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Park Welcomes Families To “Backyard Campout”

Colorado National Monument

National Park News

The park’s first annual “Backyard Campout” was held last Saturday and drew 200 campers, mostly families from local communities, to Saddlehorn Campground.

This inaugural outdoors event, a collaborative effort with its private and public sector partners, enabled campers to enjoy the weekend without spending a nickel. One sponsor, Western Colorado Credit Unions, covered the entire cost of park admission and campground fees, as well as meals for all campers.

 Campers pitched their tents (donated by REI, another sponsor) at Saddlehorn for this unique “under the stars” experience in the family-friendly campground adjacent to the visitor center. It’s one of the best locations in the high desert park (elevation 5,800 feet) for viewing Colorado’s Grand Valley from a lofty perch.

The Backyard Campout is one of many events highlighting the park’s yearlong celebration of its centennial. 

“We are fully committed to getting adults and kids outdoors," said Michelle Wheatley, chief of visitor services. “The great outdoors can be found right here in our community's own backyard.  The spectacular scenery of the red rock canyons found in Colorado National Monument offers nature at its best. This campout offered families an opportunity to enjoy time outdoors with their families, meet fellow campers, and practice their camping skills before venturing further away from home.” 

Before settling into their sleeping bags Saturday night, campers took the opportunity to bone up on their outdoors skills. They practiced knot tying, compass reading and animal tracking under the guidance of National Park Service rangers. A campfire sing-a-long, an evening program, and tasty treats (s’mores) rounded out the evening’s activities.

The event highlighted the park’s strong partnership with the city of Grand Junction’s Parks and Recreation Department, REI, Western Colorado Credit Unions and KEKB 99.9 FM.

Emily Wright, recreation supervisor for Grand Junction, noted that the city’s public and private sector partners made the event successful. “Without Colorado National Monument and our other partners, we would not have been able to put this together,” she said.

“Backyard Campout” coincides with Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Mark Udall’s, recently launched “Make the Kids to Parks Pledge” program encouraging adults to make a pledge to get kids outdoors and to national parks throughout Colorado and across the country. 


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