Christmas 2021 had been our fist adventuring trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It had been a memorable trip for a few reasons, and we were eager to return during the summer to do some hiking, biking, kayaking and fishing. Two weekends ago, we parked our 2022 Winnebago FLX 2108DS at the local KOA and set out for our adventures.
Day 1 ~ Friday: We arrived in Steamboat mid-afternoon and it was already blazing hot, which had taken us a bit by surprise. Our initial plan had been to go biking, but after getting the RV set up at the campground, we decided to hit the water instead. We headed to Pearl Lake State Park, which is about 25 minutes from the KOA.
Pearl Lake State Park is named after M. Pearl Hart, the wife of a sheep rancher that had owned the property prior to selling the land to the U.S. Forest Service. The lake has approximately 3 miles of shoreline sitting near the base of Hahns Peak. Once you enter the park, the drive down to the lake is an unpaved, rough road. And, there is only a small parking area at the lake; we were lucky to have obtained a parking place.
We quickly put “The Big Mango” in the water and headed south towards the dam. After about ten minutes of paddling, the wind kicked in. Instead of hugging the shoreline like we usually do in order to obtain a longer paddling distance, we cut out a bit of the shoreline because of the wind. That had been our first paddle of the season. We paddled a total of 2.5 miles.
Once the kayak was loaded back onto the Tahoe, we grabbed our fishing gear and walked along a trail to an area with a small clearing that was low to the ground – perfect for fishing. We attempted to have a relaxing fishing experience, but the biting flies were driving us mad! And about ten seconds after Larry was on his way back to the Tahoe to get the bug spray, I caught a fish!
As I had mentioned in a few posts last summer, whenever either of us catch a fish it is quite a circus since we are inexperienced, and this time was certainly no exception. The agreement that I had made with Larry when I started fishing was that all I am going to do is catch them; I will not touch, clean or fillet them. So here I had about an 8-inch trout on my line and I am yelling for Larry, but he did not hear me.
I faced a grave dilemma because fish need to be 18 inches in order to keep them at Pearl Lake, and this one was clearly smaller than that. So…I didn’t want to touch it to get it off my line and yet I didn’t want the fish to die. What did I do? I reeled it in and kept it submerged in the water right by me while I waited for Larry. After a few moments, I peered down at it closely and it suddenly flopped off my hook. Naturally, Larry made it back shortly thereafter. Neither of us had any further luck that day.
Day 2 ~ Saturday: Our initial plan was to get up early and go biking, but by the time we were ready to head out it was just too hot. Instead, we headed to Steamboat Lake State Park, located near historic Hahns Peak Village and to the west of Pearl Lake. Steamboat Lake offers over 1000 surface acres of gold medal trout fishing.
When we were getting the kayak set up, there were two guys fishing close to the boat launch and they were catching fish one after another! That got me very excited and steered my interest from kayaking to fishing. We quickly got into the kayak and paddled to an area across from the two guys and I eagerly threw my line into the water. After a few casts, I suddenly felt a massive fish on my line. I tried as hard as I could to reel it in, but my drag was too loose and I lost it. How big was it? I imagine it was the size of the Loch Ness Monster.
Feeling encouraged, I continued casting my line, and a few minutes later I caught a rainbow trout. Unfortunately, it was too small to keep. I continued fishing for about ten more minutes while Larry steered the kayak before we decided to head out and do some kayaking. Like the day prior, the moment we headed out into open water, the winds kicked in. Instead of kayaking a long distance as we had planned, we kayaked about 2 miles, took some pictures and headed back to the fishing spot.
We fished for about an hour without any bites, so it was time for a change of plan, yet again. We packed up the kayak and our fishing gear, and donned our hiking shoes and packs and set out on the Willow Creek Trail. It is a dirt path that winds through the trees and meadows, leading to the Steamboat Lake Visitor Centers. This path is great for biking and hiking. The trail meanders along the lake, crossing several creeks that feed into the lake. The round-trip trek is a touch over 5 miles.
Day 3 ~ Sunday: After the RV was loaded up, we headed to the Yampa River Core Trail to finally do some biking. I had been very eager to bike on this path after having seen glimpses of it while we were there during Christmas. It is a beautiful, fully paved path, which mostly runs along the Yampa River. And, it is also fairly level, making it ideal for people of all ages. Note: parts of the trail may be closed due to high water levels during the annual run off, so be sure to follow the detour signs.
It is a rather short bike path but we enjoyed it immensely. The foliage along the trail was beautiful, and the sounds of the flowing river was peaceful. There are numerous picnic places along the trail in addition to great fishing spots. This short bike trek had been the highlight of the trip (for me). We biked a total of 11.79 miles.
After the bikes were loaded, we headed to Stagecoach State Park with the plan to kayak. Once again, however, the winds were gusting and we decided to grab our fishing poles and head down to an inlet fed by Martin Creek. After about an hour of fishing with no action we packed up and headed back to Grand Lake to drop off our Micro Minnie FLX.
Dropping the RV off, specifically backing it up into our spot at Elk Creek Campground, is a whole new circus of its own… one that would be best to not discuss in detail. The KOA had been a pull-through site. Hopefully with practice, backing up the travel trailer will become a much smoother process.
Where is Base Camp @ Grand Lake headed next?
- July 24 – 27: Challis & Stanley, Idaho
- July 27 – August 7: Canada, Sandpoint/Clark Fork & Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
- September 23 – 25: Leadville, CO
SOME OF THE GEAR USED: