Sunday, September 10, 2017
Eleven Mile State Park: The Campground
Shortly after we first moved to Denver last year, we bought a tent, but never used it. Before the summer was over, we flew to Portland, drove an hour up the Gorge, and went camping with my family in their tents. We had fresh salmon cooked over the campfire and picked huckleberries in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Although we didn't use the camping gear that we were so excited about, at least we made it into the mountains at all. This year, we were determined to break out our own tent and sleeping bags, so I booked a site using Reserve America, and off we went to Eleven Mile State Park Campground.
We arrived at the campground just in time to catch a storm which was far enough away not to put us in immediate danger of being rained on. We pulled out our camp chairs and watched the lightning over mountains across the reservoir. We knew that we were playing a dangerous game by not setting up our tent immediately, but the view was too incredible not to just enjoy for a few minutes.
After all of the camping trips I have taken as a child, I thought I would be a super pro at setting up camp, but I was a bit clumsy at first. I didn't even think to turn the tarp under the tent to where it would fit without having to fold up the sides. We brought an extra tarp to go over the tent to help protect it from rain. Not having extra poles or trees close enough to use, we just kind of plopped it on and tied it down where we could. Our campsite may not have been magazine-ready, but it kept us dry when the rain eventually came.
Brian became fascinated with the Solo Stove while we were stocking up on camping gear in preparation for our trip. It's actually a pretty neat little stove. We used it to cook every meal during our three-day camping trip. You do have to keep feeding it fairly often, but it's easy to keep it going with small pieces of wood. Just as we were almost done cooking our hotdogs on that first night, it started to rain. We were luckily able to finish cooking them and escape to the tent to eat. This is actually not a smart thing to do. You should not eat in your tent in the middle of bear country. We did well with all other bear precautions, but eating hotdogs in the tent was the one thing we shouldn't have done.
Kiki had a great time digging herself little holes to sit in. She had at least three going. It was so cute to see her take a piece of dog food and bury it in the hole with her nose. She dug it up only a few minutes later and ate it.
Rain came again on the second day and we decided to ride it out in the car. Since this camping trip, we've purchased a UV resistant awning, and it would do well to protect from light showers.
All of the storms around us created a great atmosphere. The light was always changing and most of the time while we were there we just sat in awe of it.
The campground was better than we expected from the pictures. We were hoping to find a place to camp that had a little more of a forest-y feel to it. However, we soon came to appreciate the vast beauty of Eleven Mile State Park. It's a great place to experience the Colorado sky in full force. The campground was clean and convenient. There were bathrooms all around (typical campground bathrooms with a toilet over a hole in the ground in a nice little building) and water at the campground office. There was a small general store a five-minute drive away for the little things that we inevitably forget. Our only complaint was the very noisy RV generator at the site next to ours, but that's what you get at campgrounds in exchange for the convenience of not having to carry out your own poo.