Gee, honey, let's feed the snakes and bears so they'll keep coming to
our campsite . . .
PEREGRINE PINES CAMPGROUND
Here we are back at one of our very favorite campgrounds; it's
located on the
beautiful grounds of the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs. We were here
twice last summer and loved it.
Welcome mat outside campground office
The Academy makes a very pleasant stopping place for a few days on
our way to the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Bighorn Mountains of
Wyoming. We'll be back for two weeks or more in July for more of a
"destination" visit, and perhaps again in September/October.
Too bad we can't spend all summer here! Military retirees are
permitted to stay at Peregrine Pines for only 30 days total during the
warmer months from May to September. The rest of the year we can stay as
long as we wish. I don't believe there are any time restrictions on
The campground is decorated with flags for Memorial Day.
We met one of those families parked near us when we walked around the
campground this evening. The young couple was outside cleaning a cage
and we got talking. Hubby is assigned to Peterson AFB here in Colorado
Springs. They've bought a house but can't move in until July. While they
wait to close on the house they're living in their camper at the Academy's FamCamp.
(Neither Peterson AFB nor Fort Carson have campgrounds.)
So what critter lives in the cage they are cleaning, we asked?
Two large RATS!! The young woman brought one of them out so we could
see (and pet) it. I couldn't believe how big it is:
I prefer mice, gerbils, and guinea pigs -- I've had those
before. Rats just aren't as cuddly-looking.
So far in the first afternoon that we've been here the only wildlife we've observed in the campground are those
cute black Abert squirrels with the pointy ears. These two shots are fuzzy and the fella sort of blends in with the tree bark, but
maybe you get the idea:
If not, do an internet search for a better photo. Abert squirrels are
very interesting and they're fun to watch in the campground. This guy
looks like he found a Pringle chip -- not the best squirrel food.
When Jim checked us in at the office he heard about the bear that
recently trashed one of the campsites, so everyone is on extra notice to keep
trash and coolers inside. The large trash bins throughout the campground
have special bear-proof mechanisms on them that make it difficult
for arthritic folks like me to get into them, too!
I've seen deer and coyotes in the wooded areas along the Falcon Trail
on Academy grounds, but no snakes, wild turkeys, bobcats, or mountain
lions. I hope I see and/or hear coyotes again this visit.
Coyotes love wooded sections like
this on the Falcon Trail
We've never had a choice of which particular site we are assigned at
Peregrine Pines but we are asked certain questions when we make our
reservation -- length of camper, whether we need 30-amp or 50-amp
electrical service, if we have a satellite dish, etc.
We've learned to also specify if we want a pull-through site, if we
want as far away from the train tracks as possible, and if we want to be
near one of the laundry rooms.
Being close to the WiFi tower is moot this year; they added a second one
since our last visit. Now we're able to get online
fast and free in any site. We'll use our personal MiFi card only for secure
Site #102 is closer to the
railroad tracks than we'd prefer
but it's a large pull-through
site with no one on this side of us.
We have a good cell phone connection, lots of TV stations with only
our RV antenna, a pull-through site with lots of room on the door side,
full hookups with 50-amp electrical service, shade, nearby trails, lots
of conveniences . . . and all for only $20/night.
We also got one night free with an old USAF frequent camper coupon we
got back in 2004. We forgot about the coupons in the intervening years and used only one
back then. We still have three more we can use. (Gotta remember that
when we return in July.)
Another part of the campground
So we paid only $60 for four nights of camping here. That comes to a
mere $15/night. Compare that to
many private campgrounds that charge $40, $45, or more per night
nowadays. I'm glad military folks get some consideration for their
service to our country.
This is about the only campground where we routinely see other
Carriage 5th-wheels -- either Cameos or Carri-Lites. Today
there is only a Carri-Lite here, a 38-footer pulled by a special shiny black
sometimes see larger trucks like F-550s and semis hauling long fivers or trailers with three axels. We
always wonder if they bought the monster trucks specifically to haul the RV or if
they use them for business purposes, too.
There is another nearby rig that intrigues us; the couple's
set-up is a doozy. They're pulling a 38-foot Excel 5th-wheel
with a large truck that has enough room between it and the trailer to
carry a little bitty Smart car, too!
