Tag: exploring

Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park

I have a new respect for great youtubers and bloggers and I will no longer complain or make fun of a vlogger who did not have the most engaging post.  It is hard work to have an entertaining post!  We have been on the road for nearly 6 months now and my goal when we first started was a video/blog a week.  Being on the road, much of this country has dead zones with zero cell service, which makes editing and posting blogs and vlogs on YouTube and WordPress difficult if you are trying to be consistent!  After traveling 100-150 miles in a Sprinter Van, setting up camp, cooking, cleaning, hiking, biking, and/or paddle boarding, many times I find myself just wanting to enjoy a beer and the view and not jumping on my computer to write or video edit!   I have found myself not posting for several weeks or even getting my computer out, which is not good if you are trying to create a following.  You must have consistency with vlog/blog postings every week.  I also did not realize how much work it is to create a good video and the frustration of right before compressing your video(that you spent 50 hours editing) that your audio for one part was bad and hard to understand and need to decide do I: redo the video, do a voiceover, just add music or say oh-well and post the bad audio (I’ve done all but redo the full video, which is not good if you are trying to create great quality- sorry to those who would like us to redo the Boldt Review Video!).  I have decided I probably won’t get to be the quality level to get great sponsors but hope these will be helpful for your travels, help newbie RVers not to make our same mistakes or be great virtual explorations if you can’t get out to these wonderful places.  This week’s post won’t have a video but just photos.

This week I’ll be sharing our adventures at the Rocky Mountain National Park.  We were considering skipping this park since it is so close to Denver and we have been trying to avoid huge crowds but I am so glad Greg pushed us to change our minds.  Currently, with COVID19 Rocky Mountain requires you to have a timed entry permit or a campground reservation or arrive before the park opens at 6am.  This is fabulous and made this one of our favorite places to visit, as there are about 60% less people in the park right now!  The only two campgrounds are open (Moraine Park and Glacier Basin) and only half of the campground is open for social distancing requirements.  Even if you go on reservation.gov and see no campsites available, I suggest calling the toll-free number (877-833-6777) and sitting on hold for 45 minutes as several people cancel last minute and this is how we got our two-day campsite reservation.  We stayed at Glacier Basin in Loop B, if you can get Loop C that is the loop with the amazing views and a chance to see Elk and Moose in the meadow if your neighbors can be quiet and not run their generators. 

We entered from the westside, which I recommend as only 20% of park attendees come from this entrance, most come from the eastside-Denver Area.  We camped the night before at Lake Granby at Stillwater Campground, which is a fun paddle boarding lake.  We decided to stay here instead of boondock since a big thunder and windstorm was expected for the late afternoon and we didn’t want to get our van stuck in sand.  There were a lot of fisherman and plenty first come first serve campsites next to the lake.  We left early the next morning 5am to hit the park to see wildlife.  We were able to see moose, elk, prairie falcon, peregrine falcon, marmot, ground squirrels and golden eagles.  There was plenty of room to stop at every pullout and interpretive trails and hiking trails.  All morning we only saw 3 cars until we got to Deer Ridge Junction when you get to the intersection of 34 and 36 the eastside and westside.  We stopped at the EndoValley Picnic Area which is the end of 2 way.  We were going to bike the Old Fall River Road which is one way the road is a gravel dirt road and pretty narrow, not something you want to attempt in your camper van unless you are a great backroad 4X4 higher clearance driver.  It was already 90 and when seeing how close cars/trucks come by you on the trail we decided to turn back on our bike ride.  After stopping at Sheep Lake, looking for our Bighorn Sheep (none were out) we headed to our campground before the big thunderstorm hit again in the late afternoon.  This campground also had an RV dump and water fill area, which was great! 

The next morning, we headed out early again at 5:45am as I wanted to hike to Dream Lake to watch the sunrise.  Note RVs greater than 21 feet need to park before you get to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead there is a parking lot RVs could fit under 25 feet and a couple pull outs after Bierstadt Lake Trailhead right before Glacier Gorge. Note: There is a sign that says RVs greater than 23 feet should not go beyond the Park and Ride across from Glacier Basin.  We did not notice this so when we got to Bear Lake we were asked to leave that our rig was too big (we are 23 feet). Greg went back to the campground and I did the hike by myself and I would take the shuttle back to the campground.  There is a free shuttle but it doesn’t start running till 730am.  I highly recommend taking the shuttle, remember to bring your mask it is required to get on the bus. I got there just in time to take the trail to see Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake and watch the sunrise over Dream Lake.  It was beautiful but a lot of traffic!  The parking lot was almost full at 6:15am and the Glacier Gorge Trailhead parking lot was already full.   As I returned to Bear Lake Parking Lot, I decided to take the Alberta Falls Trail and then return to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and take the shuttle back to the campground.  The campground has water and an RV dump.  We then took Highway 7 out of the park and the backroads to North Glenn as we head to Florissant Fossil Bed National Monument.  We decided to stay at Cracker Barrel for the night but there were several great boondocking spots along the river on highway 7. 

