Just Outside Pagosa Springs, Colorado

When we left the Taos, New Mexico area, the last thing I did was check the Forest Service web site to confirm that the campground we planned on using was still open for the season. All looked good; the camp ground was reported open, and so was our backup.

The drive from Taos to Pagosa Springs was quite scenic and very enjoyable in the fall. We took highway 64 through the Carson National Forest and Chama and picked up highway 84 into Pagosa Springs.

Just outside of Taos, we passed the Earthships located in the Greater World Community. What an eye opener! I have been fascinated with this concept of self-sufficient housing that is completely off the grid ever since.

Upon arriving in Pagosa Springs, we quickly found a dump station, as there wasn’t one at our previous campground in San Barabra Canyon near Penasco. With business taken care of we headed out of town towards Wolf Creek Pass and our intended stop, the West Fork Campground.

Finding our turn onto a gravel road, we head toward the campground. Soon I hear Diana say: “Slow down, you just passed the campground!” What? All I saw was a barricade in a drive, I thought surely the main entrance was a little bit down the road. As it turns out, this was not the case, and the road was now a single lane! So much for depending on the Forest Service web site for correct and up-to-date information.

It was now too far to back up, and my only hope was to find a place with enough room to turn around with the trailer. This definitely was not a good situation, and I do not need to repeat the words that were going through my head. You get the picture. After passing a bend in the road and crossing a single lane bridge over the West Fork of the San Juan River, we see what might be a feasible place to turn around. There was another road that veers to the left, several cutouts into the woods, and a sign indicating that the road we are on dead ends in one mile at the top of the hill at a trailhead.

So we stop the truck, and get out to study our situation. In one of the cutouts, a class C RV was nicely tucked in amongst the trees. The friendly couple that owned the RV came over to offer a suggestion: “I betcha you can squeeze your trailer in that space over there,” pointing at the other cutout. And with a little maneuvering, they were correct. Unplanned, we had an absolutely beautiful campsite near the banks of the West Fork of the San Juan River. And the bonus was that camping in National Forest is free unless otherwise posted. The only downside was that our freshwater tank was empty, as we had intended to fill it up at our planned campground, which was closed. Apparently the camp host decided to leave early, so the Forest Service just locked the gate and turned off the water supply. We now had a new mission, find potable water.

fire ring Great boondocking site with a fire ring. We definitely appreciated someone's hard work.


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