2018 Rocky Mountains Trip

April 23rd – May 1st
Denver, Boulder, and Rocky Mountain National Park

When I landed back in Denver, we drove straight up to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).

1 Sunset Apr 25

Moraine Park Campground is at 8,160’ and stays open through the winter on a first come first serve basis.

2 Moraine Park Apr 26

There were lots of elk.

3 Elk Apr 26
I took sunrise hikes.

4 Dawn Apr 27 5 Daybreak Apr 27

On the way to Cub Lake, this little pond was very reflective.

6 Reflection Apr 27

Since we were here during the week, we headed down into Estes Park during the day for WiFi to work. We drove further one of the days to check out more RV’s. After 2 nights in RMNP, we headed down to Boulder for a hotel and to explore.

8 Chataqua Apr 28

We had a hike in Chataqua Park.

9 Hike Apr 28

We checked out the Boulder farmers market for lunch. We saw lots of blooming tulips and colorful street performers on the pedestrian mall.

10 Boulder Apr 28

We headed back up to RMNP and did our first real cooking of the trip. The grocery had no skewers for sale but we grabbed 3 pair of chopsticks, which served as both skewer and tongs.

11 Cooking Apr 28 12 Camp Apr 28

The campground was much more crowded on the weekend, with every campsite filling a bit before sun down. I set up my hammock for the first time in years. There was a bright full moon. In the morning we went up to Bear Lake.

13 Bear Lake Apr 29 14 Chip Apr 29 

In preparation of Sara’s Hawaii trip, we headed back in to Denver for a few nights at a hotel. We made a trip to B&B RV to check out a few unique brands of travel trailer. The Cricket by Taxa was by far the best designed we found yet. It’s a 15’ hybrid trailer that took a few seconds to pop up and be fully set up. The queen bed ran lengthwise in the trailer’s rear and there was a multi function living space and kitchen at the trailer’s front.

15 Cricket Apr 30

Checking out of our hotel after the days in Denver, Sara graciously went to the airport many hours before her flight so that Beans and I could get a jump on the long drive east.

RV Day 14

April 22st
White River National Forest – Denver
Waypoints:
White River National Forest, Aspen, Glenwood Canyon, Loveland Pass, Eisenhower Tunnel, Johnson Tunnel, Denver
Miles hiked: 2.1
Miles driven: 383.9
Break camp:  24 min
Make camp:  37 min
Camp type:  Hotel
Camp cost: $151

I woke and fed Beans.

0 Beans Apr 22

 

I then headed up the unplowed forest road for a walk.

1 Road Apr 22

2 Valley Apr 22

3 Shoes Apr 22

4 Rock Apr 22

There were lots of tracks, none from humans.

5 Tracks Apr 22

6 Tree Apr 22

There was a spot where several birds had walked to the edge of the road and taken flight, leaving prints of their feathers in the powdery snow.

7 Birds Apr 22

8 Wings Apr 22

9 Me Apr 22

We got confirmation that Beans throwing her breakfast up appeared to be from cold climate because it happened again this morning. We got her towel bagged up and packed out. We swung by Aspen to check it out and grab groceries. We then headed back up to I-70 and made a stop in Glenwood Canyon.

 

10 Glenwood Apr 22

 

We stopped at a gorgeous little recreation area loaded with snowmobilers.

11 Recreation Apr 22

We had a lunch stop and wound our way up to Loveland Pass! Amazingly beautify views.

12 Loveland Apr 22

13 Loveland Apr 22

14 Loveland Apr 22

Snow boarders were setting off right from the road.

15 Loveland Apr 22

Driving down, we saw 2 tanker trucks climbing the pass & Sara remarked it was odd they would go the windy and steep way rather than the interstate. I informed her they weren’t allowed on I-70 due to the large tunnel. Sara loves tunnels and it appeared to be news to her that the detour we were taking now (and had taken in 2015) was bypassing one of the longest tunnels in the country. As we reached the bottom of the pass road, I was just saying sorry we missed the tunnel, and we can go that way next time. She turned onto the west bound ramp with a “Next time is this time.” We made our 8 mile detour to the next exit beyond the tunnel and headed back in the other direction. We cruised the rest of the way into Denver and grabbed dinner with our friend. As we unloaded our car at the hotel, we realized the pressure changes through the day had dumped the contents of our 2 gallon water vessel through the pour spout onto the floor board. We checked into a hotel for Sara to have a home base while I flew to California for a 2 night trip for a meeting. We had our eyes set on Rocky Mountain National Park after I returned.

 

RV Day 13

April 21st
Moab – White River National Forest
Waypoints:
Moab, UT-128, Grand Junction, White River National Forest
Miles hiked: 0
Miles driven: 286.1
Break camp:  27 min
Make camp:  22 min
Camp type:  Dispersed camping with no services
Camp cost: $0

We left south out of Moab and made it to Hole N the Rock.

1 Jeep Apr 21

We were originally headed towards La Sal Mountains but headed back towards Moab for an alternate route.

2 Sal Apr 21

We took UT-128 along the Colorado River.

3 Ford Apr 21

4 Oinon Apr 21

5 Dewey Apr 21

After meeting back up with I-70, we cruised towards Grand Junction, CO. We stopped by an RV dealer that carried the Falcon F-Lite, which was a 14′ travel trailer light enough to be towed by our SUV. It’s bed was a bit short for me but it was a well designed compact RV.

7 Falcon Apr 21

We stopped by another dealer with rugged NOBO RV’s to have a look as well.

6 NOBO Apr 21

Heading towards higher elevations, we began to see snow.

8 Highway Apr 21

We headed towards the White River National Forest.

9 Reservoir Apr 21

 

 

 

 

 

We saw a few elk climbing the bank near the road.

10 Elk Apr 21

We began to transition away from green trees to snow frosted scenery.

11 Transition Apr 21

 

The snow in the valley was pretty.

12 Snow Apr 21

Sunset was nice as we settled in for the night.

13 Sunset Apr 21

RV Day 12

April 20th
Moab – Moab
Waypoints:
Moab, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park
Miles hiked: 6.9
Miles driven: 141.0
Break camp:  34 min
Make camp:  11 min
Camp type:  Developed campground with water and showers
Camp cost: $33.25

Sara and Beans worked from a coffee shop while I went back into Arches for a 6 mile hike from the Devils Garden Trailhead. The first stop was Landscape Arch.

1 Landscape Apr 20

The number of people dwindled as you ventured beyond that major attraction.

2 Trail Apr 20

 

I stopped by Partition Arch.

3 Partition Apr 20

 

And Navajo Arch.

4 Navajo Apr 20

The primitive trail looping beyond these was quite pretty.

5 Primitive Apr 20

There were mud holes large and small where animals drank.

6 Mud Apr 20

6 Prints Apr 20

I stopped by Private Arch.

7 Private Apr 20

There were beautiful pillars along the trail.

8 Pillars Apr 20

And a backdrop of La Sal Mountains.

9 Primitive Apr 20

On the drive back, I stopped by a new overlook by the Courthouse Towers.

10 Towers Apr 20

 

From Moab, we drove up to Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands National Park. Beans had a nice nap en route.

11 Beans Apr 20

The canyon views were superb.

12 Canyon Apr 20

We did the short walk up to Upheaval Dome.

13 Upheaval Apr 20

We headed to the Green River Overlook for sunset.

14 Green River Apr 20

It was gorgeous.

15 Silhouette Apr 20

RV Day 11

April 19th
Moab – Moab
Waypoints:
Moab, Arches National Park 
Miles hiked: 1.6
Miles driven: 55.5
Break camp:  58 min
Make camp:  16 min
Camp type:  Developed campground with water and showers
Camp cost: $33.25

We woke and had a morning work session before heading to Arches National Park. Sara dropped me at one side of the Park Avenue trail and picked me up on the other end.

1 Park Ave Apr 19

2 Park Apr 19

3 Baby Apr 19

We then checked out Balanced Rock.

4 Balanced Apr 19

The large camera battery was dying, and I went to change it with the spare that was on the charger. But neither the charger nor spare battery were to be found. We tossed through the car twice over and before looking up a camera store in Moab we hoped would be able to remedy the loss once we left the park. We then went to the windows area.

5 Windows Apr 19

Sara began not feeling well and insisted she wait with Beans while I took the 1/2 mile look closer on my own. North window was crawling with people.

6 North Apr 19

South window was a bit clearer.

7 South Apr 19

The view back to the Parade of Elephants was quite nice.

8 Elephants Apr 19

We headed down to the Delicate arch viewing area and checked out the first quarter mile of a 4×4 road.

9 Delicate Apr 19

There were nice panoramic views on much of the drive.

10 Pano Apr 19

We stopped at the viewing point for Firey Furnace, which had an amazing backdrop of the La Sal Mountains.

11 Firey Apr 19

At the trailhead for Landscape arch, Sara still did not feel well. Rather than hike 1.5 miles in sequence while the other stayed with Beans, we headed back towards Moab for dinner and to find a power supply for our camera. We stopped by Courthouse Wash on the way out to stare at the striking the green of the trees against the towers.

12 Courthouse Apr 19

In town, the camera store did not carry our batteries or chargers. They had a universal charger that would function, and I paid the premium for it. We got Thai food to go and ate back at Slickrock Campground. We got ice cream from the camp store, watched a movie, and went to bed.

RV Day 10

April 17th
Salt Lake City – Moab
Waypoints:
Salt Lake City, Summit Park, Moab
Miles hiked: 2.4
Miles driven: 265.1
Break camp:  30 min
Make camp:  52 min
Camp type:  Developed campground with water and showers
Camp cost: $33.25

We slept in a bit, worked, and packed up. We headed up to Summit Park for a lunch time walk with our friend and the dogs.

1 Summit Park Apr 18

After a quick pit stop for a new air filter, we headed towards Moab. We had a quick stop at the Horse Canyon scenic rest area as the afternoon wore on. We also confirmed our tire pressure was good because our gas mileage seemed a bit low the past few days.

2 Horse Canyon Apr 18

Sara suspected the change in how we packed the lumpy roof bag was the most likely explanation. We stopped again shortly thereafter to take down the roof top carrier.

3 Roof Apr 18

A train rolled by while we repacked the interior of our car a bit more densely.

4 Train Apr 18

The most recent span with roof bag had yielded 23.0 mpg. The rest of the drive to Moab yielded 27.8 mpg! That was the end of the roof bag. When taking it down, we had also noticed quite a few patches where the bag had worn through the outer waterproof layer, which was surprising given the less than 1 week of usage.

Our original destination in Moab was Slickrock Campground. We took a detour up 128 to scope out the BLM campgrounds and found them resoundingly full. On the way back to town, there was a work crew lighting up the canyons walls.

5 Night Apr 18

RV Day 9

April 17th
Silver Island BLM Lands – Salt Lake City
Waypoints:
Silver Island BLM Lands, Bonneville Salt Flats, Salt Lake City
Miles hiked: 2.9
Miles driven: 130.5
Break camp:  25 min
Make camp: 30 min
Camp type:  Hotel
Camp cost: $85

We fed beans indoors on the shelf.

0 Beans Apr 17

I had a nice 1.4 mile sunrise walk with brisk winds.

1 Camp Apr 17

2 Neighbor Apr 17

We packed up and headed the few miles to the Bonneville Salt Flats, where the wind was whipping.

3 Flats Apr 17

Sara ran back to the car.

4 Run Apr 17

We drove out onto the dry flats for more of a look around and photos.

5 Flats Apr 17

We headed into Salt Lake City, booked a hotel, and made plans for dinner with friends.

6 Drive Apr 17

We grabbed an early check in and a full day of work. I used Rover to find a pet sitter for while we went to dinner and for a walk about the city.

RV Day 8

April 16th
Pyramid Lake – Silver Island BLM Lands
Waypoints:
Pyramid Lake, Fenley NV, Grimes Point Archeological Site, Sand Springs Pony Express Station at Sand Mountain Recreation Area, Austin NV, Silver Island BLM Lands
Miles hiked: 4.1
Miles driven: 441.8
Break camp:  20 min
Make camp:  18 min
Camp type:  Dispersed camping no services
Camp cost: $0

I grabbed sunrise photos at Pyramid Lake on a 1 mile walk.

1 Sunrise Apr 16

A lake this larger seems beautifully out of place in the middle of a desert.

2 Pyramid Lake Apr 16

We had a quite nice camp spot.

3 Camp Apr 16

Arriving back to the car, I found Sara attempting to break camp from within the car after she had been unable to reach me. Apparently the moment I left for my little walk with phone off, Beans had vomited her breakfast up and onto the comforter. Beans was acting normal afterwards but we still had to adjust our plans and head straight to do laundry.