We haven't seen this combo coming or going, but there are ramps to
drive the car up on the bed of the truck so it doesn't have to be towed
behind the trailer. Sure would like to see that in transit! Since the
couple has SD tags, they're probably full-timers. I hope we get a chance
to talk with them this weekend.
We have three full days to enjoy in the Colorado Springs area and we
plan to stay busy running, hiking, cycling --and figuring out
when we'll head to Wyoming to train for the Bighorn race.
Our reservation at the Foothills Campground is for June 6-20. The
snow pack is so high now, however, that we won't be able to get on much
of the course before the race. We're also concerned about all the
flooding in the area, especially at Foothills -- it's right next
to the Tongue River. We may stay at the Academy and/or the Black Hills
longer than originally planned, and spend only a week in the Bighorns.
One of my goals while we're in Colorado Springs is to climb up the Barr
Trail as far as I can before reaching the snow on Pike's Peak.
Here's a view from the Academy grounds:
I don't know yet how far down the snow level is, but it looks like
there's too much snow above tree line to get up there. Stay tuned for
photos from that hike.
TRAVEL NOTES: LOS ALAMOS, NM TO COLORADO
We got to the Academy in a little under six hours today. The weather was great, from the low 50s in Los Alamos when we left
about 7 AM, to the low 70s in Colorado Springs when we arrived about 1
Above and below: NM 30
through the Pojoaque Indian Reservation
Elevations ranged from
5,700' at the low spot along NM 30 to 9,400' at La Veta Pass near Blanca
Peak on US 160. We're at a little higher elevation at the USAF Academy
in Colorado Springs
(~ 6,700') than we were in Los Alamos (~ 6,000').
Route, road conditions, traffic:
- NM 502 east from Los Alamos, NM
- NM 30 north to Espanola, NM
- US 285 north to Alamosa, CO
- US 160 east to Walsenburg, CO
- I-25 N. to exit 150 (south gate of the USAFA)
We drove this same route the same time last year and enjoyed it
-- so we did it again!
10,908-foot San Antonio Mtn. on US 285 in
it doesn't look real high
because the road is over 8,000 feet elev.
This is a good, fast route; routes for RVs don't get much
better than this on two-lane roads through the mountains. They
are four-lane in some areas and there are uphill passing lanes
through the hillier parts of US 160.
US 160 east of Alamosa, CO
13,626-foot West Spanish Peak on US 160
south of the town of La Veta, CO
There was a lot of traffic on this weekday going the other
direction toward the National Lab on NM 502 and 30 in New
Mexico. Traffic was light on US 285 all the way to Alamosa.
There was lots of traffic (and many RVs) on US 160 and I-25
in both directions but it moved well.
Pavement so new on US 285 in New Mexico that it hasn't
been painted yet.
We averaged just over 12 MPG fuel usage at a fairly steady 60
MPH speed towing the 5th-wheel. The fresh, gray, and black tanks
were empty in transit.
- We enjoyed beautiful mountain scenery the entire way.
US 160 on the east side of La Veta Pass in Colorado
- There was some snow on the 11,000-13,000 foot peaks in the Sangre
de Cristo Range in New Mexico but 'way more on the 13ers and 14ers in
Colorado. Blanca and Pikes Peak have more snow on them this year than
last. In general, the mountains in New Mexico got less snow than
average this year and those in Colorado got more (the farther north,
the higher the snow pack in the Rockies).
Southwestern side of 14,345-foot
Blanca Peak from US 160;
Great Sand Dunes NP is between us
and the mountain.
- We wish the campsites at the Great Sand Dunes NP east of Alamosa
were larger so we could spend a couple of nights there and hike
through the dunes . . .
- There were no leaves yet on the deciduous trees above 8,500 feet
on the way up to La Veta Pass on US 160; it still looks like
winter at the end of May:
Near La Veta Pass on US 160
- We could see Pike's Peak almost as soon as we got on I-25 at
Walsenburg, 100 miles away! It is easier to see from the south when it
has snow on top because it is mostly hidden by lower mountains in
front of it.
Pike's Peak from I-25 south of
"America's Peak" is like a beacon to me;
I get a visceral reaction every time I look at it. I think it has
affected many people like that, from Native Americans to modern
We're happy to be back in Colorado!
Next entry: cycling on the New Santa Fe Trail
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil