OUR RV VACATION
Traveling to Colorado State in a 30’ RV
This was a trip of my dreams: a trip of just me and my five sons. We traveled the last week of July to Colorado Springs, Colorado and Mosca, Colorado. I had been in the area a few years back when my mom attended Bible college here and I wanted my kids to see the beauty of this state so much.
As you probably already know, I have five adults sons and one lonely son still living at home. He doesn’t enjoy being the last one at home—the baby. I knew that I wanted to take an RV trip, but had first suggested going to the beach, but no one was interested in that; and no one was very interested in a family trip particularly either way. My kids wanted to go somewhere that they could hike and be in nature, if they were going to go at all. I reminded them that life was quickly changing and that this might—and probably will be—our last opportunity to take a big family trip with just the core family (at least I am hoping that someone gets married soon and makes me a grandma). When I suggested going to Colorado, they were all in. Yay!! Momma was going to get one more family trip with the boys!!
This emptynesting thing is for the birds, let me tell you.
I rented an RV from a provider in our nearest city four months prior to our trip, rented RV spots at RV resorts in the areas that we intended to stay on the same day as renting the RV and then started to plan the fun!
The royal gorge
and The Royal Gorge Expansion Bridge
We didn’t stay at The Royal Gorge very long. Actually, by the time that I parked the car and met up with the kids they had already decided that they were not going to allow me to pay to go out onto the expansion bridge and were ready to leave. I wanted to pay so that they could have the full experience and I would have gladly paid the money, but they put their feet down. It would have cost us about $170 to walk across the bridge; and there isn’t much to do there (in my opinion) unless you pay the fee to get past the turnstiles at the front of the building, which is between you and the bridge. The free view of the bridge is what you can see in these images. The boys weren’t overly impressed and were ready to leave once images were taken.
If you would like to find information on The Royal Gorge, you can find it at this link.
Taking my boys 14,115’ above sea level
One of our best days was when we went to the top of Pikes Peak. We had such a wonderful day here. We decided to head of Pikes Peak Highway around 8:00 in the morning. We had heard—or read—that going up in the morning hours was your best bet. Not only that, but I had seen rain on the radar for later in the day; I didn’t want to get caught on the peak in a deep fog or heavy cloud and miss the view. So, we went early and I am so glad that we did.
Not only was the weather and the views wonderful, it wasn’t very busy. When we headed down the mountain about four hours later, traffic was quite backed up trying to ascend the mountain. As you can see in the images, there were some clouds, but they would move in and move out quick enough to not be a nuisance.
We stayed on the peak for an hour, maybe, and then headed down a few miles to what is called ‘The Devils Playground’. It is an area of the mountain where there is a lot of open space to climb rocks and enjoy the views without the crowding of the actual peak, which is a smaller area. It gets its name because, we were told, that lightning strikes there frequently and that the lightning will bounce around from rock to rock. We stayed here for another couple of hours and then took our time descending the mountain appreciating all of the beauty around us.
There is a building on the peak with gift shops, food and toilets. It was shut down when we were there because it had been struck by lightning the day before and lost power. And, there was a lot of construction equipment in the area because they are building a new structure that will, hopefully, be open in 2020.
THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR PIKES PEAK
WEATHER: I have been to the peak twice. The first time was frigid cold and so windy that we feared being blown off of the peak a time or two. The second time, which was this trip, it was chilly, but once we started to climb on the rocks we were all sweating and shedding our coats. Some of my kids comfortably wore shorts to the summit. Me? I wore a winter coat fearing my last experience, but I ditched it very quickly. We were there in July and it was, supposedly, in the 40’s on the summit, but it felt warmer than that.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS: My youngest son was with me when I first went to Pikes Peak. He was, maybe, 10 years old at the time. The cog train was in use at the time, which is how we ascended to the summit. The poor thing was very quickly sick and vomited on the way up. So, by the time we made it to the summit, he was miserable. This time, I made sure that everyone drank a ton of water prior to the ascent and I made my youngest wear an anti-nausea bracelet. After talking about the last experience, a few of the older kids chose to wear the bracelets, too. I can say that no one got sick this time around! Success!
