Down river from Ridgway to Montrose was delightful! A slight following wind, green pastures, and baby animals lined the route (mostly I saw baby horses and baby cows). From Montrose to the top of the first pass the meadows were green with sweet spring grass and the creeks were running full. At the top of the pass the scene switched to grays, browns, and tans.
The trees lining the creeks feeding into Blue Mesa Reservoir were green, but all around was parched. We stopped for siesta at the east-end of Blue Mesa and afterwards were treated to a 20 mph tailwind. The tailwind held all the way through Gunnison and up Monarch Pass though I’m not sure how much it was pushing us at our 25 mph climbing speed.
Down the east side of the pass (again with the 25 mph thing so we don’t end up in a runaway truck ramp) to Poncha Springs – where the hot-springs water you could soak in at the Salida pool comes from – then North to Chaffe County 194/ BLM 5611. Ultimate Campgrounds (.com) showed me this place as I was searching and it’s very convenient being as it’s half way between Ridgway and Denver. It’s a small canyon area with plenty of sagebrush and pine trees.
The sign post was leaning in a tree when we visited
There is also a State Park campground at the end of Chaffe county road 194 right on the Arkansas river. The turn off for the BLM land is not really marked. The sign post was leaning up against a tree when we were here. The road is between a couple of driveways and the only telltale was a fire pit in a turn-a-round area just south of CR 194.
We got a decent spot on a slight slope and our nearest neighbor was 150 meters away. There was a pile of trash next to the fire pit when we were here. Seems someone remodeled a bathroom and left the debris at the camp spot (this is why we don’t have nice things). The elevation is about 7600’ so the high temp was 85-ish during the day. Clouds blocked most of the sun in the afternoon and night-time promised temps in the 40’s.
There were 3 bars of 3G and 1 bar of LTE verizon service, but I could not get a useful internet connection at the campsite. I did manage an internet connection from the top of a nearby hill.
The area is without services so bring it if you need it.
The closest town is Salida, CO and it’s got gas, groceries, and a hot springs pool.
The camp sites are within ear-shot of the highway so big trucks can be heard, but the cars on the highway are mostly inaudible The road to the river gets pretty busy on the weekends with rafters going to and fro.
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