Camp Colorado had the opportunity to catch up with Rebecca Dean, one of the new owners of the Elk Creek Campground. She shared with us where to see moose, their proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park, and how she’d spend a day in Colorado. Listen to the full interview here:
Elk Creek Campground
Camp Colorado: We’re talking with Rebecca Dean today from Elk Creek Campground out in Colorado. How’s it going?
Rebecca: Very good. It’s a beautiful fall day here.
CC: Oh yeah. It’s getting to be that time of year where the leaves are changing a bit and it’s just absolutely gorgeous, isn’t it?
CC: So how long has Elk Creek Campground been there and how did you guys get your start?
Rebecca: Actually, I believe the campground itself started back some 20-odd years ago. I think back in the day at one point, it was a KOA. It kind of has that KOA look to it. People always ask us that. And it’s gone through multiple ownerships since then, and my husband Donald and I just purchased the campground the 1st of August last year, so we are the newest owners of the campground.
CC: And what types of camping do you guys offer there?
Rebecca: We have RV sites. We have 14 full hookup sites, and the rest are water and electric. Then we have tent sites, camper cabins, which are like the basic KOA kind of cabin where you have full size bed and bunks, and then you bring your own bedding, that type of thing. Then we also have a tepee, and that was a new addition that we put on this year that will hold up to eight people. It’s kind of a fun Colorado thing to sleep in an authentic tepee.
CC: Yeah, absolutely. Do you guys use the tepee year round?
Rebecca: Actually, we’re going to take the tepee down. The canvas wears longer if you pull it down, so there won’t be too many diehards. It’s already getting cold enough now up here that we don’t have any tent campers. And we have shut off the water to the campgrounds, just because everything – last weekend it was 15 degrees, so it is getting a little too cold for tent camping year round. But we do have some RV campers still up in the park that they can take water onboard. We stay open year round because we live onsite, and so we do have some people that will come up with their snowmobile trailers. We had a group of kids out in Minnesota, actually, last winter, that spent Christmas and New Year’s with us, out in our parking lot, in their trailer. They’d go snowmobiling every day. It was awesome.
CC: Oh, fun.
CC: What are the most popular activities at Elk Creek Campground there?
Rebecca: Probably viewing of moose. We have tons of moose. We’re on the designated wetland area, and so we get people that come up here specifically to stay at the campground just because our moose will actually walk right through camp, or even be bedded down at people’s RV sites. It gets a little nerve-wracking as an owner, to try to keep people shooed away from the moose. But it’s an awesome thing.
CC: Yeah, they’re big, right?
Rebecca: They are big, and we had a mother with twins. She was here in camp almost every single day this last summer.
CC: Wow, what an experience.
Rebecca: Yeah, it was awesome for the campers. We had some that traveled all over to all the national parks and hadn’t seen anything, and I said, “You’ll see a moose here at our campground.” Next morning, they woke up and they went to step out of their trailer, and the moose were right there at their site, eating at their picnic table. They said it was just an awesome experience.
That’s one of the main things that people come here, besides the fact that we are one mile from the west entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, so we’re an ideal location for day trips into the park to go hiking, mountain climbing, fishing, any of that type of stuff. So they use us for base camp. And then we also are one mile from the town of Grand Lake, which is an adorable old historic town with a wooden boardwalk. The moose actually walk right down the boardwalk in town, too. It’s pretty awesome.
CC: I typed your address into Google Maps this afternoon; you guys are smack dab in just the middle of one of the most gorgeous places in the country. If I was staying out there for the weekend and I was looking for recommendations for some off-site places to visit, maybe within an hour’s drive, where would you be telling me to go?
Rebecca: Within an hour? Definitely I would send you up into the Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s only 43 miles from here over to Estes Park, so that’s an easy day trip to go and travel through the entire park, go to the other side, come back. That’s a day trip. Also, you can go to Winter Park. They have lots of jazz festivals and things going on throughout the year. That’s probably within an easy 40, 45 minute drive from Grand Lake. And then hour and a half, maybe you could still go over to Steamboat.
As I said, it’s a great base camp because like I said, hour, hour and a half over to Steamboat. It exposes you even to the other side of the mountain, but you can come back. The beauty of Grand Lake is that it really is an old nestled town that is kind of laidback, and so people that are on vacation – some people, of course, want to be in the thick of things, and other people like the fact that they can still feel like they’re back in nature and camping, but then still be within a short amount of drive into the busier, crazy – like Estes Park is a whole different experience of camping and outdoors just because there’s so many more people. Grand Lake is kind of the quieter side. Equally as beautiful, but we are definitely the quieter side. More laidback, just small town, home living type thing.
CC: Well, yeah, everyone’s had that experience where you got really excited to go on vacation and you think it’s going to be relaxing, and the vacation comes to an end and you find that you’re more stressed and you haven’t had any time to relax.
Rebecca: Right. And we get a lot of people that do that, that come to Grand Lake just to kick back. I mean, we have people that don’t ever leave the campground. It’s great for us that they’re just like, “It’s so beautiful, there’s no reason.” Some of our sites have awesome views of the mountains, and it’s just tranquil and peaceful, so there’s no reason to be in the hustle and bustle. If they want to go in and buy the t-shirt, fine, but they’re not camping right in the middle of stuff. They can take the day trip for the t-shirt, that type of thing.
CC: Sure. When you have a little bit of downtime, what’s your go-to if you’re going to head out and check something out?
Rebecca: In the summertime?
CC: Sure, yeah.
Rebecca: I would go hiking. There’s so many awesome trails within two miles of the campground, as far as trail heads. We send people up to Adams Falls. It’s absolutely beautiful. And I’ve never had a single camper come back that was disappointed when I sent them up there. It’s a great little easy hike – especially, we’re very family-oriented here, and to get to Adams Falls it’s only like three-tenths of a mile to actually get to the falls themselves, shoot a couple of Christmas card photos. And then the best thing is just keep going up past the falls, because the meadows where the river actually feeds into the falls is equally spectacular as far as the wildlife that you see and just really back to nature without the masses of people. So I would go to that one.
CC: Awesome. You’re selling me on the area, Rebecca.
Rebecca: Oh, it’s beautiful. But I grew up here, so I’m a little partial because I actually was raised in a small town. 350 people in the wintertime. So it’s very quiet, very different than in the summertime. And in the summertime, we have thousands of people that come because there’s homes on the lake, and then we get the visitors. So you kind of get the best of both worlds. But it truly is a special place. We were just visited by the guy who does the Hotel Impossible. He came up and filmed an episode here in Grand Lake, and he said it was the most magical place he’d ever been, and it’s like nobody knows that we’re even here.
CC: Great. Well hey, thank you so much for taking a little bit of time out of your day, Rebecca, to talk with us about Elk Creek Campground. We’re looking forward to getting the word out about that area to our visitors on our website.
Rebecca: Well, we would love for you to send people our way. We get a ton of folks from your neck of the woods out this way, and I have – knock on wood – not had too many people ever leave that didn’t have a wonderful experience.
CC: Awesome. Thank you so much.