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Boondocking Near Silverton, CO – Mineral Creek

| Updated Oct 11, 2013

mineral2It's too late in the season to be talking about camping at 10,000 feet now, but let me tell you about a place you'll think of fondly as the temperature in the lowlands rises next summer. We found this place by accident, looking for a Forest Service campground a little further down the road, and stayed the two week maximum. It was quite an experience.

mineral3Silverton is an old mining town in the San Juans up the Million Dollar Highway (US 550) from Durango, in southwest Colorado. We had always enjoyed driving this stretch of highway back when we were still vacationing by car, and it was one of the many places we vowed to return to once we had our Roadtrek and could spend some serious time there.  In 2011, during our first complete calendar year of fulltiming, we had spent the spring in New Mexico, and were waiting for the snow to melt so we could go waaay up into the mountains for some serious solitude. After Memorial Day, we headed up to Haviland Lake at 8700 feet for a week or so about halfway up from Durango to Silverton, and by mid-June we were ready for the high country.

The world as Sharon sees it, 6/26/11.
The world as Sharon sees it, 6/26/11.

To find Mineral Creek dispersed camping area, go north on US 550 about 2.1 miles past where US 550 and State Road 110 (CR 2) join on the southern outskirts of Silverton.  You will see a brown US Forest Service camping sign. Turn left (west) on this gravel road, which is  County Road 7, and go about 0.7 miles to a Dispersed Camping sign. Go left until you hit the creek – maybe a hundred yards or so. The South Mineral Campground, which is what we were originally looking, for is about four miles further west on CR 7, but I didn't see the advantage of paying $5 a day for a picnic table and fire ring, and plenty of neighbors, dogs, children, and other introduced species.  GPS coordinates of the dispersed camping area are 37.819050 N, -107.714400 W.

Female broad-tailed hummingbird at our feeder.
Female broad-tailed hummingbird at our feeder.

We found a beautiful creekside spot with no neighbors, set up the satellite dishes and lawn furniture, and were just astounded by the beauty of the place.   The creek runs roughly west to east, and downstream you can see Kendall Mountain. Upstream is US Grant Mountain, but there are mountains in every direction.  Trees are Englemann spruce and a few firs, there are hummingbirds all over, and probably some other larger visitors, judging from the burrows Fiona and I found on our walks in the forest.  Steller's jays, ground squirrels, and gray jays kept us (and Fiona) entertained with their antics.

Fiona's  snow patch. There were still a few lumps of snow under the trees. She got fascinated with this one, licking it, pawing it, and generally acting silly.
Fiona's snow patch. There were still a few lumps of snow under the trees. She got fascinated with this one, licking it, pawing it, and generally acting silly.

Weather is warm and sunny during the day, but quite cold at night for late June – we actually got snow flurries overnight on Midsummer's Eve, which was fine with us, since this was our first summer out of the Gulf coastal plain's oppressive heat and humidity.   Since we had gradually increased our elevation over the previous several weeks, we didn't suffer much in the way of altitude sickness – just a shortness of breath with sustained exertion, which I avoid anyway now that I'm retired.

A nice place to spend an afternoon.
A nice place to spend an afternoon.

Our idyllic stay got a little less idyllic as the Fourth of July weekend approached and all these huge fifth wheels started showing up, trying to stake out a spot alongside the creek.  Our two weeks was running out anyway, so we just packed up and left the increasingly urbanized environment for some BLM land further into the forest, and did another two weeks there.  Silverton is only a few miles away, with fresh water, a dump, gas, propane – everything you need. The store there is a tad understocked and pricey, but despite the scarce shopping opportunities we managed to get along with our stocked food supply plus local supplements of bread, milk, eggs, etc. for a month before heading north on 550 to Montrose to restock at a real grocery store.  It's the best way to spend the middle of the summer if you've sweated through as many southern Julys as I have.



RV Lifestyle

Published on 2013-10-11

63 Responses to “Boondocking Near Silverton, CO – Mineral Creek”

July 11, 2017at8:54 pm, Mark Manning said:

Thanks for the GPS! heading there this weekend!

