When my kid was still a baby, my partner and I tried tent camping. Once. It did *not* go well, despite all those hot tips online for making camping ~so simple~ with your little angel. When they were an older baby (six-eight months), we went on a few camper van trips to see if we could still get out there like we did pre-baby….with a few more amenities.
The vans made camping with a little one significantly easier, but we realized the vans were unwieldy for getting around once we arrived somewhere. Plus, we had to take down/reassemble the camping part of the van anytime we wanted to drive anywhere. So we took the plunge and got a travel trailer to give us the flexibility to leave a camper behind and drive around in a normal car to trailheads or into town.
Our kid is now a toddler and we took our R-Pod 176 for its maiden voyage this weekend. Here’s what I learned.
Guanella Pass is just over one hour from Denver. At 10,000 feet of elevation, it’s a much-needed escape from the city heat during the summer. Despite being that high up, it’s still easy to get to and not *that* far from civilization. The campground provides a great jumping off point for lots of hiking (also at high elevation) plus you can easily get to the mountain town of Georgetown from the campground.
Leaf peeping in Crested Butte totally lives up to the hype. But the options can feel a little overwhelming, the lodging expensive…and the trails a little steep. Crested Butte’s beauty is the result of a lot of big mountains erupting straight up out the valley it’s situated in. I was worried about finding beginner-friendly hiking with the views I was after. But I was wrong!
It’s also warm enough to still eat outside (as long as you bring a jacket), and most restaurants downtown greatly expanded outdoor dining to help folks be more safe during the pandemic. My partner and I visited at the end of September for four days and were able to travel responsibly, enjoy stunning scenery, and have plenty of date nights, too!
My husband was incredibly lucky to have Summer 2020 off for parental leave. I was staying home with Baby OB, and at the beginning of 2020, we had lots of grand travel plans for this once-in-a-lifetime time off.
Then the pandemic threw a big wrench in that.
Once it was less dangerous to leave home, we started considering how we could travel locally without exposing ourselves to other people. Enter the camper van: self-contained sleeping, eating, and transportation.
Editors Note: This post was written by my partner, Billy. I’ve yet to go backpacking, mostly because the initial start-up cost of gear is significant. *However* his beginner’s experience taught me that backpacking is a lot more beginner-friendly than I had assumed, and I thought it was important (and helpful) for him to share it!
So you’ve decided you want to go backpacking but you don’t really know where to begin. It can be intimidating and everyone who does it seems so advanced that you could never do it too. I felt that way, too, so I’ll share my own experience and some tips for how you can get started.
I’m not going to lie, Devils Garden tested me. Not so much my physical strength, but my willingness to get out of my comfort zone and push my boundaries. The hike to Double O Arch is absolutely doable for beginners (or it wouldn’t be so popular) but if you have a fear of heights, it will push you.
That being said, I whole-heartedly encourage you to let this hike be a way to get out of your comfort zone in a safe, exciting, and stunningly beautiful setting. Hiking Devils Garden is challenging without being overwhelming and doesn’t have the huge crowds of Delicate Arch.
Colorado National Monument was the first stop during my summer 2016 road trip, and I quickly realized that this area of Colorado is best visited at literally any other time of year than when I went in June with my husband. (Ok, August is even hotter, I went back with my parents at the end of summer 2018)
But the scenery? Totally worth the 6 a.m. wake up call.