We moved 6 miles up the road to Ridgway State Park. Still have stunning views of the San Juan Mountains to the south and we are nestled in the pine trees again.
Ridgway State park is perhaps the crown jewel of Colorado State Parks. It will be mostly full from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. It’s open all year, but summer in the high-country is very popular. There is plenty to do around Ridgway from hiking, 4-wheeling, boating, and hot springs, plus Telluride is just around the corner.
While we’re here lets talk about RV fresh water.
I have several friends who travel with RV’s and they seem to fall into two camps: Fill it with water before you leave, or pull it empty and fill it with water when you get to the camping place. I’ve tried both and while it’s nice to tow 664 fewer pounds (Mine holds 80 gallons) I have found it limits where I can go and how long I can stay un-connected when I start a trip with a mostly empty tank. For example, I recently had to make a side-trip to get water because I didn’t fill up at the last water stop.
I suppose if you are heading to a State park or Commercial campground you know has water then going empty might be better for you. If on the other hand you are like me and don’t have a clear idea where you are going next then having a full tank gives us a lot of freedom to wing it. Water and groceries are my limiting factors so the more I have of each the longer I can go without thinking about it too much.
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P.S. I want to apologize about the ads appearing on this page. Humanity is going to heck in a handcart with internet ads and click-bait banners leading the way!
Race to the bottom; Ready, Set, Go!
Soaking time! Two days soaking and a night of camping at Orvis Hot Springs. I first stayed here way-back in the mid nineties and can remember when the plants were small and there were not many of them. Now the landscaping is mature, the lilacs bloom in white and purple, and the shade trees blanket the ground with coolness. The town has changed too. Back then it was young people striking out into the wilderness in jeeps. Now there are a lot of retired Californians driving range rovers. Still there are one or two old bearded hippie types keeping it nostalgic.
The drive here from Mancos took about 4 hours. Google says it should take 2-3, but they don’t plan on stoping to take pictures or getting behind a logging truck climbing the pass. There are also two interesting towns along the way: Silverton and Ouray. Both are old mine towns turned tourist destination. Both could fill up a day of sight seeing and post-card buying.
The last time I was over these passes was as a cyclist in the Iron Horse Classic bike event. I got rained and hailed on during that ride and I got rained and hailed on again coming over the mountains on this trip. If the trips weren’t 25 years apart I would be suspicious.
On that first trip we were racing the train on bikes (the train won) this time I think I bested the train.
Gallup to Mancos, CO
We arrived just it time to experience the first real rain of spring! Water flowing in the gutters, new snow on the peaks, the whole enchilada!
We camped a little east of Mancos on top of a ridge at about 8000’ and got to sit through a couple of rain showers. The drive north from Gallup was downwind and that’s always nice.
The scene was mostly shades of brown and tan until we left Cortez heading east and climbed into the mountains. As I recall it’s been largely brown and tan since leaving mid Texas. West through Texas and New Mexico, south into Arizona – all browns and tans. The green hills of southwest Colorado are a pleasant surprise!
Kitty soaking up the afternoon sun near Marshall Lake
Well that was interesting. The forest service told me they were closing the forest on Wednesday because of extreme fire danger. Then business I-40 in Holbrook was closed because of a fire. All of the camp grounds I’ve visited in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona have fire bans in place. I think we need some rain in the west!
Also, I feel compelled by the bruises on my spine to report the pavement on I-40 in Flagstaff is easily the roughest asphalt I have ever driven over – Argh! The only stretch of pavement that comes close to being as bad are the first few miles of Hwy 287 in Oklahoma.
Since Gallup is just an overnight stop on our way to Ridgway, CO we pulled off I-40 at a truck stop near a railroad crossing. We found a place to park in the dirt lot next to the retaining pond. The wind is gusting to 30 miles per hour and politely swirling dust into the RV. This is going to make our next planned stop in Durango seem like a mountain paradise!
Got to get here early if you want a spot by the trains
FYI: Gallup Propane has great prices for tank refills. We had a 30# tank filled for only $15! That’s about 1/2 what it would have cost in Denver. Also the best price for gas and diesel seems to be on the north end of town heading toward Shiprock.
Camping near Marshall Lake at 7100’ the weather was delightful! High temps in the 70’s and a gentle westerly breeze. All the cats had a chance to go for a walk, roll in the dirt, and eat some grass. The Overland Expo was in Flagstaff at the same time we were there. After the Expo closed for the day we saw several adventure camp-mobiles roll past our camp site. I had half-a-notion to attend the Expo, but when I saw that the line to get in stretched from the Fairgrounds all the way to the Walmart (~ 3 miles) I changed my mind.
Instead I grabbed a bike out of the truck and rode up the road around Marshall Lake/ wetlands. The lake is more of a wetland habitat for ducks and such. Not so much a house-boat lake or a water skiing lake. Did the hike-a-bike around the wetlands in the dry season so there was no mud to contend with. Speaking of dry, after siesta a Ranger came by and told us the forest was closing in a few days because of the fire danger. Time to skedaddle!
Spent a day biking with my friend Chuck. We rode a series of local trails (I can never remember where we ride and since Chuck is a local I just follow him and enjoy the beautiful canyon views).
That night we went to happy-hour at Steakhouse 89. Probably not the best plan for a vegetarian (I think everything on the menu was wrapped in bacon and deep-fat-fried, but I was really tired and maybe hallucinating by then). Added to that our server was a newbie and my experience was not one I wish to repeat.
On the plus-side the cacti are blooming!
Page Springs Park on the banks of Oak Creek
After a cool night in the tall pines we headed north-bound out of Payson. We climbed up past Strawberry on the Zane Grey Highway and made a lunch stop near 29-mile lake.
Off-pavement near 29-mile lake
One of the many builder’s stickers on the side of the RV
We did a little Off Road x 4-ing with the RV. That extra ground clearance came in handy for towing through some dried-up mud holes. Back on the road we drove down valley to Camp Verde, hopped on the super-slab for a couple miles and then west to Cornville. By late afternoon we were in Page Springs napping next to Oak Creek.
Oak Creek behind the RV