A couple weekends ago, we broke out our family’s pop-up camper for a trip to Colorado National Monument in Fruita — a whopping two hours from our house. It wasn’t a “staycation,” however (because I detest that word and put a pox on anyone who actually uses it in travel-related articles). We were instead “exploring our own backyard” and doing it incredibly cheaply, overnighting at Saddlehorn Campgrond in this fascinating national monument that we’d never explored before. And we had a ball doing it — namely because it was “urban camping” and we weren’t too far from some creature comforts (read: microbrews) and attractions for the kids. Plus, our camping weekend was budget friendly and didn’t break the bank.
Colorado National Monument is filled with otherworldly sandstone formations, striking canyons and towering monoliths. In addition to hiking some of the easy nature trails in the park — including the Window Rock and Otto’s trails, which lead to absolutely incredible overlooks — we also took a short bike ride from the campground to the visitors center, where the kids turned in their activity books and earned their Jr. Ranger badges.
We scooted down the hill just six miles to check out Dinosaur Journey, a museum dedicated to the unusual number of fossils in the area (ironically, my kids liked standing on the earthquake simulator better than looking at any old bones). We also hiked the mile around Dinosaur Hill, where a Brontosauras skeleton was found in 1900. We went on an urban bike ride along the paved trails next to the Colorado River in Grand Junction (less than a 20-minute drive away), and took in an art show/street festival in downtown Grand Junction, where we took a load off at Rockslide Brewery. (Frankly, one of the highlights of the weekend for me — what tastes better than a cold draft beer after a day of outdoor activity?)
I highly recommend a camping stay or a drive through Colorado National Monument for Colorado residents or anyone passing through the state on I-70. The fee to enter the monument is just $7, and campsites for RVs or tents are just $10 a night. Entrance to Dinosaur Journey is $16 for a family of four, and hiking Dinosaur Hill is free. Of course the memories made while enjoying nature, being together in the outdoors and giggling in a camper during evening storytime — well those are priceless.
Indulge me while I share a few more photos of our urban family camping trip to Colorado National Monument:
I look forward to other family camping trips this summer — in Colorado and beyond!