Get Outdoors: Kids Guide to Camping in Colorado’s Mountain Towns
posted by: Mile High Mamas
Meet Isak Heartstone.
He’s the much-loved 15-foot-tall wooden troll sculpture that originally had been built for the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts by Danish Artist Thomas Dambo, known around the world for bringing awareness to recycling by making art from trash.
Isak now lives on the Trollstigen Trail on the south end of Breckenridge, wowing all who visit, along with plenty of hiking, biking, golfing, Epic Discovery activities (on the mountain complete with a kids zipline and mini golf), playgrounds and the perfect place to splash downtown at the Blue River Plaza.
Breck also has lots of great places to eat – inside or out. In fact, local families say, Happy Hour has become the Happiest hour because parents can order a craft cocktail or local brew and a light bite, all before the kids crash at the end of a long, active vacation day.
Colorado families have so many options for summer fun in and around mountain towns, whether we want to opt for a cabin, an RV, a tent or a backpacking trip. Bike up (or shuttle down) to the Maroon Bells in Aspen. The rodeo is returning to Snowmass and Steamboat Springs. You won’t want to miss the Lost Forest at Elk Camp on Snowmass with its alpine coaster, biking trails, ropes challenges and climbing wall, or the chance to soak in Steamboat Springs’ hot springs, go paddle-boarding, float on the Yampa River, among the options.
I especially love the family programs at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), whether you want to go for a guided hike at the top of the mountain, learn how to be a birder or meet the rescued raptors in residence.
Introduce kids to mountain biking in Winter Park at the Trestle Mountain Bike Park or test your skills in Crested Butte, surrounded by the 1.7 million-acre Gunnison National Forest, with over 450 miles of trails in the northern end of the Gunnison Valley. How many different wildflowers can they spot in the Wildflower Capitol?
Tips for Camping in Colorado
There is just one caveat: It’s no secret that families from all over the country will be heading to Colorado, among other places, to enjoy our wildflowers, hiking and biking trails, mountain towns and national parks this year. That means we cannot be as spontaneous as we might like. You’ve got to plan ahead for campsites (arrive very early for first-come-first-serve ones). Make a timed-entry reservation for Rocky Mountain National Park and book ahead for RV rentals.
Campers are turning to RVing in record numbers, renting from sites like www.RVshare.com and Outdoorsy.com. There are now 13 million U.S. RVing households — an increase of 1.7 million over last year, according to KOA’s new 2021 North American Camping Report.
If you are a first-time camper or RVer, you have lots of company. There were more than 10 million first-time camper households — a growth of a record 3.9 million with 60 percent from non-white groups, the report shows. And while more than half of first-time campers said they were motivated by the pandemic, two-thirds say they are likely to camp or are considering a camping trip this year. They also can afford other kinds of vacations as more than 40 percent report earning $100,000 or more annually.
Across the board, families with kids are driving the uptick in camping, with three-fourths of new campers being from households with kids.
First-time campers could brush up on camping etiquette, said Toby O’Rourke, a camping mom herself and president and CEO of Kampgrounds of America (KOA), which produced the report and is the world’s largest system of privately held campgrounds with more than 500 locations, including many in Colorado.
Walk around campsites instead of through someone else’s; remind the kids to use “inside voices, especially during designated quiet hours and early in the morning. Always leash your pet, pick up after them and Leave no Trace when you depart. Communities that host many of these new campers also must grapple with the influx and their impact.
“Always leave your campsite better than when you found it,” said Pearl, one of the 100-plus kids who I interviewed for my new Kid’s Guide to Camping. They all give camping trips a decided thumbs up.
“You always make friends in a campground,” said Sophie, from Fruita, CO.
Especially if you are traveling by RV, you can bring plenty of stuff—bikes, scooters, and of course pets said Zach Dubey, a teen from near Denver. “A hotel just isn’t the same.”
Eileen Ogintz is the author of Kid’s Guide to Camping where you’ll find fun facts about the great outdoors, kid-tested tips for camping fun for all seasons, awesome games and quizzes to keep the family entertained around the campfire and KOA insider tips and tricks. Lead photo: GoRving.com.
Other Colorado Family Vacation Resources
Where to pull of I-70 when you’re stuck in traffic (fun activities and restaurants)
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