I was glad to know where I had a very high elevation camp (10,000 feet) with great Verizon 4G signal right in camp. That’s a hard combination to find. With all that going for it, away I went.


Looking down at the camp on the way up the nob: Bob Wells

Last year when I was there I searched for good cell signal and found it when I took Forest Road 199 back to Dumont Lake campground and then headed up FR 311 which is the first left past the campground. I then turned right on FR 291 which is rough enough to discourage the average Joe from taking but I was satisfied I could handle it. I went back as far as I was comfortable and set up camp.


Climbing up the nob behind camp: Bob Wells

I loved that camp but it turned out that road got very little vehicle traffic but it was the main hiking trail up to the Rabbit Ears formations themselves. I put up with the foot traffic but was determined to find a better campsite the next time I came back.

Read my post about that camp here.

I was so happy with that camp last year, I decided to go back to the same general area. But rather than turn off FR 311, I would just keep going straight up the mountain, I was sure I’d find a good camping spot somewhere up there and I was right. The road wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either, any 2wd truck or SUV could make it but it was rocky and you had to go slow to crawl over the rocks — no big deal.

Finally I came to a gorgeous campsite that was on a slight ridge with a beautiful view down on the other side look like Rabbit Ears, but it was still very pretty. The short driveway into it has some big rocks and holes that I wasn’t happy about crawling over. I had visions of breaking an oil pan on them. Fortunately, people had been going around that spot and created a subtle new driveway into the campsite. That made it easy so I just popped right up on it and was home for the next little while.


The camp at sunrise: Bob Wells

One of the things you need to be concerned about when looking for a camp is how far away is the nearest good shopping. Steamboat Springs is a very pleasant little town as far as I am concerned and it was only 10 miles away. It had both a Safeway and City Market grocery store (owned by Kroegers) so that was nearly ideal as far as I was concerned. A Walmart would have been better, but you can’t get everything.


I was just about even with the Rabbit Ears. That’s them on the horizon at the far left. From this side angle they don’t look anything like rabbit ears, but they do from the front: Bob Wells

Another thing I look for in a campsite is how good and safe is the road and how much traffic is there on it? Specifically, is the walking good on it for Cody and I? In this case both were very good. We got very little traffic and because the road was so rocky, traffic was driving along very slowly. The one thing I didn’t like was that most of it was uphill, which is harder for me to walk on. But, it’s also better for me to climb hills since it’s aerobic — so I accepted it as a blessing in disguise.


Cody and I walked up the mountain every evening and there was still snow along the road the higher you went, even in July: Bob Wells

One thing that stood out to me was the big nob that loomed over our camp, so as soon as I got there I determined I had to climb it to see the view. So that first day I did just that and really enjoyed it It had a terrific view looking down at the van and the mountains all around on the horizon. It was well worth the huffing and puffing on my older legs and lungs.

I stayed about a week and had one friend join me and then it was time for me to move on and visit another friend. I loved this camp and highly recommend it to you to beat the heat. It gets little traffic and has a great 4G signal. The further you go up the mountain you’ll see more campsites if the lower ones are taken. Enjoy!

Republished with permission from Bob Wells has been a full-time Van Dweller for 12 years and love’s it. He hopes to never live in a house again.

© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.