Haggard’s RV Park – COLORADO (Pueblo)

Campground/RV Park: Haggard’s RV Campground
Location: 7910 W Hwy 50, Pueblo West, CO  81007    (719) 547-2101

Website: www.haggardsrvcampground.com

Date(s) Stayed: 9/9/15 – 9/21/15
Length of Stay: 2 weeks
Site #: E8 (Pull-Through)
Cost per night (with taxes): $297/week.  $27-37/week
Discount Used:  10% Good Sam
Connections: 50 amp Electric/Water and Dump Station
Stars:  3.5

Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado

 

In the summer of 2015, we relocated from the Air Force Academy Campground to Haggard’s RV Park in Pueblo, Colorado to visit our son who also lived in Pueblo.  While parked there, we also met up with our RV friends, Brittany and Eric (also a Coast Guard Vet) of RV Wanderlust some comraderie and campfires.

 

When our RV friends weren’t working their remote jobs, we’d get together for an outing and vittles.  One morning, we all rose early to drive out to the Great Sand Dunes National Park for some hiking, sightseeing and to get our National Park Passports stamped.

Brittany and Eric gladly agreed to drive if we packed a picnic lunch for the trip.  It was about a three hour drive to the Dunes.

About the Great Sand Dunes…

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is actually quite young; established in 2004. It sprawls some 150,000 acres; across part of Southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley, a broad and plain between the San Juan Mountains on the west and the Sangre de Cristos on the east. The tallest dune towers over 750 feet.

 

Streams and creeks flowing out of the San Juan Mountains over millennia carried gravel and sand into shallow lakes in the San Luis Valley. During drought periods, these lakes dried, releasing the sand particles to the action of the wind. Strong prevailing southwesterly winds carry the tiny grains toward the Sangre de Cristos, piling them up against the foothills.

 

The resulting dunes are the tallest in North America, covering more than 30 square miles. Adults hike across them and marvel at their beauty; children run and slide down their steep faces, enjoying a playground of fairy-tale proportions.  You can read more about how they formed and their geological natures here.

 

Welcome to the Dunes…

Once we got to the entrance, we stopped for photos because, in our world, it didn’t happen unless there were pictures!

 

After getting parked, we got our passports stamped at the Visitor Center and viewed a video and hands-on informational exhibits.

All four of us headed to the picnic area where we sat down to enjoy some fellowship while chowing down on our cooler full of vittles. We were blessed with beautiful weather too.

After packing up leftover crumbs of our lunch, we all trekked out to the base of the Dunes and climbed up the first that led to the rest of them.

 

Our exciting adventure…

It was already a very warm day so it seemed like it was a little more work but that didn’t stop Dan and Brittany from doing the inevitable; climbing to the top of the dunes.  Being that Eric has bad knees and I have knee and back issues, we hung out at the top of the smallest dune to watch Brittany and Dan challenge themselves.Now remember, we were already 6000′ above sea level, so this was a bit more challenging than just taking a stroll up a 750′ hill, not to mention, it was loose sand. The kind that gets-in-your-shoes-sand.

While Eric and I stood there chatting for what seemed forever (because we stood there in the heat for all of it), Brittany and Dan disappeared over the crest of the first dune. They looked like little ants the further they hiked.  We’d see them again and then loose them doing down another…and another…and another.

Brittany’s words upon their return, ‘it was quite exerting; one step forward, three steps back and doing it at higher altitude, we just couldn’t catch our breath’.

Dan said they had to stop often to empty their shoes which weighted them down.  Traipsing through loose sand, Eric and I could only imagine how much work that would be.  Adding to that, it was a very warm day; about 85 degrees.

A few times, we’d see one of them, bend over in the distance during their climb and stop for awhile.  They said they were offered water by some passerby’s (hikers that were faster and more in shape as them?!).  Then we’d see them start up again.

The finish line…

An hour and a half later, they successfully made it to the top and another hour and a half after that, they came back tired, weary but celebrated.  They were red-faced and a bit dehydrated so Eric and I sacrificed our own water bottles to get them back to looking a normal color.  But LOOK at them!!

It was a fun day trip with great friends!  A little ‘RV Family Bonding’ is what we call it.  Dan and Brittany felt celebrated and accomplished.  I bought them each their own ‘I climbed the Great Sand Dunes’ sticker for their vehicles (if there were trophies, I would have bought them too!).

 


On the drive back, our tummies were growling so Eric took to googling places to eat in Pueblo.  We agreed on the Bingo Burger which turned out to be a very deserved and pleasant meal.  Fantastic burgers!Best friends!  Good times! Fantastic memories!

