|After our rafting adventures, we headed northeast to Colorado Springs, with the intention of finding camping in the Pike's Peak regeon. Consulting our map we headed northwest out of town on Highway 24. About 20 miles out was a (very) small town named Divide. Another 3 or 4 miles west of Divide was Mueller State Park. By the time we arrived, it was around 6:00 in the evening. The campground was full.
After searching the area for another place we decided to head back to Colorado Springs and get a hotel, then return the next morning to get a camping spot. In Colorado Springs we found hotels either full or more expensive than we were looking for. By this time it was getting late (10:00 pm). In desperation we jumped on I-25 and drove the 40 miles back to Pueblo. At 11:00 we pulled into a Motel 6 and got a room for the night. Exhausted, we climbed into bed and slept.
The next morning we rose, showered, repacked the car and traveled north again to Mueller State Park. This time we got our camp site. We were told that the only tent pads big enough for our tent were at walk-in sites. That is, you park your car and carry all your stuff in to your site. We were a little dismayed by this prospect but gamely agreed we could hack it. Almost as an afterthought, the Ranger said, "We do have bears," and proceeded to list the precautions we should take to avoid being eaten by bears. As she did this she handed me a printed copy of the park's rules, regulations and bear and other wildlife rules and precautions.
Peggy was somewhat disappointed by this news, but was relieved we had found a campsite and wasn't going to let a few bears stop us. We drove on up to the camp ground and proceeded to pack our gear down to our site and set up camp. After setting up and having some lunch, we decided to go on a hike down one of the hiking trails we had passed on the way up to camp.
We found a suitable trail and headed out. The trail was almost a two and one half mile around. Roughly the first half was downhill so the last half of the hike was kind of rough as we had to hike up some pretty grades. This wore us all out suitably. We went back to camp and built us a fire. After we had some good coals we charcoaled hamburgers and had dinner.
After dinner Lyndsey and I hiked down the trail from our camp 150 yards or so and saw an elk down at the bottom of the ridge we were walking along. We watched quietly as he ate. He slowly worked his way up the ridge until he was no more than 35 or 40 yards away from us. Lyndsey made the observation that we had left our camera back at camp. After a little while we walked back to camp. We roasted some marshmallows around the campfire and enjoyed the cool night air before retiring for the night.
The next day we drove back down the mountain toward Colorado Springs. Just outside of town we stopped at the Cave of the Winds and toured that. From there we went into town and walked around old Colorado City, an old part of town with shops and art galleries and restaurants, somewhat reminecent of Santa Fe. After the weather began to look threatening so we drove back to camp. Since I was very tired, having not slept well the previous night, I stayed at camp while Peggy and Lyndsey went back to visit The Garden of the Gods, a park in Manitou Springs with large natural sandstone sculptures.
That evening a light but steady rain began to fall. We roasted hot dogs around our campfire and ate under the shelter of our tent. Soon the rain stopped and after some roasted marshmallows and s'mores we went to bed.
The next morning we rose early and began to break camp. It was Friday and we needed to make the trip all the way home today since we had to have the rental car back by noon on Saturday. We managed to get all our gear back up to the car in about three trips. After loading up the car we were on our way. After a stop in Pueblo for lunch we hit the road again and drove all the way to Oklahoma City, arriving home around 2:30 am!
Getting home was kind of disappointing since our first day home the temperature was 102. The highs at our camp site had been in the low 70's. We had a great vacation and look forward to visiting Mueller State Park again. We recommend it to anyone considering a camping vacation in Colorado.
To see more pictures from our vacation visit this page.
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