I don't really listen to the groundhog. Summer is on the way! It's been a while since I've checked in but we've been super busy with work and getting ready for Patrick's CDT Thru Hike and my move to Bridge Campground for hosting this summer. I am really looking forward to this, however, I have a real nostalgia for Ute Campground.
For the campers who knew Ute and for those who finally came all of the way up the driveway, well they know how gorgeous our Ponderosa Pine covered sites are, and how enormous and private is the campground. Anyhow, clearly I came to love the place. One drawback is that there is no recreational water at the camp (river, creek, lake). If you are a hiker, like to do off-roading on trail bikes and four wheelers, or want to explore Chimney Rock, Ute is the perfect camp. We're right on the path for a number of bicycle races as well.
Now I started the summer with Lower Piedra as my fave campground. With only fifteen sites it is tucked into the Lower Piedra river canyon. Every site is lovely but it's a bit closer together for more of that community feel. The river is stunning and provides the drive to camp with a backdrop that is everything Colorado should be. Certainly for me, this flatlander from the Midwest, it never failed to stun me. Plus there were crazy wild turkeys on the way in.
But onwards and up the mountain to Bridge this summer. Pretty sure I'm not going to hate the constant bloom of mountain meadow wild flowers. Patrick and I had the opportunity to visit most of the upper campgrounds run by the National San Juan Forestry Service in Pagosa Springs. Bridge is the first San Juan National Forest camp as you come up the mountain on Piedra Road. Bridge seems to be seen as something of a forgotten little sibling to some of the other camps up the road. Williams Creek is large, busy, takes reservations and has the best water you'll ever taste. Teal Camp has a gorgeous mountain lake. Pallisades Camp allows livestock and has the facilities necessary for those moving animals or desiring to take their horses on the many trails.
But here a few things to recommend Bridge that might not be immediately apparent. First, the creek runs right through the campground so you can enjoy the pleasant sound of moving water. Maybe even throw in a fishing line or two? Second, the lesser known campgrounds are quieter and have availability when you need it. I can't tell you the number of times people were shocked that such amazing camp sites (Ute and Lower Piedgra) were open when the entirety of the rest of Colorado seemed to be full. I've already mentioned the nearby trail heads and amazing wildflower fields. Never underestimate the positive impact of a mountain meadow filled with flowers.
Now I realize that I'll be a bit closer to the bears and there's more tall grass for those pesky venomous beasties with rattles. Seriously, how do people live with instant death at their feet for six months out of the year? That being said, I will remain alert and as prepared as possible. I take my advice from an expert and will leave you with this about humans and wildlife. Even though Hank Patterson is yakking about Yellowstone, it is nonetheless good advice for all of us who face this wildlife. Good advice for you, good advice for me, and definitely good advice for Patrick as he hikes the CDT! Thanks Hank - you always say it best. (Delicate sensibility warning: somewhat salty language)