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.

Camping First Aid Kit for Kids and Other Safety Items

Camping First Aid Kit for Kids
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

When packing for camping, one of the first items in the car or camper is a camping first aid kit for kids. Over the summer, my kids seem to have permanent scraps and bruises on every knee and elbow. While the band-aid or ice-pack isn’t always needed, they find it comforting none the less. As a mom, it is also reassuring to know that we have the tools to help the problem should anything minor come up. Also note that we are car-campers, and we can bring A LOT of stuff. So a lot of stuff we bring.

Camping First Aid Kit For Kids

This camping first aid kit for kids can be used for adults too! I just make sure to point out children’s specific medications since they come in the liquid form and are easier for them to take. However, wherever it says “children’s” make sure to pack the adult version as well. Of course, adults can have accidents, and first aid kits are needed for them too, but kids seem to acquire most of the camping scraps and cuts.

  • Thermometer
  • Children’s acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Children’s Ibuprofen (Motrin)
  • Band-aids (kid designs recommended!)
  • Nose spray
  • Saline solution (for dry eyes or cleaning out wounds)
  • Children’s cough medicine
  • Children’s anti-diarrhea medicine (Imodium)
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze
  • Gauze pads
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Ace bandage
  • Butterfly closure strips
  • First aid medical tape
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Children’s antihistamine (Benadryl)
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Calamine lotion
  • Cotton balls
  • Q-tips
  • Epi-pen (if needed)
  • Instant cold compress or ice-pack
  • Burn relief gel or spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe
  • Bug spray
  • Finger splint

Other Camping Safety Items

Beyond the actual camping first aid kit for kids, there are a few other items that are good to have.

  • Bouillon cubes– These can offer you some good electrolytes should you need them quickly. Plus, bouillon cubes are an emergency meal, and they can settle an upset stomach.
  • Carbon monoxide and propane detector-Newer RV’s or hard sided trailers will typically come with these. However, older models or pop-ups will not always have them. We found a portable battery operated carbon monoxide detector to place in our camper. It’s not as big of a concern in a pop-up since there is some ventilation, but it is still a good safety precaution.
  • Bear spray– This is mace, but it comes in a can that sprays further than mace designed to be used on humans. This can also come in handy for snakes or humans too.
  • Emergency poncho-These ponchos pack up really small and can be useful in an unexpected rain storm.
  • Emergency blanket-An extra blanket can come in handy for the cold, a place to sit on the ground, or by the fire.
  • Water purification tablets-I would only use these in case of an emergency. They are small and pack-able, and could quite literally save your life.
  • Fire extinguisher As mentioned here, you’ll want to have this if your campfire gets out of control. We all want to enjoy our s’mores in peace.

Nice to Have Campy Safety Items

I’ll admit that I do not own these safety items. These items are certainly nice to have if you want to be extra prepared:

  • Tourniquet– If you needed to, you could always make your own tourniquet, but these are designed for proper use and aren’t too pricey.
  • AED– These are expensive. But if you have any heart issues or a need for it, it could be a life saving device. Some of the newer ones will also instruct you through CPR.

Additional Camping Safety Tips

Bear Country

Remember you are usually in bear country when you are camping. Pack up all your food and trash into your car, RV, or designated bear locker. Tents and pop-ups are not adequate for food storage.

Poison Control

As a general rule, it’s best not to eat anything you don’t what it is. Did you ever see Into the Wild? Also, place all medications out of the reach of children. If needed, you can call poison control for free 24 hours a day. The number is (800) 222-1222.

Other Safety Resources

If you want to be extra prepared you can take CPR and First Classes or even Wilderness First Aid Classes. And if you are really into it, you can be trained as a Wilderness First Responder.

Phew, we’ve covered a lot of safety tips over the last few weeks. I feel like it’s important to also remember that even though accidents happen, they are rare and you are camping to relax, enjoy, and have fun. For our family, camping is a way to escape our regular day to day. These safety tips are not meant to be all doom and gloom, but as a way to be prepared. We’ll move away from this topic for now, and focus on lighter and more fun things to come. In the meantime, do you have any other safety tips?

