September 16, 2011

First Night Out: Ranger Lakes Campground

One of the small Ranger Lakes. The streak at right is a swimming beaver.
First in a series of rambling and disconnected posts about our recent trip to Yellowstone.

The first night out, we stopped at the Ranger Lakes Campground in the Colorado State Forest State Park (not a misprint) at the edge of North Park, a high valley or basin.

A trail from the campground goes along the Michigan River, where moose were reintroduced to Colorado a generation ago. (That's human generation, not moose generation). But we did not see any. The next campsite would be different.

Just down the road is the tiny community of Gould, where my parents lived as newlyweds, first in a tent and then a log cabin—Forest Service housing for a newly qualified assistant district ranger on the Routt National Forest. It was more of a logging town then.

The area must have seemed truly isolated then. Now Colorado 14 is paved, and in good weather you can cover the 75 miles from Fort Collins (over Cameron Pass) fairly quickly.

The campsites have electrical hookups. The campground used to be heavily treed, but since the epidemic of beetle-kill, most of the lodgepole pine has been cut down—so that dead trees don't fall on someone's tent or trailer, I suppose. And the fire danger.

If I were making a longer stay in the park, I would pick a campsite more in the middle. Ranger Lakes CG is right beside the highway—but there is not a lot of traffic in the middle of the night.

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