Our first stop on I-70 in Colorado was Fruita. It’s a small little city in the Grand Junction Area right on the Colorado River. We usually stay at RV parks and we stayed at Monument RV park. A nice little park, Good Sam rated, clean and convenient. After we got settled, I met the gentleman in the coach next to us. We had several of our DryRacks hanging on the side of our rig with suction cups and he wanted to know what they were. His name was Ben, and he and his wife drove all the way out from South Carolina to visit his wife’s father in Fruita. Even more interesting, he is was a retired coal miner from West Virginia. I’ve read a lot about coal mining over the years but I have never met a bonafide real coal miner. He put in almost 30 years and I’m sorry to say, he does have coal miner’s lungs and wheezes quite a bit. He also restores muscle cars, one of my passions, so we had a good visit.
Back to Fruita. Wonderful little place and we highly recommend stopping by Suds Brothers Brewery in downtown and try the Buffalo Chips…I’m salivating thinking about them. But that’s not why people stop in Fruita. It’s also the western entrance to the Colorado National Monument. You’ll drive or hike through sheer-walled canyons cut deep into sandstone and granite formations. It’s amazing to go through. You feel like you’re in a John Wayne movie. Exiting the Monument on the other end, you’ll be in Grand Junction, and be driving through a beautiful gold course community of Redlands Mesa. In Western Colorado, the Colorado National Monument is a must do.
After a couple of days, we were off, eastern bound towards Denver. We decided to stop off in the greater Aspen area and see if we could get in some late season snowboarding. We decided to stay at the Crystal River KOA park. Nice, small and you can go to sleep at night listening to the Crystal River shoot by. It was out first time in Aspen, and I was surprised how close the mountain was to the town. You can stroll around the several blocks that make up downtown Aspen and then walk to the chair lift and be boarding in no time. The top of the mountain was open, and a few people were still trying to get in the final season runs, but conditions were pretty spotty so we decided to pass. One of the things we like to do in each place we visit is to understand the local real estate market. WOW. Aspen really is for the rich and famous.
We decided to continue our boarding search and headed over to the Vail and Breckenridge area. If you’re in an RV and pulling a toad like we were, this part of the I-70 will give you white knuckles. Really step grades, at time we were going 25mph, ouch. Anyway, Vail is right off the I-70 freeway and it didn’t look that great and Breckenridge was about the same as Aspen. So, with our late season boarding dreams dashed, we headed for Golden, Colorado.
Golden, Colorado is the home of Coors and if you are anywhere downtown you can see the Coors factory. Our favorite to place there is the Old Capital Grill. It has outside seating and the burgers and fries are great. We stay at Dakota Ridge RV park when in the Denver area. It’s a nice park, way too many rules, but if you love Biker Road Houses, there is one right across the street and Saturdays and Sunday have live bands. With our biker days behind us we opted to head out to the Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s about 1.5 hours north of Golden, and a great drive. At the park entrance is Estes Park, which reminds us of an old gold town in the Sierra Nevada’s. The Park is beautiful and you’ll spend most of the time driving up with some pretty tight switchbacks. The top of the park is supposed to be the highest paved road in North America. Unfortunately for us, Colorado received 2.5 times its annual snow average and the top was still closed but we got pretty close. We parked and set off towards the top with our waterproof backpacks and the boys. It’s about a 10-mile hike to the top and we got about ½ way and decided to let Leroy and Tony play in the snow. They had a blast and after getting them dried off, we decided to hike back.
Where the road is closed, it’s pretty tight. Maybe 30 cars, and even our truck was tough to get into the little spaces. Guess what? Just as we were getting ready to leave, up comes a 40’ plus motorhome. We were amazed that they could have made it up the road with all the switchbacks and we wanted to know who’d be brave or crazy enough to attempt this. To our amazement, the motorhome was carrying a huge extend family, maybe 20 in all in full Amish dress. We thought Amish stuck to horse and buggy but I guess not when it comes to road trips.
Anyway, amazement aside, it was about 30 minutes before they could jockey the motorhome around so any of us could leave.
Once back in Golden, we spent the next few days exploring the local area. Boulder the home of University of Colorado is just too cute a college town. We visited Cherry Creek where all the rich people live. It felt more like we were in Boston than Denver and then we stopped by River Run Park. I wanted to check out the local surf scene. Maybe it was a low water flow day, but it looked just like a small boat wake in a storm drain. I visited with a girl visiting from Virginia Beach who was shivering after getting out of the 40-degree water. After visiting this, I realized how good I have it in San Diego.
We met wonderful people and had a great time in the Denver area and it was time to head back towards home. I agonized about the steepness of the I-70 heading west, but it was a little better than heading east. We drove all the way to Fruita to spend the night and then it was off to MOAB and Arches National Park. We’ve been to Arches and Canyonlands before, but since we were close, we decided to visit again. Arches National Park is pretty easy to drive through and there are great short hikes that you can take. We found one we could take dogs on, and with hiking shoes, waterproof backpack, water bottles and hats we were off. The terrain is just amazing and it makes you think of what another planet would be like. It got really hot in the afternoon and we decided we had enough.
Back westward bound on the I-70 to the I-15 and southward to Mesquite, Nevada. We usually stop in Mesquite when we need to spend the night somewhere along that are as it has some of the nicest ball fields anywhere. It doesn’t seem like very many people live there, but there are more ball fields to population than anywhere in America. One in particular is artificial turn and Leroy loves playing ball on it…hence why we stop in Mesquite.
Then it’s on to San Diego and another successful RV trip completed!