Fruita, CO: Camping, Biking and Dinosaurs, Oh My!

camping and biking in fruita
View of the Colorado River in Fruita, CO

As the weather gets warmer and the quarantine goes on longer, I’m daydreaming about our past camping and biking trip to Fruita last fall. It makes me to so sad to think that camping, at least at popular campgrounds, might be closed this year. Although if that is the case, then I know the underlying reasons are to protect camp hosts, park rangers, and the community so I’m not complaining. For those of us with a yard, backyard camping will be all the rage.

Camping in Fruita: Bookcliff Campground

camping and biking in fruita
Bookcliff Campground at Highline Lake State Park

Fruita is known for its mountain biking trails, and camping is a popular lodging option with plenty of surrounding choices. We opted for camping in Highline Lake State Park at Bookcliff Campground (and technically in Loma, CO just outside of Fruita). We took this trip over our kids’ fall break in October. Normally, October camping in Colorado would be too cold for me, but the Western Slope’s desert environment stays warmer a little longer. This marked my first fall camping trip, and it was still pretty cold at night and in the early mornings with temperatures in the 30’s. The days were mostly perfect, sunny and in the 60’s making for opportune bike riding weather.

camping and biking in fruita
Fruita Camping Cocktail: Sangria! Get it?

We stayed in campsite 7, while our friends stayed in 9. Getting together for meals and games with kids was easily manageable between these two sites. The kids had the entire middle section in the picture to runaround and jump in the leaves. The older kids rode their bikes in a circle around the site without getting too lost.

camping and biking in fruita
Camp dog

The Bookcliff Campsite has more features than we are accustomed to which made the trip extra lovely. For example, they have flush toilets and coin operated showers – so luxurious! This site also has a laundry facility, picnic tables and fire pits. The lake access offers boating, fishing, swimming, etc. We might have to come back in the summer to take advantage of the water activities. However waking up to the crisp fall air with the colorful leaves falling, made for picturesque mornings. The only thing missing was a pumpkin spice latte.

Biking in Fruita: Rustler’s Loop at Kokopelli’s Trail System

camping and biking in fruita
Colorado River from Rustler’s Loop

Us ladies got out on a ride at the Kokopelli’s Trail System and rode Rustler’s Loop. This is marked as an intermediate trail, and 3.9 miles point-to-point. It was a quick ride and definitely an easy going, flowing loop for beginners. We saw a number of small children on the ride that made us wonder if we should have picked something more challenging. Nonetheless, we took in the view, had some time to catch up and took our mandatory bike pictures. We debated another loop, but decided to ride up the road to meet our ride for an extra workout.

Biking in Fruita: Kessel Run

camping and biking in fruita
Off 18 Road

For one day, we had a plan to post up in a parking lot on 18 Road, picnic, let the kids play and take turns riding bikes. While it did go something like that, it was cloudy and much colder than anticipated. I stayed back with our three year old to eat lunch and attempt a nap.

To get one ride in before warming up in town, I did Kessel Run. To get there, you take a quick incline up the road from the parking lot. Then the actual trail is just a two mile downhill with lots of quick turns and some bumps. Overall it’s a fun quick ride that you will want to do over and over.

Fruita, CO

The city of Fruita in October was like a ghost town. All along we planned to eat in town one night to relieve us of making dinner. Almost all stores and restaurants were closed. If you go during an off-season like we did, be prepared for that. Over the Edge Sports is one store that is always open in this biking town. It’s worth a stop in if you need anything bike related or if you just want a Fruita t-shirt.

camping and biking in fruita
Dinosaur Journey Museum

Also, if you have aspiring paleontologists like me, there is a dinosaur museum! We can’t come to this area without a visit to Dinosaur Journey. Apparently many dinosaurs inhabited this area, and there was even a native dinosaur to Fruita, appropriately named Fruitadens (I learned this fun fact from Dinosaur Train on PBS Kids). The museum displays fossils, life sized dinosaur replicas, an earthquake simulator and robotic dinosaurs. Be warned, you can’t exit without going through the gift shop. Inevitably we stocked up on a few dinosaur toys for the trek home.

We miss camping and biking Fruita, and we hope to be back.