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Best of Recreation: Work that Body 

Best Camping Spot Closest to Town

Eleven Mile Canyon

To narrow this category down, we took reams of data and processed them onto a graph with an x-axis charting a compilation of various aesthetic qualities -- pristine isolation, legality, 4-wheel prerequisites, etc. -- and a y-axis delineating distance from Colorado Springs. You have to use your own formula to determine where your optimum spot on the graph may be. For example, there's a little nook beside the front faade of Kimball's movie theater where a solo person can tuck themselves away in a sleeping bag without being detected by a passing patrol car. You can't get much closer to the heart of the city, but you also can't build a fire. Elsewhere on the graph, Wetterhorn Creek is off the charts in aesthetic qualities, but (un)fortunately is equally astronomical in distance from the Springs. Dog-tired car campers have been known to take comfort at the Scenic View pull-off on I-25 South near the Air Force Academy, and if you leave your car in Manitou, arrive after dark and leave before sunrise, Garden of the Gods makes an unparalleled spot. Our own ideal closest best place is ... well, if we told you, it would plunge out of contention, losing its best quality: its anonymity. But check out the camping sites at Eleven Mile -- they're maintained by the National Forest Service, they're near a clear, rushing, trout stream, and they're less than an hour from home. (OP)

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