San Isabel National Forest

Another weekend, another adventure. So it goes!


Dispersed car camping offers a lot of perks, mostly because you don’t have to cram all of your belongings into a backpack. This gives us the freedom to bring along as much (heavy) food as we would like, along with extra amenities such as blankets, chairs, firewood, and of course.. Ryan’s fishing gear.

En route to Clear Creek Reservoir (there is private property around the reservoir, but ~2mi down Forest Service Road 390 you enter San Isabel National Forest and will find plenty of dispersed spots off the side of the road), Ryan insisted that we pull over at this lake near Leadville, CO for him to drop a line in. He had one sizable trout chase his Wooly Bugger, but he wasn’t able to catch him. Nonetheless, the hour or so stop was a much-needed breath of fresh air before we continued on to our destination.

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We arrived to San Isabel National Forest without any problems. The dirt road is well maintained by the Forest Service, with the exception of the occasional life-ending pothole or rock garden. With our high clearance vehicle, however, we didn’t take much notice to the obstacles and bumped steadily along.


With the rumbling of thunder growing louder and increasingly threatening, we set up camp and were able to enjoy the front row seats to both the impressive waterfall cascading down the mountainside as well as Virginia Peak (13er) off into distance to the west before the storm arrived. We enjoyed several hours of the breathtaking views while listening to the soundtrack of Clear Creek rushing down in the valley below us. Once the storm arrived, we were forced into our tent as it continued to pour and produce a spectacular lightshow late into the night.

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Once morning arrived, the sun was shining as bright as our hopes for the day. Ryan set out fishing once again in the nearby beaver ponds while I got a chance to explore around camp a bit more extensively. There was “evidence” of elk in the area, but it was mostly quiet with the exception of the occasional squawking of a bluejay or the crunching dirt of a passing car.

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Before we headed home, we decided to drive down the Forest Service Road 390 a bit further to investigate the abandoned mining town of Winfield. There was lots of history and further exploration to be had, but we were short on time and had to add it to our queue. We found ourselves in a beautiful place for the weekend, became intoxicated on the fresh air and contagious laughter of each other’s company, and promised that we would be back soon.

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“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, and waste nothing but time.”
-John Kay

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