Motorcycle Ride to Bishop Castle – Colorado

Back in 2016, while we were parked at the Air Force Academy, Dan was called out for a family emergency in Pennsylvania. Our campground neighbors made certain I didn’t have to be alone the whole time.  It was then that I met another motorcycle riding couple, Vicki and Rex in the sight behind ours.

During a morning coffee conversation, Vicki asked if I knew of any good roads or day-rides (they had a trike).  I had told them about a cool trip to Bishop Castle, a hand-built medieval castle in Wetmore, Colorado that our son took us to see years prior. I told her the route to get there was outstanding, especially riding motorcycles.

Austin heard me talking about it and googled it on his phone as I described it.   We all then made plans to ride out the following day with Austin riding on the back of her trike as her navigator.

Getting there…

The next morning, we coffee-d up, ate breakfast and rode out. The ride out was gorgeous as was the day!  Surprisingly, not much traffic for being a weekend.  Getting there was simple.

We rode out the gate of the Air Force Academy south on I-25 to CO 115 to Florence, onto CO 67, turning right on Hwy 96 in Wetmore.  We saw signs directing us to the castle; turning left onto CO 165.  It was about a 90 minute ride out to Bishop Castle.

 

Once we got there, the site was a little busy but nothing to be worried about when it came to capturing some good photos.

Admission was free, although donations were greatly appreciated.  There was also a gift shop that helped finance Mr. Bishop’s ongoing build.  It’s open most of the time.

About Bishop Castle…

There is nothing architecturally ‘perfect’ about the castle. Its completely constructed by the hands of Mr. Bishop.  I’m willing to bet there were no official blueprints.  If you’re into the whole Harry Potter thing, this is the place for you!  The stonework, iron work and blacksmithing was done all onsite; there is even a room where all of his tools and shop are on the ground level.


Every year since 1969, Bishop has single-handedly gathered and set over 1000 tons of rock to create this stone and iron fortress in the middle of nowhere. Bishop called it “a monument to hardworking people” and “America’s biggest, one-man, physical project. I always wanted a castle. Every man wants a castle,” Bishop said.

It hasn’t been easy for his masterpiece build. For most of those 40 years Bishop was engaged in a running battle with Washington bureaucrats over the rocks that he used, which came from the San Isabel National Forest that surrounds the castle property. Bishop felt that they were his for the taking, the government wanted to charge him per truckload.
Another bone of contention that stuck in Bishop’s craw belonged to the Colorado state Chamber of Commerce, which refused to list Bishop Castle as an attraction in its official tourism guides.”
These individual panes below were handcrafted as memorials and wedding memories for friends and family
This cool dragon’s head breathes fire from the fireplace; blowing smoke from his mouth outside.

 

This was looking up from the main entertainment room. The ceiling was glass with fancy scroll metal work.
Visitors could climb all the way to the top, winding through interior stone stairs and hand-forged iron and steel grid exterior walkways around the top.  I had climbed it before years prior, so I stayed below in the main room to wait for them and take photos. Vicki made it about a third of the way up however, came down after feeling a little uneasy about going all the way up. On the other hand, Austin was investigating every inch and climbing everything that could.
Austin, Vicki and I posing for a picture for a great memory of newfound friends!
After Austin climbed every inch of stone and metal, we had to get back back to the Academy as he had a curfew. As beautiful as our ride was getting there, it was even better coming home as we were able to ride with the beautiful Colorado sunset to our backs.
So, if you’re in the Colorado Springs or Pueblo, Colorado area, definitely put this on your list of places to visit in Colorado regardless of your ride…or drive!
To read about the story behind Bishop’s Castle, click on the link.

Other places we visited while in Colorado…

A Ride Up To Cripple Creek, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

 

 

