Rocky Mountain National Park

30 08 2014

This weekend finds us at Rocky Mountain National Park. We’re in the Aspenglen Campground, just inside Fall River entrance near Estes Park. We’re in sites #43, a cozy and fairly private corner site and #45, an more specious inside site. Site #41 is a good back-in site on the inside of the loop.  We found adequate T-mobile cell service using our Wilson booster.

“Officially” Aspenglen Campground only accommodates RVs up to 30 feet.  However, there are about 8 sites that offer driveway lengths up to 35 feet.  Roadways and sites are paved and offer picnic tables, fire rings and tent pads.  There are water faucets scattered throughout the campground along with flush toilets.  Generators are only allowed on the “C ” loop.  The nearest dump station is at Moraine Park Campground, about 10 miles away.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

24 08 2014

Golden Gate Canyon is a beautiful Colorado State Park.  Located about 15 miles west of Golden, the park offers plenty of distractions and nice electric camping sites.  There are showers, a laundry room, water faucets and a dump station in the park.

The Colorado State Parks website offers two different travel options.  For RV’s, they recommend I-70 west from Denver through Black Hawk via Highway 6 and 119 to Gap Road (the 2nd Golden Gate SP sign).  For other vehicles, the most direct route is up Golden Gate Canyon from Golden.  This is a steep, narrow, winding road.  Beautiful, but maybe not ideal for larger RV’s.

We stayed in sites #48 and #49.  Best sites include #9, #16, #18, #29 and #35

Lewis Park, Wheatland, WY

9 08 2014
Lewis Park, Wheatland, WY

Lewis Park, Wheatland, WY

We’re parked in one of the 10 free sites at the City Park in Wheatland, WY.  This park is located east of town, bordered by 8th St and just south of South Street.  The 10 RV sites and a few tent sites are located along the south side of the park, under huge old cottonwood trees.  On Saturday when we arrived, the park was quite busy, several group pavilions were packed, kids were using skate board area and one of the Platte Country Sheriff candidates held a rally at the small amphitheater.  There are also two baseball fields further to the south.

If arriving to Wheatland via I-25, the best way across town is on Gilchrist St then south on 8th Street.  There’s a water fill on the right as you enter the park.  There are also a few other water faucets scattered around the park, however the internal roadways are fairly narrow, so they could be a challenge for all but the smallest RVs.  The city asks for donations to support the RV sites – your donation can be left in the tube next to the water faucet.  Each of the RV sites have 30 amp electrical service, some (possibly all) have 50 amp available.    There are two restroom houses and showers can be purchased for $1.00 at the city pool on the SW corner of the park.  There is also a free dump station available along the rail road tracks on 8th St.

Even with lots of people in the park on Saturday evening, things were quiet by 10pm and remained very quiet well after sunrise.  The only exception were two trains that passed with whistles blowing in the night.  This is great alternative to RV parks close to I-25 and the price is certainly right – we’d stay here again.

Medora Campground

7 08 2014
Medora Musical

Medora Musical

Next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the small town of Medora, North Dakota thrives as an alternative to exploring the park with the Medora Musical, the Bully Pulpit Golf Course and, plenty of tourist shops & restaurants. The most appealing name of a local restaurant is the Pitchfork Steak Fondue, conjuring  images of cowboy chefs with slabs of steaks on pitchforks.  Keeping with the old west theme you can enjoy the Badlands Pizza & Saloon,  The Little Missouri Dining Room & Saloon and Boots Bar & Grill.  There are plenty of no-frills motel options, most with pool areas to keep the youngsters entertained.

We’re parked in sites #123, 124 and 125, some of the largest (but by no means spacious) sites at the Medora Campground.  Set along the Little Missouri River, this RV park of about 150 sites set in a large cottonwood grove.  The park offers both full (water, electric, sewer) hookups and partial (no sewer) hookups with 30 and 50 amp service.  The tent sites might be the nicest here, with lots of grassy areas along the river and away from the RVs.  After a particularly heavy rain yesterday, the gravel roads and sites still have standing water puddles and the red mud is everywhere. There’s no over-the-air TV service that we can find, however the free WiFi seems to work well enough for streaming video.   The Verizon broadband service is full 3G and T-Mobile is showing full 4G access.  We’re not sure what the other RV park in town looks like, but it might be worth an exploration it before returning here.

