I know some women think the last thing they want to do for romance is camp outdoors. The prospect of bugs and sleeping bags as opposed to nice sheets may indeed be a great a sacrifice, but when done right I personally find being out in the middle of nowhere, building campfires and looking at the stars very romantic.
And so my beloved and I ended up at Colorado Bend State Park for Valentine’s day. We reserved a campsite through Parks and Wildlife’s online system, which was a snap.
What I loved – The Remoteness
After driving for an eternity down a two lane road, we were certain we had missed the turnoff. But I had been warned that the park was very remote, and if we felt like we had gone too far, then we were on the right track. We finally came to a small general store called “Bend Store–for all your camping supplies” and assumed the park would be around the corner, but we found we still had 10 minutes before we’d reach the entrance to the park. I loved the signs along way, “Unfenced area: watch out for livestock.”
As we drove deeper into the park, the road began to descend until eventually we were in the bottom of a canyon at the level of the Colorado river.
By the time we got there, we felt very remote. Our cell phones didn’t work, and we had to give up internet for an entire weekend, which actually ended up being really nice.
What I loved – The Cliffs
The sun was beginning to set when we arrived and the cliffs along the other side of the river were beaming brilliant reds, pinks, and oranges. Each hour they turned a different color. It was like watching a show.
Strung along the river facing these cliffs are the campsites, restrooms, water spickets, and ranger house.
The campsites are located in the most beautiful part of the park, and while they are crammed right next to each other, the gorgeous views make it worth it.
Our campsite was #43.
What I loved – The Stars
As night descended, we were treated to one of the most spectacular starry nights I’ve seen in Texas. The park is nearly 6,000 acres and the nearest town is almost an hour away, so light pollution is minimal.
I felt like I was looking from a plane onto a city. It was absolutely breathtaking.
What I loved – Gorman Falls
Perhaps my favorite sight other than a s’more was Gorman Falls, which we hiked to the next day.
The last 20 yards of the trail to the falls is steep but not half as difficult as the guidebook will have you believe.
About a half dozen people on the trail told me Trooper would have trouble making it because of his short legs. (Excusez moi!)
And he handled the hill like a champ.
When we reached the falls, I felt like I had descended into an enchanted forest. Rising a hundred yards up from the ground, the cliff was covered with bright green moss and gurgling waterfalls ran over the rocks in hundreds of different places. Big oaks cast permanent shade onto the area and it was cool and damp.
All it needed were teacup-sized fairies dancing around the ferns and the enchanted forest image would be complete.
We ate our sack lunch on a big rock outcropping by the falls and watched boys from a scouting troop pass by, all of whom were trying to outdo eachother.
What I loved – The River
The water was shallow and its banks were flat, so I pulled up a chair by the water and read a magazine while my boys, Brandon and Trooper, waded up the river.
In the summer it would be a great place to kayak, and you can rent boats at the headquarters.
What I loved – River Trail
I also loved the river trail which follows the river upstream from the campsites. We had it to ourselves.
What I didn’t love — Potty Situation
Colorado Bend state park is very primitive, and there are no flushing toilets.
I like to think I’m a tough girl, but I loathe port-o-potties. I live in Austin, the music capital of the world, but I have never been to a music festival because I refuse to use a port o potty.
But I had to suck it up and deal.
In all fairness, they are a really nice version of a port o potty, and don’t look like a port o potty on the outside, and on the inside they are spacious and have tiled floors. But there’s no mirror, no sink, and no faucet. There are two water spickets near the campsites, so bring your own mirror, a big jug and a bucket. Fill them up and take them back to your campsite so you can wash your hands, do your makeup, and refill your water bottles.
In the end, I know it was worth it in order to be in such a beautiful park. But be warned.
All in all Colorado bend is one of the prettiest parks I’ve been to and I recommend it, regardless of the potty situation.