Ridgway to Chaffe County 194

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Green!!

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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.

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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!

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Flagstaff, AZ

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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.

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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!

 

Queens State Wildlife Area

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Queens SWA is a series of reservoirs in southeast Colorado between Eads and Lamar. I found out about it from UltimateCampgrounds.com and decided to check them out. After some time with google maps and the internet I decided on the Nee Gronde reservoir. We stopped at the parking area on County road C and hiked around a bit. The parking area is about a mile west of Highway 287 so there was no road noise. There are a few boat ramps, but none of them is near the waters edge. Two of the very nicest boat ramps are about 100 meters from the water. When we were there the wind was blowing about 10 gusting to 20 so the insects were not a problem.

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We camped in a parking lot, which I imagine was built for boat trailer parking, and had the lot to ourselves. There are 3 parking areas each with enough room for a big Class A to turn around. There are no services but there are great views of the sun setting over the lake.

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In the evening we could hear the red-wing black birds and meadowlarks singing. Later the white-tail deer strolled by and the coyotes began howling. In the morning the deer were back accompanied by the hoot of an owl.

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