In a shed in the hills above Nederland, Colorado, there is a cryogenically frozen man from Norway who has inspired an annual festival that rings in the coming spring and is appropriately called “Frozen Dead Guy Days.” Visitors to Nederland will find that it has far more to offer than just an amateur cryogenics experiment, it also is known for easy access dispersed camping sites near town, a great coffee shop, good farmer’s market, and quality grocery store.
Plus, it is a fairly easy place to access the town of Boulder, Rocky Mountain National Park, Central City, and a plethora of hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Camping near Nederland
We rolled into Nederland late in the afternoon, and upon receiving some local advice, we decided to stay at the West Magnolia trailhead campsites. It was early September, just after Labor Day, and we were able to find a spot on a Thursday night.
Access to the site was easy and there were miles of trails, most geared towards mountain bikes, that we were able to explore. There are no facilities at all at all in the area, but we were able to fill our water supply at the nearby Kelly Dahl Campground, which set itself apart from Magnolia Trails with a water spigot, pit toilets, nightly fee, and a camp host.
It wasn’t until the next morning after a delicious CBD-infused cup of coffee and selection of pastries from the New Moon Bakery and Café that we learned about the frozen dead guy. His name is Grandpa Bredo and he has 1,600 pounds of dry ice delivered weekly to his shed to keep him frozen. The festival he inspired takes place in March and features such events as coffin racing, salmon tossing, and of course, a polar plunge. His goal is to one day be revived when science has figured out a way to bring him back to life. In the meantime, he is the life of the party in Nederland.
We found an easy adventure through Golden Gate Canyon State Park where we watched some rock climbers making amazing things look easy before we swung back through Boulder for a trip to increase our blanket supply at the thrift store and a snack to hold us over before our van-made spaghetti dinner.
That night, at the encouragement of a local, we made camp high on a mountain road that we should not have been driving or camping on. The temperature at 10,000 feet dropped into the teens and our resupply of blankets was greatly appreciated, as was the amazing view of the Milky Way that looked like it would fall down and blanket the mountains at any minute.
We woke early Saturday morning to debate whether to make coffee in our outdoor kitchen amidst the cold, or to head back into town to reward New Moon Café for their superior offerings the day before. I ventured into my winter clothes and out of the slider of the van to get ready for the day when movement about 100 yards away caught my eye. From the brush next to a small stream emerged a giant set of moose paddles, followed by a giant moose face and a giant moose body.
Before I could get my wife out of the van to see what was going on, a second bull moose emerged. They showed little interest in us but were moving down the draw towards our parking spot. Before we could get close enough to cause alarm, they caught wind of us and began to move back into the hills. With an hour of daylight spent taking in the spectacle of the moose, we decided to pack up quick and head into town for coffee.
Gordan Gulch Dispersed Camping Area
Saturday is Farmer’s Market Day in Nederland and we picked up a bag of freshly roasted green chilis that we incorporated into every dish that we cooked for nearly a week. Our afternoon was spent exploring the old mining town of Eldora and hiking the lower part of the Lost Creek Trail. The aspen were just starting to find a hint of yellow in their preparation for their fall spectacle and the air was warm and sunny.
We skirted through Nederland one last time for a beer run and trip to explore the dispensary before we headed to Gordan Gulch. Access to the campsites in the gulch was a bit more difficult than Magnolia Trailhead and being a Saturday night, it was fairly full. We found a spot right next to some rock formations that provided a few hours of impromptu bouldering and scrambling before we settled in for a campfire and another star-soaked sky.
The next morning we were treated to a beautiful view of the sun rising over the foothills of the Rocky Mountains before we packed up and started the short, but beautiful drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. We left much of the area around Nederland unexplored and have left a directive for a return trip in our van adventure calendar.
Atlas Obscura also shares an inside look at the Frozen Dead Guy in their video below: