Conejos River Campground, Fox Creek, Colorado – Review
Heading west from Antonito, Colorado, we did not know what to expect as we had not previously been to the area of Fox Creek. As we drove west on Highway 17, a slight disappointment sunk in while viewing the surrounding landscape of high flatlands and scrub; the pictures on the campsite’s web page held a near-panoramic view of pines and mountains. Where were they? All that could be seen ahead were mesas and flatlands and our destination, Fox Creek, was only to be twelve miles out. It was not evident that there were any mountains to come within such a short range. We were seeking the Conejos River Campground on the Conejos River.
It was not long however before the scenery began to change as we drove into a canyon where the walls became deeper and pines began to show up. Campgrounds and ranches were scattered along the highway but we had chosen the Conejos River Campground based on a number of things that it offered including affordable rates, a lax environment and amenities such as showers and laundry, pot-luck dinners and the park was pet-friendly as well. We were not to be disappointed.
Turning into the campground and registering at the A-framed office brought out the friendly and helpful owner, Gary Jones, a retired law enforcement officer. Talkative and knowledgeable, Jones was extremely helpful in getting us situated. The camp hosts, Wayne and Liz, were some of the friendliest and most helpful folk we have met anywhere.
The Conejos River Campground has so far been the most amiable and enjoyable campground that we have visited. Though the park receives many over-nighters stopping along the way, it is filled mostly with Texans and Okies who return year after year and the congenial mood was warm and welcoming. We were immediately invited that evening to a Father’s Day pot-luck dinner and were not required to bring a dish since we had just arrived. The camaraderie we experienced was most hospitable and we were made to feel a part of the family. The food was exceptional and we even tried a dish of barbequed wild boar. Conversations were enticing with several members of the owner’s family who were also very knowledgeable of the area. The feeling was similar to a family backyard get-together; comfortable, easy-going and enjoyable.
Facilities were exceptionally clean and well-kept, nice smelling and popular for just visiting and talking. The office contained a living area with rustic décor and many books to read. A laundry was just in the next room with plenty of machines so waiting was not a problem. Restrooms and showers were clean and modern with a key provided for entry and private locking shower stalls. Gas grills were available near the office and fire pits were situated at each campsite along with picnic tables (some covered, some open), and according to Jones, as long as no local fire bans are on then use of the fire rings is acceptable.
Though the campground is in an open clearing, the view of the nearby mountains rising upward is heavenly with the smells of pine all around. At an altitude of eighty-five-hundred feet, you could not ask for more. Rabbits and chipmunks, ravens and Colorado Bluebirds were frequent throughout the park and on our first morning there, while trekking to the river to pan for gold, our photographer encountered a bear (which quickly ended that particular panning expedition). He had hiked to a wooded and tree-lined area of the river. After talking with camp owner Jones however, he was later directed to a safer, more open river area, but be aware, this is wild Colorado and bear country.
Located in a former mining cluster, the Conejos River is a pretty good walk from the camp, close to a mile and further in some places. The river is famous for its great fishing and fishermen were seen coming and going from the camp regularly. At each end of the camp are porch-type swings and these make for a lovely place to sit and enjoy a sunrise or sunset. There is also a children’s playground and a community fire pit for get-togethers.
Aside from fishing, hiking or gold-panning, the area offers nearby access to train rides at the Cumbres & Toltec line in Antonito or the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad out of Alamosa which offer a variety of trips including concert trains with stars such as Randy Skaggs, Suzy Boggus and the much-loved Michael Martin Murphey. There are local gatherings and concerts at the area church, yoga workshops and various other community events as well.
The stay at the Conejos River Campground was invigorating, restful, refreshing and highly enjoyable. Owners Gary and Pam, and this season’s camp hosts, Wayne and Liz, go out of their way to accommodate your needs and to provide not only a pleasurable stay, but a memorable experience.
For more information, visit www.conejosrivercampground.com
Note: Wi-fi is available but cell phone service is not available in the camp, though it is within range about seven miles toward Antonito. Surprisingly, we did not mind.