A friend told me about La Veta in 2005. It took until a few weekends ago to make it there. While many little towns around the US struggle to keep their charm – La Veta, Colorado oozes it.
Upon returning home I spoke with others who have visited and all agree – La Veta, Colorado is love at first sight. For those who haven’t been there or for those who are trying to find time to return. Here are 7 reasons you should do so, pronto.
1. I Love Lucy’s, the Happiest Campground on Earth
There are three campgrounds we found in La Veta. One at Sammie’s as you pull into town, the other are cabins and campgrounds and I Love Lucy’s. Although all three are predominantly for RVs, I Love Lucy’s was above and beyond the charmer. It is not only the tree shaded spots, the clean bathrooms (with flushing! toilets), hot showers and the mini stage in the middle that has live music multiple times per week, but the friendly folks there that go out of their way to make you happy and at home. With just two nights there David and I were offered additional equipment, furniture, coffee, cookies and of course, “anything they could do to make our stay more enjoyable.” I Love Lucy’s is a La Veta attraction in and of itself.
2. Bear Lake & “Mushroom Paradise”
I have yet to find a way to avoid going to bed at sundown and waking before sunrise while camping. (I also haven’t found a way to ignore the fact that I have to pee every camping trip at 3 am either, but that is another story.) On our first night / morning there we decided as it was 430 am, and as we were awake, we should probably go and enjoy it. We drove to the recommended nearby Bear Lake.
And this is when David lost it.
A bit of background – the fervor for mushroom hunting in Catalonia (where David is from) is equivalent, if not more so, to the fury around skiing and snowboarding in Colorado. In short, they are all kinds of whack about it, and David is no exception. Every place we go that appears a bit more, humid, “mossy” and green we pull over to the side of the road, and David searches the forest for his beloved mushrooms.
Prior to 5 am on this particular Sunday morning all mushroom hunting proved mushroom-less. Then we hit the Bear Lake fungi fun-fest and they were – EVERYWHERE.
David was thrilled. Our basket, the requisite mushroom collecting equipment, formerly used for storing camping plates and utensils was now full of mushrooms, and David was, as he repeatedly kept saying in, “mushroom paradise.”
Oh, and Bear Lake? Freaking stunning as well. Reminds me of small lakes in Northern Michigan. Easy hikes around it to soak in all its beauty. The $6 day use pass for the area also can get you a campsite at the gorgeous (and high and, as such, a bit too cold for me) Bear Lake campground.
At the end of the Bear Lake Campground is a trailhead. Take the trail up until you go through a fence (about a mile and a half). Go through the fence and you will see a trail going to the right. It goes up a small-ish hill and when you get to the top there is a gorgeous view of the Spanish Peaks. (Oh and there are mushrooms all over that trail as well.)
Blue Lake, just down the road from Bear Lake, is beautiful as well, but not quite like Bear Lake. Although, apparently fishing is better in Blue Lake. You can take a short hike (less than a mile) between the two lakes if you so chose.
Prior to finding I Love Lucy’s, we were getting a bit desperate so we asked if there was any camping available at the RV park in town we found. We tried explaining to them that we sleep in the back of our Subaru and don’t actually have a tent or “camp”. The woman took one look at the stuff crammed in the back of our car, clearly did not believe this was remotely possible, and told us we couldn’t camp there because the “bears have been so active.”
David and I were ecstatic.
We have driven most of Colorado and a ton of the Western US in search of bears and the best we have ever seen is the butt of a black bear going over a guard rail at 5 am as we drove to the Bozeman, Montana airport.
Once we settled into I Love Lucy’s our neighbor told us how a bear walks near the campground every night. People in town told us, “Oh just come over our house, they are there every night.” A walk around town revealed a bear decided to pooh right next to La Veta City Hall and yet, what did we see? Not even bear butt. Maybe you will have better luck. Everyone else seems to.
4. You can check out cruiser bikes from the library
Seriously. You can. For non-residents you just need to leave a credit card or driver’s license.
5. You can buy houses with billion dollar views for $119,000
Every town we ever have go to – I look in the real estate office windows for the type and cost of houses in the area. Up until La Veta I never actually went to visit any of them until I saw a 1200-ish square foot house on 9 lots with 360 degree views of the Spanish Peaks and the surrounding areas.
When we saw it we almost bought it. I was so in love. The views from this place would bring tears to anyones eyes and it was $119k! $119K! Then, David reminded me that, buying a house three hours from where we lived was not totally realistic, so now I am hoping someone (like you for example) will buy it and I can get found-it visiting rights.
6. STUNNING Scenery
The good thing about so few people knowing about La Veta? So few people have been there to muck it up. The mountain sides are without condos, hotels or McMansions. It is simply pristine rolling greenery with the Spanish Peaks as a backdrop, and as an added bonus long rock walls/ dikes up to 17 miles in length scattered beautifully amongst the mountainside.
Can’t get enough of the scenery? Drive south on Hwy 12 (also, incidentally, the same way you get to Bear and Blue Lakes).
7. Super, Super Adorable Town
While small towns around the country and world struggle to thrive, or even, maintain. La Veta seems to have it figured out. Although it is only a few blocks long the town is complete with the La Veta Inn and 1899 Bed and Breakfast Inn (both recommended by locals as good places to stay) and the Deerprint Wine & Bistro recommended by Russell Hickey, the La Veta real estate agent who showed us the house I want you to buy.
An adorable library, two bakeries (open on opposite days so as not to compete with one another), a small market and an assortment of other shops makes the town feel like a place you really, really want to be.
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