Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
Enganerd
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:22 pm

Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Enganerd »

My wife and I usually enjoy a trip into the Rocky Mountains in late August or early September. We live in the humid South and love the outdoor experience of hiking mountains, dry air, and camping in new scenery. We were planning on doing the same this summer but mainly just car camping vs back packing as we now have a kiddo. However, the smoke situation in Colorado has us considering traveling east instead. I have kayaked some rivers in Tennessee but never took a vacation just to camp and sight see along the Appalachian mountains. I realize the weather will not be near as cool or dry as the Rockies, but the scenery, hiking, and camping could still be fun. I realize smoke is not the end of the world but it definitely decreases visibility and I don't really like the idea of my family breathing in smoky air for a week.

We do not want to drive too far so probably would not want to visit much further North than Virginia. Not sure where the mountains are the most impressive as far as remoteness, scenery, and the most likely to not be too hot and steamy for a good night sleep outside.
User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 9306
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by whodidntante »

Lots of folks hike the Appalachian trail. Some even do the whole thing. There are several state and national parks in that area if you are looking for something a little less adventurous.
Lars_2013
Posts: 202
Joined: Sun Dec 15, 2013 2:00 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Lars_2013 »

Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:01 am We do not want to drive too far so probably would not want to visit much further North than Virginia. Not sure where the mountains are the most impressive as far as remoteness, scenery, and the most likely to not be too hot and steamy for a good night sleep outside.
The farther southwest you get in Virginia the less crowded it will be. In the mountains, the weather should be fine for sleeping outside, but then again I live in central Virginia so my standards for humidity might be skewed high. In NC, the Smokies are very wet even in a normal year, so if you don't like wet maybe don't pick them.

There's lots of options for camping, including state parks, national parks, national forests, state forests, and private campgrounds.

As I'm sure you know, the Appalachian range is fundamentally different in terms of scenery than mountains out west, with most being tree-covered with only occasional impressive rock faces.

I usually use Hiking Upwards to pick hikes because it is sortable by length and elevation change; if you scroll the map it includes hikes in NC as well as the mid-atlantic. https://www.hikingupward.com/maps/full_map.asp
Outer Marker
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:01 am

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Outer Marker »

In the DC area it’s cooled noticeably already end of August. Higher up on the skyline drive should be fine fall sleeping weather. Also lots of nice camping spots in the mountains of West Virginia. Some notably good white water rafting areas too.
ThankYouJack
Posts: 3554
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:27 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by ThankYouJack »

Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:01 am
We do not want to drive too far so probably would not want to visit much further North than Virginia. Not sure where the mountains are the most impressive as far as remoteness, scenery, and the most likely to not be too hot and steamy for a good night sleep outside.
I think the mountain scenery in NC / VA is nice but not spectacular like you can get out West. Not sure where you're driving from, but I wouldn't want to drive very long distances across multiple states for it. For example, NC and VA seem similar enough that I don't think it's worth an extra 4+ hours of driving to hike one over the other.

I think the weather in September at elevation would be fine, but some people are more sensitive to humidity than others, so it's tough to comment on that.
TallBoy29er
Posts: 1032
Joined: Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:06 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by TallBoy29er »

Depends on where you are driving from, as others have said. I've spent years near the Smokies and Appalachians. I love 'em, but they don't inspire the awe and majesty that the Rockies do to me. If you're close, go for it. If the Rockies are closer, then I would vote for them.

I am in the Elks right now in CO. It's a bit hazy, but the air quality is not bad. We still get out everyday for our runs, hikes, mountain biking. There are a decent number of folks camping here as well.

Of course, I would avoid going north of where I am (eg anywhere along the I-70 corridor as it is shut down in some places.... Glenwood, Carbondale, Breck and Frisco), and I would avoid the Grand Junction area. Those areas are hard hit with fires right now.

But there are lots of places south of there that are still quite nice (Salida, Buena Vista, Crested Butte). I am not sure how Durango is right now (except that it's hot...).
jucor
Posts: 274
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:35 am

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by jucor »

I'm not sure how far this is from you, but I'd strongly consider the Canaan Valley/Dolly sods area of West Virginia. The West Virginia highlands in that area have some of the southernmost reaches of a variety of sub-alpine flora, and the scenery is really wonderful. It is different than the rockies, but IMHO that area is one of the best in the Southeast/Mid Atlantic region. If you go explore the area -- see Seneca rocks, the small towns of Davis and Thomas, WV, the State Parks, and some of the trails in the wilderness area.

