Reviewed by Guest on July 18, 2010
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We camped at McCrystal Creek on July 8 and 9, 2010. The roads in from either Cimarron (east) or Costilla (west) are your basic gravel-on-washboard, 20-mph forest service roads, although some of the high-elevation road from the western side is a bit better. We got one of the three campsites that looks out on a pleasant meadow, with the creek at the bottom, a treed mesa across the way, and some rocky peaks in the distance. The other campsites are wooded, without much view. A few campsites were occupied on our first night. More were taken on the next night (a Friday) but perhaps two-thirds stayed unoccupied. There were corrals for many campsites and there were a number of horses there. Standard vault toilets, no water.
Widespread red penstemons attracted chirring hummingbirds, but there weren't many other birds. Lots of chipmunks. The other wildlife of note was a large bear that spent most of our first night in the rain pulling apart the bear-safe trash receptacles about two campsites away, with continual loud clanging. The host wired the receptacles closed the next day, and we did not hear the bear that night. We kept our tent food-free and odor-free, with our cooler and food covered in the car, and were not eaten.
A short interpretive hike across the road to the Ring family homestead was informative and interesting, but we were disappointed in the campground's signature hike, a several-mile trail to the collapsing McCrystal cabin. The trail rose gently through an undistinguished forest and a pretty meadow, but the mountain views were distant and there were lots of cattle around, including some bulls who were not so happy to share their territory. We got more enjoyment from a dayhike along the Comanche Creek while driving out to the west. Didn't see an elk the whole time in Valle Vidal, although, when driving in from the east, there was a lone bison among the cows visible beside the road.
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