Looking For The Best Colorado Camping Sites
Youre in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:
- 10 top spots to go camping in Colorado.
- Listing of some of the amenities each campsite in Colorado has.
- What beauty spots, national forest and national parks you should visit when camping in Colorado.
Colorado, also known as the Centennial State, is located in the west of the U.S. The state takes in the north-eastern part of the Colorado Plateau, most of the southern Rocky Mountains, and the western border of the Great Plains.
With such an incredibly diverse landscape, its little wonder that Colorado is such a draw for those who love camping as a vacation option. Indeed, few other states can compare to Colorado! Theres so much to do and see here, from the cathedral-like formations of the Garden of the Gods, the glorious views that youll enjoy along the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway, to the awe-inspiring majesty of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Centennial State has it all.
Colorado has a mixture of free dispersed camping sites, paid developed camping grounds, and even some sites explicitly built for glamping devotees. Whether you enjoy the hustle and bustle of busy sites with water sports and kids playgrounds or prefer to float silently in a canoe across a tranquil lake bathed the early morning sunlight, youll find what youre looking for here.
Best Campgrounds In Colorado: Ancient Cedars Mesa Verde Rv Resort
Ancient Cedars Mesa Verde RV Resort. Just outside Mesa Verde National Park is this great campground, some with nice views and trees. Some sites have full hookups, and campground amenities include flush toilets and showers, with great amenities such as WiFi, laundry room, playground, pool, and a hot tub.
Colorado is such a gorgeous state, its no wonder so many outdoor enthusiasts call this place home. Come discover for yourself the natural beauty of it all, by staying in these magnificent campgrounds.
Turquoise Lake Recreation Area Leadville
Turquoise Lake is a recreation area in the San Isabel National Forest just outside of Leadville, the nations highest incorporated town. Youll find thick evergreen forest, towering mountains and an 1,800-acre lake as well as eight campgrounds, all sitting at a crisp and cool 10,000-foot-high elevation. The lake offers boating and fishing, and on land, visitors can enjoy hiking, biking and four-wheeling. If youre looking for a fairly easy hike or bike excursion, the 12-mile paved Mineral Belt Trail loop starts in downtown Leadville, just four miles east of the lake. The campgrounds offer both RV and tenting camping, with tent-only sites at Belle of Colorado. Theyre all spread across the lakes shoreline, most along the eastern shore. All include picnic tables, fire rings, toilets and drinking water.
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Belle Of Colorado Campground
As a tent-only campground, Belle of Colorado tops our list as one of the best places to tent camp in Colorado, period.
If you can take your eyes off the Sugarloaf Mountains and the broad crystal waters of Turquoise Lake, then take a dip in the lake, camp a line, or maybe even just set up your hammock.
There are only a handful of campsites available and they fill up fast during the summer. Especially the very best campsites located on the lakeshore. No reservations are available.
Great Sand Dunes National Park boasts the tallest sand dunes in the country and, believe us, they are spectacular to witness.
For those looking to camp on their visit to this national park, Pinon Flats Campground is one of the best places to stay.
The seasonal campground has 86 total campsites. All of these are available to reserve in advance .
Perhaps the best time to visit with your family is in May when Medano Creeks melting waters create a natural water park.
Other activities include hiking in the dunes. You can even ski, snowboard, or sled your way back down!
Learn more about Pinon Flats Campground.
River Run Campground Granby
River Run Campground in Granby is a very new facility thats described as a cabin rental, glamping, camping, and RV resort.
This is a large, sprawling site with 400 camping, RV, and vacation rental options. Theres a zero-entry pool, onsite SUP, fishing, and kayaking on the Colorado River. At the end of the day, you can eat in one of the two restaurants. Theres even a mini-bowling alley to keep the kids amused!
If youre looking for a family-friendly getaway with plenty of things to do onsite and is equipped with all the comforts of home, this could be the ideal vacation destination for you.
For more information on rates, availability, and more, check out the River Run website at this link or call Granby, 888-814-7202. In our opinion, probably the best RV camping in Colorado.
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Morefield Mesa Verde National Park
This is a beautiful campground in the middle of a stunning national parol. These campsites are nestled within trees and brush, giving you privacy and a real sense of wilderness. There are a few hikes that leave straight from the campground, making it as easy as possible to enjoy the outdoors while camping. The Mesa Verde National Park Morefield campground is equipped with cabins, tents, group sites, RV sites, and drinking water.
Mueller State Park has over 5,000 acres of spring-fed meadows, forested ridges and massive rocks of Pikes Peak Granite with several ponds that dot the landscape.
Angel Of Shavano Campground Salida
Angel of Shavano Campgrounds is located close to Salida.
This is the ideal setting for those who want to get back to nature and escape the crowds when camping in Colorado. The campgrounds are located right inside the San Isabel National Forest. The national forest is densely-wooded, offering a truly memorable retreat where you can enjoy moments of precious solitude and tranquillity.
You can enjoy mountain biking or hike along the 486-mile Colorado Trail, which runs right alongside the campground, and theres some excellent fishing to be had in the North Fork Reservoir.