I grew up in the mid Atlantic and have hiked and camped extensively in the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Georgia -- and that area is my favorite. I also spent a decade+ in SW Colorado, and while it is different (far older mountains out east), I'd rate it as up there close in overall experience.
Townline Lake
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2017 2:09 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Townline Lake »

There are some nice state parks in North Georgia that have hiking access to sections of the Appalachian trail. I recommend Amicolola Falls (access to Springer Mountain and start of lower end of AT), Vogel with access to Blood Mountain, and Black Rock state park as some to check out.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 20955
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Watty »

Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:01 am I have kayaked some rivers in Tennessee but never took a vacation just to camp and sight see along the Appalachian mountains. I realize the weather will not be near as cool or dry as the Rockies, but the scenery, hiking, and camping could still be fun.
Wherever you go be sure to look to see if you can get campsite reservations, they may be hard to get this year especially if you have an RV.

It would be a lot different than the Rocky Mountains but the Blue Ridge parkway can be spectacular if you hit the fall colors right. You do not get the great views that you get out west but there are still lots of good trails to hike.

The fall colors would likely be more in late September or October but that might work for you if your dates are flexible. Since you live in the south you should really plan on seeing the fall colors on at least part of the Blue Ridge Parkway even if you do not do it this year.

That said the weather will vary a lot from year to year though and one year I was there when the remnants of a hurricane came through and it was very rainy and there was flooding. I ended up staying in hotels a few nights instead of camping then I bailed out of the Blue Ridge Parkway and got to an interstate within about two hours and drove in a direction where the weather was better.
User avatar
Flobes
Posts: 1376
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:40 am
Location: Home

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Flobes »

Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:01 am My wife and I usually enjoy a trip into the Rocky Mountains in late August or early September. However, the smoke situation in Colorado...
TallBoy29er wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:03 am I am in the Elks right now in CO. It's a bit hazy, but the air quality is not bad... I-70 corridor as it is shut down... But there are lots of places south of there that are still quite nice (Salida, Buena Vista, Crested Butte). I am not sure how Durango is right now...
I live in Elk Mountains of Colorado. It's been smoky and hot for weeks; even with windows closed, house smells like a campfire, and we awake with sore throat and a cough each morning.

Here's current detailing of the fires (for entire country; zoom into Colorado): Fire Incidents

And here's continuous reporting of air quality (worldwide; zoom into Colorado) PurpleAir Sensors
We've been @120: Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects if they are exposed for 24 hours. The general public is not likely to be affected. Note Salida is also @120, and Durango news has reported lots of smoke from Arizona and California.
Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:01 am I don't really like the idea of my family breathing in smoky air for a week.
Check this out for your kiddo's health: Outdoor Air Quality and Early Childhood. Your concern is warranted.

Today I-70 through Glenwood Canyon remains closed, but reportedly will be opening in days. Independence Pass and Cottonwood Pass have reopened for cars.

It's fire season, and this is sure gonna be a bad one. It's lightening season, with prevalent dry lightening across the West because it's been so very hot and dry. Campers are careless, regardless of restrictions, and that reckless behavior causes great conflagrations. Blaze breaks out, then just runs out of control, as wildfires do. Anything can happen anywhere at any time. Fire is the bane of The West.
Old Guy
Posts: 446
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:20 am

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Old Guy »

We are just now returning from Breckenridge in Summit County Colorado. The weather was great, cool evenings down to the high 50s and to the mid 70s during the day. It’s very dry and we sniffled all week. State wide burn ban. The fires brought smoggy weather on some days but there was no trouble breathing even with the county wide mask requirement. Driving to the airport this morning in Denver we saw that there was an ozone warning. Denver is having a heat wave, near 100 degree temps.
User avatar
mhc
Posts: 4196
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:18 pm
Location: NoCo

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by mhc »

I live between Denver and Cheyenne (northern colorado along front range). The smoke here has been bad every day for a couple of weeks. If you come to Colorado, look for a place with no smoke. Unless the hot dry weather changes, there may be new fires at any time. One popped up yesterday not too far from my house.

