Dispersed Camping – Piney River

The road is long and rough to Piney Lake, Colorado. Dispersed camping spots are few and far between, therefore, one must hit the road on a Thursday or early Friday morning in order to nab one. Going in the off-season is also a good idea. As you can tell from the photos below, we camped in early October before the snows closed the road.

The enviable Davis Tent with Colorado Fall as the backdrop. Camp is Home.

I’m not going to tell you exactly how to get there as you likely have a phone. I will tell you the dispersed sites don’t start showing up until about 3/4 of the way to the lake. Like all dispersed sites, these can look just OK when you drive up on them, but once your camp home is finally set up and there is a drink in hand, these sites become beautiful.

Early fall colors on the hike from Piney Lake.

We had camped in the area when our oldest was six months old and we hadn’t been back since. So, 11 years. On that trip I had gotten extremely ill in the middle of the night, the car battery died, and we froze. Our family unit does not even look the same today and we are essentially professional campers now, so we were at least confident and prepared this time around. As we bounced along the road, a bull moose trotted in front of us and we stopped to watch him in awe. They are massive animals, and this one was rutting hard, grunting and being a typical adolescent male. We pulled into the last spot which would be our home for the weekend, worrying about the AirBNB folks at the house.

After camping for all these years, we have learned how to get the work done up front then relax. I cut as much wood as I could find, the girls gathered kindling and set up the inside of the tent with bags and cots, then MH cooked dinner and we settled in. That’s when the wind began. It was ferocious, blowing our chairs around and making it unbearable outside the canvas walls. I hauled all the wood into the tent and we played cards while the fire raged in the stove.

As you can see, we camp heavy. Gone are the days of the 10×10 David Ellis teepee with two adults, three little girls, and a dog. That was a little cozy.

Published by willbarch78

I grew up in the middle of nowhere Texas. The nearest Walmart was a full two hours away. My family still runs a ranch back home that I grew up on, but at some point in my treasured youth I hung up the idea of becoming a cowboy, and pursued my passion for architecture. Today I still find myself trying to fit in to a life that has treated me with the average ups and downs one can expect after a certain number of years. My wife and I moved to Denver after attending Texas Tech School of Architecture in Lubbock as we needed a grade change from the Llano Estacado. We camp with our three growing girls all summer and into the fall while I write and create and fly fish to maintain sanity. Life is moving fast as our careers and children progress in all areas, so being outdoors with each other keeps us mostly grounded.

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