I didn’t grow up in an ‘outdoorsy’ familia. As a parent today, I didn’t have any camping experience to reflect on when it came time to take my own family camping. So, claro, things can go wrong. Pero, ever since my life-changing expedition with the National Park Foundation, camping is the only vacation that I ever want to plan for mi familia. Camping means connecting to the outdoors, embracing nature, and exploring the wilderness. My husband and my boys don’t always feel the same but they always thank me after it’s all said and done.
Last summer, we planned an epic great outdoors vacation. My brother had recently moved to Colorado so, we took a long road trip from Texas to Colorado. Even though we grew up in the same house, my brother ended up being super outdoorsy. Hence, the move to Colorado. We went river rafting, outdoor camping in Pike National Forest, and visited the Rocky Mountains National Park. My husband and my brother even squeezed in tee time for a day. It was a little piece of heaven.
However, things didn’t start out quite as planned. We had reserved a campsite at one campground but we drove to the wrong one. When we realized this, we knew that we had to act fast because we risked losing too much daylight if we drove to the correct campground. We called around to find a nearby campsite and luckily, Buena Vista KOA (Kampgrounds of America) had one available for us.
Our First KOA Experience
This unplanned stop at KOA would turn out to be a huge blessing. Once we arrived, we were pleased to learn about all the amenities such as showers, clean restrooms, a laundry center, a well-stocked general store, and even a playground. Although we were fully prepared for primitive camping (camping without running water), we sure were glad to have these amenities for our first night.
There were six of us. My husband, my two boys, my brother, my mom who drove with us from Texas, and me. Mi hermano y yo were the ones most excited about primitive camping in the forest. Everyone else was more concerned about when and where they were going to shower and go to the bathroom. So, the showers and clean restrooms at KOA were a huge bonus the next morning.
We arrived at Buena Vista KOA with enough time to set up our tents and start a fire to cook dinner. There was still plenty of daylight left for a quick hike to explore the scenic campgrounds. ¡Esta hermoso! As a first-timer at a KOA campground, the biggest surprise for me was that every kind of camper could be found there. Campers were set up in cabins, RVs, tents, and even a beautiful teepee.
Mis chiquitos most enjoyed the playground. We had plenty of games for the kids to play at the campsite but a jungle gym can’t ever be turned down. For our next camping adventure, I can see us reserving a spot at any KOA campground since we all enjoyed this one so much. Next time, we’ll arrive much earlier to enjoy all the other amenities such as basketball, horseshoes, volleyball, 4-Square, ping pong, bike rentals, and a Cook Shack for breakfast. And, I’m sure a few of us (looking at you mom and husband) wouldn’t mind giving the cabins a try.
At the end of that day (and really at the end of our entire Colorado vacation), camping in Colorado was a pleasant adventure because the common thread was our familia. Sure, we still used our phones to take photos of the amazing scenery around us and to check Instagram when we had a signal, but the majority of the time was spent talking to each other, playing games, and exploring the great outdoors juntos. The majority of the time was quality family time. We didn’t know that we were driving to the wrong campsite but I’m glad we did. Our first night at KOA set the tone for our fun great outdoors vacation.
Queridos, tell me, why do you love to go camping? Would you do it for quality family time?