July 01, 2017at1:19 pm, Brad Servey said:

Just wondering why anyone would want to set up a satellite dish while camping. Its camping and beautiful there.

June 06, 2017at12:00 pm, Ann Botnick said:

We’re in our way! At Navajo Lake SP right now. Thank you for the great blog & info. Hope you guys are back up here enjoying the lower temps & humidity!

October 10, 2014at9:57 pm, Deb Ruane said:

Love Silverton

October 10, 2014at8:32 am, Nancy Kendrick said:

Wish I was there right now

October 09, 2014at11:43 pm, Donna Goldizen said:

Silver ton is a beautiful area !

October 09, 2014at1:25 pm, Rosie Bolton said:

Looks like you’ll are having a good time.

October 09, 2014at10:59 am, Conrad Meyer said:

Next time we can with hit up this spot or molas.

October 09, 2014at10:25 am, Justin Terveen said:

Conrad Meyer, this is that spot off Mineral Creek we were looking for.

October 09, 2014at8:37 am, Barney Stotz said:

Thanks for the pics

October 09, 2014at7:00 am, Melvin Lambert said:

I would love to do some boondock camping

October 09, 2014at6:14 am, Dawn Conant Bear said:

Are there sites you have to find these treasures? We are new to full time RV life…will be going cross country in a few months, starting in S Cal

October 09, 2014at6:52 am, Campskunk said:

there is a little information on national forest websites but each forest has their own and the format varies. best thing to do is go to a ranger station and talk to them. they have maps for off-road vehicle use which also have the dispersed camping places marked.

September 22, 2014at8:55 pm, Haydée Manzini said:

Me traen estos lugares imborrables recuerdos bellos momentos compartidos en familia.

September 22, 2014at7:53 pm, Dave Bese said:

It is a nice spot. Was there 5 years back.

September 22, 2014at1:14 pm, Juday Seng said:

We start as soon as grandson goes to college, will definitely put this on our bucket list

September 22, 2014at5:23 am, Sara W Barnette said:

I have wanted a Roadtrek FOREVER! 🙂

July 04, 2014at7:06 pm, Jennifer Greco said:

Just left there last week. Loved it! Passes are scary though!

July 04, 2014at6:40 pm, Mark Kremer said:

Love Colorado!!

July 04, 2014at12:32 pm, Randy Kellen said:

Interesting roof rack. Can you do a little presentation on the rack and where or how to get this?

July 04, 2014at1:02 pm, Campskunk said:

i wrote this up a while back. i drew it up and got a welding shop to fabricate and powder coat it, then i installed it myself.

July 04, 2014at2:11 pm, Dennis Rome said:

I think those are solar panels ????

July 04, 2014at3:14 pm, Campskunk said:

yes – three 185 watt panels, 555 watts total.

July 05, 2014at8:04 pm, Randy Kellen said:

yes now that I look hard, I agree

July 04, 2014at11:48 am, Gene Gale said:

oh, do make that drive to ouray, it will make you go to church

July 04, 2014at10:09 am, Judith Ourand Joy said:

Best trip ever, loved Colorado

July 04, 2014at10:02 am, Lydia Cabrera said:

Just came out of a four day trip with my son in that area. Amazing country.

July 04, 2014at9:53 am, Ray Chin said:

Ok let’s look at the situation and area.. do you think 4×4 is needed to get into these areas safely? Snow how are they?… been trying to decide if I would need 4×4 or not or if rear wheel drive is enough… only reason I ask is because that is one area on my list.

July 04, 2014at9:46 am, Rob Powell said:

Looks good!!

July 04, 2014at9:43 am, Karl Flood said:

Thats awesome

February 21, 2014at7:18 pm, Joan St Laurent said:

Scenery looks great.

February 18, 2014at12:11 am, Norma Carty said:

Lenn and Terri, this one looks almost like yours………….

