My budget doesn’t extend to paying for a campsite every night so I often look for dispersed or free camping through https://freecampsites.net when I’m in a new part of the world.But when I am on the road doing long days (that’s 200 miles for me) I do look for official campgrounds as a landing space.
I had done a long and windy drive up and over the Rockies to get from northern New Mexico to western Colorado and arrived in Montrose, Colorado late afternoon just tired of driving. My planned destination (dispersed camping in a place I hadn’t been before) was an hour north. It’s not a good idea to look for dispersed camping late in the day. So I changed plans. There were no campgrounds nearby. What to do?
Fortunately, the guy in the vehicle next to me was clearly a camper. He was in a beat up pickup truck with a solar panel mounted on the hood and camping stuff in the canopy. So I asked him if he knew of dispersed camping sites nearby. Yes. He told me to go up Colorado 90 on the Uncompahgre plateau. I followed his advice and went up. I rejected the first site as too trashy, the second site had people in it already. I kept going up and looked for side roads that might have a potential campsite and found a site with a fire ring just far enough off the main road to not get dusted by traffic.
Here’s where I ended up. A bit off the main road and out of sight. Juniper and piñon trees. And surprise! A leafed out cottonwood tree quite close. Cottonwoods mean water. I went over there and yes there was flowing water in “Dry ditch creek”. Uphill of me along the creek there were some nice grassy meadows (the fuzzy green in the satellite view), willows in the creek and groves of scrub oak. I’ve forgotten the elevation I was at but I believe the road goes maybe 2000 feet higher so it would be very easy to adjust the temperature by changing elevation on that road.
I only stayed one night but I would have happily stayed a week.
And when I look now at https://freecampsites.net/#!Montrose,+Colorado,+United+States I see that there are several sites marked along that road, and none of them are the site I stayed at. I don’t know why I didn’t check Freecampsites at the time. Too tired to think clearly I guess.
This long story is to remind myself to not do long drives in one day, and to say thanks to Doug the nomad in the parking lot at the grocery store.
I was at that site so briefly that I didn’t really take many pictures. But here’s a few spring flowers for you.
My geology app said that I was standing on the Dakota sandstone (Jurassic!). When I walked a bit downhill I found a spot where the top soil was gone, exposing the underlying rock. you can see how the whole plateau tilts down to the northeast.