Airstreaming Colorado – What Could Go Wrong (so far)?


Good morning, peeps!

Other people’s problems can be funny, and I think RV problems are right up there. So I thought I would give you a peek at what we’ve been dealing with on this trip. Not a particularly deep topic I know, but maybe this will help you address issues while on the road or at the least give you a chuckle.



Immediately after arriving in Crested Butte we discovered the furnace was having trouble lighting – again. Our particular model is a propane furnace so the blower would come on, then run for minutes as the furnace tried to light. Even after lighting the furnace would often go out restarting the process all over again.


Kudos to Airstream of Scottsdale for walking me through the diagnostics process. The culprit was a ridiculous component called a “sail switch”.

Sail Switch Resize

The purpose of this switch is to inform the furnace control circuit that the blower is on before lighting the burner. It’s called a “sail” switch because it’s designed to sense air flow by catching the air like a sail.

The absurdity of this switch is the design – that large protruding piece of aluminum fin has to be bent, prodded and coaxed to barely fit against the furnace squirrel cage to pick up the breeze. It’s vulnerable to hair, obstructions, catching on the blower fins and evidently spontaneous self-deforming.

In diagnosing my switch I found that the switch was not actually defective, but instead the fin simply needed to be re-shaped to catch air better – until I broke the switch in earnest trying to bend the sail. DOHH!


$30 for a new sail switch shipped from Airstream of Scottsdale, my time and a little duct tape. Yes, duct tape – the new sail switch only had a tiny little fin at the very end and it wasn’t big enough to pick up the blower air. I had to increase the area of the fin with guerrilla tape and then spend an hour finessing the new switch into a shape that would work. This was a new switch. We’ll see how long this fix lasts.

Had I designed this furnace, I would have used an optical solution which has no moving parts, like a Photodarlington. But that would cost $0.000000001 more so that’s probably why they don’t do it.




We have a Wineguard DirectTV (now AT&T) satellite system mounted on the Airstream. This system offers a self-locating dish that pops up, spins around and hunts for satellites all automatically. It’s a remarkable product that works with exceptional reliability.


The LNB (Low Noise Block downconverter), which is the part that actually receives satellite signal, seems to lose SD (standard definition) satellite reception about every 2 years. No idea why – could be a slowly corroding circuit, a split in the unit’s environmental seal – who knows.

The symptoms are the DirectTV (now AT&T) receiver will quite happily show you your HD (high definition) content but it insists on showing you a warning that a channel you aren’t watching is missing.


The fix for this problem is to replace the LNB.

Satellite Resize

We’re going to wait on this fix until we’re back in Phoenix since this is essentially an annoyance and not an outright failure. Additionally this fix involves ladders and getting on top of the Airstream; something I do not want to do in the field.


The cost can run in the hundreds.




Our Airstream experiences fairly routine rivet pops and this trip popped two of them on the small toggle that holds the front visor down. I actually popped those rivets on the first few weeks we owned the Airstream and I think it’s because the rubber toggles are incredibly tight and literally rip the rivets out over time.

I also noticed some of the casual weather stripping on the front visor was coming loose, almost certainly from storage in the heat.


I drilled out the rivets and replaced them here in the field.

Rivet Resize

I always bring spare rivets and tools, which we describe in one of our YouTube videos. The weather stripping was easy to push back with a flat-head screwdriver.


$0 and about 15 minutes of my time.




Though we have shore power in the Crested Butte RV Resort our next destination in Silverton will be dry camping. I’ve been periodically running the generator to circulate oil and keep the battery charged. On the last generator start I discovered the battery was dead and after some diagnostics found it would no longer charge. Considering the battery is over three years old it’s time to replace it.


I made a quick trip down to an auto parts store in Gunnison. The part is a standard motorcycle battery called a YTZ14S. It was easily located and replaced with nothing more than a #2 phillips screwdriver.

Generator Battery Resize


$100 for a new battery and recycling fee and about 15 minutes of my time.




Our Sierra Denali pickup experienced a failure in the DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) tank temperature sensor two days before departure. I knew this was the DEF tank because I hooked up our ODB scanner which gave me a code I could look up on the internet. If you don’t have an ODB reader get one, they’re cheap and can save your butt on the road!

Also in a separate incident the passenger side spherical mirror popped out. I quickly discovered how critical that mirror had become to towing the Airstream.


My Phoenix Chevrolet dealer was able to replace the DEF tank in a few hours and incredibly the tank was covered as part of the drive train warranty. I’m also most grateful we were able to fix this before departure.


