Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Pagosa Springs Colorado 4th of July

(By Karen) Thursday right after work, we headed north to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. It only takes a little more than three hours to drive there from our home in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Our plan was to boondock in the Turkey Springs area off of Williams Creek Road. We arrived after dark to the parking lot with signage about Turkey Springs. We were very surprised when the road was block and a large sign announced that it was a mountain bike trail. We stood there and looked at each other. When the heck did Turkey Springs become mountain bikes only? It turned out that we should have driven just a little further to a second entrance that is the actual Turkey Springs Road. We missed it in the dark. We didn't discover our mistake until Sunday. Oh well - next time.  

While sitting in the dark staring at the blocked road, we debated whether to continue up towards Williams Creek Reservoir to other boondocking spots or head back downtown and find a place to stealth camp. We decided to overnight at the Visitor Center. The parking lot was full when we arrived, but one by one the cars and campers left. They were just parking to attend the nearby carnival. We walked around downtown and then had a pleasant, undisturbed sleep. We woke up very early and walked to the nearby Rose Cafe for a delicious breakfast.

(There were no "NO Overnight Parking" signs at the visitors center, but we think that there is a high chance of being asked to leave at night, normally. There was a carnival going on across the street so we felt that the chances of the police bothering with us, with all the activity and carny camping going on around us, was slim.)

Great parking lot at Visitors Center. We heard the soothing rushing river all night. 

Pagosa Springs has an abundance of campgrounds and boondocking areas. But, since it was 4th of July weekend, almost all were completely full. We drove north to West Fork Road. We agreed to take the first spot in either a campground or a boondock site whichever came first. A sign at the beginning of the West Fork campground (US Forest Service) said to see the camp host for a site. We stopped without driving through the campground and asked the camp host if he had any sites still available. We secured the last one. Lesson learned: A camper pulled in ahead of us, but didn't stop to talk to the camp host. They drove past him and through the campground looking for open sites. Because they didn't stop, we beat them to the last spot. Later we drove further up the road, but all the beautiful boondock spots were full. (There are about 4 really nice ones near a bridge over the San Juan.)

West Fork Campground - beautiful spot in the woods, Site 28
We were happy with our site which was more suited to a tent.
The table was quite a ways from the parking spot. Worked fine for us.
West Fork Campground is really beautiful. There are some sites that are very close to the West San Juan River. We had a pleasant walk around the campground and down to the river. Technically, we were in a tent site. The table was away from the parking area and close to a tent dirt pad. But, we loved this site. It was very private.

In the mornings, we opened our sliding door and lay in bed looking out at the beautiful trees and surrounding mountains while listening to the abundance of birds chirping away. We saw a number of deer and, of course, many chipmunks and squirrels. West San Juan campground has vault toilets and great tasting water available. We recommend it and will definitely return. Many of the site were pull throughs and big enough for larger rigs. Some sites can be reserved through recreation.gov or reserve america.

Looking down toward West Fork Road
We were happy to find such a beautiful campground and lucked out that it was only a short drive to downtown Pagosa Springs. From our campground, we could see Treasure Falls beckoning to us. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday - Pagosa Springs had off and on rain and thunderstorms. But, we didn't let that keep us from exploring and getting in our 10,000 steps a day. One of our first hikes was the short uphill one to Treasure Falls.

Our monkey friends went along with us to the base of Treasure Falls. 

Beautiful Treasure Falls
The rain brought an abundance of beautiful flowers
We drove to the top of Wolf Creek Pass and up a small dirt road to the Lobo Overlook. 

View from Lobo Overlook
We like to bring our sock monkey friends with us when we hike. They love to have their photos taken. My aunt and uncle, who raised me, are in Germany and they have our sock monkey's cousin with them. We love to send each other pictures of our monkeys on our different adventures. I was walking with my sock monkeys to the overlook and a gentleman said to me, "Wait a minute, while I get my monkey. We can take pictures together." You just never know who you will meet out there on the road.

Monkeys at Lobo Overlook

Parking lot at Lobo Overlook with our monkey friends
Our new friends from Texas. He said that they get all different types
of reactions when they ask if they can take pictures of their monkey with people.
What we have in number of monkeys, they make up for in size!  
We are ALWAYS happy to pose with monkey friends.
The main attraction was walking around downtown Pagosa Springs, going to the 66th Annual Red Ryder Rodeo and watching the fireworks. For many years, Greg and I have helped put on the Kiwanis fireworks show in Los Alamos. We LOVE firework shows. While we were out walking, we saw the telltale signs of the firework tubes really, really close to where we were parked in a park across from the spiffy looking Pagosa high school.


We had been told the fireworks were shot off downtown, so our original plan had been to leave the campervan near the park and walk downtown to see the works. But, now - we were literally on top of the shoot-off point. To say I was excited is an understatement. Yipee!

The fireworks display did not disappoint. Great show! But, anytime you cram so many people into a small place - you get TRAFFIC. We knew it would take awhile to clear out the vehicles after the show, so we just walked around the park in the dark and waited and waited. It took about 1.5 hours for the traffic jam to clear. We got back to the campground after 11 p.m. and slept like baby monkeys!

View toward Pagosa Springs downtown from trail to the High School and park. 

Daily thunderstorm rolling on in. The skies cleared for the firework show. 

Happy Birthday America! Great show Pagosa Springs! 

We shall return!

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