Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Let the 2013 Camping Season Begin!

Night time at the camp site
Warm and dry days have provided very early Winter season  camping opportunities in the Colorado high country this year.  So, with a warm and dry holiday weekend forecast ahead, we dusted off the Bambi and headed back to Mueller State Park.  The days warmed quickly, and early afternoon outside activities only required a light jacket and hat.    Nights were filled with starry skies, and temperatures cooled down into the low 20s by morning.

Mueller State Park continues to be a favorite destination because of the natural beauty and the many camping amenities that the park offers.  It sits in the shadow of Pike's Peak to the east and has miles and miles of hiking trails across open vistas and through thick mixes of aspen and evergreen forest.  On a typical winter day, you can snow shoe, cross country ski and even sled.  This year, however, the snow fall has been dishearteningly low, but it just means it is easier to get around on the trails with a good pair of hiking boots and yak tracks.  Beautiful scenery abounds.

Campsites have spectacular views of the west side of Pike's Peak

Beauty abounds even in the simplest forms
Wide open vistas
Nights are longer in the winter time, of course, so we always try to plan for the longer evenings and  bring along ample reading material, a couple DVDs, and a good supply of our favorite hot beverage.   It is hard to beat the serene experience of relaxing in the Airstream after a day of hiking through the forest.  We watched the moon rise over the mountain tops,  relished in the pages of a good book, and sipped mugs of hot chocolate - perfect Airstream activities on a cold winter's night.

Life is cozy inside the Airstream Bambi

Sunset light rests briefly on the branches

Vivid blue Colorado Skies

Trails wind through aspen/evergreen forest

In spite of the shorter days and colder nights, Winter camping has several advantages:
  • Camp sites don't need to be reserved in advance; you can just show up and be guaranteed a great spot.  
  • The peace and serenity of having the whole park practically to yourself.  There were only 3 other campers in the park the entire holiday weekend, and during one of my morning hikes, I passed 0 other hikers on the trail.
  • No bugs. 
One camping neighbor had a vintage Airstream Globetrotter

On the other hand, the biggest drawback for winter camping, in my opinion, is the middle-of-the-night restroom situation.  Not wanting to re-winterize the Bambi after we got home meant, of course, that the camper toilet and shower were out of commission for the weekend.   So, when nature called in the middle of the night, it meant bundling up for an icy trip outside.   Note to self: Don't drink so much coffee before bed next time!

If You Go:

Modern Shower Facility (closed in Winter)
Mueller State Park is located about 30 miles (45 minutes) west of Colorado Springs.  The park staff keep 17 RV sites plowed and accessible during the winter on a first-come-first-serve basis (no reservations).  All the sites have electrical hook ups (For what it is worth: we like to use a small, ceramic, electric heater rather than the gas heater that is built into the camper.  The ceramic heater is quieter, doesn't use gas, and does a great job keeping Bambi's occupants toasty inside). 

In the winter, water is available at a nearby "comfort station" - a heated facility with flush toilets and warm/hot water.  There are no shower facilities in the winter. There is a dump station near the park entrance.  RV sites with electric hookups are $20/night during the winter plus a $7 daily vehicle pass.   You can purchase an annual state park pass for $70.

Supplies/groceries and restaurants are only 5 miles away in the small town of Divide, CO.   More restaurants, shopping and activities can be found at Woodland Park (11 mi) and Cripple Creek (15 mi).


  1. Tim, like you I think winter camping is wonderful, especially for you in sunny Colorado. Beautiful photography....especially like the photos of your little Bambi at night. The nights are long, but there's something wonderful about returning to the cozy airstream at night!

  2. Thanks Kim - I am still learning the art of night photography, but I am having a lot of fun trying. I am always inspired by your beautiful photos, so your compliments mean a lot. Thank you!