Getting There and Finding a Campsite
I had originally planned on camping in one of the campgrounds in Alpine Loop (Timpanooke or Granite Flat), but I neglected to make a reservation before the online systems closed. Brighton and I were a little slow going that morning- We had to gather our camping boxes and other gear.
After driving around all the first-come, first-serve sites a little hopelessly, we decided to continue driving up and around the loop to see if we could find any free sites.
Off of the Alpine Loop road, SR-92, we turned off to FR-114 toward Cascade Springs. We turned again onto a dirt road, FR-180 to continue up switchbacks. While there is no dispersed camping in Alpine Loop, the US Forest Service land up this road was free. We found a open field with a 360-degree view of the canyons and Mt Timp. that was simply breathtaking.
We weighed our pros and cons for this site:
- No other campsites around from what we could tell
- Amazing views for sunset and sunrise
- Big open sky for star viewing
- Open and exposed- No privacy, and open to the elements (wind, sun)
- Close to the road
- No place for Brighton’s hammock
- No shade
As we started settling in, despite our hesitations, I saw a USFS truck coming down the dirt road, and I flagged him over. He was very helpful in confirming that we were able to camp at that site, free of charge and without penalty. He also let us know that there were a couple other dispersed campsites up the road, and if we hurried, we could grab one of the last couple for our night.
Dispersed camping is the term used for camping anywhere in the National Forest OUTSIDE of a designated campground. Dispersed camping means no services; such as trash removal, and little or no facilities; such as tables and fire pits, are provided. Some popular dispersed camping areas may have toilets. (Source)
We threw everything in the car and drove carefully, quickly up the road. The ranger was unsure whether our Subaru Impreza would make it up the deeply grooved dirt road.
Welcome to Home in the Wilderness
When we finally made it up to the top of the canyon, off of FR-721, we set up our campsite. It was perfect!
I found a flat, soft place to place with my tent with trees surrounding the area. Brighton set up his hammock next to the tent.
There was an established fire circle in the clearing and we used it, in order to follow the principles of Leave No Trace.
The rest of our evening was spent relaxing and unwinding in nature. I will admit openly that we were car camping/glamping. I brought 2 twin size foam pads for my tent, with a fitted sheet set to really make myself at home. We also brought our bluetooth speaker (but kept it low so only we could hear it).
- Hammocking and reading my new book: “A Man Called Ove”
- Watching the sunset (and sunrise)
- S’mores & snacks
- Eating freeze dried meals
And, of course, sleeping under the stars!
The Best Part of Camping: The Sunrise
Ahhh, I have to say my favorite part of camping is watching the sunrise from the campsite and waking up with the sun. I’m generally a morning person, and even more so when I am camping.
We woke up right at sunrise and realized that our view was pretty obstructed with our sheltered site, so we threw everything in our car in a bundle and drove down to our first site with those 360-degree views for a real treat.
Funny enough, someone had set up camp with a very similar looking tent as ours, and I took photos of the sunrise as it crept along the mountainside with its peachy-purple hues.
After enjoying our camping sunrise, we decided to head home. After all, this was a quick trip out into the wilderness. It’s so nice to return home after a time in the wilderness. ?
What are your favorite parts of camping? Do you prefer a campground, dispersed camping, or backcountry camping? What tips do you have to make the most of your experience?