Moving north

Activity Date: 
07/28/2009

Today we are finally moving north. Originally, we planned to head right up to Rocky Mountain National Park.

But, the campground there is a zoo. Reservations for even some mid-week days aren't available for weeks. We think we'll explore the national forests all around the park and try to wait until after Labor Day when to visit it. Hopefully, it will be less busy then. The other time we visited Rocky Mountain National Park it was late October 2003. That time of year was great with fewer people and better weather. But, the downside was it's hard to find any water or a dump station, as everything is shut down for the winter by the end of September.

Anyway, for now we decided to head west of Denver and stay in the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. We'll need to get acclimated to altitude again and then get back to hiking.

Our goal was the Columbine Campground just north of Central City. It seemed like it would be easy to find, but it wasn't!

Here is the story of how we got lost and finally found the campground: The forest service website has the very un-useful directions of "...go through Central City on Hwy 279. At the top near the cemeteries, follow the signs to the campground." You know you are in trouble when the best they can do is tell you to look for a cemetery!

The problem is that Hwy 279 comes right into downtown Central City. Hmmm...no cemeteries here... we drove up to the main downtown, we saw a small sign mentioning Hwy 279, pointing left. But that sign also says it's going back to I-70. Huh? That can't be right. We decided to stay on the road we were on. So, we went past downtown and then up, up, up a very steep road, the road splits and becomes one-lane and one-way. It is narrow and houses are built up against the hill along the roadside. Once you start up the road, you are committed to get to the top, because you can't turn around until then. :( Our RV towing the Jeep really struggled up this hill.

Once at the top, we still saw no cemeteries or signs, and we decided we must have made a mistake. So, we turned around and went down the hill back into town. Figuring that the sign we saw in town must have been the way we were supposed to go, we turned on Main Street and drove through the narrow road in town and out the other side. Luckily, there was hardly anyone about during the mid-afternoon. These roads are really narrow. After going through downtown, this road puts you on a large, wide and very steep highway. It looks very new - the road is not on the forest service map, which was revised in 1997, so I guess this is new since then. They must have built it to support the casino town of Central City. Anyway, we drove on this highway (Found out later it's Central City Parkway, also known as Hwy 279, and it is a great highway to get back to I-70) for a while... because we had no choice -- there is no turn around(!). After a bit, we realized this must be wrong, it seemed to be taking us back towards I-70 -- and, hey, no cemeteries! So, we drove off the side of the road into the dirt and made a huge u-turn across the highway. Such fun!

Back into downtown, back up the one-lane, one-way, narrow, steep hill.... We kept going this time and eventually saw cemeteries!! A little further and we found a multi-fork (3 choices) dirt road area and found a tiny sign pointing to Columbine Campground. Finally! We found it!

Whew!

It was a hard day driving in circles, so Jeff had to relax on the recliner with all the cats. Pixie is perched out on the end on Jeff's knee.

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Finally, we got a campsite with reasonably good Verizon internet.

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