AS For the mirror we were able to order a replacement at the Chevrolet dealer in Gunnison.


Because the DEF tank was covered under warranty cost to me was $0 though I did spend several hours at the dealer. No biggie. The mirror, however, was a whopping $150.




By now you all know my job is software, and to do it I have to remote into my office over the internet. Because of this I have multiple redundant systems to connect to the internet:

  • WiFi Booster

This device amplifies a WiFi (wireless fidelity) signal and presents it in the Airstream as my own strong personal WiFi hotspot.


A WiFi booster is useful when you have WiFi available from your campground but the source is weak or spotty. The down side to the WiFi booster is, honestly, most campground WiFi sucks even when you can get a clear signal. Because of this I rarely use the WiFi booster though the Crested Butte RV Resort WiFi is exceptional so I’ve been using it extensively.

  • Cellular Booster

This device amplifies cellular LTE signals for any cellular device placed next to the booster’s patch antenna. As long as I have one bar of LTE service without the booster I can usually achieve a workable connection with the booster.

Cellular Booster Resize

  • iPhone 8

The iPhone can serve as an excellent personal hotspot. When combined with the cellular booster I can usually work anywhere that has at least one bar of LTE service. The booster gives the iPhone excellent connectivity to the cellular tower and then the iPhone gives me a strong personal WiFi hotspot in the Airstream.

  • Ellipsis Jetpack

The jetpack is a device sold by Verizon that presents a strong personal WiFi hotspot in the Airstream. Just like the iPhone the jetpack is combined with the cellular booster and I can usually work anywhere that has at least one bar of LTE service.

For reasons I can’t begin to explain, though, I have found that even when using the cellular booster the iPhone and jetpack achieve different results. Because of this, I have found that in areas where I am having trouble one of these two devices will usually work.

On this trip I have been experiencing a host of problems connecting to the internet, as I shall explain.

Canyons of Buses

I’m very happy for the owners of the Crested Butte RV Resort. Their resort has taken off and by my eyes they’re averaging near full capacity every day. The down side for us, though, is a new phenomenon I call “canyons of buses”. And by this I mean there seem to be an unusual number of excessively massive RVs here, usually bus-sized monsters that have been parked on either side of us for weeks now.

Because WiFi is a line-of-sight technology, it works best if you can see from the Airstream directly to the campground’s WiFi antenna. However, when these giant buses park next to us our WiFi coverage drops to near zero.

The traditional way to combat this problem is a WiFi booster. You mount up an antenna on a high point of the Airsteam, which usually gives the antenna line of site to the campground transmitter. Only this time, we’ve found that the buses are so massive, even the booster is struggling.

Cell Tower Overload

Given my WiFi trouble as of late I have been relying also on cellular. Sadly, even with the cellular booster I have experienced relatively poor performance from the cellular network. One of the leading causes of this problem is cell tower overload. Simply put, one lonely cell tower simply has too many devices to service.


The fix for internet access isn’t a catch-all. I haven’t taken any action yet, but here are some ideas I’m noodling.


The problems I’ve been experiencing with line-of-sight WiFi seem to be several fold. I spoke to the campground owner and they explained they’d just upgraded their systems but they’d been warned by the vendor they might need another transmitter in the center of the campground. So this might be a one-off.

Barring an actual fix to the campground transmitters, which is a non-starter in general, I’m noodling the idea of an external WiFi booster that I could raise on a mast.

Also I’ve been considering a new WiFi booster that would also have the nice side effect of giving the booster wireless wireless a/c band capability, which is supposed to handle multi-path and obstructions better. The down side is any kind of new booster will likely trigger new wiring and mounting which I can’t tackle in the field. Also an a/c band booster would of course only boost an a/c band transmitter at the campground, and a/c is still relatively new.


Cellular boosters don’t address cell tower overload so the only real way around this problem is to use an alternate means of communication. Specifically, some RVers subscribe to multiple cellular providers and often discover that when Verizon is jammed AT&T is just fine or vice versa. I already pay a hefty cost for a non-throttled Verizon service so I’m hesitant to pay for yet more cellular service.

Still, AT&T offers an “unlimited” Airstream Plan, which I may look into. That plan reduces your bandwidth under peak loads (throttling) which could effect my work connection but that may be better than no connection at all. The plan is very affordable though, about $400/year, but AT&T’s coverage isn’t as good as Verizon’s.