CLOTHING: Check the local weather and check the summit weather, as well. You can find current summit conditions at this link. It is no fun to be on the summit and to be freezing. So, wear layers and shed the ones you don’t need once you are to the top. Another suggestion is to wear comfortable athletic wear if you are someone who is going to climb rocks and explore. Too, I wore running shoes which did not hold up well on the rocks; I should have worn my hiking shoes to offer more support against my foot sliding within my shoe as I would climb up and then down off of the high rocks.
WATER: Stay hydrated. Start hydrating the night before you ascend and drink throughout the day of and while you are on the mountain.
TO DRIVE OR TO SHUTTLE: If you are afraid of heights, driving your own vehicle up the mountain may not be the way to go. Park and take a shuttle. Too, it is very hard to enjoy the views while driving because you have to keep your eyes on the road. I drove, but I was fine and I could go slow when the kids wanted to look longer. So, it worked out for us to drive. It’s just something to consider. There are some parts of the Pikes Peak Highway that even made my adrenaline kick in!
I tried to take several moments to myself to just thank God for the beauty of his creation and to be grateful for this time with my kids
This image of my son and I is from one of the breathtaking views on the drive to and from the summit.
Garden of the Gods Park
Unfortunately, my oldest son had to get back home for work. So, he was only able to be with us for the first portion of the trip. I had the gift of driving to Denver to get him to the airport, though. It was nice getting to go North and to see the landscape there. So, he missed the Garden of the Gods on this particular day. We did drive through the park on the previous day so that he could see it, though. I couldn’t let him leave without, at least, seeing it.
This was our biggest hiking day. My second oldest son was not feeling well. So, he stayed at the RV. But the remaining four of us did three or four full hiking trails for a pretty full day.
We tried to break it up by doing an easy hike, then some more challenging hikes and then ending with an easy hike. It was especially hot on the day that we hiked and I didn’t plan for getting very sunburned. It was all well worth it though.
This trip is definitely one for wearing your hiking clothes and shoes and drinking a lot of water! It is so beautiful and you do not want to be uncomfortable and risk cutting your visit short.
If you would be interested in more information about Garden of The Gods Park, you can use this link.
TIPS FOR GARDEN OF THE GODS PARK:
WHERE TO PARK: You are not required to park at the visitors center. We pulled in and everyone was parking there; they even had an overflow lot open. Luckily one of my kids pointed out that there were mini lots throughout the park and suggested that I take a chance to see if there were any availability. We were able to park right at each trail head that we hiked, which helped conserve our energy a lot.
STAY HYDRATED: As always in Colorado, drink water!
DRESS APPROPRIATELY: If you are going to climb the rocks—small or large—good hiking shoes or boots are a must. Protect your head from the sun. Wear active/athletic wear. If you will be out late into the evening, bring some layers to cover up.
DAY FOUR AND FIVE:
The Great Sand Dunes National Park
This was by far my favorite location of our trip. I had so much fun with the kids on Pikes Peak, but I had been there once before and this was a brand new location for me; what a natural wonder it is!! There are no words to adequately describe it. I can just say that when you see it from afar, it will be disappointing. They look so small and so insignificant. Stay the course and get right out onto the dunes; they are magnificent.
The Medano Creek that runs in front of the dunes can be raging with water or even dried up. Luckily, we caught it at a time when there was still water—not enough to swim in, but enough.
The boys tried to sled and board on the sand, but it did not go as I had planned it in my mind. It is definitely not as easy to do as on snow! I rented our gear for two days, but everyone was over it after about two hours of play. One of my sons blistered his hands on the sand as he road the sled down, another crashed and hurt his head and another was just not super impressed with the speed. Hey! It was worth trying, but don’t plan to invest too much time or money on this little activity.
