Colorado Boondocking with Friends

My first couple days back in the US, I’m sick. This doesn’t come as a surprise, it’s pretty common to catch a cold in an airport. But the timing leads me to believe that I probably caught this particular bug in one of the hostels in Costa Rica before flying. Either way, my first weekend back is pretty low key. I hang out at my boondocking spot near Flagstaff, AZ and sleep a lot. When I venture outside, I look like I’m prepared for a blizzard. Don’t laugh too hard, I’ve been living in 90 degree weather without A/C and 60 feels very cold relatively speaking!

But by June 1st, I’m over my cold and ready to meet up with some of my RVing friends. I depart from Flagstaff in the morning and take 160 into Colorado. I end up at a boondocking spot east of Durango, CO that night in an oil drilling area. A herd of deer come by my camp spot after sunset and I watch them through my window in the fading light.

The next day, it’s east from Durango towards Pagosa Springs.

While I’ve taken 160 as far as Durango before, this is my first time seeing what lies farther east on it. The Pagosa Springs area is beautiful… but the mountains between there and South Fork are incredible.

When I first hit the road, I did a lot of planning on travel days. I was new to trailer towing, was less sure of my driving abilities and knew less of what to expect. As I gained more confidence I planned less knowing I’d be able to successfully wing it. And now that I have the an even smaller trailer, winging it becomes easier because my truck is so overpowered for towing it that there are few situations that can actually cause me trouble. (Which is certainly not the case for everyone, so don’t take this as advice – do what works for you and your rig!)

As it turns out, there’s a pretty considerable mountain pass between those two towns.

160 climbs up and up, past the snow line. And then keeps going up. This would cause a lot of RVers anxiety, but not with my setup. Bertha has no problems towing Tribble up to Wolf Creek Pass at 10,856 feet. She also has no problems coming down the other side, with plenty of breaking power for a trailer this light. I later learn that Wolf Creek Pass is one of the last passes in Colorado to clear of snow. I can believe it, there was a lot up there.

I join up with some of my Xscapers friends at a boondocking area outside of Del Norte.

For newer followers, Xscapers is an lifestyle group of Escapees RV Club that is targeted to the active RVer. I’ve been a member since Xscapers came into being in 2015, and have made a lot of connections with other younger, working-aged full-timers through them. It’s nice catching up with nomadic friends, we pick up right where we left off in January when I saw these people at the Annual Bash down in Arizona. There are evening walks:

Kelly’s as goofy as I am. We get along well.

Trips to the brewery in town:

And a hike up in the mountains.

All in all I spend almost two weeks here, mostly catching up on stuff I put on the back burner while down in Costa Rica. The most memorable part of my stay here had to be the snakes though. I never saw one myself, but several people in camp saw rattle snakes on several different days. We conclude that maybe there was a nest around. Otherwise, it was a pretty neat boondocking spot, very open with ample solar power and lots of little trails around to explore.

The night of June 15th, I visit my first Harvest Hosts site.

Harvest Hosts is a membership website where businesses (often wineries, farms, etc.) will let RVers stay overnight on their property, and in exchange the RVer is expected to buy something the host makes. I know a lot of RVers who love Harvest Hosts and say it’s more than worth the annual fee, but as I prefer to camp on public land and travel as frugally as possible, it’s not my cup of tea. But one of the Xscapers who was with the group of us at Del Norte has a membership and he found a brewery that is willing to let our whole group spend the night.

So I find myself at The Colorado Farm Brewery near Alamosa on a Saturday night. It’s a neat little place and we manage to cram 11 rigs into their parking lot. The brewery is more than happy to have our group though, we spend a fair amount of money that night. I rarely drink alcohol, but their craft sodas are very good and the bbq food truck is decent. In the below photo taken by drone, you can see all our rigs, the brewery in the lower right, and I’m in my green jacket standing with Marshall, Jesse, and Peter in front of the food truck waiting for my bbq. Despite being chilly with periodic sprinkles, it’s a fun night!

The next morning, our rolling caravan heads for the mountains west of Salida.

Serendipity brought me here before, my first year boondocking when Bertha had her one and only (knock on wood) breakdown, leaving me stranded up in Leadville over Labor Day Weekend in 2016. I didn’t have a vehicle for three weeks and a kind couple towed my Casita down to the Xscapers convergence that was happening here in Salida, when I should have been already working at Amazon. I was out a couple weeks of pay that holiday season, but getting to see Colorado during autumn was beautiful.