CAMPGROUND REVIEW: Jefferson County Fairgrounds Campground – COLORADO

CAMPGROUND REVIEW

Campground/RV Park: Jefferson County Fairgrounds Campground (Golden)
Location: 15200 W 6th Ave. Frontage Road, Golden, CO  80401
                (303) 271-6600
Date(s) Stayed: 8/15/15 – 8/20/15
Length of Stay: 5 days
Site #: 1 (Back In)
Cost per night (with taxes): $40/day
Discount Used:  None
Connections: 50 amp Electric/Water and Dump Station
Stars:  2
Jefferson County Fairgrounds Campground managed by the Jefferson County Fairgrounds has 40 RV sites.  The Campground was easy to get to off of US-6.
Sites 1-18 are on pavement; first section are back ins (50amps) and second section are parallels (30amps); it was a weird configuration.  Sites 19-40 are gravel pull-throughs (not level).  Since we were in site #1, we can’t speak for reviewing or giving knowledge of the gravel sites.  The back-in sites back up to a small hill; most take their dogs back there to unwind and do their business (and not clean it up!).
Being a Toyhauler, we could not unload our toys from the back which was not an issue for us; we hadn’t planned on it anyways.  Picnic tables were present at each site in the back (we moved ours to our awning/door side because we were so long and we had more room).  The bath houses were very clean and had ‘codes’ so no one from outside the campground could use them.
There is a nice covered pavillion with lots of picnic tables with a children’s playground to the right after the entrance check-in building (which was directly across from the front of our rig).  There is a bit of highway noise but that wasn’t an issue for us as we were out playing tourist.
Reservations highly recommended (by us) with thorough explanation of your size and needs.  They assigned us in site #1 which was fine except if the parking spots directly in front of our rig were taken.  Spaces were TIGHT; literally, slides touching which made it difficult for privacy and walking around your rig.
While parked, we toured and visited Rocky Mountain National Park, Breckenridge, Frisco, and Golden.  Lots to see and do in this location.

In our experience and opinion, Jefferson County Fairgrounds Campground was overpriced for what it was.  This is not a long-term campground’/park; only good for a couple/few overnights.  This was the only place with vacancy for our 44′ big rig toyhauler 5th wheel.  Though accessibility to I-25/US-6 was great, no sewer connections (except for dump station which was not big rig friendly), layout of the park, spaces between sites, maneuverability, and no sewer earned only 2 stars.

Would we stay here again?  As a last resort.

 

 

The Air Up There! Golden, Frisco and Breckenridge. Colorado

This past September, we had so much we wanted to do and see in Colorado.  Its one of our favorite states.  We stayed at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Campground in Golden, Colorado.  Due to our size, finding a campground able to fit us was a bit of a challenge as well as time of year. Colorado is notorious for their campgrounds being unable to accomodate big rigs like ourselves.  Staying only five days, it was enough for us as a home base; we only were there to sleep and get some cuddle time with our fuzzy crewmembers.

 

 

While we were in Golden, we met up with another RV’ing couple, Brittany and Eric from RV Wanderlust.  We met at Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza in Golden where the pizza was good and the company was even better!  Short story, Eric and Brittany began their RV journey about nine months ahead of us.  We started following them on Facebook and through coincidence, found that Eric too, had served in the Coast Guard and Brittany is quite creative.  So, it seemed only natural that our friendship would flourish. We will eventually meet with them again further down the road (and we DID….keep reading!) in Pueblo…and in Texas this winter.

 

 

After an evening of great pizza and RV’er comraderie, the following morning, we took advantage of the beautiful weather taking a day trip to the cities of Frisco and Breckenridge.  In Frisco, we enjoyed walking through the small shops and the Frisco Historic Park and Museum.  We self-toured these neat little historic buildings that replicated life when Frisco was a mining town a century ago.  Each had artifacts dating back to that era.

 

 

 

We had amazing homemade sammiches and soup at the Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe’ before trekking off to Breckenridge.  It was hard not to spend a whole day there but we were pressed for time to move on to Breckenridge.

 

 

We plan to return to Frisco another time because we really enjoyed this cool, busy little city.  One thing to note, as you see, we were wearing long sleeves.  Though down in Golden it was nearing 85 degrees, up in Frisco and Breckenridge, it was in the cool 40’s and 50’s.  We’re not fans of the cold.

We were really looking forward to seeing Breckenridge.  Eric and Brittany from RV Wanderlust raved about it at dinner the night prior about these magnificent Colorado Alpine Slides going down the mountain at the ski resort.

We parked in the Gondola parking lot and road them up the mountain; about a 30 minute ride.  The views were awesome the further up we went; oftentimes seeing snow below us.  We also experienced a little altitude again.  We must have been 10,000 feet up.

 

The nice thing though was the ski gondola ride up and down the mountain was free.  We had our own gondola to ourselves so we goofed off inside until we got to the top.  Since Dan is not a fan of open-style ski lifts, the gondolas were just my ticket to mess with him.

 

 

Once we got up to the summit, we were issued our alpine racer sleds.  We raced each other down the 2500 foot mountain.  We don’t have photos of ‘us’ actually going down the alpine slides because we were having too much fun racing each other.  We did take these photos of others riding the alpine slide from our gondola.


But it was so worth it!  Psssssst!!  Lisa beat Dan down to the bottom! BIG TIME!!

For the rest of the afternoon, we walked part of the town until sunset when we headed back to the RV park in Golden.  What a great day of shopping, taking in the breathtaking (literal sense) views, lunch, racing and just being free!!