Advice if you go to the park:

  1. Enter through the Westside, only 20% of visitors come this route
  2. If camping at Glacier Basin campground stay in Loop C
  3. Do sunrise hike to Dream Lake
  4. Use the free shuttle, make sure to bring a mask or you can’t get on!
  5. Bring your bike/e-bike to travel through the park makes it much mroe enjoyable

Camping & Exploring the Painted Rock Petrogylphs

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If you have been following us, you know we put our home in Bend for rent for a year and have moved in our 2020 Winnebago Boldt for the year and if we like it or not this is our home until March 26, 2021.  So it has been a little over a week and a half since everything began closing down all over the country due to COVID-19, while we already started our one year trip visiting all the National Parks. We headed out of Bend, OR on March 1st where everything was okay and the world was functioning like whatever was everyday normal as we knew it as Americans.

Since then, we were able to visit the Lava Beds National Monumnent, Eagle Lake, Washoe Lake, Travertine Hot Springs, Alabama Hills, Death Valley National Park, Mojave Desert National Monument and Joshua Tree National Park. (More videos and blogs to come regarding each spot.)  While in Joshua Tree, state parks and national parks across the country began to shut visitor centers and some campgrounds. Many have now waved their frees and you can visit but there are no services. We have decided to go to places where they are in BLM or National Forests where there is free dispersed camping and you are well away from other campers.  We have a Pacific Pride Cardlock to fill at commercial diesel gas stations, so no interacting with people.  The only place we have to interact is grocery store which we try to only visit once a week or less.  We are trying to utilize the Walmart Grocery free curbside pick up service, but seems like everyone is doing that too.  When in a grocery store I am using gloves, distancing myself 6 feet from other shoppers, using the self-check out and going at times where there are the least amount of people.

So far we are still able to camp.  We were at Truckhaven Palm Wash BLM area and met a super nice local who wanted to make sure we weren’t stuck without resources.  Don’t worry we social distanced ourselves- him being outside our rig and us inside talking through the window.  Mike offered us ideas on nearby places of interest, where to dump and fill our RV if we needed it.  After Truckhaven, we headed to the BLM Pilot Knob Long Term Visitor Area, where it is free camping for 14 days and you are at least 500-1,000 yards from another camper.  This is different than Imperial Sand Dunes where there are a lot of RVers that are very close to each other, we would not recommend that area.  Today we arrived at thePainted Rock Petroglyphs, which are super cool. There are very few people here and social distancing is keeping us about 500 yards from other RVers.

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The Painted Rock Petroglyph Site is located on the eastern edge of the Painted Rock Mountains and about eighteen miles west by northwest of Gila-Bend, AZ. (information pulled from Wikipedia and BLM websites) The area is mostly flat and sandy with May-Oct daytime temperatures in the 100s. While we were here it was in the mid 70s in end of March.  The annual rainfall is only about six inches and the nearest irrigation water is the Gila River. In prehistoric times the Gila flowed west out of the mountains of western New Mexico, made a big dogleg turn at the town of Gila Bend and continued west to empty into the Colorado River. The Hohokam people once lived and farmed here. Ruins of their late Pioneer Period (AD 350 – AD 550) and Early Colonial Period (AD 550 – AD 700) villages are found to the north and west, and ruins of their Sedentary – Classic Period (AD 900 – AD 1400) villages are found to the south and east.  Over forty petroglyph sites have been recorded in the area, however; most of these sites are small with only a few dozen petroglyphs. The Painted Rock Site is the largest known site with about 800 images. While on my exploration I had the entire place to myself and did not cross anyone else.  Tomorrow I am heading out with Greg and Bode to hike on the historic Butterfield Overland Stage Route this was the old Oxbow Route that had mail travel from St. Louis to San Francisco back in 1858.

I recorded a short video for you to do a virtual tour and create activities for your children while they are off from school.  ( I have had requests from friends to do these little virtual tours).  I hope you enjoy it.  Keep checking back to our blog as we keep you up to date on how our  travels are going during this time and what you can and can’t do if you are a full-time RVer in the USA right now.

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