I don’t know why, but I was so shocked that they had cacti in Colorado!!
Our First RV resort was Garden of Gods RV Resort in Colorado Springs. I am not super familiar with what to expect and what not to expect, but it seemed to be a very nice RV resort. We paid over $300 to stay there for four days and I feel now that that is a bit pricey, but maybe not pricey for what we got. If you are not wanting things to be too primitive, this is your place. They have two swimming pools, an arcade, a laundromat, a nice shower house, nice grounds, etc. I loved that we had a spectacular view of Pikes Peak right out the front of our RV! It was a blessing and a curse that we were right in town. I loved that they had a grocery store about three minutes from the resort, but I hated that I had not gotten us a bit further out into the wilderness.
Our second RV campground was just that—more of a campground. We stayed at The Great Sand Dunes Oasis. First off, DO NOT be fooled by the images. The dunes are right out front and to the right of the campgrounds, but I felt misled that they were “just across the street”; technically, they are, but it is a loooonnnnnnnngggg way across the street. I packed our bikes so that we could ride back and forth from the dunes to the RV and that just was not going to happen. The area looks kind of ran down or unkempt, but we spent all of our time at the dunes or in the RV. So, it didn’t matter to any of us. The boys said that the shower house was nice. I didn’t use it only because I didn’t bring a basket to haul my toiletries and such. So, it was beginning to become a hassle. So, I just started to shower in the RV (as cramped as it was). There is nothing for miles. So, chart your travels, make sure that your gas tank is full and that you have plenty of groceries. If I go again, I am going to see what the Great Sand Dunes National Park campground looks like.
CAN YOU AFFORD IT?
Well, dang, if I had seen the numbers before I left I would have said that I could not afford it, myself. It is like having kids: if you wait to afford them you will never have them, but someone how it all works out. Here is the breakdown for what I spent and then I will explain how I worked it all out.
30’ Class C RV……………………………………………………………$2,523.88
Garden of the Gods RV Resort (four nights)……………………………………………….……….$339.57
Mini Van Rental (3 days)…………………………….………………………….…$502.74
Uber Rides ……………….…………………………….… $55.80
Airport Parking Garages (combined for both states) ………………………………………..………….…$36.00
Entrance Fee to Pikes Peak ……………………………………..………………….…………$52.00
Great Sand Dunes Oasis RV Park (2 Nights) ………………………..………………………………….…..…..$89.00
Sand board Rentals….…………….….…………………………………..$42.36
Cash used on Misc. Expenses ($420 appx. On groceries) …………..…………………………….……….$540.00
TOTAL ………………….………………………… @ $5,200.00
If I Could Change Anything or Do Anything Different, What Would It Be?
I would probably do more research on local RV resorts or campgrounds. I think that I may have enjoyed being a little further out from town when we were in Colorado Springs—maybe not. The kids liked being near the shops. And, I may have enjoyed being inside of The Great Sand Dunes National Park instead being outside of it.
I would have done more while at The Great Sand Dunes. We didn’t take the time to go inside of the park beyond the dunes. I wanted to take one of my sons fishing and we didn’t do that. Too, there were waterfalls nearby that I would have liked hiking to, but didn’t.
I wish that I had brought a waterproof basket to carry toiletries in for the shower house.
I wish that I had more days to explore Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. We had a beautiful and full trip to Colorado Springs hiking and seeing the beauties, but I wish that I had more time to shop and take in the culture.
I spent a lot of time and money (gas and paying RV rental company for extra miles) traveling from the Midwest to Colorado. I could have saved two days by just flying into Colorado and renting an RV there. You have to plan for RV supplies, but it is do-able.
I wish that I had taken more video recordings
I wish that I had found water. I love to swim with the kids and I wanted my kids to be able to fish. We didn’t seek that out enough.