Written by: Anna Sibal and Julian Fenn
08/11/2013 10:55 AM
Our camping road trip through the Colorado Heartland is a single, 300-mile loop that begins and ends in Colorado Springs, There are few places in the world where you will see vistas as dramatic as you will find here. From the wide, open freedom of the Great Plains to the shadows of the majestic Rockies, and with the mighty Arkansas River raging in the background, you will find no end to the natural beauty spread here before you.
On this road trip, you will definitely do more than just see the sights. The Colorado Heartland is considered to be one of the playgrounds of the Rockies. The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, for instance, is one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in the world. The Heartland, additionally, is a prime location for outdoor activities such as brown trout fishing, hiking, OHV riding, biking and, of course, mountain climbing. The area is also rich in history as one of the centers of the gold rush beginning in the mid-1800s, a development largely shaped by the laying of railroads across the Arkansas River Valley.
The area covered by this camping road trip may not take you that far, but it's still a journey that will give you a lifetime of memories. So pack your RV or car, head on to Colorado Springs and begin your extraordinary adventure through the Colorado Heartland.
When to Go
You can visit Colorado Springs and its surrounding areas any time of the year. Every season has its own advantages. For the activities on this itinerary, though, we suggest any time from Spring to Fall. The best months are May, June, September and October. The temperatures during these months are nice and mild, ranging from the low 50s to the mid 70s F. There's also less tourist crowds during these months. The crowds arrive in droves in the Summer, and more come in the Winter for the skiing.
How to Get There
Our itinerary begins and ends at Colorado Springs, CO. To drive there, you can either take Interstate 25 or US Route 24. I-25 runs through Colorado Springs north to south, while US 24 passes east to northeast. If you intend to fly there, there are flights that stop directly at the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport.
How Long Should the Trip Be?
This itinerary will take you to the must-see places in the Colorado Heartland in five or six days. But if you have time to travel at a more leisurely pace, one or two weeks would be ideal.
What to See and Do
Colorado Heartland is the playground of the Rockies. If you're a hiking or biking enthusiast, there's no end to the trails you can pick and backcountry areas to explore here. You can also go horseback riding or drive OHVs, go swimming and relax on picnics. There are museums and historic sites to visit, such as Cripple Creek and Victor Railroad. Military buff? The US Air Force Academy is a stop on the route. If you want to travel back to prehistoric times, there's the Manitou Cliff Dwellings and the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. If you're an angler, the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is a great place to fish for brown trout. And the Arkansas River is one of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the world.
Itinerary: Five or Six Day Visit - Colorado Springs to Cañon City: About 300 miles
Day One - Colorado Springs: About 50 Miles
Spend the first day of your road trip entirely in the Colorado Springs area.
Day Two - Colorado Springs to Mueller State Park: About 70 Miles
Day Three - Mueller State Park to Buena Vista: About 90 Miles
Day Four or Day Four and Five - Buena Vista/Nathrop
The Buena Vista / Nathrop area is adventure central. There are just so many things you can do here. We suggest that you allot two days to make the most of your stop in this area. If you can only spare a day, just pick any activity you'd like to do from this list:
Whether you spend one day or two here, book your stay at a Buena Vista or Nathrop campground or RV Park.
Day Five or Day Six - Buena Vista/Nathrop to Cañon City: About 92 or 85 Miles
A camping road trip through the Colorado Heartland will not really take you far. But it is a journey that is certainly packed with sights to see and adventures to experience. It is truly a trip that will give you a lifetime of memories you won't easily forget.
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