BACKYARD ADVENTURES: Dotsero Crater

EXPLORING COLORADO'S YOUNGEST VOLCANO

 Overlooking the Eagle River Valley to the West, towards Glenwood Canyon. 

Overlooking the Eagle River Valley to the West, towards Glenwood Canyon. 

While it may not be as impressive as Mt. St. Helens or the Yellowstone Caldera, the Dotsero Crater is still worth checking out. A large, deep crater in the hills is not something you come across everyday on the Western slope of Colorado. With it’s ease of access, and vast network of trails, the Dotsero Crater makes for a fun side-trip, or destination campsite with great views of the surrounding mountains. 

 Looking into the Dotsero Crater at sunset. 

Looking into the Dotsero Crater at sunset. 

Getting there is mostly straight forward; you take the service road East at the Dotsero exit, until it winds around the trailer park back into the hills and up. (Don’t drive into the gravel pit as I did accidentally at first!). The road curves up the hills for a few miles, past large piles of trash (unfortunately the locals equate this public land to the landfill). If you’re lucky, you might even see some bighorn sheep on the way up…

 Big horn sheep grazing nearby the road. 

Big horn sheep grazing nearby the road. 

For being so close to the interstate, this is a very quiet place. I was the only human around up there on a Thursday evening, which made for a very peaceful solo trip. The roads are pretty gravelly (is that a word?), and washboarded out, which could prove difficult for a heavy RV or small passenger car. My 4X4 Tacoma even had to work hard getting through the gravel at some spots. 

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The striking alien landscape, coupled by the serene solitude and crisp Fall sunset made this a memorable trip. I hadn’t thought much of Dotsero before, and I won’t likely frequent the area too often from here on out, but it reminded me of the importance of micro-adventures, or just getting out there. I had an evening and a morning off, so why not spend it somewhere new? It’s easy to make up excuses or put it off for another time, but it sure pays off when you follow through. 

 Overlooking the East rim of the Dotsero Crater, just after sunrise. 

Overlooking the East rim of the Dotsero Crater, just after sunrise. 

So, I urge you to find the next available evening, and go watch the sunset at the Dotsero Crater. Or a new trail wherever you are. Just take some time to be curious, inspired, and content. 

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For a more detailed account of the Dotsero Crater, please visit: https://www.theoutbound.com/adventures/camp-at-dotsero-crater