Boondocking at Jefferson Lake

16 06 2010

All of our camping this year, the Texas Road Trip and Cheyenne Mountain State Park, has been using full hookups – no need to use the onboard water system or battery powered electrical system. But, we won’t always have these conveniences, so last weekend we decided to experiment being “off the grid”. Not sure how the water system had been managed in the past, I wanted to sanitize the system following the recommendations of ¼ cup Clorox per 15 gallons. I filled the system, added the Clorox, ran through the sink (bypassing the hot water heater) and let it set overnight. The following morning I drained the system and flushed with another full fill of fresh water.

For this first boondocking trip, we selected Jefferson Lake, a Federal Forest camping area about 45 minutes from home. Jefferson Lake is a small, high mountain, glacier fed lake with about 60 primitive camp sites. Upon arrival (when you pay your $5 entrance fee) we found about 1/3 of the sites were unreserved and available. We selected site #12 in the Lodgepole campground. Lodgepole is the most distant from the lake with 34 sites, followed by Aspen with 12 sites and Jefferson Creek with 17 sites. Overnight fees are $14 per site. The Lodgepole area is laid out in a loop and in general the inside sites are a bit smaller and closer together than those on the outside. All sites have a parking area (not always 100% level), a picnic table and fire ring. Most of the outside sites have a longer parking area, but long RV’s should check site specifics, not all will accommodate a lengthy vehicle.

The weather leading up to the weekend had been typical Colorado spring weather, sunny warm mornings and thunderstorms in the afternoon. However on Friday, the day we were to leave, a cold front had arrived and threatened rain and cooler temps all weekend. Some forecasts called for powerful thunderstorms and the possibility of hail and even snow above 9000 ft. But, knowing we could get home quickly and that the camper furnace performs well, we headed out for the weekend.

Friday evening turned out to be chilly but for the most part dry. We set-up the grill, had some great burgers for dinner and started a camp fire. About an hour after we had the fire going the skies opened up and poured rain. As the rain drenched the campfire, we decided to light up the furnace and crawl into bed. Overnight there were several thunderstorms, some with light hail. As the sun came up the next morning it was still lightly raining with the temperature around 40. We made some breakfast and hoped for the skies to clear, as is typical in the mornings. But, temps continued to fall and eventually the rain turned to snow. With the ground becoming white, we decided to pack up and head out. But, even though we shortened the weekend, we still were able to prove that all systems are “GO”. We only used about 1/3 of the water, or around 10 gallons. I’m sure the battery held up fine, the furnace fan probably used most of the power. But, I’m hoping we don’t continue to use the furnace this summer!

During the rain reprieve on Friday, we walked around the Lodgepole loop and grabbed a few notes and pictures of the best sites. Site #13 is probably our favorite, very private, on the outside of the loop with the table and fire ring set off into the woods. For two sites, #13 & #11 would be a good pair. #14 is also a nice outside site as well as #24 (plus #26 for a larger party). On the inside, sites #22 & #9 are best. There are 3 very clean vault toilet buildings around the loop, so none of the sites are far from the “facilities”. There is also well water available, but we had brought water with us from home, so we didn’t check out the water.

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24 07 2012
Jefferson Lake camping « Small Home – Big Yard

[…] Each campsite also has a picnic table and fire ring.  We’ve stayed in Lodgepole, back in June of 2010 when we left due to […]

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