Summer road trip: Your guide to Blue River Campground in Summit County, Colorado
Rain, rain, go away — it’s camping season.
Then again, rain in the High Country is a given, just like the occasional snowstorm in late May or long, bone-dry stretches at the start of August. Mother Nature doesn’t follow the rules in the Rocky Mountains, and, more often than not, camping junkies just have to roll with the rainstorms.
But, there are intelligent ways to make the most of a tent-camping trip, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Summit County is home to dozens of secluded campsites tucked away in thick forests and on the banks of lush, densely-wooded local waterways, like Tenmile Creek and the Blue River. Very few are large enough for RVs and massive groups, and that’s just fine for quick one- or two-night getaways. The experts with the Dillon Ranger District weigh in on one of their favorites: the Blue River Campground.
Blue River Campground
Found about 6 miles north of Silverthorne on Highway 9, the Blue River Campground is a bona-fide diamond in the rough. It’s relatively small, with just 24 tent sites, but what it lacks in size, it makes up in location and sheer convenience. All but five sites sit within easy walking distance of the Blue River, giving anglers and boaters quick access to the water. The riverside sites are roomy and boast enough space for one or two tents, plus up to two vehicles shorter than 35 feet long.
“In my opinion, it’s our best campground around,” district recreation officer Ken Waugh says. “It’s the location — it’s not too far out of town if you forgot ice or food or anything else. You get a little bit of highway noise, but really not much.”
The campground is found across the highway from Rock Creek Road, a dirt access road that leads to the Rock Creek trailhead about 1 mile from the campground. From there, hikers have a plethora of options in the Eagles Nest Wilderness: Boulder Lake, the Gore Range Trail and several other routes on the northern edge of the Gore. The road can be rough, and Waugh only suggests tempting the drive if you have a high-clearance vehicle.
Like most of Summit County, the campground was hit hard by pine beetles a few years back, and, over the past two years, U.S. Forest Service volunteers have been busy replanting roughly 3,000 seedlings. While the new trees aren’t large enough to provide shade quite yet, the area is still surrounded by full-grown pines and spruce — the perfect barrier against Mother Nature and her temper tantrums.
Made for: Families, anglers, kayakers, hikers
Site amenities: Vault toilets, dumpsters, fire pits and picnic tables. No running water or RV hookups.
Reserve your spot: Sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis for $14 per night (limit 10 nights). Waugh suggests arriving late Thursday night or early Friday morning. Otherwise, you run the risk of going site-less.
Get there: From the I-70, take the Silverthorne/Dillon exit and head north on Highway 9. Drive about 6 miles and look for the Blue River Campground sign on the right-hand side of the highway. Several campsites are visible from the road.
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New hiking and biking trail at Sutey Ranch could ease pressure at main Red Hill trailhead later this summer.