When we began this odyssey, one of our goals (maybe the primary one) was to get out of Texas during the late summer and early fall, and to go someplace cool! Well, we got out of Texas, but there's a lot of the USA that isn't cool in July, August and September. We found cooler temperatures in New Mexico, Durango and Colorado Springs, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and in Idaho and northern Utah. However, up until late last week I had only worn a jacket twice, and we have spent most of our time in t-shirts.
So, we were excited to move to Golden Gate Canyon State Park outside Golden, Colorado, for a couple of days. GGCSP is located high in the mountains at about 9200 feet. No more sand and sagebrush....we were ready for tall pines and aspen....and much cooler temperatures. The campground was certainly one of the most beautiful we have stayed in. With the aspen and narrow-leaf cottonwoods turning, the dark green hillsides and valleys were accented with gold. Many of the high peaks had the remains of the season's first snow. It was breathtaking!
The campsites at GGCSP offer plenty of privacy, and there are lots of hiking trails, and several fishing lakes. The only thing campers need to know, however, is that the sites are very narrow, and there are lots of trees overhanging the parking areas. We tried several sites before we found one where our rig would fit. Even so, John had to park with surgical precision in order to keep from scraping J.R. against a rock or tree.
We took a nice hike with the dogs on Wednesday morning, then went by the campground office to check on more hiking trails and to get a weather forecast. BAD NEWS! The weatherguessers were predicting lows in the low 20s for the next two nights, plus a 70% chance of snow. You know they say, "Be careful what you wish for." We had wanted cooler temperatures, but having no snow chains for the truck we were a little intimidated by that forecast. So, with many regrets, we packed up and left the mountains to keep from being stranded. We'll return, but will make a note to schedule that park for a little earlier in the fall.
We hightailed it down to I-70 and headed east. The section of I-70 from Golden to Denver is steep, with sharp corners and many warnings to truckers to slow down or use the "Runaway Truck Ramps!"
Between holding our breath through the steep parts, we saw beautiful scenery along the road and managed to photograph some of it. Fortunately, the Falcon handled the steep grades and sharp corners well, and we soon arrived at Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora, Colorado, just outside of Denver.
I would never have believed it possible to establish a 4000-acre park in the middle of a major metropolitan area and have it feel like the outdoors. However, Cherry Creek is a delightful place. Not only does it have miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, etc., it also has a 1400 acre lake and a large leash-free area for dogs to run and play. (You can see that the Bagley Pack enjoyed this immensely!)
It's even possible to believe you're in the wilderness if you keep your eyes off the horizon. If you look up, the houses and skyscrapers silhouetted against the sky remind you where you are!
The campsites at Cherry Creek are large and well-separated, with full hook-ups. We found a lovely spot on the edge of the campground. Since we have no back-door neighbors, we have plenty of privacy. We'll be off tomorrow for Kansas and back into the flatlands.