East-bound out of Loveland and through Windsor on Hwy 392 which then curves north and crosses Hwy 14 at Briggsdale, CO. Crow Valley Campground is in the trees near Crow Creek just north of Hwy 14 and on the west side of Weld County 77. The area is part of the Pawnee National Grassland and a premier bird-watching area.
The campground is co-located with the Lee and Dorothy Rhodes Farm Implement Museum which to my eye looks like a pile of old broken metal bits. I imagine a conversation between Dorothy and Lee that went something like this:
“Lee, I told you to get ride of that old broken stuff cluttering up the yard”
“Okay Dot, I’ll get rid of it tonight”
Whereby Lee hauls it off under cover of darkness to the National Grassland and drops it in a cottonwood grove along with a sign which says “museum” so he doesn’t get fined for dumping.
The campsites are $13 per night for a single site and $18 for a double site (Spring 2018), but there is no water (except at the picnic pavilions), electric, or sewer connection. There are community toilets and shade trees. The best shade is in sites 6, 7, 8, & 10. 9 is okay and so is 1 but they get a lot of mid-day sun. 6 is a double-wide site. Since we can’t plug in and run the AC it is a bit toasty today. Tomorrow is suppose to be 10* cooler, day after that 20* cooler.
The next day on the Pawnee National Grassland’s windswept plains:
A thunderstorm drifted through here this afternoon and it’s so very pleasant now. Cool air smelling like rain and enough cloud cover to blot out the sun.
I found another farm implement “museum” today. On the corner of 3rd Ave and Milton in Briggsdale.
I went into town to see the sites and found a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) for the Pawnee Grassland at the Briggsdale Market. It shows all the places where dispersed camping is allowed so I’ll be free camping the next couple nights.
The National Grassland is mostly not public land. From a look at the map it’s about 90 to 95% private land which means most of the Grassland is off-limits. A lot of the pubic lands are also given over to cattle grazing so there are fences, water tanks, and other items on public land which are someone’s private property. The Weld County roads are mostly passable in a car, but many of the Forest Service (Grassland) roads are only suitable for 4×4 high clearance vehicles. If you are pulling a trailer or bringing a motor-home here it’d be best to check out the roads in a car/truck first before committing the rolling house. Unless you’re driving an expedition vehicle, then go for it.
The MVUM shows a fair number of roads designated for dispersed camping. Most of them have never seen anyone camp on them so there are no turn-outs or trails looping around a fire ring. That said there are a lot of places you are allowed to just pull off the road and camp within 300 feet of it.
We found a quiet little spot on a road that I feel certain was once a driveway to a ranch or business. It’s paved and ends at what might have once been a sliding gate and some parking spots. Since it rained last night, and may rain again today, I thought parking on pavement was better than picking a spot that could be a mud-hole after a storm.
Though I’m not much of a bird-watcher I did spot 3 Hawks and some Meadowlarks. There are also Pronghorn Antelope, Rabbits, and Cows near camp.
Tech report – Crow Valley Campground has 2-bars of LTE verizon service which was enough to use the internet. Briggsdale, across the street, has 5-bars of LTE service. Once you get out on the Grassland verizon service drops to 1 or 3 bars of 3G (no internet connection, but talk & text worked).
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