My Very True Journey with Escape Campervans in Colorado
For my 30th, and golden, birthday, I decided to take a solo road trip around Colorado for 7-days. Now, I am no stranger to the solo trip and have cleared some pretty significant adventures off my bucket list in the last five years.
I’m a big fan of the tiny home movement, the campervan lifestyle, and living simply so the idea of renting a campervan was an adventure I’ve always wanted to go on.
When I was searching for adventures to go on for my 30th birthday, I was on Groupon looking for tropical adventures to Mexico since my birthday is in November and usually accompanied by cold weather. I have still never been to Mexico but would like to.
While I was searching on Groupon for adventures, I came across the Escape Campervans deal – 7 days for $379 and up to 1,400 miles of travel. I had heard of Escape Campervans before and thought this would be a good opportunity to give them a try. I quickly purchased the Groupon and made the reservation to pick up the van in Aurora, Colorado.
Now, instead of taking my trip in my rented van to a warmer climate, I decided to stay in Colorado and visit some places and do some things I have never done before. So let’s check out how my trip actually went, the story might surprise you and prepare you for a winter road trip in Colorado.
Before we get to this, I want to preface by saying I LOVED my trip with Escape Campervans and I love the small adventures/challenges we experience on our journeys. I think what we do in situations that happen and are out of our control are great testaments to how we handle situations in life. That being said, I want to be 100% honest with people who read this about my experience.
Where Did I Go On My Trip?
I started my trip by driving to Breckenridge, Colorado so I could take my first snowboarding lesson at Arapahoe Basin in Keystone, Colorado. After spending three nights in Breckenridge, I made the short 2-hour drive to Carbondale to see where my father spent a good portion of his life, and to have an incredibly magical spa experience. I also spent some time in Glenwood Springs at a hot springs soaking up the sulfur and snowy peaks all around me.
After spending two nights in The Crystal River Valley area, I made another short drive to Grand Junction where I was spoiled magnificently by my Uncle Dennis and Aunt Debbie. In Grand Junction, I got to see downtown GJ and take a drive through the Colorado National Monument to see gorgeous views of the Bookcliffs and the Grand Mesa and visit a live Lavender Farm.
I ended my trip with my Aunt and Uncle in Grand Junction before making the drive back to Aurora to drop off the vehicle.
Escape Campervan Layout
The Groupon was specifically for the Maverick vans, which are a 19-foot Ford E-150. Inside you’ll find seating that can easily be converted into sleeping space, a small kitchen with a solar-powered refrigerator and LED light, a 5-gallon water tank and sink, and all dishes and utensils you need to make some tasty meals. I was also given a Garmin GPS and a table and chairs.
The van is also equipped with a space heater you can plug in while out on the road in the winter. It has curtains to help keep your space private and comes with bedding for those super cold nights. Escape Campervans also allows you the option of renting out additional items like snow chains, auxiliary cords, bike racks, GPS, etc.
The First Night in the Maverick
I picked up the Maverick in an afternoon. What’s cool about these Mavericks is that everyone single one is hand painted by local California artists. No single van looks exactly the same as the other. For my trip, I got to travel with the Lochness Monster, or Nessy, as she was named.
After picking her up, I drove straight to Breckenridge where I would spend a few days learning how to snowboard. A month before the trip, I had called around to the area to see if the local RV parks would host my campervan. Don’t be surprised if you can’t find an open RV park.
The one place I did find, Tiger Run Resort, would not accept vans or vehicles that are under 22-feet long unless they resembled a Mercedes Sprinter van (or so I was told). They said that hosting a van at that length was against their rules and she could lose her job.
Desperate to find a place to park, I called the town of Frisco, not far from Breckenridge, and visit the Breckenridge welcome center to see if there were overnight parking lots that were available for campervans.
With van lifestyles being so popular these days, you would think someone would host a van. Not the case here. I was told I was sort of out of luck finding a place, but I might have some luck staying at the Satellite Parking Lot in Breckenridge just off Airport Rd. So I went there.
I parked my van in the 24-hour lot, a common place for people to store their vehicles during their skiing and snowboarding adventures.
