As vanlifers, we are always exploring new places. One of the places we had never explored in our fours years of traveling around North America has been Colorado. Colorado has been on our list of places to visit since we started but we ended up saving our trip to Colorado for this year. The plan was to get a job, spend the summer training, and make visits to Rocky Mountain National Park, Mt. Evans, and Lincoln Lake to climb. The plan had one big hitch though. We couldn’t find any place to sleep.
When you’re living in a vehicle, one of the main causes of stress is finding a safe and comfortable place to park the vehicle at night. The best nights are when you can sleep peacefully. The worst nights are when a ranger or the police knock on the van at 3am, telling us to move. Being in Boulder, Colorado, our van got knocked on a couple times. After that, we decided that being in the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area was not going to work out for us.
We did the math and realized that by driving up to two hours a day from a legal and free campsite to any job in the city, we wouldn’t actually make enough money and instead break even. It didn’t seem worth it.
It felt stressful finding a new spot to park every night, along with the hundreds of other vanlifers. We even looked into renting a spot at an RV lot but that was expensive, $800 a month. We finally got a fed up when we ended up driving more instead of climbing. So we immediately looked for the next area to spend our summer in. We looked into going to Lander, Wyoming, a summer destination for climbers, as well as Durango, Colorado, a chill town with a gym and free camping. Both locations were 6 hours away from Denver.
The new plan was to pick a place close to the Denver area, as we had a scheduled flight going back home in July. After making a pro and con list, we ended up chosing Durango, Colorado for a month while we waited till our flight left.
Durango is located in the southwest corner of Colorado at an elevation of 6,512 ft. It was still quite hot in the area, but the camping was easier and the town was small. Perfect for us vanlifers. We got a gym membership to the Rock Lounge, a small rock climbing gym that focuses more on training than climbing tall walls. We spent a month in Durango, training, hiking, and climbing. We met the local climbers, the gym owner, and learned new training tips.
At first, we were worried about our decision to drive to Durango. We had never been and it wasn’t a town known for it’s climbing. In the end, Durango was worth the trip and helped us reevaluate our time in Colorado. We were originally pretty discouraged after arriving to Boulder, as we found the scene too overwhelming to us. But after spending some time in the outskirts of the big city, we found our peace.