Family Vacation to Lyons, CO
Our 2020 family vacation was cancelled by COVID, so we were really ready for some summer fun with Ruby and Taos in 2021. We had been to Lyons, Colorado for Rocky Mountain Folks Fest in 2019 without the kids and loved this little walkable town in the mountains and its superb city-owned park with affordable camping. LaVern M Johnson Park is bordered by sandstone bluffs and the North St. Vrain creek which has tubing, wading, and plenty of quiet spots to pull up a chair and watch the water. It was on this river in 2019 that the first glimmers of slow life came to us, when we agreed that the time spent with the sounds of rapids in the background was at least as fun, and way more relaxing, than the hours at the music festival that we had come to Colorado for!
But I digress….. we decided in 2021 we had to take our kids back to Lyons, Colorado and LaVern M Johnson Park for some family time. We made this our first big camping trip with Pepper, our toy schnauzer, and enlisted a good friend to visit our cat periodically at home while we were gone.
Colorado or bust
We decided to take it slow both driving out and coming home, to enjoy the travel as much as the destination. Our campsite on the way out was a free spot we found on Campendium in western Kansas (near Goodland), Solidiers Memorial County Park. We would definitely stay here again- it was peaceful and lovely! There may be some pay sites available but we chose primitive camping and found a quiet little area by a gully flanked by cottonwoods. After a dinner cooked on the park grill we had a visit from the local sheriff who was checking on all the campers and letting us know a thunderstorm was on the way overnight. How thoughtful!
Thunderstorms turned out to be a theme of this trip, but more on that later….
After a night of some good wind and a little rain we leisurely broke camp and headed to beautiful Colorado….
How does Pepper like hours in the car, you ask?
A quiet mountain town
LaVern M Johnson Park in Lyons, Colorado has a sweet little campground with water and electric hookups as well as some tent camping spots, although you have to make a reservation in advance. It was full the entire time we were there which gave the boys a chance to make friends with the neighbor kid and gave us an opportunity to peep at some other rigs and dream our big van life dreams. The park has nice bathrooms, cheap showers, and is surrounded by the North St. Vrain creek, which we found ourselves playing in most of the day. The city maintains the park beautifully and there is a nice loop trail around it. Except for a couple of hikes that we drove out of camp for, we stayed in the river or at the camper all week.
Our camp looked like we had moved in for the long haul. We had a fenced in play area set up for Pepper, our outdoor rug, a canopy, outdoor table and cooking gear, camp chairs for the family, and lawn games that kept us all occupied. Despite the campground being full, it quieted down in the evenings and all you heard at night was the rushing river several yards from our door.
We had a couple of epic hikes, one of which included a moose sighting….did you know moose are actually more dangerous than bears? We learned that right in the middle of a moose filled hike!
A Heartland homecoming
The way back home after our relaxing week in Colorado included a stop over at Wilson State Lake in Kansas. We would definitely return to this campground, the site of Lovegrass Music Festival every August which is becoming a tradition for us. We lucked out being at Wilson on the night of the year’s last supermoon and got to watch it rise over the lake before some clouds rolled in. The night we stayed at Wilson there turned out to be a huge thunderstorm. It was much worse than the thunderstorm on the way out; the wind was rocking and rolling the camper and all Emily could think about was Taos tumbling over and sliding into the lake in the middle of the night. She had us all get out of bed and go sit in Ruby for about half an hour around midnight, then once Zach convinced her the worst was over, she still sat up a couple more hours in the dinette by the boys’ bed, weather app and head lamp in hand, ready to save us from the frightful storm.
In the morning the storm had cooled things off and we had an easy drive home. Other than the terrifying thunderstorms, another successful family trip with Ruby and Taos!