National Parks in Colorado to Visit

National Parks in Colorado to Visit

With four national parks, Colorado offers campers of all experience levels the ability to have the camping trip they’ve always dreamed of. When you take that trip in a Bowlus, you allow yourself to see some of the most beautiful sights in the country while enjoying the ultimate in luxury land travel. But which national park should you choose? It depends on what you like to do.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is probably the most well known of Colorado’s National Parks, and for good reason. The park has over 350 miles of hiking trails to explore, but it’s important to keep in mind that most of those hikes take place at high elevations. Although there are so many trails to choose from, our favorites are the Chasm Lake Hike and the Mount Ida Trail. 

The Chasm Lake Hike is heavily trafficked, but that’s because it showcases some of the most beautiful scenery in the park. Once you reach Chasm Lake, you’ll be able to look around and see Longs Peak (the highest peak in the park), Mount Meeker, and the Keyboard of the Winds. It’s well worth the nearly eight-mile round trip hike. You’ll also be able to see a waterfall, which is an amazing site set amid all the scenery. The hike takes between two and four hours total. 

The Mount Ida hike, on the other hand, is a tough summit hike. It features panoramic views and is one of the best alpine hikes in the park. There is plenty of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, which makes it well worth the steep, difficult climb. Bring trekking poles for the tougher portions. It’s not a hike for inexperienced adventurers.

If you’re looking for a campground for your Bowlus that you can reserve in advance, our recommendation is the Aspenglen Campground. You can reserve a site up to six months in advance, which is recommended due to the popularity of the park (especially in the warmer months). Aspenglen Campground is located near the Fall River Entrance and is surrounded by pine, fir, and spruce trees. It’s perfect for your luxury travel trailer because it has no hookups, an area where the off-grid-friendly Bowlus really shines. You won’t have to give up any luxury amenities while you visit.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is the perfect combination of natural beauty and historical significance. The park was established in 1906 to preserve the archaeological heritage of the original inhabitants of the land, the Ancestral Pueblo people. In fact, the park is home to more than 5000 different known archaeological sites.

Because of its history, the park offers multiple guided tours, as well as other self-guided options. In addition, there are plenty of different hiking trails to explore. Our favorite is the Petroglyph Point Trail, located in the Chapin Mesa Trailheads. Although the hike is 2.5 miles round trip, it is adventurous in nature. Narrow, rocky, and rugged, you’ll get to see the historic petroglyph panel, carved by the indigenous people who lived there. 

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, check out the Morefield Campground. While reservations are not required, they are recommended to guarantee your spot. There are 267 sites at the campground, with 15 full hookup RV only spots. However, when you travel in your Bowlus, you can take your pick from any of the other hookup-free spots without concern about power and water during your trip. The campground is scenic all on its own. It’s located in a high, grassy canyon full of native wildlife, flowers, and trees.

Visiting Mesa Verde National Park in your luxury travel trailer allows you to explore all of the history of the area without giving up any of your modern comforts. After spending all day taking in the views, you can spend the evening sleeping comfortably on your memory foam mattress in your temperature-controlled travel trailer. It’s the best of both worlds, and you’ll be able to wake up well-rested and ready for a whole new day of exploration.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

While many national parks are known for their forests, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is amazing for other natural features. While the park is home to forests, lakes, wetlands, and tundras, it is best known for the tallest sand dunes in the entire country.

Instead of standard trails like the other three national parks on the list, the Great Sand Dunes National Park offers 30 miles of sand dunes to explore in any way that you wish. It’s a hiking experience unlike any other, with the freedom to go whichever direction you choose. 

If you’re looking for a challenge, check out Star Dune. Standing at 750 feet from base to summit, Star Dune is the tallest in North America. It takes around six hours to hike from start to finish.

There are multiple forested and alpine trails to hike as well.

The best campground at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, in our opinion, is the Pinon Flats Campground. Reservations are accepted up to six months in advance, and there are 88 individual sites that can fit both tent or RV camping. Although no hookups are available, you won’t need them when you stay in your Bowlus. 

You won’t believe the views of the dunes that you’ll be able to enjoy by just stepping outside. It’s the perfect scenery to enjoy cooking outdoors in your outdoor-ready kitchen that features both 110 volt and propane hookups. Enjoy grilling or cooking with an impressive backdrop. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Canyons are some of the most impressive natural wonders in the world. Although it isn’t the Grand Canyon, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park features some of the oldest rocks, craggiest spires, and steepest cliffs in the entire country. Sculpted by the Gunnison River over two million years, the Black Canyon is a must-see national park, not only for those in Colorado but for campers all over the country. 

The hiking trails at Black Canyon of the Gunnison are unparalleled. They can also be dangerous, so many of them are not recommended for inexperienced hikers. The hiking at the park is divided into two sections—trails located in the North Rim of the park and those located in the South Rim. 

Those looking for an easier trail should check out the Cedar Point Nature trail, which is less than a mile round trip. In addition to leading hikers through plenty of local flora, it also has two overlooks that offer breathtaking views of the Gunnison River, as well as the Painted Wall, which is the tallest cliff in the state. This trail is located in the South Rim.

The North Vista Trail, in the North Rim, is one of the more strenuous hikes but also one of the most rewarding. At seven miles round trip, the hike provides some of the best views in the park. Hikers who make it the entire way will be able to enjoy panoramic vistas of the San Juan Mountains, Grand Mesa, the West Elks, the Uncompahgre Plateau, and an aerial view of the Black Canyon.

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, The South Rim Campground is the only one in the park that accommodates luxury travel trailers, but it’s great due to its location. While some of the sites are fairly close together, when you travel in your Bowlus, you can enjoy all the privacy that you want. You’ll be able to enjoy a hot shower and a comfortable bed after a long day of hiking through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Plus, the large skylights in the main cabin will let in natural light during the day and make for ideal stargazing conditions at night. 

In Conclusion…

The four national parks in Colorado—Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison—each have their own special beauty and reason to visit. Instead of choosing just one, why not visit all four in your Bowlus? You’ll be able to see everything without giving up any of the comforts of home. It’s the best way to experience the country, hands down.

 

Sources:

https://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm

Mesa Verde National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

https://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/blca/index.htm 

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