February 17, 2014at5:56 pm, Wendy Verdades said:

Don’t miss the train ride. It’s the small scale and the rolling stock on the side of the track is almost as amazing as the Animus River itself.

February 17, 2014at5:42 pm, Noel Isaí González Ocasio said:

se parese a la q tu tenia.

February 17, 2014at12:33 pm, Curtis Hixon said:

been to Silverton several times. Very interesting town – dirt streets, Durango & Silverton RR track stops in the middle of one street.

February 17, 2014at11:33 am, Rico said:

Can you sometime talk about security when boondocking? Have you ever run into any bad guys in your travels that want to separate you from your stuff or worse? I’ve read a lot about carrying guns across state lines and into Canada and the challenges of that, but just curious how much of a concern it is protecting yourself from people with bad intent.

February 17, 2014at10:11 am, Beth Anderson Einig said:

Please don’t advertise the area too much! It’s already being overrun!

February 17, 2014at8:31 am, Donna Hancock Hawkes said:

I’ll have to share with one of my cousins. They love to go camping in Colorado.

February 17, 2014at8:24 am, Beth Murray said:

One of my favorite places to camp in my LTV. I love Silverton, Ouray, and the highway between them!!!

February 17, 2014at7:05 am, Laurie Koehler said:

That should sooo be me.

February 17, 2014at5:05 am, Jack Dobrinski said:

I have 10 acres between there and Ouray…… Unfortunately it’s not reachable by RV.

February 17, 2014at4:51 am, Lisa Cooper Gale said:

Love Silverton Colorado!

February 17, 2014at4:28 am, Katrina McLeland said:

Must have been last year…cause its now covered in feet of snow!! Great picture…nice area to camp in!!

February 17, 2014at1:42 am, Debora Bertrang said:

I want one of these soooooooo bad

November 17, 2013at9:41 am, Yvonne said:

I have another question that doesn’t pertain to the slow loop. I was reading about your wifi setup and I wondered if a site like this has the same type of success with constant wifi as your setup! Thanks.

November 17, 2013at4:41 pm, Campskunk said:

yvonne, that kit is for extending the range of computers picking up wifi signals. if is useful for picking up a wifi signal an extra few hundred feet from the wifi broadcast point, but where i go there’s nobody with a local wifi network like campgrounds have. my system is satellite internet – i get my signal from a satellite 23.000 miles out in space, and make my own wifi network with the internet connection.

October 11, 2013at8:07 pm, Jim Temple said:

I love Colorado Campskunk!!

October 11, 2013at1:01 pm, Judi Darin said:

Now I know where I’m going next August!

October 11, 2013at1:21 pm, Campskunk said:

you really have only three choices through the hottest part of the summer if you want to camp in comfortable weather – the maine coast, the northwest pacific coast, or the 10,000 foot elevation islands of cool in the interior. that’s where you’ll find me from mid-june to labor day.

November 08, 2013at6:58 pm, Yvonne said:

My husband reads your posts and says you make a slow arc around the US to get away from any extreme weather. I see you stay in one of these three places in the summer, but what is the arc you make…not your exact places but a general idea! Where do you stay in the winter where there are not 10,000 RVers! We think we are not the type to like the RV cities that the RV parks become in the winter in Florida! My husband loves the boondocking idea. Thanks in advance.

November 08, 2013at7:11 pm, Campskunk said:

i have family in Florida, so i’m mostly driveway camping through the holidays, and occasionally going to a state park for a few days if i made the reservations early enough. it’s the only way to camp in Florida in the winter- there are WAY too many people there. i wrote about where i am at any particular time of year in another one of my posts here: out west it’s a lot less crowded.

February 17, 2014at8:09 am, NancyEH said:

Northern Maine is less congested than the coast, pretty in a different way and is usually just as cool. New Brunswick to the east and Quebec to the west if you’re interested in traveling internationally.

October 11, 2013at10:14 am, Ernie Ferguson . said:

I like rv life style,,,and reading about same.

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