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First-come, first-served campgrounds can be really dicey for us. You see, we tend to arrive late, which blocks us out of popular non-reserved sites. This usually isn’t a problem, unless there’s a specific place we need to be or something we need to do, or if it’s a weekend like Memorial Day, when things just tend to get crowded anyway. Last weekend we hit that trifecta of unavailability, and so we made ourselves a reservation at United Campgrounds of Durango, Colorado.
You see, I was scheduled to compete in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. That’s a race from Durango to Silverton. The location of United Campgrounds worked out great for this – as it’s just about 4 miles north of Durango. The four mile ride to the start would be my warmup! My race went well, but if you’re reading this, you’re probably more interested in the campground, so let’s get to it.
This is a pretty standard RV campground (that also allows tent camping). When we first arrived, it was late, and they had taped our instructions to the door. We had let them know about the race, so they told us we could check in when we were done the following afternoon. Check in was pretty uneventful. We paid $38 a night for our water and electric site. Considering it was a tourist town on Memorial Day weekend, and we had made the reservation less than a week before, I don’t think that was too bad.
The sites were pretty average. They weren’t “spacious”, but they weren’t “cramped” either. The campground seemed to have a variety of Class A, Class B, Class C, Towable, and tent campers all staying there. So, no matter how you roll, they can probably accommodate you at this campground. We were in a site on the topmost “level”, so we had a good view down to the valley below.
One of the more unique things about this campground is that there’s an old-timey train that runs through it. Not by it, actually through the campground. The whistle blows, and it happens a couple of times in the morning (and, in the afternoon too, I suppose, but I was already awake then). Someone else described it as “nostalgic, not annoying”. I think I agree with that description. Anyway, it’s an interesting diversion.
The train isn’t the only transit option (you can’t get on the train here… at least, not legally). One of the other reasons we picked this park is because it is right on the Durango Trolley route. You can get to downtown Durango for just a buck on the trolley, which runs every 20 minutes. If you get impatient and can’t wait 20 minutes, you can take Uber into downtown and it’ll cost you about $12.
The facilities at the campground were clean, and about what you would expect. They had a basic game room:
Didn’t try it, but it looked OK. They also had a pool which was frequented by beautiful water nymphs.
The pool actually went to 9 feet deep! You don’t see this very much anymore, so it’s worth mentioning. The bathrooms were clean, and had plenty of hot water (which I very much appreciated after biking from Durango to Silverton over two mountain passes).
And though we didn’t need it on this trip, they had a laundry facility. Thankfully, their laundry carts support the weight of a fully grown man-child.
And, of course, they had a general store type facility attached to their office that seemed to have most of the basic supplies you might forget or run out of. (Also, candy bars.) The office staff were helpful with ideas on where to go in Durango for dinner and entertainment, which we appreciated.
The staff were also pretty friendly and helpful when it came to changing sites. We had another Travato roll in to meet us while we were there, and we asked the office if we could move (which isn’t a big deal in a class B). They were super cool about it, and put the two of us right next to each other. Awesome.
Finally, a word about the fitness opportunities. While this campground didn’t have a gym, I’ll just say that if you can’t find opportunities for active fitness in the Durango area, you’re doing something wrong. While we were there, Stef and I participated in hiking, running, mountain biking, and road biking. Plus, the whole area is just beautiful, so you’ll be motivated to get outside. This isn’t necessarily something the campground did – other than to be in the right place – but I’m still giving them good marks here.
All in all, we enjoyed our stay at United Campground of Durango. If you find yourself in the area on a busy weekend, or you just need the hookups, check them out. I’m giving them a thumbs up.
Planning Iron Horse 2017 and trying to determine logistics for return to campsite after race, whether both of us go in race since wife describes it as my “bucket list”, morning road closure and does it eliminate getting rig to Silverton to my finish then carry on camping from there? Any recommendations?
Here’s what we did, and it worked out fine.
When I left to ride to the start in the AM, Stef left with the rig, and went on to Silverton.
It was great to have the rig waiting there for me at the finish. Later, after the road re-opened, we went back to Durango. But we could have just gone on from Silverton instead.
It’s a fun experience – go for it!
We’re currently working our way cross country to the West Coast and have an additional criteria for campground reviews. Does the campground get a lot of noise from the freeway? Is it next to a bend in the road where sleepy truckers routinely hit the warning strip during the wee hours of the night? This morning we woke to a strange noise wondering if the wheel bearings went out on a 16 wheeler…….. Turns out it was a donkey from the farm next door braying his morning wake up call.
Hi Ted –
Trust me, if I ever have trouble sleeping at one of the campgrounds we review… you’ll know.
I can be pretty demanding when it comes to noise. Just ask Stef! lol.
Love the review! It is always great to read a “real” evaluation of a campground! Thanks for sharing and for being so “cute” with words!
Glad you liked it! (You’d like the campground, too.)
Not sure of this is proper etiquette for blogs/reviews etc, but when it says “Leave a Reply”… well, sometimes I just can’t help myself. 🙂 Since you’re moderating, I figure you can just delete it if you don’t want it here for any reason.
Your review was spot on, This campground was just fine as commercial campgrounds go. Staff was really friendly, felt like talking with the neighbor. It was also less than a mile, I think, to the Animas trail, which is a beautiful paved walking/biking trail that runs 6 miles along the Animas river and the old timey railroad track you mentioned (that’s the Durango/Silverton Railway which is an awesome “don’t miss” narrow gauge train ride that uses the old mining route from the 1800’s between the two towns). It’s crazy scenic and much easier than some other modes of transportation I’ve heard folks choose… like a bicycle… :-O
For a break from town, about 4 miles North, and a couple miles up a dirt road is Lower Hermosa campground (where we stayed the next night). It doesn’t have any of that fancy stuff you talked about (like water, electric, …people), but it DOES have some nice secluded wooded parking places, fire rings, really nasty pit toilets, wonderful walking/biking trails, terrific scenery… and great rates (free!). I would only recommend it for self contained Class B rigs or smaller; It’s a skinny, twisty, (little bit bumpy) gravel road..
Ten year old Aly said several times, “Uh… are you SURE we are supposed to be on this road?” 😉
Well, if you’re trying to get from Durango to Silverton, a bicycle can actually be faster than the train! (depending on your engine) 😉
Thanks for the tip on the campground. Wouldn’t have worked for us this time around, but next time, we’ll try for more scenic options.
Although, now I’m thinking maybe I should edit your comment to remove reference to the remote camping so we can keep that one for ourselves!
Thanks, Scott. Fun hanging out with you!