We rolled into Mr. Bubbles laundromat in Fenley, NV. We put our blankets and clothes into the attendant’s favorite machine, a 4 load washer that washes twice and rinses 3 times. Sara worked inside using their wifi while I made the second set of blinds by tracing the set made two nights before. Each time I went in to check on the clothes, Sara was chatting away with laundromat friends. We got quite a few good recommendations of petroglyph sites, archaeological sites, and other attractions in Northern Nevada. From there, we headed towards the Berlin–Ichthyosaur State Park via Highway 50. We happened upon Grimes Point Archeological Site where we had sandwiches and walks. Beans was quite interested in the sandwiches.

7 Lunch Apr 16

The Grimes site had more than 1000 petroglyphs.

4 Petroglyph Apr 16

8 Lizard Apr 16

Sara kept working while I went for a longer walk up to Grimes point.

5 Grimes Point

Sara and I went over to the caves about a mile away and checked out the little interpretive walk despite strong cold winds. We had a bit of a disagreement about the text of the sign board at one of the caves. We were both still short on sleep and adjusting to new patterns of very close proximity. 

10 Cave Apr 16

We continued down Highway 50 and shortly after saw a massive sand dune in the distance, which we went to check out.

11 Sand Mountain Apr 16

Going the 25 mph speed limit, we came to a sign that read “Dip”. The dip was basically a gutter cut in the road. It needed a much lower speed and slamming on the breaks, we still hit it a bit fast. Sara’s computer knocked her on the wrist, which was less than ideal. This was followed shortly after by a data usage limit warning that we were 90% to our hot spot limit, while the billing cycle was only 30% over. Both put a damper on the mood. A bit further on we found a tree covered in shoes.

12 Shoe Tree Apr 16

We aimed at Middlegate Station for lunch. On arrival we realized it was a pretty small outpost.

13 Station

The sparse services and poor signal, had us thinking of getting on towards Utah that evening, which would make for a long day. We retargeted for Austin, NV for food and arrived just as the town cafe closed. We grabbed fridge sandwiches at the gas station and added microgreens, tomatoes, and pickles from the cooler in the car. After Austin, I drove through snow. We made it back up to I-80 and headed towards the Utah border. We had sandwiches for dinner again, which was a poor choice. Sun set over the interstate side town was pretty.

14 Sunset

We made it into Utah and set up at the Silver Island BLM lands near Bonneville Salt. It was cold and snowing. We were both very tired and on edge. It took all the patience we could muster to set up. I was looking forward to getting back down to warmer climate in the coming week.

RV Day 7

April 15th
Zephyr Cove – Pyramid Lake
Waypoints:
Zephyr Cove, South Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Pyramid Lake, Black Rock Desert, Trego Hot Springs, Pyramid Lake
Miles hiked: 1.3
Miles driven: 309.9
Break camp:  20 min
Make camp:  30 min
Camp type:  Primitive camping no services
Camp cost: $15

I finally prioritized sleeping in, and, with the help of a sleep mask, didn’t get up until 7:30. I made the poster board curtains for one side of the car. Sara took the first shower while Beans and I broke camp. I had just finished breakfast when Sara returned, and we switched. A campground with hot shower is much appreciated after a day or two with no services. We stopped by the lake shore before heading back into South Lake Tahoe to explore for the morning. Sara got a new coat at Patagonia to replace her many layers of coats used before then.

1 Tahoe Apr 15

With strong winds and snow approaching, we opted to get over the mountains into Nevada. We drove over to Carson City to look at the Carson City Mint that was there in the late 1800’s. the winds were quite heavy as we walked around.

3 Carson City Apr 15

On the walk into the wind back to the car, we were both momentarily halted in place from a strong gust. We passed through Reno and resupplied at a grocery store. We headed north to Pyramid Lake.

2 Pyramid Lake Apr 15

We drove the shore around and turned to go up to the Black Rock Desert. We drove about a half dozen miles out onto the playa before turning back to the highway, where we grabbed a map from the box on the sign board.

4 Horses Apr 15

Sara had looked up Fly Geyser, and even though its closed to the public, knew it was visible from the highway. We drove up and could just see it in the distance.

