Our traditional method of finding a site for our next camping trip typically involves last minute online searches and phone calls. Desparate attempts to find any nearby campground with an available spot for that weekend. It can definitely be hit or miss, but on our second camping trip in Colorado, we got lucky once again – this time at Hermit’s Hollow Campground in Larimer County.
Any camping trip that starts off with a phone conversation with the park ranger about recent bear activity at the campground is bound to be one of adventure. This was only our second time camping in bear country. Our first experience at Brainard Lake Recreation Area eased us into in bear country camping with lockers conveniently stationed at each campsite. When I couldn’t find any sign of similar lockers on the list of campground amenities Hermit’s Hollow Campground, I got just a little nervous for this trip.
So the first thing you should know about camping here is how to keep bears from wandering into your space. The park ranger gave me a few tips:
- keep ‘smellables’ (food, toiletries, and anything else that might carry a scent) in your car, not your tent
- make sure the car is locked, since bears can open car doors
- cover coolers with a towel or blanket, so bears can’t see it (yes, bears know a cooler when they see one!)
Hermit’s Hollow Campground
There are actually a few campgrounds within Hermit Park Open Space, as well as a number of cabins. We didn’t get a chance to see inside the cabins, but noticed there were vault toilets at each one. According to their website, you’ll need to bring a lot of your own gear too, so opting for the cabins won’t bring you many comforts of home. We chose Hermit’s Hollow Campground only because of availablilty.
The campground was full on this mid-September weekend. We got the last availble spot, but I didn’t get the sense that it was as in quite as much demand as Pawnee Campground (at the Brainard Lake Recreation Area).
There are no showers or flush toilets (only vault toilets), but there is drinking water available. The facilities are kept clean, making 3 days of vault toilets tolerable.
Rather than a camp host that you typically find at campgrounds, the park rangers make very frequent stops though the campground. With the reports of bears I had read about, I was VERY glad to see that they were keeping an eye on things.
Our Favorite Sites
The kids had Monday off from school, so we decided to stay Sunday night. Nearly everyone at the campground was gone by mid morning, which gave us the rare opportunity to really check out all the other campsites. We scoped out the top sites we would want the next time we camp here.
Our site was right at the entrance, H42. It wasn’t a bad site, but being so close to the entrance, there was a lot of traffic from other campers. The site was a decent size, especially compared to some of the other sites. We noticed the one right next to us (H41) was really small.
These sites top the list for our next trip to Hermit’s Hollow Campground:
- H16 / this site was mostly rock, which made it different from a typical campsite. There is space off the rocky area for a tent.
- H38 / a huge campsite with great views
- H8 / another bigger site with good views, and plenty of space for the kids to play and explore nearby
- H1 & H2 / these sites also offer good views, but are quite small
Take a Hike
One of our favorite hikes in Colorado is within the park. The Kruger Rock Trail is about 4 miles round trip, and the view from the top are amazing. Head out late morning with a picnic lunch, and plan to spend some time at the top of Kruger Rock.
Head Into Town
If you want to take a trip into town, Estes Park is just a few miles up the road. There is so much to do in Estes Park, it’s a vacation all on it’s own. Plenty of shop and restaurants, the iconic Stanley Hotel, and two entrances to the Rocky Mountain National Park are all just a short drive away. It’s also a great place to grab any essentials you might need, with a full grocery store right in town.
Or head southeast on Hwy 36 to the town of Lyons. This quaint town also has shopping and restaurants, but with fewer tourists. Lyons is home to the original Oskar Blues brewery, a great place to stop for a beer!
- there is a $6 fee per car, per day, which is not included in the campsite fee
- alcohol is allowed, but can’t contain more than 3.2% alcohol
Are you a Colorado tent camper? We’d love to hear about your favorite campgrounds in the comments!