The Fourth of July..! One of the best weekends of the year. For most people it’s filled with BBQs, fireworks, and parades. Ryan and I like to keep the general theme, but mold it to fit our tradition of heading back into the mountains to camp. Hot dogs, s’mores, guns, and fully immersing ourselves in the wild beauty of this country.. you just can’t beat it. We were even lucky enough to have some friends join us this year to add to the festivities!
We decided that we would take them to our all-time favorite spot to camp back in the White River National Forest. Situated just past Keystone Ski Resort and the small town of Montezuma lies the end of the Webster Pass Jeep Trail as well as some of the most relaxing places to car camp (in our opinion, of course!). The area boasts scenic views from camp, the ability to have a campfire as well as shoot firearms, and easy access to both hiking and offroading trails to the summits of the surrounding peaks and passes. Above all, it sees very little traffic. Other than the occasional jeep caravan making their way down the trail, this location is very quiet on your average weekend.
However, this particular trip got off to a bit of a rocky start.. we packed up the cars and headed out early in the morning. We arrived in Montezuma and noticed “NO CAMPING” and “WARNING: RECENT BEAR ACTIVITY” signs posted on nearly every pullout along the road. With light rain beginning to fall, we thought nothing of it. Surely they wouldn’t close camping along Webster Pass. As it came time to throw the cars into 4WD (disclaimer: do not attempt to travel here without a high clearance, 4WD vehicle. You simply won’t make it. I lost track of the amount of times I’ve seen smaller cars getting towed out of here), the signs did not stop. We continued up Peru Creek Rd. to our campsite to find.. more “NO CAMPING” signs. Ugh. We weighed the pros and cons of camping here.. bear activity, USFS fines, etc. etc. and decided to continue across the stream crossing and up above treeline to scope out the camping up there.
This turned out to be the best decision of the weekend! We drove a ways up the road and when we were nearly at tree-line and the beginning of the descent from Webster Pass, we found the perfect campsite. We set up camp, a tarp for shelter from the rain, and sat down for lunch while the rain pitter-pattered above us. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, exploring our immediate surroundings, and ending the day with a nice campfire complete with hobo-packets and s’mores.
The next morning was a foggy one, but it didn’t take too long to burn off. After breakfast we decided to take a hike up Radical Hill, another offroading trail in the area (but was impassable by vehicle currently due to a thick snowfield near the summit). It was a steep road that offered panoramic views of the Montezuma valley below. Soon our camp became tiny dots below us as we neared the summit. It wasn’t long before we reached a large grassy knoll littered with wildflowers where we promptly played down to soak up the views as well as the sun which had started to come out.
Now THIS is my happy place. No other sounds, no other people around.. just getting up high in the mountains and taking it all in.
We hiked back down and our day consisted of various camping activities.. we took the truck up Webster Pass, went back to camp for some lunch and target practice with the .22, took a nap (got severe sunburns..), and got ready for dinner before packing up camp and heading home.
Time doesn’t seem to matter out here; do nothing when you feel like it, do something when you feel like it.. that’s the beauty of it all. To top it all off, we were lucky enough to see three young moose in the town on Montezuma on our way out. What a sight!
While the weekend was full of improvisations; finding a new campsite from our traditional, favorite one due to emergency bear closures.. having to take shelter from the seemingly never-ending fog and rain.. dealing with relentless winds.. I would say it was a successful trip, and this remains our favorite car-camping location to date.
It’s ALWAYS worth the trip. Come to camp, come to hike, come to offroad.. above all, come to relax and take in all this wild beauty!
“On Earth there is no Heaven, but there are pieces of it” -Jules Renard