There was once a time when the word conjured up a very specific set of images in my head. Sweaty beer bellies hanging over ripped jorts. A tick lodged behind a dusty earlobe. Filthy feet. Unintentional dreadlocks. B.O. mixed with burnt marshmallows. Flaccid hot dogs and heatstroke. The questions “What smells?” and “Did you hear that?” constantly interrupting every conversation like an impatient toddler.
“We can camp!” someone would suggest, and I’d skip as fast as I could toward a hot shower and hand sanitizer.
But, like so many things, camping has taken on a totally new meaning, and I will be the first to admit it: I like camping. Especially now. In this era of distance and disinfectant, quarantine and unanswered questions, camping can save the day. In fact, camping has saved the summer.
Camping has saved summer.
It’s fresh air and freedom. A dotted sky of endless stars to wish away the madness. It’s family and friends, closer around a flickering fire. Hiking up hills, biking down singletrack. Reading a book by a babbling river. Forgetting that the world is falling apart because with camping, you create your world. The spot you stake for the night is yours and you are the Queen of the Castle (or tent or camper or cabin).
And there’s no better place to call yours for a few nights than Kebler Corner.
Tucked away in the Rocky Mountains in Gunnison County, Colorado, Kebler Corner offers camping and outdoor recreation quite unlike any other. With cabins (many with private bathrooms and kitchenettes), RV sites with full hookups, and tent camping, Kebler Corner has something for everyone. And although I am a camping convert, I am not a cavewoman, so I appreciated the meticulously clean showers and restrooms, abundant General Store stocked with local wines and everything I forgot to pack, fast WiFi, and the most lovely camp hosts you could meet.
The grounds of Kebler Corner are stunningly situated on the edge of the North Fork of the Gunnison River and Anthracite Creek with easy river access for all the river rats out there. A steep, but short hike from the campground that is perfect for kids takes you to an alpine meadow where we spotted a black bear cub, wildflowers, and lots of scat--a favorite topic among the school-aged crew.
While You're There
Nearby Paonia boasts miles of mountain biking trails and Jumbo Mountain is sure to challenge every type of rider--from novice to expert. Sleek singletrack makes for hours of fun, although finding your way around from trail to trail can be a bit of a challenge. Tip: be sure to download the MTB Project app to keep track of your location.
The less adventurous can make a beeline for Big B’s orchard for farm-fresh hard cider, u-pick fruits, and disk swings that glide over a drop off that will make your stomach sink to your toes. To take off the edge, you then can hit up several area wineries for free tastings and tours.
The eclectic mountain town of Crested Butte is just an hour away along Kebler Pass, one of the most breathtaking, windy, mountain passes in Colorado. Summiting at over 10,000 feet above sea level, Kebler Pass is home to the second largest aspen tree grove in the world. Unpaved for most of the way, the road is smooth enough for most cars but not the faint of heart. I did my fair share of backseat driving while white-knuckling the “Oh Shit” handle on the passenger side, but the view was pretty. Note: Kebler Pass is only open May-October when the roads are clear, so be sure to visit then to lessen your chances of plummeting to your death.
Where to stay: Kebler Corner, even awesome for the most reluctant camper (aka, me).
What to do: This really depends on your style. Mountain Biking at Jumbo Mountain. Wineries. Orchards. Rolling on the river. Star gazing. Horseback riding. It’s all there!
Where to Eat: We mostly cooked at our campsite, but lunch out at The Secret Stash Pizza in Crested Butte was a tasty treat and Ollie’s Ice Cream in Paonia cooled us off after hours in the hot sun. Big B's offered another great option for lunch in between apple picking.
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