**Note: People are not supposed to sleep in the Satellite Parking Lot, but I was not bothered once in the three nights I stayed there.
That evening, it got down to 4 degrees. There was no place to plug in the space heater provided for me. But lucky for me, I had just invested in The North Face Aleutian Zero Degree sleeping bag, just for this reason. And along with it, I brought my old Coleman sleeping bag just in case.
When I went to sleep that night, I bundled up in the sleeping bag, put the other sleeping bag at my feet, and covered myself with the comforter provided by ECV.
By the next morning, I forgot where I was because I was so warm. When I moved the comforter off of me, I could hear the frozen crunch of the condensation that formed from my breathing during the night.
RV Campgrounds That Are Open
After three days of staying in Breckenridge, I ventured down to the Crystal River Valley for some spa time at True Nature Healing Arts, which you can read more about here.
Thank the heavens for the Silt/Glenwood Springs KOA because they were open and welcoming vans and RVs alike to stay at their campground despite it being a low season. I was able to rent a pull-through spot with hookups, wifi (important for us bloggers), and I was within walking distance to the restroom and shower area.
At the KOA in Silt, you are also right next to the Colorado River and you can sometimes spot a couple of bald eagles hanging around the river.
Please, please do your research and call around before trying to venture on a campervan road trip during Colorado low seasons. It would be truly terrible for your plans to be disrupted.
Luckily, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, and Silt are all so close to each other it makes going and finding something to do incredibly easy. Some things you can potentially do in the area are below:
- Ski and Soak at Sunlight Ski Resort
- Yampah Vapor Caves
- Iron Mountain Hot Springs
- Glenwood Hot Springs
- True Nature Healing Arts Spa
- Carbondale Beerworks
Water Tank Problems
Because the entire trip I was unable to plug in and the temperatures in Breck were so low, I was not able to pump water from the tank to cook, wash dishes, and make coffee. However, there were plenty of delightful places to dine out in Breckenridge or even go have some coffee. Below are some of the places I visited:
You can also buy a big thing of water with the spout, but the chances of it freezing are pretty good unless you have your heater running. Just be mindful and have a backup plan just in case this happens.
I ended bringing a large water bottle similar to a Hydro Flask or a Yeti and filled it with water. The insulation kept my water from freezing overnight, and I could just use that to heat up for a hot beverage in the morning.
By the time I got to my second destination in Silt, Colorado, I was able to plug in and keep the van warm. By the next day, I was able to pump water out of the tank without a problem. But expect the water to be pretty darn cold, my friends!
Mountain Driving Challenges
These vehicles don’t pack a good punch, and they definitely do not get up and go. So, keep that in mind when you are driving up those steep mountains in snowy and icy conditions. My advice is to stay in the right lane and try not to drive too fast up a pass, you’ll just overexert the vehicle.
Plus, you’ll have a million people racing past you like they are impervious to sliding off the side of a mountain or causing a crash, so just stay safe and be mindful of the people around you. Don’t let yourself be anxious to match the speed of the people passing you. Just enjoy the ride!
Things I Absolutely Loved About The Maverick
This van is huge and can fit 2 people very comfortably without any issue. If I had had another person with me, I think it would have been very enjoyable, especially for the sake of the bitter cold. Once I was able to plug in, the van was incredibly enjoyable and a nice trip away from home. I think if you decided to bring a generator, this would be a good addition, especially if you are looking to stay in more remote areas.
I loved the lighting in the van and the curtains that provided privacy. Once you get cozy, it’s easy to curl up with a book, your music, or some Netflix. The solar-powered light actually generates a nice bit of light for reading or anything else you care to do at night. You can also string up some lights to brighten it up a little more. I used the BioLite Mini Lights.
I loved waking up in the morning and drawing the curtains to see that snow had fallen down all around me during the night. Once I was dressed and warm, going outside to get some coffee and breakfast cooking was an easy task! I didn’t even notice the cold weather happening around me.
This was a good brush with the van life that I always dreamed of having for myself. I loved the cozy atmosphere, the feeling of freeness and going to see and do interesting things.
If you enjoyed this post, check out my most recent post 10+ Photos that will inspire you to visit Colorado! Have you rented an Escape Campervan before? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!