Dispersed Camping – Geneva Creek

Scanning Google Earth for dispersed camping is in a sense, relaxing, yet nowhere near representative of an actual place on our little blue real planet. Whether it be the undulating Rocky Mountains or even your own neighborhood there is no way to get the feel of a space until you actually set foot on it. This is exactly what makes our adventures in dispersed camping over the many years very risky and always stressful. Tensions tend to boil over in the car after a few hours of disappointment and the kids wonder if camping will be followed by a nasty divorce. Worth it every time (almost).

This spot was like camping on a soccer field.

I did find this little gem on the Google one late night in early October. The Geneva Creek area is only about 90 minutes from Denver which makes it susceptible to being constantly occupied but tantalizingly close to home. It doesn’t look like much from space, but it is magical from the ground, especially for some fall camping. If you are hoping to fish the creek, stop reading here. It is bright orange from the abandoned mines upstream and dead as a dodo.

MH staring down winter with Best Made enamel filled to the brim.

It’s usually our go-to spot in October based on closeness to home and the abundance of aspen groves turning colors. Shelf Lake Trailhead is up this road and well marked. We attempted it last fall and started walking up the road to what we thought would lead to Shelf Lake, therefore the fly rod was packed. The walk was long and uphill the whole way. The views got better the higher we went and the cool air filled our lungs. The colors at tree line were amazing, with neon yellows, burnt oranges and greens in a thousand hues. Above the road a thousand feet one can see a grove of ancient bristlecone pines that have been there since the fall of the Roman Empire 1,500 years ago. Yes, I Googled that. Problem was, the trailhead is different than the road, so we missed Shelf Lake and just wandered down the road for a few hours, but it was still stunning. When we returned, MH kicked my ass at archery as usual.

The deadly recurve bow.

The first night was a little rainy and the next morning we woke up to a light dusting of snow on the Kelty camp chairs. Luckily I had cut plenty of firewood, the Yeti was full of food, and most importantly, the whiskey bottle was half full. But with the threat of a blizzard moving in, we cut the trip short by a day, and we were glad we did. One more night and we would have had to dig out of two feet of snow.

Another excellent site among the pines and snow. Wall tent and stove was warm all day and night.

As we packed up in the early morning hours we stared at the back of our camp trailer more than once which was getting covered with stickers of places we had been over the summer and our hearts were full. We crawled over Guanella Pass on the way home and it was completely frozen and beautiful.

The frozen pass in October.

Directions: From Denver, take Hwy 285 to Grant, CO and turn right onto 62 Guanella Pass Rd. Drive until you see the turnoff on the left for Geneva Park Campground. Drive past the campground and the private property signs. There are numbers on the sites but they are free. I suggest driving all the way to the end of the road to see all the sites then choose your favorite one that isn’t occupied.

You could also come in the back way over Guanella Pass from Georgetown, but who in their right mind would want to take I-70 if they didn’t have to?

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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