If I decide to buy one, a new WiFi booster runs around $500.

The AT&T Airstream cellular plan costs about $400/year.


So far I’m feeling great about the trip. I’ve been able to solve most of the issues that have come up or make strategic plans for the more complex ones like internet access. I hope this blog also demonstrates that as an RVer you really need to practical know-how to solve problems on the road and a willingness to perform at least basic diagnostics when problems arise.

With that, I’ll continue to blog about our trip and as always keep an eye on our YouTube channel. In fact, we just released a video about an avalanche!

Peace out my friends and we’ll see you soon!

Airstreaming Colorado 2019

Emily & Tina

Morning, Peeps!

A few weeks ago I announced we were heading out to Airstream Colorado for the summer – and strangely enough, here we are Airstreaming Colorado! With all the demands on my time, though – I’ve found it difficult to keep all our media outlets merged; YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and WordPress. Sadly the blog is no exception, and it has been somewhat ignored lately.

The reason is mostly this:

I’ve been spending a hell of a lot of time picking up Davinci Resolve, which is the extraordinary video editing software we use to produce our YouTube content. The edit above was my most complicated yet.

I call this software “extraordinary” because Fred and I previously had been using the very expensive Adobe Premier suite and we have come to find that the free version of Davinci Resolve outperforms Premier in nearly every way. Fred seemed to roll with the changes easily, but I’d never video edited before so the learning curve was higher for me.

In addition to learning Davinci Resolve, I’ve also been diving pretty deep to learn better photography techniques. For example, in the video above I used the GoPro 7’s nitelapse photo mode to achieve those beautiful streaky long-expose Airstream shots. And in a peculiarity of how GoPro chooses to assemble its shots, nitelapse yields a long sequence of JPEGs that then have to processed into a movie by Davinci Resolve.

Fred and I have also been long lusting for drone to add that additional level of polish to our channel with aerial b-roll, but the $1000 price tag and the high level of drone banishment in almost everyplace where we ride/Airstream has put that idea on the back burner. The next best thing is Google Earth Studio. I applied for an invite and was approved so I’ve been learning to build “flights” and also render them in Davinci Resolve.

The video below was a much simpler edit. In this case, I’m experimenting with a “day in the…” format, trying to entice folks to enjoy mountain biking with us since our riding videos see the lowest view counts. This is ironic, of course, since this is mostly the kind of content we wanted to produce when we started the channel.

Lastly, we’re in Crested Butte right now and they’ve had an absolute bumper crop of alpine flowers this year. The featured image for this post was taken by the East River trail. Fields of Lupines (the purple flower) are all over this area right now. There are even some Aspen Sunflowers peeking in there.

Anyway, keep an eye on our YouTube channel if you haven’t already for more interesting content.

Peace out!

Crested Butte 2019!


Evening, Peeps!

Guess where we’re going to Airstream this summer???!!! I have secured six weeks remote travel and we’re heading to Crested Butte in July and Silverton in August!

Summer 2019 Map

Think we’re excited?

Um… Y E S!

So seriously, I’m losing my mind with excitement. If y’all have any ideas for things you want us to post/vlog/record please comment on this post. One of the ideas we’ve got brewing is a scenic tour covering Colorado 92. We’re going to make a weekend drive through some of the best country the Rockies has to offer.

Colorado 92 Tour

Obviously since I do enjoy this tiny little thing called mountain biking, I’ll also be bringing you plenty of content about the Evolution Bike Park. Plus I’m planning a ride on Teocalli Ridge, which is going to be bonkers.

In the meantime, if you’re from Colorado or you’ve been there and there’s something you really think we should do around Crested Butte and/or Silverton please comment on this post!

Peace out, I look forward to hearing from you!


Airstreaming Silverton Colorado

Emily & Silent Partner

Evening, Peeps.

Welcome to another mega-post!

I’ve been looking forward to writing this for months, since I’ve mentioned previously that Crested Butte, Colorado is “one of our favoritest places in the world”. If that’s true, then this naturally begs the question, what is our favoritest place in the world?

In answer this long standing mystery, I am proud to continue our series on places we’ve stayed in the Airstream by revealing our single most favoritest place in the world: Silverton, Colorado!

Why Silverton?

The best part about Airstreaming is immersing yourself in amazing surroundings, and Silverton turns that experience all the way up to 11. This tiny little town perches in a Tolkien-like valley high in the the San Juan Mountains, which are located in the extreme south-west corner of Colorado.