Southern Colorado may be better. Most of the fires are in the northern half of the state.
Outer Marker
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:01 am

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Outer Marker »

So, if you’re contemplating Colorado, that seems like it must be a flight if you’re not willing to drive further than Virginia. Why not fly up to Vermont? Shameless plug for my home state, but it is beautiful up there. Camping at Ricker Pond in Groton state forest can’t be beat.
User avatar
ResearchMed
Posts: 10805
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by ResearchMed »

How dreadful that there is a major fire in the gorgeous Glenwood Springs Canyon area.
(Maybe it isn't in the canyon itself??)

Driving into that from the Denver area for the first time was... absolutely breathtaking!
That included the dark green trees against the red rock.
I hope those trees are still there, and still green...

We used to go to Aspen for a conference each June/July, and one year, there was trouble in the Canyon with that river overflowing, onto the lower level of the Interstate where it is tiered/double deck. The upper west-bound direction had one lane heading each direction.
That drive is (was?) one of our favorites.

More recently (2 years ago? 3?) there were fires near the highway into Aspen (elsewhere too; there were "campfire smells" along several places of the Interstate from Denver), and they were halting flights occasionally.

We almost left early, because one could too easily imagine being trapped in that area.
Indeed, it sounds like Independence Pass had been closed?

Does anyone know if there is fire damage within the Canyon itself?
It was really difficult to realize that a major *Interstate* could be so beautiful.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.
PinZabu
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:59 am

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by PinZabu »

Currently living in Salida, CO. The smoke from the distant fires has the vis down to ten miles. If I didn’t I’ve here, would not be coming to hike and play at the moment. Good luck.
Vanguard Fan 1367
Posts: 1823
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:09 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 »

Townline Lake wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:13 am There are some nice state parks in North Georgia that have hiking access to sections of the Appalachian trail. I recommend Amicolola Falls (access to Springer Mountain and start of lower end of AT), Vogel with access to Blood Mountain, and Black Rock state park as some to check out.
I have enjoyed Amicolola falls and Springer Mountain myself. I also enjoyed my trip to Colorado and places like Monarch Pass. I found it interesting that in summer at 12,500 feet up our water froze. It will probably be reasonably cool in north Georgia but not possibly freezing like Monarch Pass.
Upton Sinclair: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
palaheel
Posts: 389
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:35 am

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by palaheel »

DS and I visited the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia for several Labor Day weekends, though this was 15 years ago, and things may have changed. Mt Rogers is the highest point in Virginia, and Pine Mountain and Stone Mountain are nearby. We never made it to the second highest peak, Whitetop, so I can't speak to that.

You didn't say if you were car camping or backpacking. We never car camped, but I think there are spots at Grayson Highlands State Park, next to MRNRA. There is also a place called The Scales (where they used to weigh cattle) around 4 miles up an abandoned railroad bed that is accessible via a 4WD vehicle. It's a nice little meadow in a corral between Pine and Stone mountains, and one can stay for free. The last time I was there, there was a privy, but you'll have to take or treat water.

For backpacking, we would leave our car in the state park backpacking lot. It's a cheap way to have a car in a locked area every night. We would pack along the AT. There is a wonderful bowl between Wilburn and Cabin ridges. There are also AT shelters--Thomas Knob and Old Orchard and one of two others that I can't remember.

You will certainly be above 4000ft at any of these places, and in the Wilburn Ridge area above 5000. It was never brutally hot, and I don't like hot camping. Around Labor Day, the wild blueberries are delicious.
Markets crash. Markets recover. Inflation takes your money FOREVER.
hudson
Posts: 3402
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 9:15 am

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by hudson »

Enganerd,

What kind of hikes do you want to do?
Will you be camping in campgrounds like the ones you find in national forests/parks? What are you thinking?
Will your child be hiking or will you be carrying him/her?
User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 6753
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Kenkat »

Along the North Carolina / Tennessee border could be a good option - Nantahala National Forest, Fontana Dam / Lake, Bryson City and the Southern half of Great Smoky Mountains National Park could be a good option to look into.
User avatar
Toons
Posts: 13829
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:20 am
Location: Hills of Tennessee

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Toons »

I live in Tennessee.
Do yourself a favor
Take a Ride From Craggy Bottom To Boone,Nc.
On the Blue Ridge Parkway,,majestic
I never tire of it,,,all summer long
The Smokies are nice but it gets crowded.
:happy


Image
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee
ThankYouJack
Posts: 3554
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:27 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by ThankYouJack »

Outer Marker wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:34 pm So, if you’re contemplating Colorado, that seems like it must be a flight if you’re not willing to drive further than Virginia. Why not fly up to Vermont? Shameless plug for my home state, but it is beautiful up there. Camping at Ricker Pond in Groton state forest can’t be beat.
I'm curious if you've been to Colorado and NC or VA? I think the Appalachians mountains are nice but they're no Rockies.
OhBoyUhoh
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:16 pm
Location: SW Ohio

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by OhBoyUhoh »

jucor wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:08 am I'm not sure how far this is from you, but I'd strongly consider the Canaan Valley/Dolly sods area of West Virginia. The West Virginia highlands in that area have some of the southernmost reaches of a variety of sub-alpine flora, and the scenery is really wonderful. It is different than the rockies, but IMHO that area is one of the best in the Southeast/Mid Atlantic region. If you go explore the area -- see Seneca rocks, the small towns of Davis and Thomas, WV, the State Parks, and some of the trails in the wilderness area.

I grew up in the mid Atlantic and have hiked and camped extensively in the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Georgia -- and that area is my favorite. I also spent a decade+ in SW Colorado, and while it is different (far older mountains out east), I'd rate it as up there close in overall experience.
Nice review!
atikovi
Posts: 1020
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:20 pm
Location: Suburban Washington DC

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by atikovi »

Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:01 amWe do not want to drive too far so probably would not want to visit much further North than Virginia. Not sure where the mountains are the most impressive as far as remoteness, scenery, and the most likely to not be too hot and steamy for a good night sleep outside.
If you visit the higher elevations of NC and VA, mile high and up, it probably won't get out of the 60's during the day and could drop into the 30's at night in early September. Heck, it was in the upper 80's in DC today and it says Mt Rogers VA high was 69 and low was 52. https://blog.virginia.org/2014/10/peaks/
Topic Author
Enganerd
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:22 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Enganerd »

Thanks for the replies and suggestions!

We are well aware that the Appalachians are nothing like the Rockies. We are just ready to get out of our home area and enjoy something different while taking some time off work. We love back packing but that is not the option as our kid is not quite 1 yet and Mom doesn't like the idea of staying far out in the back country. But just enjoying time in a state park with beautiful scenery would be delightful. Throw in a a few scenic outlooks or a beautiful river or two and we would be happy.

I just don't like the idea of driving 13ish hours to spend a week in the outdoors if we will actually be breathing smoke vs fresh mountain air. We are closer to Georgia and Tennessee but could drive further North for better weather. I'm just was looking for some tips for remote accessible areas for car camping. No RV, just a SUV with a nice tent. Really just want a few nice campgrounds with good trails and weather.

Appalachian Trail is a rather long stretch so I had no idea where to start on thinking about possible vacation spots.
Topic Author
Enganerd
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:22 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Enganerd »

jucor wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:08 am I'm not sure how far this is from you, but I'd strongly consider the Canaan Valley/Dolly sods area of West Virginia. The West Virginia highlands in that area have some of the southernmost reaches of a variety of sub-alpine flora, and the scenery is really wonderful. It is different than the rockies, but IMHO that area is one of the best in the Southeast/Mid Atlantic region. If you go explore the area -- see Seneca rocks, the small towns of Davis and Thomas, WV, the State Parks, and some of the trails in the wilderness area.

I grew up in the mid Atlantic and have hiked and camped extensively in the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Georgia -- and that area is my favorite. I also spent a decade+ in SW Colorado, and while it is different (far older mountains out east), I'd rate it as up there close in overall experience.
Thanks for the suggestion! This is exactly the type of info I was hoping for! I will check it out!
Topic Author
Enganerd
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:22 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Enganerd »

Flobes wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:23 am
Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:01 am I don't really like the idea of my family breathing in smoky air for a week.
Check this out for your kiddo's health: Outdoor Air Quality and Early Childhood. Your concern is warranted.

Today I-70 through Glenwood Canyon remains closed, but reportedly will be opening in days. Independence Pass and Cottonwood Pass have reopened for cars.

It's fire season, and this is sure gonna be a bad one. It's lightening season, with prevalent dry lightening across the West because it's been so very hot and dry. Campers are careless, regardless of restrictions, and that reckless behavior causes great conflagrations. Blaze breaks out, then just runs out of control, as wildfires do. Anything can happen anywhere at any time. Fire is the bane of The West.
I am aware of research showing a correlation of low IQ and air pollution. I always suspected a lot of that was less affluent people tend to live in areas of higher air pollution and there are numerous factors that could possible show cause for lower child IQ. But just the idea of travelling to relax and recharge in the outdoors but possibly be damaging our health is not worth it. Thanks for the link.
Topic Author
Enganerd
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:22 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Enganerd »

palaheel wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:22 pm DS and I visited the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia for several Labor Day weekends, though this was 15 years ago, and things may have changed. Mt Rogers is the highest point in Virginia, and Pine Mountain and Stone Mountain are nearby. We never made it to the second highest peak, Whitetop, so I can't speak to that.

You didn't say if you were car camping or backpacking. We never car camped, but I think there are spots at Grayson Highlands State Park, next to MRNRA. There is also a place called The Scales (where they used to weigh cattle) around 4 miles up an abandoned railroad bed that is accessible via a 4WD vehicle. It's a nice little meadow in a corral between Pine and Stone mountains, and one can stay for free. The last time I was there, there was a privy, but you'll have to take or treat water.

For backpacking, we would leave our car in the state park backpacking lot. It's a cheap way to have a car in a locked area every night. We would pack along the AT. There is a wonderful bowl between Wilburn and Cabin ridges. There are also AT shelters--Thomas Knob and Old Orchard and one of two others that I can't remember.

You will certainly be above 4000ft at any of these places, and in the Wilburn Ridge area above 5000. It was never brutally hot, and I don't like hot camping. Around Labor Day, the wild blueberries are delicious.
We will be car camping. I have a backpack for my son but we don't plan on spending many if any nights in the back country. Would like less busy sites but accessible with cross over SUV ground clearance. Might not be possible, but would be ideal.

Will look into Mount Rogers area.
HawkeyePierce
Posts: 1594
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:29 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by HawkeyePierce »

ResearchMed wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:03 pm How dreadful that there is a major fire in the gorgeous Glenwood Springs Canyon area.
(Maybe it isn't in the canyon itself??)

Driving into that from the Denver area for the first time was... absolutely breathtaking!
That included the dark green trees against the red rock.
I hope those trees are still there, and still green...

We used to go to Aspen for a conference each June/July, and one year, there was trouble in the Canyon with that river overflowing, onto the lower level of the Interstate where it is tiered/double deck. The upper west-bound direction had one lane heading each direction.
That drive is (was?) one of our favorites.

More recently (2 years ago? 3?) there were fires near the highway into Aspen (elsewhere too; there were "campfire smells" along several places of the Interstate from Denver), and they were halting flights occasionally.

We almost left early, because one could too easily imagine being trapped in that area.
Indeed, it sounds like Independence Pass had been closed?

Does anyone know if there is fire damage within the Canyon itself?
It was really difficult to realize that a major *Interstate* could be so beautiful.

RM
The canyon burned. CDOT called the damage "apocalyptic".

Image

Seriously, don't come here. Earlier this evening, visibility along the Front Range was abysmal. From Boulder you can't even see the mountains just a few miles away.

I-70 has now been closed for two weeks and there really isn't another east-west route across the state, so traffic along any plausible alternate is awful.
User avatar
ResearchMed
Posts: 10805
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by ResearchMed »

HawkeyePierce wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:16 pm
ResearchMed wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:03 pm How dreadful that there is a major fire in the gorgeous Glenwood Springs Canyon area.
(Maybe it isn't in the canyon itself??)

Driving into that from the Denver area for the first time was... absolutely breathtaking!
That included the dark green trees against the red rock.
I hope those trees are still there, and still green...

We used to go to Aspen for a conference each June/July, and one year, there was trouble in the Canyon with that river overflowing, onto the lower level of the Interstate where it is tiered/double deck. The upper west-bound direction had one lane heading each direction.
That drive is (was?) one of our favorites.

More recently (2 years ago? 3?) there were fires near the highway into Aspen (elsewhere too; there were "campfire smells" along several places of the Interstate from Denver), and they were halting flights occasionally.

We almost left early, because one could too easily imagine being trapped in that area.
Indeed, it sounds like Independence Pass had been closed?

Does anyone know if there is fire damage within the Canyon itself?
It was really difficult to realize that a major *Interstate* could be so beautiful.

RM
The canyon burned. CDOT called the damage "apocalyptic".

Image

Seriously, don't come here. Earlier this evening, visibility along the Front Range was abysmal. From Boulder you can't even see the mountains just a few miles away.
Oh nooooooo!

DH had just asked if I was sure the Canyon itself was affected.

INSERT HUGE UNHAPPY EMOTICON HERE!

Thanks (I guess...).

ETA: Just starting to comprehend this... and thinking of massive mudslides in the future...
Unbelievable.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.
tnr
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:36 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by tnr »

I think anywhere in the S. Appalachians from the Great Smokies up through SW Virginia is beautiful. There are plenty of state parks in TN and NC that would not likely be crowded in Sept. The mountains south of the Great Smokies are also nice but a little more remote and at a lower elevation so it will be warmer and more humid there.
User avatar
Flobes
Posts: 1376
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:40 am
Location: Home

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Flobes »

Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:15 pm
Flobes wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:23 am
Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:01 am I don't really like the idea of my family breathing in smoky air for a week.
Check this out for your kiddo's health: Outdoor Air Quality and Early Childhood. Your concern is warranted.
Thanks for the link.

You're welcome. Suggestion that smoke haze is not an air quality or health concern is reckless, so I felt compelled to post.

Enjoy the magnificent scenery in the lush Appalachians. The Rockies await your family another year.

ResearchMed wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:20 pm Does anyone know if there is fire damage within the Canyon itself?

Oh nooooooo! Just starting to comprehend this... and thinking of massive mudslides in the future... Unbelievable.
There has already been fire-related rockfall on I70, but so far damage is "cosmetic" and not structural. One can only imagine what boulders will come tumbling down once the freeze-thaw cycles begin in the months ahead.

Video released by officials is hopeful in tone and imagery:
Tour of the fire area in Glenwood Canyon

HawkeyePierce wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:16 pm I-70 has now been closed for two weeks and there really isn't another east-west route across the state, so traffic along any plausible alternate is awful.
Roads are now open: I70 had a "limited reopening" this morning, Independence Pass is open with traffic controls for passenger cars only, Cottonwood Pass is open for passenger cars. This should alleviate traffic congestion on US 40 and US 50, the other east-west routes across the state, that have been clogged with long-haul truck traffic. Amtrak service has also resumed.

For we who live here, we eagerly await our grocery shelves being restocked and timely deliveries of Amazon stuff on our porches. Forecast suggests a week of scattered thunderstorms aka firestarters. As infernos rage across the entire West and significant smoke flies aloft, when air will be happily breathable might just have to wait for first snowfall; it's that kind of a year.
User avatar
telemark
Posts: 2766
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:35 am

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by telemark »

Flobes wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:23 am And here's continuous reporting of air quality (worldwide; zoom into Colorado) PurpleAir Sensors
What an amazing resource! Thanks for posting that. I've been relying on AirNow.gov, but they always run an hour or more behind and seem to be using fewer sensors.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 20955
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Watty »

I just happened to see this website which maps the smoke around the US. It takes a while to load then I had to zoom out.

https://fire.airnow.gov/?lat=44.6442311 ... 76&zoom=10
User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 5317
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by lthenderson »

Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:07 pm I just don't like the idea of driving 13ish hours to spend a week in the outdoors if we will actually be breathing smoke vs fresh mountain air. We are closer to Georgia and Tennessee but could drive further North for better weather. I'm just was looking for some tips for remote accessible areas for car camping. No RV, just a SUV with a nice tent. Really just want a few nice campgrounds with good trails and weather.

Appalachian Trail is a rather long stretch so I had no idea where to start on thinking about possible vacation spots.
Have you checked out the Boston mountain range of NW Arkansas or more specifically the Buffalo River National Park corridor? Much closer, extremely scenic and conducive to car camping and day trips though there are trails that can take upwards of a week to complete.

The Appalachian Trail is closed this year due to Covid, or at least most of the park shelters, support systems, outhouses, etc. I would check the area you are heading for more specifics.
bf0123
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:50 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by bf0123 »

Just wanted to give a thanks to Jucor on his Canaan Valley suggestion. We were in area for 24 hours and went on a beautiful kayak trip down the Monongahela River near Thomas yesterday. Stunning views....the water is too low for much white water right now but a smooth sail otherwise. I'd also recommend Coopers Rock State Park if closer to Morgantown and WVU. Caves, rock climbing, and spectacular views there too.
Topic Author
Enganerd
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:22 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Enganerd »

Watty wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 3:13 pm I just happened to see this website which maps the smoke around the US. It takes a while to load then I had to zoom out.

https://fire.airnow.gov/?lat=44.6442311 ... 76&zoom=10
That is a site that I have been using. I had all but decided to avoid CO and now there is more smoke from the fires in the Appalachians than in CO. Probably likely in part to the tropical storms but still that is crazy. After reading CO residents perspective and the fact that the fires are in CO I figured it would be a no brainer that area would have the worst air quality due to the fire.

So now I am once again on the fence...
Topic Author
Enganerd
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:22 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Enganerd »

lthenderson wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 5:31 pm
Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:07 pm I just don't like the idea of driving 13ish hours to spend a week in the outdoors if we will actually be breathing smoke vs fresh mountain air. We are closer to Georgia and Tennessee but could drive further North for better weather. I'm just was looking for some tips for remote accessible areas for car camping. No RV, just a SUV with a nice tent. Really just want a few nice campgrounds with good trails and weather.

Appalachian Trail is a rather long stretch so I had no idea where to start on thinking about possible vacation spots.
Have you checked out the Boston mountain range of NW Arkansas or more specifically the Buffalo River National Park corridor? Much closer, extremely scenic and conducive to car camping and day trips though there are trails that can take upwards of a week to complete.

The Appalachian Trail is closed this year due to Covid, or at least most of the park shelters, support systems, outhouses, etc. I would check the area you are heading for more specifics.
We have been to the Buffalo River multiple times. Love it. It is too close to scratch the wanderlust of wanting to travel and experience new terrain. Also I would rather canoe and camp along the river with slightly lower night time temps than early September. But thanks for the great suggestion.
User avatar
Nicolas
Posts: 2376
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:41 am
Contact:

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Nicolas »

We had a good time camping at Smokey Mountains National Park last year in Tennessee, only bad thing was — no showers!
User avatar
Random Musings
Posts: 5840
Joined: Thu Feb 22, 2007 4:24 pm
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Random Musings »

Even though the Smokies are busy in summer and fall, we found a few things that helped avoid most of the crowds.

First, we start our visit on Monday and leave by Friday around lunch. Weekends are just too busy there.

Second, we hit the most popular attractions and hikes either early in the day or late in the day. Cade's Cove early before the traffic jams.

Finally, during the peak hours, we hike the quieter trails. Frankly, once you get about 1/2 mile down those trailheads, you will see people now and then, but mostly you have the park and you.

You are not going to avoid people at GSNP, but it is far more manageable.

National Forests are a better option if you want more solitude.

RM
I figure the odds be fifty-fifty I just might have something to say. FZ
Topic Author
Enganerd
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:22 pm

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Enganerd »

mhc wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 1:13 pm I live between Denver and Cheyenne (northern colorado along front range). The smoke here has been bad every day for a couple of weeks. If you come to Colorado, look for a place with no smoke. Unless the hot dry weather changes, there may be new fires at any time. One popped up yesterday not too far from my house.

Southern Colorado may be better. Most of the fires are in the northern half of the state.
PinZabu wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:05 pm Currently living in Salida, CO. The smoke from the distant fires has the vis down to ten miles. If I didn’t I’ve here, would not be coming to hike and play at the moment. Good luck.
The fire and smoke map and purpleair air quality maps both look better than they did last week. As do the RMNP webcams. Would like the perspective of CO residents. Are things less smoky/hazy?
cleosdad
Posts: 263
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:32 am
Location: Littleton Co

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by cleosdad »

Enganerd wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 7:05 pm
mhc wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 1:13 pm I live between Denver and Cheyenne (northern colorado along front range). The smoke here has been bad every day for a couple of weeks. If you come to Colorado, look for a place with no smoke. Unless the hot dry weather changes, there may be new fires at any time. One popped up yesterday not too far from my house.