This time of year, the Aspen trees are wearing green and the rain and higher than usual snowfall last winter means that everything is GREEN. Some might complain about being stuck inside on rain days, but I’m happy because maybe it means the fire season won’t be as bad later this summer. The west could use a break after worse than usual fire seasons the past couple years.

During the week and a half I’m here, there are trips into Salida for food and beverages, off-roading trips that are more often than not truncated by snowdrifts, and a pretty epic tiki themed birthday party.

More and more Xscapers arrive in the area for this year’s Salida convergence that is starting near the end of the month. If you’ve never been to one, Xscapers Convergences are a pretty awesome experience, but this time I have somewhere else to be. Destination? The first Hiker Trailer rally, and from there to Yellowstone!

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Becky

At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

14 Comments

  1. Tracy Anderson on July 9, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Small camping world Becky. I too am in Colorado, in Buena Vista right now but headed to Silt. Also going to Yellowstone this year. Planning to be there around 8/26. I travel much slower than you! Unlike you I am nervous about some of the mountain roads, hauling a 27′ trailer. Would love to hear more about how your travel style has changed after trip to Costa Rica as you alluded to in previous post. Glad to hear your cold was short-lived. Keep on trucking!



    • Becky on July 12, 2019 at 6:13 pm

      Enjoy Colorado Tracy! I’m now up in Yellowstone and it’s beautiful here, you’ll enjoy it for sure. 🙂

      My next post is going to be a six month review of how teardrop trailer living is going, and there’s a bit about travel style in there.



  2. Norm H. on July 7, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    Glad you’re back to full health and enjoying the road again! I suspect some Colorado passes will have snow all summer. That picture of your rig, table, etc., all set up for boon docking ought to be a promotional photo for the Hiker company! Enjoy the rally



    • Becky on July 12, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      Thanks Norm! Wouldn’t that be something if not all the snow melted in Wolf Creek Pass? And Hiker doesn’t sponsor me but they sure outta, haha!



  3. Tom Kepler on July 7, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Glad that you are back in the saddle and well. The photos are beautiful, and if you dress well (no matter what folks think) cool weather camping has its charms. Enjoy this year’s camping season. Your lifestyle illustrates some points I wrote in a recent article about solo camping–that one can have both solitude and also companionship when desired, that choice expands. I haven’t had more than temporary relationships with campers so far, mostly folks walking by and asking about my “cute” camper! I enjoyed quite a lot writing in “Traveling Solo: Being Alone Is Not the Same Thing As Being Lonely” about Thoreau and the solo camping experience. Looking forward to your future articles.



    • Becky on July 12, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Tom!



  4. Trevor on July 6, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Sorry you caught a cold, but I’m glad that you feel better.



    • Becky on July 6, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks Trevor. Least it was over pretty quick, and I didn’t have one while in Costa Rica which was nice.



  5. Dawn in Michigan on July 6, 2019 at 4:55 am

    I know I’m not the first person to tell you to check out the song “Wolf Creek Pass” which was popular when I was a teenager in the 70s. Once upon a time I knew all the words. Maybe best not to have heard it BEFORE you drove it though. 🙂 The whole trip looks gorgeous.
    Dawn in Michigan recently posted..Visiting rural NorwayMy Profile



    • Becky on July 6, 2019 at 7:15 pm

      Never heard of the song Dawn, I’ll go check it out!



  6. Donald Wright on July 5, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    I have the same problem when driving from hellish DFW up into the cool weather of the mountains. It is refreshing, but folks look at me funny when I wear a light jacket and long pants.



    • Becky on July 6, 2019 at 7:14 pm

      Haha, it’s all a matter of what a person is use to, isn’t it?



  7. Ava on July 5, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Looks like you had an awesome time but it sounds a little too cold for me! I stayed at a few Harvest Hosts locations on my trip from California to Texas and loved each one — but wineries and breweries are my kind of thing. I’d love to do more boondocking but I don’t have solar yet.
    Ava recently posted..Port Isabel — What to See and Do in this Charming Bayside TownMy Profile



    • Becky on July 6, 2019 at 7:14 pm

      Yeah, Harvest Hosts is a great solution for overnighting depending on how you like to camp.

      It took me over three years to get solar on my camper but it was game changing. Hope you get the chance to try it Ava!



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