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Discussion Starter #1
I am taking the family on a tent camping trip to Colorado, where there is a risk of black bears and mountain lions. For protection against both four and two legged aggressors, would I have a ballistic advantage with a 357Sig or a .45? I’m accurate and comfortable with both. Thank you for your replies.
 

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.357 Sig has greater velocity and muzzle energy - .45 and bears do not usually go together well.
 

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In every woods situation other than mine with Grizzly bear I carry my S&W model 10 with 158 grain +P hardcast semi wadcutters. You don't need anything more for Black bear, Wolves or Cougar. Capacity is irrelevant and more power is just not needed at all.
This is one of those topics that goes south way beyond reality really quick and usually from folks with no real woods experience. Your chances of needing protection from wildlife are hundreds of times smaller than your chances of needing protection from people.
Learn the wildlife and their habits and your much better off than carrying more gun.
If given a choice between a 454 Casull or a can of bear spray and my woods knowledge I would take the second choice every time.
Enjoy yourself and don't over think the protection issue.
 

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Statistically speaking you will see no difference between the two so carry whichever you prefer the most.
Colorado is great, enjoy your time there.

Esse quam videri
 

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OP- Where are you going? (PM OK)

I have 40 years of general Colorado camping experience and direct expertice with our bear and cat population based on my family's foothills home.

I definitely would pick-up a can of bear spray (~$40). They a not a bad thing to have, but I would purchase at your local area, if possible, as stocks out here have been depleted.

I would be comfortable with either sidearm, definitely biased towards heavier for caliber projectiles with deeper penetration. With .45 auto, I generally carry 230 gr FMJ (RN or FP) or Hornady 230 gr XTP +P. When I had a .357 Sig, I usually carried 125 gr FMJ or Hornady 147 gr XTP.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
OP- Where are you going? (PM OK)

I have 40 years of general Colorado camping experience and direct expertice with our bear and cat population based on my family's foothills home.

I definitely would pick-up a can of bear spray (~$40). They a not a bad thing to have, but I would purchase at your local area, if possible, as stocks out here have been depleted.

I would be comfortable with either sidearm, definitely biased towards heavier for caliber projectiles with deeper penetration. With .45 auto, I generally carry 230 gr FMJ (RN or FP) or Hornady 230 gr XTP +P. When I had a .357 Sig, I usually carried 125 gr FMJ or Hornady 147 gr XTP.
We will be exploring the RM National Park.


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We will be exploring the RM National Park.
OK. We are just about 20 miles SE of Longs Peak and west of Boulder a bit.

Nothing this year so far has indicated a continuing deviation in the normal behavior of our four-legged neighbors. During the height of the shutdown, there was more animal incursion into communities than normal, but that has passed.

Main rules:

Keep food and smelly stuff out of your tent, and store them overnight in your vehicle (if car camping) or in a bear proof container (if backpacking).

You said "family", so don't let small children wander out of eyesight, especially at dusk/nightime.

Gun stuff:

Since the CARD Act, the gun situation in RMNP has gotten better, but needs to be monitored to remain lawful, understanding the no guns are ever permitted in park buildings (like visitors centers).

Do you have a CCW permit, and is that permit honored in CO?

I OC only on the back trails, and not in the tourist clusters, but I have CO permit, so life is easy.

Other:

How is your fitness? People who live in the 0-1000 ft elevation zone (most of the country's population) can have real problems when they come to the elevation of RMNP (7,500 to 14,000 feet), especially if they are a bit "heavy" and their typical exercise regimen is walking from the AC in their Suburban to the AC in Walmart or Cabelas, plus loading their bass boat onto a trailer.
 

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I have an Iowa resident permit, so should be good to go in CO.
Since this is a family trip (kids are 3&5) we are sticking to established campgrounds.

I hear what you are saying about the altitude. We are definitely going to take it easy the first few days, and the hikes we do later in the week should only be a few hours in duration.

We just need to get the heck out of Iowa for a week to escape for a while. We haven’t gone further than the local stores since March, and we are going stir crazy. Colorado has been on our bucket list for a while, the last time I went was 20 years ago when I went backpacking in the Rockies with my Scout troop.


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I have an Iowa resident permit, so should be good to go in CO.
Since this is a family trip (kids are 3&5) we are sticking to established campgrounds.

I hear what you are saying about the altitude. We are definitely going to take it easy the first few days, and the hikes we do later in the week should only be a few hours in duration.

We just need to get the heck out of Iowa for a week to escape for a while. We haven’t gone further than the local stores since March, and we are going stir crazy. Colorado has been on our bucket list for a while, the last time I went was 20 years ago when I went backpacking in the Rockies with my Scout troop.


