Ouray Colorado’s unwelcome guests

Before we started RV’ing, we had never heard of the majority of the places we have ended up visiting, including Ouray (pronounced either YOU-Ray, or You-RAY) Colorado. Mike’s Mom’s neighbor mentioned Ouray as a great place to visit so we added it to our list, and we’re glad we did.

Ouray is a small town known as the “Switzerland of America” since it’s nestled within a valley surrounded by tall mountains on 3.5 sides. While it was originally founded as a mining town (with more than 30 active mines during the height of mining), it’s now primarily a tourist town centered on 4-wheel driving trails, hiking, and biking. The views are truly outstanding and we enjoyed Ouray enough that we extended our stay an extra week.

When we first arrived, we stayed at Ridgway State Park, just outside of Ouray. While we really prefer public parks over commercial RV parks, this one ended up as the exception to the case. The site we chose was a wee bit short and very sloped downward toward the front, so when we finished backing in, the rear end of Rover hung close to the ground over the grassy area of our site. Unfortunately Ridgway was suffering from a major mouse infestation this year and they ended up entering Rover!

Our back-in site at Ridgway State Park.

Our back-in site at Ridgway State Park.

Apparently most Class A motorhomes have a huge space between the rear wall of the “house” and the fiberglass end cap, and we think the mice were able to access our ceiling by climbing in that space and going straight up. We woke up to scurrying and gnawing noises inside our roof and that’s when the war began.

Rover's back wall (the silver insulation) and fiberglass end cap.

Rover’s back wall (the silver insulation) and fiberglass end cap.

Our roof is made up of a fiberglass top, plywood (luan), styrofoam insulation, another layer of plywood, then the interior ceiling. The styrofoam insulation has four long channels from front to back where the wires are laid out for lights, TVs, and various other electronics. The mice were able to use those channels to traverse the ceiling. Unfortunately we found no way for us to access those channels in the ceiling to place traps or repellents. A couple days later, some mice were able to follow some of the wiring or pipes to the ground level behind the cabinets. Each night we could hear more mice moving through the ceiling and cabinets. We obviously didn’t get much sleep since we were so tense listening for the scurrying.

Our ceiling being assembled back in 2014.

Our ceiling being assembled back in 2014.

First step was to stop the continuous invasion of mice. Since there was no way to block off the entrance to the rear cap, we talked to our camp hosts and the front desk about moving sites. The two sets of camp hosts and ranger were very matter-of-fact about it. “Oh yes, if you’re here for more than a couple of days, you’ll get mice in your RV”, “Oh, we’ve caught about 30 mice so far”, “We catch a mice every couple of days in our RV”. UGH! They found us a pull-through site where Rover would be completely on asphalt and further away from the grass. We hoped this would at least stop new mice from entering while we tried to kill or repel the mice currently taking up residence in Rover.

Second step was to kill those that had moved in. We stopped at the local hardware store and picked up glue traps, snap traps, bait stations, and Fresh Cab (a rodent repellent). I wasn’t messing around, I was determined to get rid of these things; I would be victorious! Besides, mice need to chew on everything to keep their teeth short and we’ve heard horror stories about wires, insulation, and wood being damaged. We didn’t want to become one of those stories.

Someone's been inside our cabinets!

Someone’s been inside our cabinets!

We unscrewed everything we could to find places for the traps: behind the kitchen cabinets, under the toilet in the 1/2 bath, under the shower (where we found nesting material – shredded toilet paper, hair, carpet fibers, styrofoam), under the back bathroom sink, and by the driver’s seat. We even unscrewed the tv cabinet in the bedroom and accessed a small area of the ceiling to place a trap.

Our first night, we caught three mice, and within the next week, we caught two more. One escaped a glue trap, but we saw it had gnawed its way outside next to the toilet pipes. I stuff the hole with steel wool and used expanding foam to block that area off.

One mouse definitely followed this black sewer pipe from the basement to the bathroom.

One mouse definitely followed this black sewer pipe from the basement to the bathroom.

Third step was to try to repel any new ones from entering. While many folks swear by dryer sheets and peppermint, I figured I’d try something more official and bought Fresh Cab. They are “tea-bag” style of natural non-toxic scents that you place in areas to repel mice from entering. I don’t know how well they work, but I was willing to try it and plenty of people recommended it. I taped four Fresh Cab bags inside the rear cap to deter any new rodents from entering there, taped one by the wet bay pipes, one by the fresh water tank where our pipes entered the bathroom, and placed one under our bed where we store the dog food and various other dry foods.

I don’t know how well Fresh Cab worked since too many variables changed. I do know that we haven’t heard, seen, or caught anymore mice since we’ve left Ridgway State Park. I continued to keep the traps out in case there were a few still skulking about but after 3 weeks with no signs of mice, I’m finally comfortable with the thought that we are mice-free.

We seemed to have hit a string of bad luck since San Diego. I’m hoping this was the finale and things will start moving smoothly again!

8 Comments

  1. Julie Bennett   •  

    Oh nooooooo! That would have been awful and really had an impact on your stay! Is it just Ouray or that RV park, do you know? So glad you caught them. We suspect one mouse got into our RV in Colorado in the summer (Denver area) as we found some pancake mix stored in the basement with holes chewed into the (new) bag, also a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom that looked very much like yours! But we haven’t seen or heard of any since then – we think it just went away as we didn’t try any repellants. We’ve laid a few traps but caught none so think it/they maybe went back to tell their friends and in the meantime we packed up and moved! Hope so anyway. Sure hope your luck improves – where are you guys off to next?

    • Kat   •     Author

      It was definitely just Ridgway State Park. One of the camp hosts stated they’ve done this for 9 years and this is the first year they got mice in the RV from the park. Isn’t it awful when you know you have a critter in the house but just can’t find it? I’m glad your mouse went away. The thought of your mouse running to his friends to tell them about a great new spot, only to find it missing puts a smile on my face. We’re in Colorado until the end of Sept, then back to VA to visit with family and friends for Thanksgiving.

  2. Ray   •  

    I have had good luck with a headlight strobe, just put it underneath the bottom of the rear cap drives the mice away I leave it going all night. safe travels..

    • Kat   •     Author

      Now that sounds like an intriguing idea! Is the strobe battery-operated? I think I may have to put that in my arsenal the next time we think we’re getting mice in the rear cap. Thanks for the advice, that’s awesome!

  3. Steven Lowe   •  

    Wow, sorry to hear about the invasion. You obviously didn’t mickey-mouse around getting that problem solved! I was at that campground almost exactly a year ago and must have gotten lucky. Here’s to hoping your upcoming travels go more smoothly.

    Take care!

    ~Steve
    LowesTravels.com

    • Kat   •     Author

      Ha, “mickey-mouse” good one. Yes, the camp host did mention that they’ve been hosting at that park for 9 years and this was the first year they’ve had a mice problem. They thought it might be from all the extra rain they got, but it does sound like it’s only been a problem for this season…. lucky us. Thanks, we’re hoping things go more smoothly for us too!

    • Kat   •     Author

      Thanks for the link, that’s pretty helpful. I have heard mixed responses regarding the peppermint oil but I wonder if having the 100% mint oil helps? I’ll have to try that the next time we have mice (which I hope is never again!).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *