Rookie Mistake: Cold Weather Camping Edition

During the road trip to Mesa Verde

In Colorado during the summer, the weather hovers around 80-90 degrees during the day, but the night is vastly different. Depending on where you are, the overnight temperatures can drop to a chilly 20-30 degrees. If you want to camp at night anywhere in Colorado, you need to be prepared for some cold weather camping.

The view at a scenic stop near Pagosa Springs

My trip to Mesa Verde during late summer last year was the first time that I had ever been camping without an expert camper. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve camped several times in my adult life, but it’s not quite the same when you rely on someone else to put up all the tents, cook, and generally bring everything that you could ever want. In an attempt to NOT make a rookie mistake, I heavily researched what we would need. I packed two sleeping bags, pillows, and several, several blankets and cold weather gear. So how did this turn into a rookie mistake, you ask? Well, my friend, Breann, and I left the sleeping bags and most of the cold weather gear that I had packed in the garage: mistake number one.

The summit  of our hike on an 85 degree day

Mistake number two: not going to a local store to buy sleeping bags in the last big town we went through before reaching Mesa Verde. Because the trip took longer than planned, we rushed to get to the campsite before dark, which meant no stops. After getting mildly lost (cell reception is spotty at best through large parts of Colorado), we finally found the campsite right at dusk. We turned on our car headlights and pitched the tent. Which turned out to be for 50 degree weather and above.

We spent two very, very cold, uncomfortable nights in that tent without sleeping bags or clothes warm enough for that environment. One night, I wore a thermal that I happened to have in the car, a sweatshirt, a scarf, a beanie, my winter coat that also happened to be in my car, and two pairs of sweatpants. That definitely did not suffice, but it didn’t stop me from making the most of it, as evidenced by this picture:

50 Shades of Grey

P.S. We also forgot a cork screw, so I uncorked our wine with my keys, but not without a bit of the cork falling into the wine. Rookie mistakes all around.




5 thoughts on “Rookie Mistake: Cold Weather Camping Edition

  1. Pingback: Road Trip Rest Stops – Mae Goes West

  2. At least you remembered the wine to go with that “whine.” Hahahaha 🙂

    Seriously though, yes, we took our (then) 5 and 3 year old to the county of Fortuna (in Northern CA) and we were traveling from southern CA, where it’s hot during the day and the evenings are perfect during the summer. However, I can’t recall the name of the park (but it’s where they shot the Star Wars movie that had the Ewoks on those flying pods that looked like Wave Runners (jet skis) so it was higher in elevation and like a forest. I believe it is called Grizzly Creek. Same thing… hot during the day, and it was so stinking cold at night. Our sleeping bags weren’t warm enough. Luckily, we had sweatshirts and thermal underwear. I had everyone dress in layers and the next day, we drove into town to their sporting goods store and got a warmer sleeping bag. YIKES. We visited again the following year, and ensured we had enough warm clothes!

    1. Mae Goes West

      Hi Sandi,

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who has dealt with that. We should have gone into town too, but we decided not to because we were only there for a short period of time. And we’re both cheap 🙂 Plenty of wine (and whining) helped.


  3. Pingback: Road Trip to Mesa Verde Photos – Mae Goes West

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