5 Fly Geyser Apr 15

We began to scope out our options for hot springs. Online info said the Trego Hot Springs were a 30 mile washboard dirt road drive out from Gerlach. Sara was certain that we could get there by crossing the playa. She scoured google maps and found a crossing of the railroad tracks right net to the springs and she steered the car in that direction.

6 Playa Apr 15

Surrounded by dust, we followed tracks across the dry ground. We were going about 40 mph when we crossed a perpendicular rut with a light thump. 40 mph was not a comfortable speed for me as a passenger. We slowed a bit and watched the mountains on the far side resolve themselves as we drew closer.

7 Mountain Apr 15

We found the road out and drove in the dry tracks along side the ruts. We crossed the tracks and navigated over a steep blip of a trail to bypass the muddy spot just before the parking area. With strong winds already there and and weather expected overnight, we had Trego Hot Springs entirely to ourselves, and could not have asked for a more wonderful visit.

8 Trego Hot Spring Apr 15

The waters were warm then cold then hot. We explored a bit to find the hotter sections and kept our arms stirring to prevent hot pockets from overwhelming. After drying off, we headed back across the playa and headed south as the sun finished setting. I bought a permit online for distributed camping on tribal lands around Pyramid Lake. As we approached the lake, a fox did a dance in the beam of our headlights. Sara braked and the fox back peddled and retreated out of the roads. We passed around the bottom of the lake and began up the west side looking for camp. We found a space a few hundred feet from shore, set up for the evening, and watched a movie while it rained.

RV Day 6

April 14th
Lookout Mountain – Zephyr Cove
Waypoints:
Lookout Mountain, June Lake Loop, 168, Lake Mono Tufas, Travertine Hot Springs, South Lake Tahoe, Zephyr Cove
Miles hiked: 1.7
Miles driven: 164.6
Break camp: 18 min
Make camp: 17 min
Camp type: Developed campground with water and showers
Camp cost: $28.50

I woke to twilight and layered up to start the day with sun rise on Lookout Mountain! After averaging 6 or so hours sleep every night this week, I decided a nap would be in order later. For now though, there was a sun rise to watch. 

1 Twilight Apr 14

2 Sunrise Apr 14

Sara watched sun rise the warm way, from in bed with the car door open.

3 Car Apr 14

4 Lookout Apr 14

I took photos till my hands were stiff with cold and the morning light had lifted. After warming back up in bed, we packed up and headed down to the June Lake Loop. We pulled off at the June Lake Beach for some photos. I changed into my swimsuit and took a plunge in the lake.

5 June Lake Apr 14

We found a trailhead at Yost creek and started a group hike. As we ascended a steep half mile, we crossed more and more snow. An avalanche track crossed the trail at a steep slope. Not anticipating conditions would improve on the other side, we turned back before crossing.

6 Yost Creek Apr 14

We pulled off at another trailhead. I read the signboard and reported back to Sara that a 4 mile round trip hike would lead us up in the direction I pointed. Without breaking eye contact she restarted the car. We looped the rest of the way out of the June Lake Loop.

7 Silver Lake Apr 14

We pulled into the gas station looking for lunch and found it closed. Sara drove up 168 towards the road closure looking to see how far we could go.

8 168 Apr 14

We headed back down to the Mono Lake Tufa SNR. 

9 Tufa Apr 14

10 Overlook Apr 14

From there we hoped to head to the ghost town of Bodie but were met with a road closed gate. We headed on to Travertine Hot Springs and walked around for a bit.

11 Travertine Apr 14

Reading about them online, we had been warned that these were often crowded because of how easily they were accessed. The warm pools were all filled with some characters.

12 Crowd Apr 14

We zipped up to South Lake Tahoe, and had dinner looking up a giant casinos from a tap house on the California side of the street that aligned with the Nevada border. Taking much of the food to go, we headed back into Nevada to a campground that we discovered at the gate was closed for the season. We drove north a bit more around the east side of the lake. I tried researching campgrounds from my phone and was discouragingly met with closed camp after closed camp. Sara remained optimistic that we could just drive for a bit and would find something. We found something a few miles later in Zephyr Cove, NV. We grabbed a pay tent site in the RV Park, set up camp, and walked across the street to watch sunset over Lake Tahoe.

14 Sara Apr 14

15 Sunset Surf

16 Sunset

17 Pines