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You should be fine. The Rangers do a good job of wildlife management at the campgrounds and popular trails. Make sure to follow signs and warnings.

I addition to the normal sights, I strongly recommend visiting the alluvial fan from the Long Lake Dam failure in 1982- a very cool location to explore: Lawn Lake Dam Failure and, of course, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.
 

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Frankly, I'd be more concerned about two-legged predators than 4 legged ones. The Colorado of today is absolutely nothing like the Colorado I was stationed in during 1975-76.
 

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Frankly, I'd be more concerned about two-legged predators than 4 legged ones. The Colorado of today is absolutely nothing like the Colorado I was stationed in during 1975-76.
My family has been in Boulder and Boulder County since 1954. We have seen it all. Luckily, at least you can now legally carry a concealed weapon to defend yourself and family. My father didn't even own a functioning handgun until the late 80's, right when I became a teen and my shooting interest exploded.

OP- Let me know if you have any questions about anything.
 

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My family has been in Boulder and Boulder County since 1954. We have seen it all. Luckily, at least you can now legally carry a concealed weapon to defend yourself and family. My father didn't even own a functioning handgun until the late 80's, right when I became a teen and my shooting interest exploded.

OP- Let me know if you have any questions about anything.
Thank you. We are definitely looking for area suggestions for family friendly sights like you mentioned.


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You run a greater risk from the Elk in the park. Also, expect to suck wind and I do mean literally. Drink lots of water. The headaches will pass in a few days.
 

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I live here, too, 10 mi south of Boulder. I hunt elk and do cabin maintenance on my friend's cabin up by Craig. Flatlanders don't understand the real value of water, balanced meals, and pacing yourselves. I live at 5550' of altitude and Webly is probably higher. My friend's cabin is at 8500-8600' and even I do the huffin' and puffin' thing every October.

Anyway, Colorado is very beautiful. The blue skies can take your breath away with their clarity. The wildlife is varied and abundant. The pine trees and the quakies standing tall on the hillsides, the clouds forming stout formations that threaten a deluge or small, almost wispy clouds drifting and dancing their way eastward as they most often do. At night, the brilliance and detail of the galaxy and the constellations can be so easily seen after living in places of light pollution that block His glory in the stars. You don't have to believe in the Creator to be touched in your spirit by the physical beauty of Colorado. I actually remember visiting Estes Park when I was about four years old. I'm 67 now. Take some pictures and some video to show the kids to remind them that they once visited one of the most beautiful places in America.

This is a great place to visit. I've lived here, for the most part, since July 7, 1977. I haven't seen nearly enough of it. In a couple or three weeks, we're moving out of Colorado and I'll certainly miss the glory and majesty of this place.

Enjoy your visit here!
 

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I forgot to mention the storms. Get off the peaks by early afternoon. Not joking about this. Get below tree line.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Fantastic information, all, thank you very much.


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Pushing 70 years now with 55-plus spent in Colorado. I have dealt with every kind of wildlife up close and personal over the years, from porcupines and rattlesnakes to bears and lions, with a few obnoxious elk added in and an inquisitively goofy moose nosing around.

Good camp maintenance is mandatory. All foodstuffs need to be secured and kept out of harms way. Police up after every meal, leave nothing to attract the critters. Even empty bottles and soda cans will attract bears and other unwanted guests. I like to keep all the trash bags hoisted up in the trees at least 20 yards away from the camp. Keep the cooking pots and utensils cleaned and stowed away.

Over the past 20 years I have been using LED light strings around the camp at night, powered by a 12V deep cycle battery with a couple of solar panels for daily charging. This also allows me to keep cell phones charged, etc. Most critters will avoid lighted areas.

Weapons can be problematic in the National Park areas. Make sure you understand the restrictions for the areas you will be staying. I keep a 12-gauge pump shotgun handy 24/7. My usual carry piece is a .45ACP, and I like to have a .22 revolver anytime I'm in the woods. But I hold a Colorado concealed handgun permit and I have a retirement badge and ID that usually eliminates most questions. National Park rangers and police are not your regular neighborhood cops, and the rules can be a minefield. Bear spray should be standard equipment for everyone, every day, without questions or excuses.

As others have pointed out, I would be far more concerned about 2-legged predators than anything on 4 legs in the Colorado high country. Bears and cats will go far out of their way to avoid you if they have the slightest chance of doing so, so avoiding stupid behavior usually all that is required..
 

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I’m here in the Front Range area also. Great advice from everyone, you should have a great time! Check to see- I have read that you need reservations for timed entry into RMNP. May mot be a big deal but planning ahead might be best. Lots of good camping in Roosevelt National forest. Enjoy!
 
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