The Chatfield area was first settled in 1858 by settlers in search of gold. In 1965 the Platte River flooded and swept away homes and businesses and killed 13 people. Following this disaster the citizens banded together with state and federal officials to get the Chatfield Dam built as a flood control measure. It was built by the Army Corps of Engineers and completed in 1976 resulting in a 1,450 acre lake. There is apparently a plan to raise the level by 12 feet. There is a large marina and numerous boats, many of them being sailboats. There is a stable and horseback riding, a Hot Air Balloon Port and and a Model Airplane field. A paved bike trail encircles the reservoir, which appeared extremely popular. Lots of things to do.
Our first night there we relaxed and hiked around the campground. It consists of 4 loops, with each loop composed on concentric circles. The bath houses are clean and modern. There is even WIFI available. We ended up in a site with just electricity. We’re largely self contained for the short time we’re here.
We watched the sun set over the lake, then hit the sack.
The next morning we discovered several balloons launching from the Balloon Port. It was interesting to watch them start out. Some of them skimmed the lake. Others stayed really close to the ground. We guessed they were trying to catch favorable winds. Or practicing their takeoffs and landings. We had no idea where they would land once they left the confines of the park. This area is just west of Littleton and is fairly built up and congested.
After watching the balloons, we headed south to visit with Melinda’s aunt, Mary, and her daughter, Melinda’s cousin, Julie and her husband John. On the way we stopped for lunch at the Old Stone Church Restaurant in Castle Rock for lunch. Not only was the food delicious, the atmosphere was unique–retaining the look of a small chapel, stained glass and all.
Built in 1888, St. Francis of Assisi was the first church building in Castle Rock. In 1966, the congregation left the church for a larger one located east of town. This new church holds the original altar and cornerstone. The building was vacant until 1975 when it underwent remodeling to become a restaurant. The original choir loft was expanded and the confessional even became a table for two.
After lunch we made our way to Monument, a small town just north of the Air Force Academy, and visited with Mary and Julie. They moved up from Colorado Springs a few years ago and now own a nice home with a couple of acres of land. they are surrounded by trees and were a little worried when the fires were raging near Colorado Springs. Mary is retired, Julie works in the defense industry and John has an IT business. In his free time he is a wood worker and is in the process of building new cabinets for their kitchen.
After a nice visit we headed back to the park, getting caught in some rush hour traffic. On the way into the park we stopped at the Model Airplane Field. It was a beautiful facility, with every amenity, even a paved runway. Chris used to build and fly model airplanes so he chatted with a couple of the guys and admired their planes.
After a late meal, we took part of the trail that encircles the lake, checked out the marina (lots of people preparing to spend the night and probably the weekend on their boats) and enjoyed the mountain air and smells. We are surrounded by pines.
The next morning we watched more balloons taking off. There were scores of bicycle riders going around the lake. It must be a favorite spot to come for a ride because there were tons of riders. Even some recumbents!!
Then we were off . . . taking I-25 straight through Denver. Following the stretch of the Front Range, our next destination is the town of Loveland, just south of Fort Collins. Still not into the mountains, but getting closer. One more campground in civilization complete with full hookups, then we’ll be headed into the higher elevations. Three days from now. Stay tuned.
Taking it all in . . .
Chris and Melinda