How to Safely Remove a Tick and Other Tick Safety Tips

how to safely remove a tick
*Please note that I am not a doctor. I’m just summarizing lots of information here for you. Seek medical attention for any concern.*

Do you know how to safely remove a tick?

Light a match, blow it out, and then put the end of the match on the tick?

Wrong!

Put petroleum jelly on the tick, let it suffocate, then it will fall off?

Also wrong.

I will walk you through step by step on how to safely remove a tick, and give you some tips to prevent a tick bite in the first place.

Check Hair and Body

First, when camping or adventuring, before you go to bed, you want to check all over your body, your kids’ bodies, and your dogs’ bodies for ticks. I specifically call out checking your hair, because it is easier for ticks to hide themselves in your hair. However, don’t forget to check your armpits, belly button (I know gross), and between your toes. When ticks bite, they release a pain killer so the host animal doesn’t feel them latch on. So it’s extra important to check for ticks, since you can’t rely on just feeling where it might be.

How to Safely Remove a Tick

Ok so you spot a tick, now what? Here are the steps to safely remove a tick according to WebMd:

  1. Take an alcohol swab to clean the area.  
  2. Then use pointy tweezers to get as much of the tick as possible and pull it out.
  3. Use another alcohol swab to re-clean the area.
  4. Dispose of the tick or send it in for testing (more on this below).

That’s it!

A few other things to mention:

  • The head might get stuck. If the head is stuck, try getting it out with a sterile needle or call your doctor.
  • Do not squish the tick, because you could get infected with their diseases by doing this.
  • To dispose of the tick, make sure it is dead by drowning it in alcohol or soapy water, put it in between a piece of tape or place it in a plastic bag.

The most important thing is to get the tick off your body as soon as possible. This why you don’t want to try some popular methods like suffocating it with petroleum jelly or nail polish.

Also, their secretions that cause you to get sick are stored in the back of their bodies. Using the well-known, but misinformed, matchstick method where you light a match, blow it out, then burn the tick with it, could cause the tick to release their secretions into your skin even if they haven’t already.

Tick Borne Diseases and Symptoms

Most ticks will not cause you any harm. But if you want to be sure, you can get your tick tested for any possible diseases. If it does come back positive for carrying a disease then it would be wise to see a doctor or watch for symptoms. However, many people will get sick before testing comes back. If that happens, please see a doctor right when symptoms appear.

There are nearly 900 species of ticks carrying a whole bunch of diseases, however, only a few species are known to carry diseases in humans. Check out this map from the CDC to see the ticks that might be found in your area and the diseases they carry.

In addition to lots of tick species, there are over a dozen tick diseases that can be contracted by humans. The most known and problematic diseases are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis , and tick-induced paralysis.  Look for these symptoms, and seek medical attention if any symptoms arise:

  • Fever/chills
  • Aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Neck stiffness
  • Rash at the site of the bite
  • Whole body rash
  • Skin ulcer
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Paralysis (typically subsides within 24 hours of the tick being off the body.)

Tick Prevention

Thankfully, there are ways to prevent tick bites. First, it’s important to have some education around ticks. They can bite you year round, but they are most common in the summer months and most common in humid areas. However Lyme disease has been found in every state in the US. So even us Coloradans have to be aware of them.

Ticks wait on bushes and wooded areas for a host to attach itself to. They only crawl and do not fly or jump. So typically they are crawling on the ground and then up your leg. Come prepared for your hike, camping trip, or anything outside where you might encounter one. To prevent a tick bite you can:

  • Wear protective clothing like pants, long sleeves, and high socks to cover your body.
  • Spray yourself with DEET bug spray. This only repels ticks from your skin.
  •  Treat your clothing with permethrin. This actually repels and kills ticks when they come in contact with it.
  • DEET and permethrin are considered safe for humans to use. However, here is a list of natural tick prevention options including essential oils, eating lots of garlic, and apple cider vinegar to name a few.

Ticks are gross and can be dangerous. I hope you don’t encounter one, but if you do, I hope this helps prepare you for the situation.

Do you have any other tick safety or prevention tips?