Reserved campgrounds. Some can lead to breathtaking views and pure existential experiences, and some just suck. Depending on your site, the Arapahoe Bay paid campground can be either one. Maybe we are just the luckiest bunch of campers in the country, or maybe our research lends to better decisions. I tend toward the latter. In the case of this particular campground, we hit pay dirt. Some of the campsites are stacked up on top of each other, but if you are willing to hump your gear up a steep rocky trail there are some gems that don’t put you next to that couple who get knee-walking drunk and fight all night then have equally loud make-up sex.
Our site perched at the summit of a small hill about 100 yards from the parking area with 360 degree views of the mountains and Lake Granby granting us exceptional sunsets over the sparkling water and without nosey dogs and generators next door. Our enormous wall tent fit snuggly on the tent pad and looked light a lighthouse when illuminated by our lantern after sundown.
Our spot was likely the most private in the whole area but still a short rough walk down to the lake and the vault toilets (which the camp host kept spotless). Chipmunks and hummingbirds were our constant companions over the weekend and the occasional bald eagle or osprey hovered overhead fishing for their next meal.
A short drive away was beautiful Monarch Lake. It gets a little busy on the weekends so getting there early to grab a picnic spot along the shore is advised. This little jewel of a lake is perfect for paddle boarding, canoeing, or float tube fishing for stocked rainbows and supposedly monster browns. We caught some rainbows from the float tube and since they are stockers, we fried them up for appetizers in the evening.
Colorado is obviously filling up with people, but it’s nice to know there are still places you can escape to and fill your lungs with clean mountain air and unparalleled scenery. You just need to be willing to get out there and find it. Or stay at home. That’s totally fine with me too.