December 07, 2018
Having just purchased our new motorcycles and ATVs, it was time for our first camping trip. We chose the Texas Creek Recreation Area near Canon City CO for this madden voyage. Had a great time and learned a thing or two in the process.
What is the Texas Creek Recreation Area? This is an open space area managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the state of Colorado. Located on Hwy 50 between Canon City and Salida CO, the area offers about 50 miles of off-highway trails. Texas Creek has everything from narrow single-track trails to wide 4x4 jeep roads. Challenges range from easy roads to tight switchbacks to steep and rocky hills.
With so many camping options in Colorado, why did we choose the Texas Creek Recreation Area as our first camp out?
Why we chose Texas Creek for our first camping adventure.
Having growing up in Colorado in the 1970s, I did a lot of camping and riding. After spending 20 years in the Marines, I moved back to Colorado in the Colorado Springs area, as this is where I found work based on my military related skills.
My mother-in-law, who lived in Denver CO, approached me and said we should get back into camping. That was all the incentive I needed as I always dreamed of moving back to Colorado to camp and ride like I did growing up.
So off to the sporting goods stores to buy new camping equipment and then off to the motorcycle dealer to get three ATVs and two motorcycles. We now had everything to get back into OHV camping. However, I was now in a part of the state that was new to me and I did not know where to go.
We just bought our new ATVs and motorcycles and wanted to know where we can ride, so we asked the dealer. They provide several books and maps that outlined places we could ride. This is how we found the Texas Creek Recreation Area.
We purchased our new toys in Feb and wanted to go camping during Memorial Day weekend, being it was a long weekend. We tried to ride in the upper mountains in early May and found we could not get very far due to the lingering snow. We needed a place a little lower in elevation if we were to avoid the snow.
Texas Creek soon became our choice for our first (of many) Memorial Day camping trips. It is only about 6000 ft at the lower parts and rise to about 9000 ft at its peaks. We also read on a few forums that people were riding in early May and said it was mostly clear of snow.
Looking at the maps and reading books about Texas Creek provided outlines of the riding trails but very little about the camping. We did not know if we had to stay in the parking area or if we could camp further up the trails. (Would my Chevy Astro Van make it up those trails?).
Not knowing the camping part, we bought a little trailer to haul behind one of the ATVs and decided to park in the parking area and haul all our gear to a campsite up the trail. This was the plan; let us see how well we did.
What did we bring and were we prepared?
In preparing for our first (of hopefully many) camping trip, we wanted to get some quality camping equipment. We really did not care about the weight or size, as we are car camping, not backpacking.
Here is a rough list of our camping supplies (and all of it had to fit on the ATVs and trailer)
As you can see, this is quite the list to carry on the ATVs and one little trailer. We had to make two trips from the parking lot to get it all at the camp spot. For this reason, I felt we defiantly did not have the right camping gear for THIS type of camping.
For example, on the ATVs, I tied down what I could and had the kids sit on their sleeping bags and pillows. It was an interesting site to see for sure.
What did we do?
Once we got to camp, the fun began. We got there in the dark so the only thing we did that night was set up the tent and went to sleep.
The next morning we set up the rest of the camp (awning, tables, chairs, grill, etc.) and had a great breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes.
We then went on our first ride. The maps and books talked a little about the trails but you never really know how hard or easy a trail is until you try it. What is easy for someone like me may scare the dickens out of a new rider. Our first ride was on an easy dirt road to an old mining cabin about 5 miles from the camp. The kids did great on the ATV’s.
On our way back from the ride, we found a much nicer place to camp. So, we tore down our camp and moved to the nicer camp about a mile up the road. It was at this point we realized we could have drove the Chevy Astro Van up this road without any issues. Oh well, live and learn I guess.
We spend the rest of the first day setting up the new camp and fixing dinner.
The next day we went on a much longer ride. Found a loop on the map that was about 20 miles total. It was during this ride we ran into heavy rain and lightning. Probably not the smartest thing to do but we crowded under a tree to try to get out of the rain.
A couple of the sections of the trail were quite rocky and challenging and my wife and the kids did not feel comfortable going over them. This means I had the privilege to go over the good parts many times.
On the third day, we did one final ride to a remote section of Texas Creek (another 20-mile loop). Again, I had the opportunity to ride all the toys over the rough sections.
We then took down camp and headed back to the van. We tried to do it with just one trip but found we were dropping gear all over the trail and had to go back and get it anyway.
What did we learn from the experience? The biggest thing we learned was it was not necessary to put all the camping gear on the ATVs. I could have easily drove the van to the campsite.
We also learned that if we DO decide to take gear on the ATVs, we must have gear that is more compact.
What is so special about Texas Creek?
There are several things about Texas Creek that we think makes it special.
First, it is maintained by the BLM. The reason why this is important is that the trails are well marked and cleared every year by park rangers and volunteers. Park rangers also patrol the area ensuring everyone is following the rules and operate in a safe manner.
Another plus for the area is all the camping is free. This is true dispersed camping at its finest. There is a vault toilet at the parking area that we use quite a bit; but other than that, you have to pack in everything you need.
Next, there are nearly 50 miles of great riding. Once the kids get a little more comfortable riding motorcycles, there are some single-track trails I would like to explore.
Last, Texas Creek Recreation Area is not far from Colorado Springs. It only takes about an hour and a half to get there from our home.
What is Dispersed Camping? Dispersed camping means camping with no amenities such as running water, electric or sewer hookups. It also means there is no trash removal, usually no tables or fire rings. Dispersed camping is usually allowed in BLM lands and National Forest areas outside of established campgrounds.
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