The San Juans form a violent and abrupt uplift that fracture the otherwise serene desert tableau into snow-capped madness.

San Juans as Seen from Cortez, CO

In the space of an hour you can drive from the high desert of Cortez, CO pictured above to the lush forests of Molas Pass and drop fifty degrees while doing it.

The stretch of road that leads to Silverton is called the Million Dollar Highway (aka U.S. 550) and it is widely considered to be one of the most scenic drives in America. This road offers stunning vistas as it winds its way into the mountains and traverses multiple passes in excess of 10,000′ (3048m).

The journey is punctuated by alternating pine and aspen forests, alpine lakes, historical mines, four-wheel drive roads and, if you’re coming north from Durango, it’s also flanked by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Harley riders flock to this area for the serpentine bends while OHV enthusiasts flush into the surrounding hills to explore miles of trails.

Or to put it another way – there is, in my personal experience, nothing quite like it.

Greene St.


Silverton is positively overflowing with camping opportunities, and remarkably, many of them are free.

Kendall Campground

Kendall Campground is located a few miles west of Silverton on Forest Road 585. This is a so called “dispersed” campground which means there are no services except a vault toilet and no assigned campsites. As such there is also no fee. The campground is immensely busy but owing to the national forest rules which state you can only stay for 14 days there is a lot of turnover and we had very good luck finding spots.

Two years ago we scored the best spot in the campground which snuggles up to a meadow on the west side.


The year after that we backed into a cozy tree-covered location on the north side. Note all the other adventurers. We came affectionately to call this shanty town.

Shanty Town

To Vault Toilet Or Not

Considering this campground is free, it’s amazing there’s even a vault toilet. Perhaps not so surprising, it’s not maintained and, occasionally, became unusable. As we have facilities in our trailer, this wasn’t an issue for us but I felt for the folks who were tent camping.

Riverside Parking

Rules posted at the entrance to this campground clearly state you should park your rig perpendicular to the river so as to allow as many people to share the view as possible. From our stay there we learned most people can’t or don’t read.


In a campground such as this where there are no cleanly marked “sites” personal space becomes an issue. We found generally generators we off by 10pm and on by 6am. We also found people generally avoided walking through other sites. Dogs, unfortunately, we often left off leash which led to some issues for us with our little ones.

Cell Service

In 2014 fiber optic service arrived in the town of Silverton and with it awesome cellular service. This campground is only a couple miles (5 km) from the main cell tower and signal is blazing. Some people have complained of overloaded service but we never experienced that problem, possibly due to our cell booster. As my living depends on internet connectivity it’s hard to articulate the madness of camping in the deep San Juans while still pulling down intense speeds necessary to telecommute in the morning and then mountain biking at 10,000′ (3048 m) in the afternoon.

Anvil Campground

Anvil Campground is immediately west of Kendall Campground but only offers a few spots. Otherwise all the rules are the same as Kendall, free with a 14-day limit.

Golden Horn Campground

Golden Horn Campground is even further west on Forest Road 585 from Kendall and Anvil. The approach to the river seemed extreme to us but we saw plenty of big rigs down there (I still wouldn’t try it with the Airstream). This site is also free with a 14-day limit.

South Mineral Campground

South Mineral Campground is a paid campground but all sites are first come first served. Getting a spot here can be very tricky, even in the middle of the week. By complete accident we scored an incredible location on a small hill.


This campground consists of two basic loops and is very busy. Still we never found it to be too noisy and many sites are well away from the road. All sites are on crushed aggregate and overhung with deep green forest. Additionally the campground hosts keep the vault toilets pristine, there are dumpsters for paying campers and limited treated spring water (also only for paying campers).

Ice Lake

The Ice Lake trailhead is located directly across from the campground and it can get extremely busy. The Ice Lake trail is an exceptionally difficult hike gaining 2,500′ (762m) in only 3.5mi (5.6km). That’s a 13% grade!

For those that brave this torture (which should be started early in the morning to avoid the afternoon storms) they will be rewarded with god-like views, waterfalls and alpine lakes.

Climb Up
Field of Corn Husk Lilies at Ice Lake Lower Basin
Ice Lake Upper Basin Snowed In Right at Timberline
Twisting Descent


Forest Road 585 continues past South Mineral Campground and takes a very steep climb up to terminate at the Rico-Silverton trailhead. This drive should only be attempted by four-wheel drive high clearance vehicles and also makes for a difficult but rewarding mountain bike ride as well. The end of this road also offers a range of dispersed sites but certainly only for the most intrepid souls with capable vehicles. Taking the Airstream there was a non-starter.

Additional Camping

There is a wealth of additional camping around Silverton including free dispersed sites at the mouth of Maggie Gulch and the Highland Mary in Cunningham Gulch. At least three RV parks offer camping directly in town. Little Molas Lake and Molas Lake Park and Campground offer additional paid camping south of town in the spectacular Molas Pass.

Cunningham Gulch Near the Old Hundred Mine



In a pinch you can find almost anything you need at Silverton Grocery or Silverton Hardware. Prices are commensurate though, so if you have the means we highly recommend you stock up in Durango or Montrose first, both of which are roughly an hour drive from Silverton.


The dispersed camping sites do not have trash collection so you can haul your garbage to a free transfer station only a mile or so north of town.


Sewer dump stations and fresh water are available in town at the Red Mountain Motel & RV Park and Silver Summit RV Park & Jeep. We recommend you get there early as some of the dump stations are blocked by Jeep washes later in the day. As there is little competition for these services expect an outrageous fee.


Landry facilities are open to the public at the Silver Summit RV Park & Jeep and Silverton Lakes RV Resort.


There is a very well provisioned Conoco station strategically positioned at the entrance to town. Diesel is available along with unleaded and many many tourists line up to use the pumps.

Restaurants & Shopping

Silverton is the terminus for the Silverton & Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad and services multiple trains per day.


There are scores of restaurants and stores ready to serve these trains full of hungry and spendy customers so it pays to eat early or late to avoid the rush.

Tin Ceiling in 1800’s Era Building Now Serving BBQ


Surrounding Activities

San Juan County Historical Museum

The San Juan County Historical Museum is an absolutely mind-blowing experience that documents Silverton history in a myriad of narratives that journey from Silverton’s earliest roots all the way to the present. Displays include mining history, rock and mineral collections and even the city jail.




Make no mistake, Silverton is essentially owned by the OHV/4-Wheel crowd. There are countless Jeep rental outfits in Silverton, Durango and Ouray plus a constant stream of visitors hauling their own toys. The local RV parks make extensive accommodations for these visitors and the town even bears extensive signage about OHV protocol on paved roads. Even so we never felt crowded out or loss of zen sharing this space with our OHV friends. There’s a lot of territory to explore so even when mountain biking encounters with motorized vehicles were far apart.


There are extensive hiking opportunities around Silverton including Ice Lake, Rico SilvertonHighland Mary Lake Trailhead and the Colorado Trail. I’m not much of a hiker but I suppose if you want to waste your time this way so be it (I kid, I kid).

Mayflower Gold Mill Tour

The Mayflower Gold Mill is a self-guided tour that gives you unprecedented access to every level of the Mayflower Mill, which processed ores for many varieties of metals all the way up to the 1980’s. Since I’m a engineer this self-guided tour kept me entertained for hours. Documentation in the mill is extensive and a wide range of the equipment can still be turned on by museum goers.

The Old Hundred Mine

The Old Hundred Mine is a genuine no-holds barred gold mine located a few miles north of town at the base of Galena Mountain. The extent and scale of this mine is hard to express until you’ve experienced it for yourself. The tour itself follows a fairly short civilized portion of the lower level that has been heavily stabilized and lit. These refinements in no way diminishes the tours effectiveness, however. Entrance to the mine is achieved using an actual rail car where you then disembark and walk with tour operators as they demonstrate period mining equipment, explain blasting strategies, do show and tells on sample ores obtained from the mine and carefully point out connecting shafts.

Outside the mine you can make your way east up Cunningham Gulch where you can look up to the top of Galena Mountain and see the Old Hundred bunkhouse and tramhouse pinned impossibly high in the savage geology. Using binoculars to really zoom in on these tiny structures the true scale of the Old Hundred begins to set in. I highly recommend the tour, though possibly not for anyone claustrophobic, scared of the dark or uncomfortable being splashed with casual spring water seepage from the surrounding rock.

Mountain Biking

Ah yes, my favorite topic – mountain biking. As much as we love Silverton, this town is geared entirely for the off-road enthusiast of the four-wheel variety. This means most of the mountain biking we’re found is along routes shared by Jeeps and RZRs, though not all of it.

Rainbow/Nute Chute Trail

The Rainbow/Nute Chute Trail is one of the few dedicated mountain bike trails in Silverton. Following an old narrow gauge rail bed out of town this ride rarely exceeds 4% and provides stunning views. The east end of the trail scampers over some pretty sketchy terrain.



