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Summer 2013


Jenny Lake Campground sign - FULL

Over the summer of 2013, we stayed at 9 different campgrounds. We liked some of the campgrounds and others, not as much. Basically, we liked the campgrounds that were tent friendly and disliked the campgrounds that were unfriendly. Our opinions are based on being tent campers.

So here are the campgrounds ...

Mary's Lake Campground

We only stayed one night at Mary's Lake. The campground was not busy, so we got our choice of sites. I would classify Mary's Lake as an RV park. The key advantage for the campground is it's location in the town of Estes Park. It is close to happening in Estes and has a cellular signal. We also saw a badger in the campground and some playful prairie dogs. The sites were expensive and then you had to pay for a shower on top of the camping fee. The campground is owned and operated by Larimer County.

RV Corral - Leadville

RV Corral is a funky in town RV park. We have actually camped there for a number of years. The sites are all for RVs, but they have a patch of grass where you can pitch a tent. It was noisy. The street lights shined in the tent all night. And, the RVs towered over our little tent. But the campground is just a block off the main drag in Leadville and Amy is only a few blocks from Quincy's.

Colter Bay Campground - Tetons

We had a bad experience at this National Park Campground. When we arrived the workers greeted us and asked what kind of site we wanted, as in tent, or pop-up, etc. They then assigned us a site which by their criteria was "the best available in the campground". The sites were ugly and there were no tents pads or bear boxes. There were not many good things we had to say about the campground and even less to say good about their policies of choosing the sites for the campers. They seemed to take offense at the idea that we would not like the site they chose for us. The workers wanted the campground to be an RV park. RVs can be parked anywhere and as long as they can be leveled, RV owners don't seem to care about much else. Tent campers are different or at least we are.

Estes Park Campground - East Portal

We stayed a few nights at the East Portal Campground. It is another of the Larimer County Campgrounds. The camping fee was high, but at least they did not charge extra for showers (even though it is rumored that they should start charging for showers soon.) The campground borders Rocky Mountain National Park. The East Portal Trailhead is in front of the campground. The only problem is that all of the trails from the trailhead are in terrible shape due to the heavy horse use. There is however plenty of land on the hill above the campground that is ready to explore. The campground has limited bathroom and shower facilities for the number of campers. Another beef we had, was the County had rules for keeping a clean campsite but they did not enforce them. Coolers, cooking gear, and food was left out over night and while campers were away.

Gros Ventre Campground - Tetons

Gros Ventre is another of the National Park Campgrounds. It is operated as a concession. The campground was crowded when we were there. Like at Colter Bay the campground workers assigned sites. But, unlike Colter Bay, if you did not like the site, you could change to whatever open site you wanted. The worker literally marked out the one site and penciled in the new site number. Gros Ventre is closer to Jackson, but it is far away from the mountains. There were herds of bison on the road almost daily. Also there was a robin nesting in one of the cottonwood trees at the campsite. We constantly watched as the robins tended their chicks.

Long's Peak Campground - Rocky Mountain National Park

We like Longs Peak Campground, but only stayed one night this year. The campground is a fun place. Lots of folks are camping there with dreams of climbing Longs Peak. It is close to the action. The only problem with the campground is the summer camp, Timberline, that is adjacent to Longs Peak Campground. Well, Camp Timberline is not only adjacent to the campground, the road through the campground is also the access to Camp Timberline. There is just a lot of traffic from deliveries to campers drop offs and pickups to all of the staff and noise from the camp. Camp Timberline is ruining the great Longs Peak Campground.

Timber Creek Campground - Rocky Mountain National Park

Timber Creek is on the west side of the Park, just north of Grand Lake. The area was struck hard by the pine beetle and the once timber is now timberless. The campground is basically, an exposed open field. However, one big factor it has in it's favor is the wildlife. An elk (ear tag number 3) wandered through the campground one day and the next day there was a family of moose. It was pretty incredible. We also loved the hikes we did on the west side.

Olive Ridge Campground - Roosevelt National Forest

We stayed for almost two weeks at Olive Ridge Campground. Since our bear encounters at the campground last year, they have installed bear boxes on the tent sites. They were great. We kept everything in the bear box and were confident that it was safe and secure. Our second stay at the campground was even better than the first. We chose a site on the first come - first served loop. The site had a tent pad, a bear box, and good separation to the adjacent sites. We did have a troublesome ground squirrel on the site that was always trying to get into our food. We did our best not to leave any tiny scraps for the little beggar. The bear boxes really helped our opinion of the campground.

Jenny Lake - Tetons

Jenny Lake, the tent only campground, is still our favorite campground. Coming from a stay at Gros Ventre it was amazing how much quieter it was at Jenny Lake. Staying at the campground you are at the heart of the Park. It is an amazing place to stay, but it is difficult to get a site. The new host, Shannon was great. Oh, we also saw a colorful Western Tanager each evening flying around camp, on two mornings a gray fox ran through camp, and one afternoon, a small deer bedded down next to our tent. Jenny Lake is a great tent camping experience.



We love tent camping and feel fortunate to be able to spend two months sleeping in a tent. Hopefully, you will be able to stay at some of these campgrounds too. Almost all of the campgrounds got us closer to the mountains, the most important factor. Of course, we liked some campgrounds better than others, but none were terrible.

Happy campground trails

Rocky Mountain National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Larimer County

Roosevelt National Forest

the mighty RV Corral


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