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  • Writer's pictureMrsMollyWilcox

My Favorite Colorado Camping Trip

Updated: May 13, 2020

A couple sitting in camping chairs in a dessert in Colorado on a backpacking trip in September.

In the midst of the COVID 19 quarantine/social distancing, I’m anticipating our future adventures and looking back on some of our favorite trips from the past. I was digging through the archives of photos when I stumbled upon my favorite Colorado camping trip and decided to blog it. 

Enjoying a cup of coffee while camping in the dessert in Colorado and backpacking near Utah.

During our year of life in our little Colorado mountain town, Jackson and I packed up our backpacks and headed out to the far West side of Colorado to visit the Colorado National Monument. We spent our first day there driving around the park a bit, getting an idea of what it was like, and then, we took our backpacks and headed out to the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. 

A crazy cool sunset in Colorado in the desert with epic clouds and incredible views on a backpacking trip.

While we lived in Colorado we lived in Breckenridge, a little mining town turned ski town and vacation destination nestled high in the Rocky Mountains. If you think you’re in the mountains in Denver, imagine driving two hours higher and further West. To get to our camping destination we actually went down in altitude and ended up in terrain that was much more similar to Utah—not a lot of water, more desert-like, dry and brown. 

A beautiful sunset photo of a dessert in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness area in Colorado on a backpacking trip.

I can still remember driving through the park. I remember the epic winding road with twists and turns and huge drop offs, tunnels and the works. There were many cyclists cruising around the road, but our car was a much better fit for us. 

Running on the yellow lines of the winding road through the Colorado National Monument park in Colorado.

Because it’s basically a desert in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness area, we had to pack in all of our water. Our backpacks were pretty heavy with all of our camping gear for our trip and the water we needed to stay hydrated over the long weekend. 

The view of a backpacker on a backpacking trip n the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness area in Colorado on a blue sky day.

We set up camp in a scenic spot, and we didn’t see many other people while we were out in the wilderness. It was very quiet and isolated despite being Labor Day weekend. Our tent ended up pretty close to an edge where we could enjoy the views, but not so close that we had to worry about rolling off in the middle of the night. However, I did wake up a couple of times thinking to myself, “Wait, was that a mountain lion?”

The view from a tent of a couple who is backpacking through the black ridge canyons wilderness area in Colorado.

We stayed close to the trail we hiked, titled “Rattlesnake Arches Upper Trail Loop” on All Trails. (All Trails is the best hiking app...if you don’t already have it, download it now.) Looking back on this hike, I still remember how exhausted we were. The hike itself wasn’t terribly challenging, but even though we were hiking close to sunset, the sun was incredibly hot and we were pretty worn out by the end of it. Fair warning—the end of the hike we were faced with the choice to either do a free climb, or turn around and hike the entire way back. 

Standing in the arches of the rattlesnake arches in the black ridge canyons wilderness area in colorado looking out at the view after completing a free climb.

A selfie during golden hour in the black ridge canyons wilderness area on our hike to see the rattlesnake arches in Colorado.

Naturally, we chose the potentially dangerous free climb. It was actually my first free climb ever, and I survived, and felt pretty much like a total boss when we made it to the top. 

We rolled out of the wilderness in our dusty car, coated in dirt and sweat, but with lots of new memories and moments we’d look back on. I’m so excited for camping season and I cannot wait to get outside. If you’re in Colorado, check out this often overlooked, secluded area where you could potentially have the best trip! 

A photo of us before we left our campsite while backpacking through the black ridge canyons wilderness in Colorado over Labor day weekend.


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