How I Survived My First Real Camping Experience

The last time I went camping was over 20 years ago. The thing I loved most about it was the freedom. We would set up camp with 2-3 other families, 8-10 of us kids, and we were allowed to roam free on our bicycles (mine hot pink of course with a radio attached) as long as we stuck together. We would cover every inch of that campground, riding for hours and hours and only returning back to our campsite for a quick snack or to sleep at night, rarely seeing our parents. We would have competitions on who could build the best fort with whatever palm fronds and tree branches we could find lying around. We’d head up to the community pool to take a dip and cool off, only to hop back on our bikes and hit the trails again.

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Fast forward to about 2 years ago when I discovered this campground we used to visit was only about 10 miles from our house. Yep, that’s right. All that time I thought we were camping out in the wilderness far away from home only to find that we would load up the car, drive 15 minutes down the road and set up camp at a popular resort-style campground in the next town over. It doesn’t erase all of the amazing memories we made all those weekends camping in Homosassa, but I did come to realize I had never truly been camping. Like actual hardcore-no-showers-out-in-the-wilderness style camping. So when we decided that we were going to do some camping while in Colorado, I had a mixture of excitement and anxiety building up within me. While we have stayed in some pretty questionable places in S.E Asia, I wasn’t sure how I would hold up with no showers, no flush toilets, sleeping in a 17-year old tent in 30-40 degree weather, in the mountains of Colorado where bears are known to roam. I mean, this definitely sounded like an adventure I just wasn’t sure it would be a great one.

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While there are plenty of resort-style campgrounds in Colorado, that’s not what we wanted. Nope, we passed up the campgrounds with the hot showers, flush toilets and Jacuzzis for an off-the-grid experience. Why, you ask?? Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. That Jacuzzi was sounding pretty good as we were driving further into the San Juan National Forest, further away from cell service and civilization in search of the “perfect” spot to set up camp. When we finally found that “perfect” campsite, I nearly died…

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Camping at South Mineral Campground, Silverton, CO

It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in real life, located just outside of Silverton where we arrived on the Narrow Gauge Railway. We popped our tent not even 10 feet from the river rapids flowing through our campsite, the most soothing sound in the world. The majestic San Juan Mountains and bright blue skies surrounding us mimicked that of an oil painting. It didn’t even seem real. The sun would peek through the trees right into our campsite providing us just enough sunlight and warmth in the crisp, cool mountain air. This was better than any resort I’ve stayed at.

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There were no showers, but who needed them? There were toilets, but they were the non-flush kind and I didn’t even mind. There were no bears, but there were plenty of deer. There was no cell reception, and that was perfect. It was private. It was peaceful. It was paradise. 

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Hot Springs, Clear Lake and the Poughkeepsie Gulch Trail

The next 4 days we spent cooking all of our meals over the fire (mmm…there is just something about the smell of camp food), exploring the meadows and waterfalls within the campground, off-roading to the nearby Clear Lake, soaking in hot springs in Ouray, and renting a Polaris RZR to explore the rugged terrain surrounding Silverton. This included taking the RZR over the (in?)famous Poughkeepsie Gulch Wall where only a few make it to the other side…(you will have to watch the video for that one)

south mineral camping

To say it was incredible would be the understatement of the year. Don’t believe me? Check out this video and then the pics that follow:

19 Reasons Why You Should Visit Colorado

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  1. I need to go there! We hiked 4 miles and 2000 feet up into the San Isabel National Forest, and man at 39, we’re feeling like we’re getting to old for that!! This looks like the best of both worlds!

    • Charlie and Brittany September 24, 2014 at 1:24 pm · ·

      That sounds amazing!! You should definitely add this place to your list to visit someday. It really is spectacular!

  2. Fabulous pictures, you live in a stunning part of the world!

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