Sep 142005
Authors: Ryan Fedel

With so many camping options in Northern Colorado, choosing a favorite spot can be difficult. This decision not only includes where to go, with countless opportunities, but also the decision between car camping or backcountry camping.

Backcountry camping involves cramming all the items needed to camp, including food, shelter and clothing, into a backpack and carrying it all to your campsite. With car camping you simply pull up to the campsite in a vehicle and unload everything.

Paul Cada, a CSU graduate, enjoys all kinds of camping, whether it is backcountry or car camping. Cada particularly likes the fact that car camping is fairly hassle-free in comparison.

"You can go up with anybody and everyone and you can have a good time," Cada said. "You don't have to worry about weight; you don't have to worry about carrying water. You can just go up and it is more carefree, not so much planning involved."

Even though backcountry camping requires more planning and you have to carry your sustenance and shelter with you, Cada believes that the extra work is well worth it.

"It's really cool because you can get out and away, you don't have to see people," Cada said. "You go find your spot off in nowhere land. Especially around [Fort Collins], there is so much open forest service land that it's easy to do."

Cada went on to describe a particular incident when he came across an elk skull during a backcountry trip.

"I think it was a 14-point elk skull," he said. "The spread must have been 36 inches (wide) and it was probably 48 inches tall. I mean it was the biggest rack I have ever seen. You get to see some amazing things out there."

No matter what camping style you prefer, you'll be able to find plenty of quality camping sites around the Fort Collins area.

"Here, you can go car camping and still be more or less by yourself because of the mountains. You can't do that in the Midwest," Cada said. "There you always end up in these campgrounds where you are packed like sardines in this little area."

Cada offered a few general tips to first time campers to help make their experience memorable for the right reasons, not the wrong.

"Get the right equipment, if you don't have the right equipment you are going to be cold and miserable," Cada said. "You don't have to buy it; you can borrow it or rent it. But you have to have a good sleeping bag, you have to have a good tent and you have to have a good pad."

For Cada, camping is not always enough. He prefers to couple camping with other activities such as mountain biking, kayaking or caving.

For other campers, just spending time in the outdoors is sufficient.

Leslie Wharton, a camping sales representative at Jax Outdoor Gear, likes to go camping simply to relax and escape everyday life.

"I like being outdoors away from everything," Wharton said. "You know, get away from electricity and everyday stress."

Wharton also mentioned that to go camping you don't need a car, especially here in the Fort Collins area. She said that a great camping option is at Horsetooth Reservoir or in Lory State Park, which require camping passes but keep you close to the area.

With so many great camping options around the Fort Collins area, each person is bound to have their own favorite. However, many people are not willing to disclose their preferred camp. Wharton, for example, likes to keep her number one campsite a mystery.

"It's a secret," she said laughing, "I can't tell you, I would have to kill you."

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