By Sarah Sekula, published on usatoday.com // video and editing by Macbeth Studio
ESTES PARK, Colo. — Camping is commonplace in Estes Park. With crystal-clear lakes, snowcapped mountains and abundant wildlife, it’s a magnet for those who love the great outdoors. But, what if your campsite was dangling from the side of a cliff, about 100 feet off the ground? Well, that’s a whole different story.
Nevertheless, I sign up to spend the night snoozing under the stars on a portaledge, a nylon cot no bigger than the size of two sleeping bags. It’s what you call cliff camping, a 24-hour experience where you hike up to base camp, then up to the top of Deville III, a nice little perch with views of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Once there, you clip into fixed ropes and rappel down to the itty, bitty portaledge where you chow down on dinner and fall asleep (hopefully) until morning. After breakfast, you rappel back down to the ground.