librarian + adventurer


Moraine Park Campground

May 26-29

Moraine Park Campground in RMNP
Site: 65
Amenities: restrooms, water, firepits, tent pads, food lockers, firewood for sale

So last year, Logan and I camped out in Moraine Park at this exact site. This January, I wasn't sure what our plans were for the summer and I had a moment of panic that I wouldn't get to camp in RMNP again. I frantically bought a reservation for the exact same site for Memorial Day Weekend as a sort of last hoorah if we had to leave Colorado.

By the time this trip rolled around, we had made the decision to stay in Colorado for at least the summer, but I was still grateful for this weekend getaway. I mean, look at that doesn't get any better than that. 

We set our tent up and relaxed inside for a little bit. With our new tent being so big, it's much more inviting to hang out in (which ended up being great for this particular weekend). 

We eventually got out of the tent to make a fire and start dinner. I don't like to start my campfires too early, otherwise we burn too much wood or I end up going to bed too early and lay there wide awake and anxious as all get out. This weekend, between 6:30 and 7:30 ended up being the perfect time to start. 

The sun sets behind some trees at this particular campsite. It makes for the prettiest evenings and, when it's clear, gives fantastic alpenglow on Longs Peak in the distance. 

No alpenglow this night, but still magnificent.

Dinner was turkey dogs and tater tots, both cooked over the fire. The tater tots fell apart because I didn't use the non-stick side of the foil, but they tasted perfect. The temperature dropped pretty quickly and got into the lower 40s, so we heated up some apple cider to warm us back up. On our way in that afternoon I stopped to get a coffee mug from one of my favorite little stores in town (The Hiking Hut). I got a beautiful brown Life is Good mug, only to find out the back reads "Grill Sargent." Logan laughed so hard at this, and while it's not entirely the aesthetic I was going for, I think I'll wear my new title proudly.

I was pretty amazed when I looked up and saw a ton of stars in the sky - the forecast had called for clouds all night every night. My family does tend to get really lucky with the weather (part of it is just having a good attitude no matter what the weather is, the universe likes to reward thankful people), so I wasn't necessarily surprised at the clear skies, just very very grateful.

(I'm still working on my night photography, so these aren't all that great)

We went to bed that night full and happy. Around 3 am I woke up to the sound of rain on the sides of the tent. I started worrying (unnecessarily) about our chairs by the firepit and had to wake Logan up so he could tell me that I didn't need to worry about them. Once that was settled, I slept back in until about 7:30.

I did some journaling, some reading, and ended up falling back asleep until around 11:00, when Logan and I both woke up disoriented and hot from the sun warming the walls of the tent. We skipped camp breakfast, instead opting to stop by Kind Coffee on our way across town to the trailhead for Gem Lake. The hike was absolutely beautiful, and we had perfect weather for it (including the little bout of snowfall at the top). 

After the hike we ran to Safeway to get a new memory card (mine had totally filled up) and to get some beef jerky (priorities). Town was insanely crowded, but we maneuvered through the traffic quickly and opted to re-enter the park through the Fall River Entrance, because that road is much less crowded. Plus it gave us a chance to make sure the trailhead info I had for Saturday was correct.

Back at camp, we attempted to hammock, but got rained out 3 minutes after laying down. We got into the tent, instead, and played a few rounds of Uno before settling into our warm bags and reading our books. It was a chore to get back out of those bags once the rain stopped; the temperature had once again dropped into the 40s. But we were both hungry and cold and we knew the fire would be helpful.

Dinner was one of our new favorites: fried gnocchi and broccoli. While we were cooking, our new neighbor (we had a new one every night) asked if he could borrow some firewood. He only took one piece, so I brought him over four or five more - it was cold! Later that night, a park ranger came to his site to check on him; his parents had called to make sure he was there because he hadn't let them know he arrived. We guessed he had just graduated high school based on his looks and the stickers on his car, and we were super grateful that the rangers are willing to do that sort of thing! It makes me feel safer there, too.

A bit more of a sunset than Friday night!

Once again, night fell and I was greeted by a sky full of stars. Logan and I had gone to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie on Friday, so we were super stoked to see the same star formation here! If you've seen the movie, look towards the bottom left corner of these pictures and you'll see it.

The temperature dropped even more that night, and it was in the 30s. In the middle of the night I woke up shivering uncontrollably, but I had two sleeping bags and two sleeping pads, so I wasn't cold. I think I may have heard some coyotes howling in my sleep (we heard some right when we got in our tent Friday night and again during dinner on Saturday), and that my adrenaline was pumping pretty hard. I covered Logan up with some more blankets and managed to fall back asleep.

We woke up at a reasonable hour on Sunday, knowing we wanted to cook breakfast and get a relatively early start for our hike.

It was a crystal clear morning.

We hit the road and headed to our hike for that day - Deer Mountain. Afterwards, we headed into town again so that I could get some ice cream and chapstick. We rushed back to the campground because the weather was looking great and we really wanted to hammock - the weather was perfect and I ended up taking a 2.5 hour nap without even realizing it.

It's spring, which means the elk are EVERYWHERE in Rocky Mountain right now. 

After that long nap, I started cooking dinner while Logan started picking up the random stuff in the tent. We knew we wanted to get an early start Sunday, and having as much stuff put away as possible would be helpful.

Longs was putting on a show for our last night. The sunset was beautiful, the temperature was perfect, and, once again, the skies cleared right when it got dark. I didn't take any star pictures this night, instead just laid under them with Logan and soaked in as much of my favorite place as I possibly could.

We slept hard and got up early to pack everything up before heading out to Dream Lake. It's so hard to say goodbye to this campsite, I love it so much. But the knowledge that we'll be here all summer helped; if we had been about to move, I probably would have cried.