Been trying to work this trip out for a while, so I'm putting it on the calendar WAY out, but solid! Lets face it, the biggest challenge in getting out there is the planning, so I'm doing the prework for you. Looking at the dates of 17-20 of May, 2018. This is right after Finals for most State Universities, the last day for Jeffco Schools, and far enough in advance that if you really want to go you can schedule your PTO. If you're a transplant to Colorado, there will be healthy dose of Colorado history on this trip! We're even going to touch on things that they don't teach in school unless you live in the town where it happened! Obviously, there's a real good chance that it will still be frigid, especially at night, so it'll be a good opportunity to be "hard core", yet still close enough to civilization that pulling chocks and seeking better shelter is an option. That said, I will have a 2 year old girl in tow, so if she can hack it, so can you! (or your kids!)
Thursday the 17th (Optional): This is a highway day.
Leave home and head to the Sand Creek Massacre Memorial. This is probably the darkest point in our fine state's history, and everyone who lives here should visit this place at least once. From there we'll head to John Martin Reservoir for the first night. The campground is below the dam in a wooded area. It's beautifully quiet and a great first camp on a 3 night adventure. The Reservoir is primarily popular with out-of-state flatlanders with rocketship boats and RVs bigger than my house. This early in the year it should be too cold to wear nothing but boardshorts and a backwards hat, so it'll probably be pretty desolate.
Friday the 18th: 1/2 highway, 1/2 dirt!
Those who work Friday, pack Thursday and head south as soon as you can! It's 5 hours to the Cimarron Campground in New Mexico, which is where we'll be staying Friday night. Those who join me, we'll head out of John Martin and head to the Ludlow Massacre Memorial. While not the darkest point in Colorado history, it's a close second. Regardless of your political views, it's important to know what happened here, lest history repeat itself. From there, we head south to "COLD BEER" about 30 miles into New Mexico! This is a little tavern in the middle of nowhere. I've never been here, but my wife had an existential awaking here and has wanted to return with me since before we met. The best part is this is where we will leave the highway and get primative! From "COLD BEER" we'll navigate the spiderwebs of BLM and forest roads to the Cimarron Campground in Carson National Forest. NOTE: The Cimarron campground doesn't officially open for the season until the following weekend, but allows "walk in" camping and being in a National Forest, dispersed camping is also allowed. I will contact the FS to try to get more details.
Saturday the 19th: 1/2 dirt, 1/2 highway.
We wake up and can split up! Those who want to head into Taos can do so! It's a really fun town with tons of nifty stuff to buy. The official calendar isn't working, but I do see that the Taos Lilac Festival is happening that Saturday! Those who've been to Taos before can continue the back country exploring by heading northwest. The rendezvous will be the town of San Luis in Colorado, between 2 and 4pm. This is another important historical part of Colorado for any transplants. San Luis is the OLDEST continuously populated town in Colorado! Long before Lewis and Clark set out of Missouri, Spanish Conquistadors were here looking for a lost city of gold. They are really proud of their "stations of the cross" walking path, and while I'm not catholic, my wife is, so we'll climb that. From there we will head to the San Luis State Wildlife area to camp for the night. This used to be a state park, but was turned into a wildlife area because the reservoir went dry and everyone stopped going there. To be honest, I've been here and it's postapocalyptic at best. I've wanted to go back with a metal detector and hunt for fishing lures in the bed of the dry reservoir, but it's not what most people think of as ideal for Colorado camping. It will probably be cold, windy and barren, but! We are not simple campers, we are adventurers and overlanders!
Sunday the 20th: Choose your own adventure!
The route home can be as quick or as leisurely as you like. Salida, Buena Vista, Fairplay, even the Bishop Castle can all be on your way home if you so choose. I'm reluctant to pick my route because "day 4" is the historical limit for my little tribe. We may be ready for another site to see, or we may all want to poop in our own toilet, so I just can't say for sure which way we'll get home.
This is Salida, before I got fat and wearing a "track town" shirt wasn't ironic:
I will do some more research and update this post with maps and pics as I gather them. Post up if this is something you want in on, as I'll be ordering stickers when it gets close and need to know how many I'll need. I'll also finger-stomp out a pointless list of everything one should have to hang with a "medium core!" adventuring crew like mine, even though we are really just car campers with 4 wheel drive.