Southern Colorado may be better. Most of the fires are in the northern half of the state.
PinZabu wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:05 pm Currently living in Salida, CO. The smoke from the distant fires has the vis down to ten miles. If I didn’t I’ve here, would not be coming to hike and play at the moment. Good luck.
The fire and smoke map and purpleair air quality maps both look better than they did last week. As do the RMNP webcams. Would like the perspective of CO residents. Are things less smoky/hazy?
Yes they are. I live in Littleton/front range and hike every day. It has also cooled off.
HawkeyePierce
Posts: 1594
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:29 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by HawkeyePierce »

Indeed, the conditions along the Front Range are far better the last few days.
User avatar
mhc
Posts: 4196
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:18 pm
Location: NoCo

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by mhc »

Enganerd wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 7:05 pm
mhc wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 1:13 pm I live between Denver and Cheyenne (northern colorado along front range). The smoke here has been bad every day for a couple of weeks. If you come to Colorado, look for a place with no smoke. Unless the hot dry weather changes, there may be new fires at any time. One popped up yesterday not too far from my house.

Southern Colorado may be better. Most of the fires are in the northern half of the state.
PinZabu wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:05 pm Currently living in Salida, CO. The smoke from the distant fires has the vis down to ten miles. If I didn’t I’ve here, would not be coming to hike and play at the moment. Good luck.
The fire and smoke map and purpleair air quality maps both look better than they did last week. As do the RMNP webcams. Would like the perspective of CO residents. Are things less smoky/hazy?
My area has been much better the last few days. It is also beginning to cool down. 48F this morning. The Cameron Peak fire is 1 mile from the NW corner of RMNP. I don't know how it is in the park. If you go to RMNP, remember to get your reservation.
User avatar
Flobes
Posts: 1376
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:40 am
Location: Home

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by Flobes »

Enganerd wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 7:05 pm The fire and smoke map and purpleair air quality maps both look better than they did last week. As do the RMNP webcams. Would like the perspective of CO residents. Are things less smoky/hazy?
Things are indeed much less smoky, less hazy, less aromatic. We had some bits of rain for three days, and it washed that smoke right out of the air. Temperature got cooler, and wind has been mellow.

But... you're asking about the smoke without asking about the fires.

The smoke is caused by fires. And all the fires are still burning. None are contained. And containment merely means the perimeter is secured, not that the fire is out. Everything inside those lines will keep on burning, until there's no more fuel or ample snow falls upon it.

Where flames flare and how they spread is totally unpredictable, as is how much smoke may fill our skies. Ditto emerging new fires.

We got a 911 Emergency email this morning: "A Red Flag Warning means warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger."

If RMNP is your destination, check the Cameron Peak Fire: Started 8/13, there are 800+ mighty professionals fighting it, and is at 0% containment.. Google "Cameron Peak Fire" yields message "SOS Alert • Rocky Mountain National Park" at top of page. Incident status: "The fire will continue to spread... toward Rocky Mtn National Park." Official Facebook page "RMNP also has closures in effect."

PS Just now, as I was proofreading this, came a new email, "I-70 is closed at mile-marker 81 EB, Rulison Exit between Parachute and Rifle, due to a fire."
hightower
Posts: 823
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2016 2:28 am

Re: Early September Hiking/Camping Vacation. Risk smoky conditions of CO or heat and humidity of Appalachian Mountains?

Post by hightower »

Enganerd wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:01 am My wife and I usually enjoy a trip into the Rocky Mountains in late August or early September. We live in the humid South and love the outdoor experience of hiking mountains, dry air, and camping in new scenery. We were planning on doing the same this summer but mainly just car camping vs back packing as we now have a kiddo. However, the smoke situation in Colorado has us considering traveling east instead. I have kayaked some rivers in Tennessee but never took a vacation just to camp and sight see along the Appalachian mountains. I realize the weather will not be near as cool or dry as the Rockies, but the scenery, hiking, and camping could still be fun. I realize smoke is not the end of the world but it definitely decreases visibility and I don't really like the idea of my family breathing in smoky air for a week.

We do not want to drive too far so probably would not want to visit much further North than Virginia. Not sure where the mountains are the most impressive as far as remoteness, scenery, and the most likely to not be too hot and steamy for a good night sleep outside.
Personally I've never been much impressed with anything east of the Miss. I've been out West many times during fire season and even once in Glacier NP when there was quite bad smoke problems and it still ended up being an amazing experience. Didn't bother us one bit and there were days that were clear and others that were not. I would go to Colorado in a heart beat over the east coast areas even with smoke.
Post Reply