Monday, August 22, 2016

Campground Review: Railroad Bridge Camp Area Buena Vista, CO

It seemed like it took me forever to enter Colorado and I guess if I hadn't camped my way from Michigan I could have made it a lot faster but I thought "What's the rush?".  The plan was to work out at Anytime Fitness in Ft. Collins, stock-up at the Walmart there and then head back up for a long stay at Antero Reservoir which I fell in love with last time and that I reviewed here:  Antero Reservoir Review .  The discerning reader will notice that this post is a review of a different campground....hmmm....I wonder what happened?  Well, this is going to be a little embarrassing, I dutifully drove from Ft. Collins to Antero Reservoir only it was no longer there!  They drained it to work on the dam that creates it.  Been drained for over 18 months....who knew?  Not me obviously, but pretty much everyone else in Colorado!  When I read the "Reservoir Closed" sign on the entrance road it was getting towards dusk so I did a Google Maps search for nearby RV Resorts and ended up at a fairly nice one in Buena Vista, for $50 a night!  Any port in a storm I guess so I signed up for one night intending to find another boondocking spot nearby in the morning no way another $50 night was happening!

So I found what sounded like a pretty good spot on some BLM land along the Arkansas River about seven miles north of Buena Vista called Railroad Bridge Camp Area. 

Weird but I never saw a Railroad Bridge the whole time there.
My first night along the Arkansas I didn't get the greatest campsite but the very next day on my walk I found one that some tent campers had left and hurried back to the Tank to get it to the better site before someone else nailed it.

The Tank tucked into a more preferable campsite.
What was so preferable about the above site?  Well my previous one was about 50 feet above the river, this was my new backdoor view:

The biggest "white noise" generator in the world!
Here's the data sheet for Railroad Bridge:


Hookups:                                             None                                                                          
Fire ring:                                              Yes (area is under strict no fire policy currently)       
Water Access:                                     Yes                                                                 
Fresh Water:                                        No                                                      
Trash Service:                                      No, pack in, pack out                                                 
Toilets:                                                No                                          
Showers:                                             No                                                      
Dump station:                                      No                                                      
WiFi:                                                   No                                                      
Level sites:                                          Yes                                                     
Laundry:                                              No                                                                  
Store:                                                  No                                                                              
Pool:                                                   No                                                      
Shade:                                                Yes                                                     
Verizon reception:                                4G, 2 bars                                           
Internet reception:                                2 bars              
Cost:                                                 Free for up to 14 days

The portion of the Arkansas River I was camped along is a destination white water rafting and kayaking experience.  One of the biggest industries in the Buena Vista area is companies providing white water tours, and definitely the biggest employers in the area.

Rafters on the Arkansas River zip past my campsite.
 County Road 371 parallels the river so it ends up being the road that the tour company buses take to retrieve the white water rafters at the end of their runs.  As the BLM area is a narrow strip of land BETWEEN CR 371 and the Arkansas River you do get some traffic noise during the day.

CR 371.  Did someone say "washboard"?
The bus traffic is a small price to pay for this though:


About a mile south along CR 371 is a tent only camping area that's a little more organized than the one I was in.

Sign at the entrance to the tent area.

Tent campsites came with a fire ring and table.
I looked around for a railroad bridge during my daily walks to try to discern a reason for the name of the camp area but the closest thing I found was this:

This was right next to the car bridge over the river -- someone was living in it!
I lasted ten days at Railroad Bridge Camp Area.  Or I should say my food did, I could have stayed way longer!  The noise the white water threw off made for some of the best nightly sleep I've had in years.  This area was a worthy alternative to my planned return to Antero Reservoir and camping along the Arkansas might just become an annual event for me.

Thanks for reading!