Hermit Park is a great family camping spot, close to town, and close to Rocky Mountain National Park without being in the park. Meaning, you can take your dog since dogs aren’t allowed in RMNP.
Hermit Park was the first place we took our camper, our youngest son’s first camping trip (at least outside my belly), and our first Mother’s Day as a family Hermit Park and Kruger Rock Trail in Estes Park, CO of four. Lots of special memories here.
Hermit Park Camping
It’s a pretty large camping area and even spots available to horse trailers. Here, you can hike, bike, horseback ride, and even rent out a large pavilion if you had a crowd. We stayed in the Kruger Campground and it was walking distance to the Kruger Rock Trail. The spots provide a good amount of privacy with lots of trees for shade.
You can expect:
cabins, non-electric RV and tent sites
Kruger Rock Trail
We ventured to the Kruger Rock Trail with one kid in the Baby Bjorn and one throwing a gigantic tantrum. On the second attempt, we had a nice family hike. The trail is easy enough for young kids, and has plenty of little creatures to look at on the way. Out and back is four miles, and I’d say we made it about a mile.
On this trip we learned a few things to prepare us for more family trips:
Always go with another family with kids to keep the kids entertained.
One person has to set up, while the other has to stop the children from eating rocks.
Things don’t always go as planned, hence the two hiking attempts.
A buddy heater makes for a much more enjoyable camping experience.
Do not ever forget the coffee maker. We made due by creating our own (I wrote about it here). But a french press is better.
All in all, this was a great family camping spot and we hope to return again…with a french press.
Crested Butte is my favorite Colorado mountain town. It’s quaint, not too crowded, and the mountains are majestic. I’m a little bummed that Vail bought the mountain, because I think this will bring more traffic and take away it’s uniqueness. However, it is far enough from the Denver area which will likely keep the crowds low. If it wasn’t so isolated, I’d be trying to convince the family to move here.
Rosy Lane Campground in Gunnison, CO
For our summer Crested Butte camping trip, we stayed at the Rosy Lane Campground just outside in Gunnison. The campground is right off a main road. It also borders Taylor River which drowns out the noise of the traffic. I always get nervous with my kids around water, because at this time they didn’t know how to swim and the river flows pretty fast. But it is a short walk from the campsite so we just made sure to keep on an eye on them. Plus the water is really cold so they weren’t trying to jump in.
The site offers a few trails by the river and of course fishing. Other amenities include: – picnic tables – fire rings – drinking water – vaulted toliets – two sites with electric hookups
Kid-Friendly Crested Butte
On this trip, we spent quite a bit of time away from the site for our daytime activities. One day we went to the Taylor Reservoir for some time on the water-boating and fishing. Another day, we attended the Crested Butte Arts Festival. Kid-friendly booths offered face painting, henna, and temporary tattoos.
To take a break from campsite cooking we ate at the Secret Stash. The pizza was delicious and now this will be a regular stop when we are in town. Another favorite for us is the Ryce Asian Bistro.
Luckily for everyone in town, we got a couple showers in at the Crested Butte Youth Hostel. I’ts currently closed for renovations, but surely it will open again soon. They didn’t charge us for our kids, had hot water, and even had hair dryers available.
Ladies Bike Day
The ladies even got a bike ride in this trip. I rented a fancy bike and headed to the Lupine Trail and the Lower Loop Trail. These were moderate to easy for the hardcore mountain biker, but perfect for me with rolling hills, not too much incline and an easy downhill. The total with both trails combined is about 6.5 miles. Plus we had to stop and take bike selfies along the way.
On the one and a half hour drive to Curt Gowdy State Park, it looked a little rainy, but nothing too serious. Then it down poured and the sky turned an eerie shade of green. I pictured a Wyoming tornado whisking us away before we arrived at the campsite. We were so close to booking a hotel room in Cheyenne when the clouds parted.
Ah ahh ahhh (cue birds chirping).