At the time of this writing part of the trail was entirely washed out on this iron rich scree slope but I found an alternate drop-in only a mile east of town on the 550.

Further west the trail is rather mystical, most of which is overhung by forest.



Rico Silverton

The Rico Silverton trail is located at the end of Forest Road 585 west of town. While technically open for mountain biking I found conditions on this trail to be muddy and rutted making for frequent dismounts and a lot of walking. The ride from South Mineral Campground to the trailhead is severe and also offers occasional dismounts on the incredibly steep terrain but I found it more enjoyable than the trail itself. I also recommend ample bug repellent as the horse flies can be atrocious.

Lime Creek

Lime Creek Road, so named for the aspens that turn lime green in summer, makes for an easy-going ride through the San Juans. Averaging only 5% this is a forest road but it’s quiet and scenic. The drive from Silverton takes about 30 minutes and passes through the incredibly scenic Molas Pass.

Colorado Trail

Colorado Trail Segment 25 can be picked up by parking at the Little Molas Lake Campground. Climbs are moderate but I felt like they were double the grade due to the extreme altitude which tops out above timberline at 12,000′ (3657m). The scenery is epic – of course.

Cunningham Gulch

Cunningham gulch is located on County Road 4A a few miles north of town. You can ride to the ride or drive to the intersection of County Road 2 and County Road 4 and park there. The grade is somewhere in the neighborhood of 7% over several miles. This road is popular with OHV enthusiasts but not choked with them. The ride for practical purposes begins at the Old Hundred mine and stops at Highland Mary Lake Trailhead which is popular with hikers. Along the way you’ll see marmots, pikas, alpine flowers and wild raspberries is you’re late enough in the year.

Arrastra Gulch

Arrastra Gulch is closer to town, beginning essentially at the Mayflower Gold Mill and following County Road 52 west. The climb is short and intense as it follows an ancient tram system that was used to haul pay to the mill. There are many offshoots but I follow a northern OHV tail off of County Road 52 to an old mine near Little Giant Basin.

Old Mine Near Little Giant Basin

Maggie Gulch

Maggie Gulch is located north of Cunningham Gulch on County Road 23. This short ride offers an extremely intense climb that is also shared by OHV enthusiasts. I only take the ride a couple miles to a right-hand branch in the road that terminates at an impressive waterfall.

Forest Road 585

Forest Road 585 begins just a mile or so east of town and offers access to a half-dozen campgrounds, OHV trails and several hikes. The road is rather busy but we found it too offered nice riding from South Mineral Campground to U.S. 550 and back again.

Scenic Drive

Scenic Drive is a gobsmacking ride immediately west of town that looks down on Silverton like it’s a toy model Swiss village. The ride is easy and I typically rode it two times over lunch to get in a good workout, but the real reason you ride here is the view. It literally escapes my ability to crystallize into words the views you can drink in here as you look down onto this town stuck in time. Steam engines puff away, entirely unimpressed with the fact that we’re well into the 21st century, tourists ebb and flow through the many shops and restaurants and San Juans look on in silence.

What Could Go Wrong

I’m not generally a pessimist but I feel like most of the RV channels and blogs I read don’t always own up to the realities of full-time camper living. Below are some of the issues we experienced.


Allow me to make this completely clear. The weather in Silverton is terrible.

Rain Always

If you choose to spend your time here be forewarned that it rains much of the time and temperatures often hover around freezing, even in summer. It pays to get your activities done as early as possible as rain and hail move in around noon. I found myself in a fairly intense situation at Ice Lake and wound up with early symptoms of hypothermia as I did not bring a thick enough rain jacket.

Since we’re in a deluxe Airstream and we live in the desert, rain for us is a treat so we deeply enjoy the experience.

Technology Sucks

I work in technology for a living as a software architect and I can say, unequivocally, technology sucks. In particular, allow me to vent my rage upon on my Buffalo RAID 5 1TB NAS. That piece of crap crashed last year and sucked down a decade’s worth of photos at and around Silverton.

I’ve thought for so many years how I could write a cool travel blog, share my experiences and my dazzling photography until one morning I awoke to found I’d lost it all – despite Buffalo’s claims that this NAS it would give you warning of a drive failure because RAID is a redundant solution. Not so much.

