Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stillwater Campground at Lake Granby, CO

Lake Granby, CO
You know it has been too hot and dry when rain is a welcomed guest on a camping trip.  Like much of the nation, Colorado is in the midst of an  unusually dry and hot season, and any precipitation is appreciated, even if it occurs in the middle of a hike.    Although mostly a sunny and pleasant weekend, we experienced downpours and a lightning storm that cut short our leisurely hike and turned it into an all out sprint to the car for cover.

We were hiking around beautiful Monarch Lake in Grand County, enjoying all the summer sights and sounds you come to expect near a mountain lake.  We watched for birds and deer, and a couple hikers we met along the way even warned us of a recent moose and calf sighting just up the trail.  

Hike around Monarch Lake
 Instead we encountered thunder and rain.  Fortunately for us, we were near the end of the trail that looped back to our car, and when the rain finally let loose, we only got thoroughly soaked instead of drenched.  The gravel road back to the highway was a dirty, sloppy mess that left the car covered in a thin crust of mud.  I was just thankful I didn't have to tow the Bambi through all that muck; it would have taken days to get it shining again.

Stillwater Campground on Lake Granby
We stayed at Stillwater Campground on the shore of Lake Granby - a perennial favorite  for us.  It is near the town of Grand Lake with easy access to the West entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.  On this particular weekend, Grand Lake was hosting an antique boat show.  There were many beautiful boats on display from a rich and and romantic bygone era.

Grand Lake Antique Boat Show
The annual Grand Lake Antique boat show is always a pleasure to see.  This was my second year attending, and although many of the same boats were on display again this year, I never grow tired of seeing these gleaming beauties, varnished to perfection, and glittering in the summer sun.

On top of Trail Ridge Road
We made a long weekend of it, coming back home over Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park on Monday.   It is so much more enjoyable driving the roads after the weekend traffic dissipates.   Another summer weekend gone by too quickly though - I am so happy and thankful to have the Airstream travel trailer to help motivate and enable me to get out and enjoy the beautiful outdoors of Colorado.

Many more photos here: Stillwater Camping Album

If you go:

Stillwater campground is located 6 miles south of Grand Lake, CO, and sites can be reserved on recreation.gov.  The campground is built on a hill, so some sites are terraced with separate levels for tent pad, picnic table, and parking.   The main drawback about Stillwater campground is that, like many in the area, the pine trees have been cut down because of the pine beetle infestation.  So, shade is hard to come by, but it also means that many sites have unobstructed, spectacular views of the Lake.   

The campground has hot showers (no coins needed) and flush toilets.  Some sites have electricity and water, and there is a dump station at the entrance.  In addition to the $20/day camping fee there is a daily use fee (~$5) for entrance into the Arapahoe Recreation Area where the campground is located.  A multi-day pass can be purchased with a credit card at the entrance to the campground.

There are a couple small grocery stores located in Grand Lake for food and supplies, and a large, modern, supermarket can be found about 10 miles south of the campground in Granby, CO.


  1. Wow, looks a like a gorgeous spot! Thanks for the helpful review, Tim! :)

    1. Thanks Laura. We always enjoy camping in this area. There are many things to do and explore with Rocky Mountain National Park so close.

  2. I bookmarked this spot. We haven't been to Colorado in a few years and I think we have some exploring to do before and after Alumafandango next month!

    1. FWIW: Regarding camping options near Stillwater Campground - this campground gets very mixed reviews; folks either seem to love it or hate it. If you are looking for something with more trees and further from the highway, you might try Arapaho Bay (9 miles down a dirt road) or Willow Creek. Anyway, you didn't ask, but I am always happy to provide unsolicited advice :-).

  3. Beautiful photography and a fun read, Tim. The little Bambi looks right at home with all the classic boats. Looks like a great weekend.

    We spend a lot of time in the Black Hills outside of Rapid City. The pine beetles are destroying the forests there, too. Some of the most scenic areas that we enjoy hiking have really been hit hard and many areas have been clearcut. We hiked to Harney's Peak this spring break and I'm glad we did it this year because I don't know how much longer the forest will be there.

  4. Thanks for sharing your Bambi experiences. Daniel and I purchased a Bambi Sport and plan to follow many of your experiences. We live in Lyons.

    1. Congratulations Mark and Daniel! You will have a great time with your Airstream camper - maybe we will cross paths at a campground soon. Best wishes for lots of fun and adventure!