The sun’s rays were shooting up behind the mountains and mule deer were frolicking in the fields. I think this is pretty symbolic of Wyoming-extreme weather and extreme beauty. I wish I got picture of our drive in, but I’m not sure my camera phone could have captured that moment.
How to Get Here
Directions (via Google Maps)-From Denver take I-25N. Take Exit 8B to merge onto I-80 W toward Laramie. Take exit 357 for WY-222 toward Roundtop Rd. Follow WY-210 W (aka Happy Jack Rd) to Granite Springs Rd.
Curt Gowdy State Park and Campground
Curt Gowdy State Park has everything camping families could want. First, it’s a huge park on roughly 3,500 acres, three reservoirs, and 159 campsites (90 reserve-able sites and 69 first come first serve).
The state park is known for hiking, biking and horse back riding on it’s extensive trail system; water activities; archery; and the Hynds Lodge historical site. You can even get married at the lodge and rent an amphitheater. Neat!
Perhaps it’s not as noteworthy, but my kids were particularly excited about the playgrounds. I spotted three.
I can’t tell you what the best site is, but I think we had a great one at the Federal Bay Groupsite. The groupsite allows three “camping units” and can be shared with friends. We could easily share meals with our friends and chat by the fire after the kids went to bed. The kids loved it too, because they could ride their bikes in countless circles around the open area.
Other amenities include pay showers and flush toilets (only at the visitors center) which was so nice since we did four nights here. There is a pop up store with ice, firewood and other miscellaneous items like ice cream and condiments. We made a few trips here, because why not get ice cream? Additionally, our site had tables and fire rings and drinking water could be found nearby.
We mainly came here to mountain bike. The extensive trail system has coded all the trails green, blue, black and red. Our oldest even did some of the easier sections of the Shoreline Trail. I will admit the trail got a little hairy for him, and he had a melt down mid-trail. However, the meltdown was not because the trail was too hard, but because I made him turnaround.
We did family bike rides and the ladies even got a some time away, just us! I haven’t ridden my mountain bike in 1.5 years, and I actually put my helmet on backwards. It had been that long that I can’t even put on a helmet properly.
We went with the Stone Temple trail, a blue, because we thought it would be challenging, but not too challenging. It’s a pretty moderate 3.8 mile loop with an easyish climb followed by a downhill.
There were optional technical sections or “play areas” for the dare devils. You can easily skip over those sections if you are following the signs. A few times we accidentally went over a rock or two and would shout, “abort!” to alert the person behind not to follow. Perhaps I will get more daring if I go more. Or perhaps I won’t. Either way, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, because we have similar skill sets with nothing to prove.
Picture taking was high on the priority list.
The ladies also rode the Shoreline Trail in full. The Shoreline Trail is an easy green single-track with rolling hills. Again, picture taking was a key element to the ride.
Given that it was fourth of July weekend, some of the trails were crowded. Our friends went to Hidden Falls, and recommended skipping it since there too many people. Naturally, I was a little bummed I missed the trail with a waterfall. We will just have to make a point to see this on the next trip.
Camping, biking and hiking is fun and all, but anything on the water feeds my soul. I don’t know if it was growing up in Florida or spending time at Lake of the Ozarks as a kid, but I could spend all day, everyday on the water.
I kept saying the only thing I want to do is go paddle-boarding. A small storm came in, and I was sure it wasn’t going to happen this trip. But again the clouds parted and paddle boarding we went. Mountain SUP rents paddle boards and kayaks and sells shirts. See this place really has everything.
We did a one hour rental. I had a SUP with our 22 month old, and my husband with our 4 year old. Wyatt who is going through a crying phase, was pretty happy on the paddle board. I think he likes the water like me.
Somehow the kids ended up on my board and the four year old pushed us off. Thankfully, everyone had life jackets, and all was fine.
Our friends brought this kayak for impromptu family and solo kayaking.
I also saw people boating, jet skiing, water skiing, and fishing. Time on the water with my family makes me a happy person.
This place has plenty of variety and adventure for everyone. We will be back!