Though not directly related to Airstreaming, I personally recommend Microsoft OneDrive over on-premises storage solutions. This is a cloud storage product that costs $100/yr for 1TB or storage, you get 5 Office 365 licenses and it’s always backed up, always on and always safe. Plus you can also configure your Android and Apple devices to automatically upload your videos and photos, make albums and share stuff with your friends.

Alas, we will of course, make our way back to Silverton and enjoy its goodness as the sting of lost memories fade and new ones are made, but I will never forget that betrayal Buffalo visited upon me.

Parting Thoughts

I have to reiterate one more time – Silverton is not for everyone. The weather can be terrible and temperatures cold. In exchange, however, you can explore a savage countryside barely tamed by the 21st century and lose yourself in a myriad of exploratory pursuits that will leave your head spinning. Silverton has the it factor in so many ways I can only hope this blog leaves slightly more than just a faint impression and explains to the world why this really is our favoritest place in the world!

Airstreaming Chatfield State Park Colorado

Emily & Silent Partner

Evening, Peeps.

In our continuing series on places we’ve stayed in the Airstream, I am proud to introduce Chatfield State Park Colorado.

*At the time of this blog Chatfield State Park is undergoing extensive renovation to fill the reservoir an additional 12 ft (3.7 m). It is said the park will remain open during these renovations but perform your due diligence before booking.

This is another mega-post, primarily amount mountain biking the Denver area. Enjoy the photos and take your time!


Reservations for Chatfield can be made on the Reserve America portal. When I was a kid Chatfield was considered to be way out in the sticks. I only have one distinct memory of actually going there and at that age I felt like we’d driven to Utah. Now days though, Chatfield is in the middle of the massive urban sprawl that has become Denver. RV sites bloom over three massive loops, but owing to the park’s immediate proximity to the city it is still extremely busy and it pays to make reservations way in advance.

We were able to get reservationos, albeit over Memorial Day, but only at a site with power and water but no sewer. As a result we towed to the dump station once a week. The dump station, by the way, is the best we’ve ever used owing to small concrete bumps that tilt the trailer gently towards the driver side making it drain faster.


Chatfield State Park is located south of Denver and has two major entrances, one off of Roxborough Park Rd to the south and another off of South Wadsworth Blvd to the west, though it appears that entrance may experience interference during renovation. The entrances are guarded during the day and unmanned at night. One sour patch for us is we found it cheaper to buy an annual pass rather than pay a daily vehicle fee and the park rangers threatened us with a ticket if we didn’t affix it to the passenger-side windshield!

Camping is split among three enormous loops, Loop A, Loop B (our loop) and Loop C, as well as some group camping options. Each loop contains a combination of bath houses, laundry and bathrooms. We were somewhat put off by having to pay for showers – a curiosity that never took place before or again on our entire trip.

Pads were a mixture of asphalt and concrete backing up to extremely well groomed and open play areas with a fire pit surrounded by gravel. There was also a publicly available WiFi network that was fast and reliable, even during Memorial Day weekend. Even without the WiFi, cell signal here was strong and catching a satellite signal was a snap.


We found noise at the campground to be highly variable, depending on where you were located. Our site experienced intermittent music but the park patrol was omnipresent and we enjoyed our stay, which the deer did too.

Chatfield Reservoir Dam Visible in the Background

Surrounding Activities

Activities around the park include kayaking , swimming, boating, hiking, fishing, bird-watching and biking. It pays to bring binoculars when possible as the wildlife in this area is prolific along the water line.



Owing to its immersion in the city, groceries are easily fetched from King Soopers in Highlands Ranch or King Soopers on South Wadsworth Blvd.

I also mentioned we were in Denver to drop the Airstream off at Windish RV, which we did immediately after staying here. Denver is a giant city, so you can find all your needs here from propane to trailer storage.

Though not right by the park I am obligated to give a shout-out to the Colorado Rail Museum in Golden, I love trains!


Mountain Biking

Ah yes, my favorite topic – mountain biking. The Denver area is bubbling over with mountain biking opportunities, some of which I mention below.

Waterton/South Platte Canyon & Wetlands Connector

The South Platte Canyon trail follows the South Platte River up into the Rocky Mountains and can be accessed via the Wetlands Connector Trail directly from within Chatfield. This ride is not even close to technical and beginning at the Waterton Trailhead riding here can become exceptionally congested, especially on the weekends. This trail also suffers frequent closures so perform your due diligence before showing up to a closed parking lot.

The ride is slow and lazy climbing an easy few-percent grade along a mild-mannered road that hugs the South Platte river, which feeds the famous High Line Canal.


