A flip through my Passport America discount book showed a handful of RV Parks in the region between Salida and Colorado Springs, CO. I started with the closest and best priced park and got the friendliest voice on the phone. “Bandera’s Bunkhouse this is Sandy…” There were several vacancies with full hook-ups for the week, and Sandy said I could have my pick when I arrived. Sure enough, site #1 along the Arkansas River had my name on it, and I pulled parallel to the river. This was the view out my front door…
There was a narrow paved and dirt road, County Road 45, between my site and the river. One day Marla, Grover, and I hiked the dirt road over the bridge, past another RV park, and a few miles further to the Howard Cemetery. Two historical markers along the way told of the original settlers in this area, whose older graves were marked, along with more current ones. County Road 45 leads all the way back to Salida, and one of Grover’s friend’s happened to pass us by. If you kept going a few miles past the cemetery, a small public park offers picnic tables.
Bandera’s Bunkhouse is owned by Dave and Teresa White, horse lovers and ranchers from Arizona. The RV park caters to horse owners in addition to dog lovers and other travelers. We got to know everybody at a couple of happy hours at the community shelter near the stage where they occasionally put on a cowboy dinner and show for guests. Dave plays guitar and schooled me on a bit of the history of cowboy poets. Did you know that many sailors became cowboys, which is why western songs contain so many nautical references? A corral housed their friendly horses, Cloud and Olly who greeted me when I arrived.
Next to the office is a separate restaurant, Riverside Café. Cheryl serves breakfast, lunch and dinner most days. As soon as I had Gypsy set up, I cleaned up and headed over for a fish dinner with fries, salad and sweet tea. The only complaint I had about being parked behind the restaurant was the 6 am delivery truck that backed into place, beeping all the while; and a couple of errant basketballs that were missed by young girls playing out back, and loudly hit the trailer.
My favorite part was the view out my front door of the 19 goats and couple of horses in the field across the river. The goats would parade along both sides of the fence, little ones playing follow the leader, and the biggest standing on her hind legs to tug leaves off the tree. It was great entertainment.
The Passport America rate was half off for two nights with a week’s stay, which came to $16 a night, then $32. There was sporadic Wi-Fi but virtually no Verizon cell service. The two calls I attempted were both dropped within seconds. Nearby Salida has a wonderful old Carnegie-funded library with Wi-Fi that I utilized. And I understand that upstairs in the Howard Volunteer Fire Hall is a lending library.
The next photo is from the dirt road looking towards Bandera’s Bunkhouse RV Park to the left of the bridge, with the Sangre de Christo Mountains in the background.
Sandy and Dave are friends of the owners. She helps out at the park and was a hoot to talk to – so vivacious and full of stories. She invited me to go rafting one day, but unfortunately I had other plans. On my last day in camp, she invited me to drive the half hour to the Town of Westcliffe, CO, pop. 568. We were on the hunt for multimedia artwork by a friend of hers, and walked the couple blocks that made up “downtown” before finding the right gallery. Westcliffe is full of art galleries, restaurants, small stores, and history. We enjoyed lunch, ice cream and conversation as much as the local photography and fine art.
There are dozens of RV Parks along Hwy 50 between Salida and Colorado Springs, but I’m glad I found this one, and will stop by if I’m in the area again.