We were ready for a couple of nights of civilized camping (that means water and electric hook-ups) after our rustic time in Hovenweep and Canyonlands; we also didn’t have a lot of choices, because at this elevation (8,000 feet plus) the forest service campgrounds close by mid-September. We ended up at Echo Basin Ranch, which was just on the verge of shutting down for the season. It was great—only a half-dozen other hardy souls there, which meant that we had plenty of elbow room.
It’s a beautiful place; if you overlook the misguided notion that someone had to install the world’s first AstroTurf golf course on the grounds. Fortunately, that’s a small part of the ranch, and the bright green artificial grass sort of blends into the surroundings if you don’t look too closely.
We loved our site that backed up to a view of horse pastures and mountains and enjoyed gorgeous sunsets both nights we were there. Best of all was the hiking, just a few miles up the road into the mountains. The aspens were in peak form, thousands of acres of shimmering golden leaves. And the birding was stellar—lots of birds that we don’t ordinarily see, including Lewis’ woodpeckers, pygmy nuthatches, and mountain bluebirds.
We intended to stop for only one night but liked the area so much that we remained an additional night. There’s so much hiking nearby, and the town is so appealing, that if we had more time we would have happily stayed another few days.
By the way, if you visit Utah or Colorado, BYOB. You can’t buy decent beer or wine at the grocery stores because state regulations limit the alcohol content, which makes for some nasty tasting beverages. Bring your own, or you’ll end up at some very interesting state-run liquor stores.