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Best Tent Camping: ColoradoYour Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization
By Kim Lipker
Menasha Ridge PressCopyright © 2012 Kim Lipker
All right reserved.
Larimer River Valley
Browns Park abuts the old-growth forests and alpine lakes of the Rawah Wilderness near the Wyoming ?border.
address: Browns Park Campground
Canyon Lakes Ranger District
2150 Centre Avenue, Building E
Fort Collins, CO 80526
operated by: USDA Forest Service, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, Pawnee National Grassland and concessionaire: Thousand Trails Management Services, Inc.
information: (970) 295-6600
each site has: Tent pad, picnic table, fire grate, stand-up grill
assignment: First-come, first-served; no reservations
facilities: Vault toilet ?(no water)
parking: At campsites only
fee: $12 per night
elevation: 8,400 feet
restrictions: Pets: On leash only
Fires: In fire grates only
Alcohol: At campsites only
Vehicles: 30 feet
Other: 14-day stay limit
The lower Laramie River Valley has a big-country-lonesome feel to it. There aren’t too many folks around here, mainly just ranchers. Browns Park is tucked away in some woods on a side creek that feeds into the Laramie River. Browns Park is tucked away in some woods on a side creek that feeds into the Laramie. If you want to get away from the people who are trying to get away from it all, come here. This pretty little campground is adjacent to the woods and lakes of the Rawah Wilderness, which covers a stretch of the Medicine Bow Mountains. You can hike and fish here, or just take it easy. Browns Park is great for relaxation. Summer afternoons are as slow as molasses.
After passing the busy campgrounds of the Poudre Canyon and overcrowded Chambers Lake, you’ll feel grateful for the peace and quiet here in the Laramie Valley.
A couple of sites lie in the lodgepole and aspen woods to your right, then the main campground drive splits off to the right and you enter the outer loop. (There used to be one more split off to the right, but the beavers took care of that.) The outer loop turns away from Jinks Creek and runs alongside a slight slope.
The campsites on the outside of the loop are higher than the road, but have been graded and host tent pads for a level night of rest. The inner loop campsites lie in a mixed wood with a very grassy understory augmented by small conifers. Move away from the hill and pass the inner loop. These campsites are more open, but all of the campsites are spread far apart, so privacy can be had by every camper. The inner loop splits Browns Park in half, but the roads are spread far enough apart that you won’t be bothered by your fellow campers when they drive past. The county road leading in to Browns Park gets less traffic than some campgrounds I’ve seen.
Complete your loop back to the campground entrance and the new vault toilets. Browns Park has no waterI recommend bringing it with you.
This site has low usage. I met a man on my visit who had been coming to Browns Park for ten years and had only seen the campground full once. He and his wife were the only campers there on the day I met him. Weekdays can be desolate, which is great for those who love solitude. Summer weekends can be half to two-thirds full, except when the campground fills up for major holidays.
For a nearby natural experience, check out the beaver pond and see if you find any of nature’s architects plotting to flood the rest of the campground. Two hiking trails leave from the trailhead adjacent to Browns Park into the Rawah Wilderness, which is far enough from the metropolitan areas to receive little use also.
The McIntyre Trail traces McIntyre Creek to Houseman Park, and then turns left to another meadow where beavers have again been busy flooding the trail. These upper beaver ponds offer excellent trout fishing. The Link Trail climbs through a lodgepole forest to a former burned area, where views of the Laramie River valley stretch into Wyoming. You can also see the Poudre Canyon below.
If you want to access the high lakes of the Medicine Bows, take the Rawah Trail, which starts in the Laramie River valley south of Browns Park (you pass this trailhead on the way in). The Rawah Trail crosses several different environments. Leave the valley grasslands, wind your way from lodgepole to sprucefir forest to tundra above the tree line, where there are many bodies of water collectively dubbed the Rawah Lakes.
No matter what you do, bring some friends with you to Browns Park and the Medicine Bows because there might not be too many other people out here, especially during the week. Also, bring all the supplies you may need because the nearest store is not really near at all. Please note that this campground was situated in a mature lodgepole pine forest but recent mountain pine beetle activity has led to significant mortality and the cutting of dead trees.
From Fort Collins drive north on US 287 for 11 miles to CO 14. Turn left on CO 14 and follow it for 49 miles west to CR 103 (Laramie River Road). Turn right on CR 103 and follow it for 15 miles. At a T-intersection turn left on CR 80C and travel approximately 3 miles to Browns Park campground.
Latitude N 408 47' 49.7"
Longitude W 1058 55' 37"
Excerpted from Best Tent Camping: Colorado by Kim Lipker Copyright © 2012 by Kim Lipker. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
Colorado Campground Awards
About the Authors
1. Jackson Lake State Park Campground
2. John Martin Reservoir State Park: Lake Hasty Campground
3. Pawnee National Grassland Family Campground
4. South Republican State Wildlife Area Campground
NORTH CENTRAL COLORADO
5. Browns Park Campground
6. Buffalo Campground
7. The Crags Campground
8. Elbert Creek Campground
9. Flatiron Reservoir Campground
10. Geneva Park Campground
11. Gold Park Campground
12. Golden Gate Canyon State Park Campground
13. Hermit Park Open Space: Kruger Campground
14. Jacks Gulch Campground
15. Longs Peak Campground
16. Lost Park Campground
17. Lower Narrows Campground
18. Peaceful Valley and Camp Dick Campgrounds
19. Rainbow Lakes Campground
20. Robbers Roost Campground
21. Timber Creek Campground
22. Weston Pass Campground
23. Big Dominguez Campground
24. Cold Springs Campground
25. Colorado National Monument: Saddlehorn Campground
26. Dinosaur National Monument: Echo Park Campground
27. Fulford Cave Campground
28. Irish Canyon Campground
29. Rifle Falls State Park Campground
30. Shepherds Rim Campground
31. Steamboat Lake State Park Campground
32. Weir and Johnson Campground
SOUTH CENTRAL COLORADO
33. Alvarado Campground
34. Bear Lake Campground
35. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve: Pinyon Flats Campground
36. Mix Lake Campground
37. Mueller State Park Campground
38. North Crestone Creek Campground
39. Trujillo Meadows Campground
40. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: North Rim Campground
41. Burro Bridge Campground
42. Cathedral Campground
43. Lost Lake Campground
44. Lost Trail Campground
45. Mesa Verde National Park: Morefield Campground
46. Mirror Lake Campground
47. Ridgway State Park Campground
48. Silver Jack Campground
49. Stone Cellar Campground
50. Transfer Park Campground
APPENDIXES AND INDEX
Appendix A: Camping Equipment Checklist
Appendix B: Sources of Information