We rode this trail multiple times and turned around at the Strontia Springs Dam.


On the way back we often stopped on one of the bridges, ditched the bikes and stuck our tootsies into the cool water.

Another amazing feature of this ride is the bighorn sheep, which appear en masse.


The bighorn sheep are protected…


And there is extensive signage here alerting people not to interact with these guys in any way.


Buffalo Creek Trail System

The Buffalo Creek Trail System is roughly an hour from Chatfield by car though you can link into it directly from Chatfield via the Colorado Trail Segment 2 (which we did not do). This trail system is rich and complex allowing you to make your own loops, much of it threading through a former burn area, but still gorgeous and wonderful.

We rode there when the aspens were changing


My favorite personal loop was:

Though this trail system is not wildly technical nor crazy on the grades, for one reason or another I found it to require high fitness.

Staunton State Park

Staunton State Park is located just a little north of Buffalo Creek and it too offers a wide range of trail options.



Sadly I was somewhat ill on this expedition so we only rode Staunton Ranch Trail South to Bugling Elk Trail and back. I realized I was ill at the beginning of Border Line Trail so we only went up it a mile or so before bailing. Staunton Ranch and Bugling Elk were mild-mannered greens. Border Line is marked as a blue but I feel like it could easy be called black, at least owing to fitness.

Deer Creek Canyon

The Deer Creek Canyon trail system is located about 20 minutes west of Chatfield up Deer Creek Canyon Road. We rode Rattlesnake Gultch TrailGrazing Elk TrailCoyote Song Trail, all of which were green. We also rode a portion of the Deer Creek Canyon trail, which is marked as black, but we found the conditions so poor we turned around pretty quickly.

Highlands Ranch & Bluffs Regional Park

The highlands ranch trail system is private, but we were granted access while staying with family. This is a twisty and satisfying system that forms complex loops through foothills scrub oak.


Even though highlands ranch is private, the trail system hooks directly into the Bluffs Regional Park which is open for all and has awesome views of Littleton, Centennial, Highlands Ranch and in the distance, Denver.

Green Mountain

Green Mountain overlooks the C470/70 interchange and provides jaw-dropping views of the Denver Metro area. We rode the Green Mountain Intermediate Loop multiple times and found it to be massively difficult on fitness and moderate technically. I highly recommend it though, the views are worth it.



Rollins Pass

Our final ride in the Denver area was up Rollins Pass. Make no mistake about it, Rollins Pass is primarily an OHV road but lots of mountain bikers ride there too. It takes a good two hours or more to get there from south Denver so I realize this might not be “the Denver area” in the strictest terms, but this stands out as the best mountain bike ride I have ever done. Ever.

This is an eye-popping trail because it follows an old rail line over Corona Pass threading its way through spectacular Rocky Mountain vistas that straddle the continental divide. The “trail” begins at the Moffat Tunnel and tops out at the Needle’s Eye Tunnel which is at a comfy 11,600′ (3535 m). This entire ride is cloaked in thick forest until the last portion which is several hundred feet above timber line (the elevation at which there isn’t enough oxygen to support trees).

Our journey began in the early AM in Highlands Ranch.


Shortly west of Rollinsville we followed the contemporary Union Pacific rail line to the Moffat Tunnel.


Because this grade was followed by steam engines or yore, it rarely exceeds 5% – making for an extended but doable climb. Much of the former rail line was blasted right out of the rock.



My favorite part of the climb began at Yankee Doodle Lake, as you can look up see a little dot where the Needle’s Eye Tunnel exits towards the west. Knowing you’re riding a bike up there is exhilarating.



As the climb proceeds you are presented with the epic final grade where you can imagine old steam engines working hard to make the summit. Carefully examine this photo and you can see the tunnel up and to the right.


At the tunnel you can look down on the awesome climb.


The tunnel is closed but still fun to look at.




You can climb over the tunnel and look down on the aforementioned Yankee Doodle Lake.



This entire journey actually taught me the meaning of Rocky Mountain High.



What Could Go Right

I mentioned several times we got “caught” in Denver much longer than expected due to Airstream problems. But my god, look what it brought us. Windish RV did an awesome job on the trailer and their fixes got us back on the road. In the meantime while the trailer was undergoing repair we saw the most unbelievable side of Denver and surrounding area.


Yes, Chatfield State Park and the surrounding area has “it”! Go! Go for the water, go for the mountain biking and go for the trains and more trains!