Lakeside Marina, Jamestown, ND

5 08 2014
Lakeside Marina & Campground

Lakeside Marina & Campground

We’ve left Minnesota and are about 1/3 of the way across North Dakota along I-94 and just north of the small town of Jamestown.  There are several county owned campground around the Jamestown Reservoir.

We’re parked in sites 11, 13, 15 at the Lakeside Marina and Campground.  There are 48 water and electric sites in this campground, each fairly level back-in sites with plenty of room between them.  Each site has a fire pit and picnic table.  The campground also has a well maintained shower house, restrooms, a dump station and several as they call them “no frills cabins”.

This campground is a bit difficult to find, and may show up incorrectly on GPS and even the Good Sam system.  The easiest route from the east is to exit I-94 at 87th Ave to the north, turn left on 34th Street which will take you around the airport, then north again on 12th Ave.  Turn right at the cemetery on 32nd Street and the entrance will be on your left.  Payment is made either at the marina office just beyond the campground (parking not suitable for an RV) or at the on-site payment station with cash or check.

Even though this quiet campground is a bit off the trail (about 12 miles north of I-94) it’s a great find, and we’d stay here again.

Buffalo River State Park

4 08 2014
Buffalo River SP, MN

Buffalo River SP, MN Site #28E

After leaving Duluth this morning, we’ve traveled to the far western side of Minnesota, only about 15 miles from the North Dakota state line.  We’re parked at Buffalo River State Park, a small campground along the wandering Buffalo River.  There are 34 electric only sites organized around a large loop with plenty of trees and room between sites.  Most of these are reserveable online, about 8 are first-come first-serve sites.  The high number sites (from 18-34) back up to a thick forest for maximum privacy.  There are another 10 non-electric sites on a smaller loop.  The park provides two threaded water faucets at the dump station.  There are other water faucets scattered throughout the park, but they are not threaded for RV connection.  There are also showers and restroom facilities between the two loop.  The kids seem to love the swimming hole that is just a short trail walk from the campsites and features a sandy beach, more restrooms and lifeguards.

We can receive most of the network TV channels from Fargo, but don’t have much cellular service.  With the booster, the Verizon broadband signal was adequate, but T-Mobile phone service was spotty at best. This is a nice quiet campground, except for the occasional train that operates across a bridge near the entrance gate.  In addition to the $28 camping fee, and the $8.50 online reservation fee, there is a $5/vehicle park entrance fee making this a bit pricey for an electric-only site.

Marble Beach SRA, Spirit Lake, IA

31 07 2014
Marble Beach, Spirit Lake, IA

Marble Beach, Spirit Lake, IA

In in short detour from I-90, which runs across the southern edge of Minnesota, we’re just over the Iowa state line and parked at Marble Beach, a state recreation area in the Spirit Lake area. Here, we’ve met friends and family that started out from Sheridan, WY 2 days ago and will travel the rest of the way to Duluth with us.

We’re in sites 80 & 81, side-by-side back-in sites at the end of a loop of grassy tent sites.  These two sites are built up on large mounds of dirt which can easily leave your first step into the camper at about waist height.  This is also the first time we’ve needed to use our 30A electrical extension – our electrical connection is nearly a site away – barely reachable with both our normal connection AND the extension.  These are electric-only sites, water fill and and a dump station are available at the top of the loop.

Marble Beach, Spirit Lake, IA

Marble Beach, Spirit Lake, IA

With a real downpour that lasts about 20 minutes while we were out walking around the campground, our sites are muddy, dark and damp the next morning.  We might stay at Marble Beach again, but wouldn’t select these two sites.