A guide to where to pitch your tent – or not
Johnny Malloy doesn’t hide his disdain for the RV set in his many state-specific guides to tent camping. And the fourth edition of his “The Best in Tent Camping” for Colorado, updated with the help of Fort Collins, Colo., writer Kim Lipker, holds true to the premise that the best camping doesn’t involve the constant hum of an RV generator powering a television, Japanese lanterns and an electric guitar.It says right on the cover: “A guide for car campers who hate RVs, concrete slabs and loud portable stereos.”
That said, the guide extols the virtues of 50 campgrounds around the state that may or may not accommodate RVs, but when they do, the big rigs are segregated from those who choose to sleep on the ground and do without an electric toaster in the great outdoors.Campgrounds are rated based on beauty, privacy, spaciousness, quiet, security and cleanliness, and the guide provides information on nearby fishing, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Descriptions of the campgrounds, along with maps showing the layout of the campsites – a feature new to this edition – give the reader a pretty good sense of what they’re likely to find when they arrive, right down to the number and location of the toilets. In some cases, the best tent sites are spelled out by number: at Lower Narrows Campground on the Poudre River, for example, sites 12 and 13 are as close as a camper can get to sleeping on the shoreline, according to the guide. No. 14 isn’t bad, either.Useful information like when each campground is open, whether or not it accepts reservations, campsite amenities and the nightly fee is also provided. So are directions to find the place and, for hopeless gearheads and the truly navigationally challenged, each campground’s GPS coordinates.Only a handful of new additions/deletions have been made to the 2007 iteration of the guide, so it’s hardly a must-buy for anyone who owns the version published in 1999, but a quick glance indicates the book won’t be sending droves of campers into the Roaring Fork Valley. None of the campgrounds near the Maroon Bells, on Independence Pass or up the Fryingpan Valley are included. The closest local campground to earn a spot in the guide is Rifle State Park, which gets kudos for its secluded, walk-in tent sites along East Fork Rifle Creek.”The final campsite is mostly surrounded by the creek, and it is the most isolated and one of the best tent sites in the entire state park system,” the guide notes regarding Rifle State Park.
The campgrounds are divvied up by region, but the guide’s real success may not be in pointing out at an enjoyable place to camp for a reader planning a trip to, say, northwest Colorado, but rather in spurring the desire to make the trip in the first place.Places like Dominguez Canyon and the Blanco River near Pagosa Springs are now on my radar.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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