There are 20 individual campsites, and, largely thanks to its remote location around three hours drive from Denver, the first-come-first-served campgrounds are very rarely crowded. That makes it relatively straightforward to reserve a spot. Drinking water and vault toilets are available during the summer months, and dogs are permitted, although Fido must remain leashed at all times.
Charges are $20 per site for overnight camping for two vehicles, plus a further $6 for a third vehicle. Day camping is charged at a rate of $7.
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Golden Gate Canyon State Park: For The Views
In the fall, Golden Gate Canyon State Park earns its name. This stunning park is packed with aspens, which turn a glowing gold when the leaves change colors in the fall.
But the nearly 12,000-acre Golden Gate Canyon is worth a visit any time of year, in large part due to the views for days. The place to station for the best views is Panorama Point Scenic Overlook. You can see forever, or technically about 100 miles into the distance.
If the views capture you, which they will, you can camp here there are more than 100 campsites and more than 100 picnic spots, more than many other state parks. That means you have at least a better chance of finding an available spot.
Or at least spend some good time exploring the trails. Hiking is great in Golden Gate. You can even go horseback riding.
As with all other state parks, wildlife abounds. Expect to possibly see bobcats, black bears, deer, elk, various types of squirrels and mountain lion. Maybe even the occasional moose. You can also go fishing, biking and rock climbing here, if action is on your agenda.
Golden Gate Canyon is located near Golden, the home of the Colorado School of Mines.
How To Find Dispersed Camping In Colorado
Finding a free, dispersed campsite in Colorado is relatively straightforward if you know what you are looking for. Our first recommendation is to use the destination specific dispersed camping guides weve created that are included in the next section.
There are also numerous resources available ranging from online apps, USFS resources, and of course our website! Youll also want to be prepared to navigate forest service roads and read USFS maps, both of which should be fairly straightforward.
When searching for a good dispersed campsite in Colorado ourselves, we prefer to use a combination of several online apps/websites along with publically available USFS/BLM maps.
Our favorite resources are below:
- Freecampsites.net Our go to resource for finding free camping in the US. Simply enter your desired location and filter through the results.
- The Dyrt An app that lets you filter for free and dispersed campsites.
- Campendium A website and app that allows you to see user reviews for campsites and campgrounds across the country.
Check out our Dispersed Camping App guide here for more information on how to use apps to find dispersed camping in Colorado.
While these apps and websites are a good starting place the best resource for finding dispersed camping is often reaching out directly to the relevant USFS Ranger District or BLM Office in the area youd like to camp to inquire on camping locations.
Our Top Camping App The Dyrt PRO
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How To Find Campsites In Colorado
The question is, how do you NOT find a campsite in Colorado? In this Rocky Mountain state, campsites are everywhere and in some areas, wherever you look, someone has pitched a tent or parked a motor home.
When youre ready to start planning your camping trip, be sure to visit BookOutdoors. BookOutdoors allows you to book your perfect spot in campgrounds located throughout Colorado.
Look through some of the many privately owned campsites listed. Privately owned campsites offer a wide range of amenities that you wont find in state or national parks, such as Wi-Fi and full electrical hookups. Plus, privately owned campsites are typically located near popular landmarks and trails that youll want to visit during your stay. And theyre also super family-friendly, with lots of features to help keep the kids entertained.
The Best Places To Camp In Colorado: In Summary
There are a multitude of great campsites in Colorado offering something for every outdoor enthusiast, whether youre into glamping, family camping with all the facilities you want right there on your doorstep, or hoofing it to the top of the world in search of blissful solitude.
Despite its popularity as a tourist destination, Colorado never feels crowded. So, pack your tent, grab your backpack, and reserve yourself your very own little piece of paradise this summer.
If youve enjoyed our guide to the best camping sites in Colorado, then share or comment below and if you know a Colorado camp site weve missed then let us know too!
Camping Trips Further Afield
Brian has been an avid hiker and backpacker since he was a small kid, often being taken out into the wilderness on trips with his father. His dad knew everything about nature and the wilderness .
After high school, he went to university to read for both a BS and MS in Geology . He’s now hiked, camped, skied, backpacked or mapped on five continents & 30 of the US states.
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The Dyrt: The 10 Best Campgrounds In Colorado
May 8th, 2021
When you get the drive to go camping, the worst part isnt packing your gear or preparing your food, but sometimes it is figuring out where to go! You know you want to be outside, you know you want to camp, but you havent nailed down just where you want to go. There are a lot of websites that will give you ideas based on your location, but sometimes they are not the most reliable. The Dyrt is a great, reliable and trusted source for all things camping. If you are looking for a campsite, be sure to take your search to The Dyrt.
The Dyrt allows you to search the best campgrounds that exist, in any state. The Dyrt began when its founders felt the same frustration as us. They knew they wanted to be outside but they were sick of relying on friends knowledge or sketchy websites to find a great place. They decided to create an app very similar to Yelp, but for camping. Rather than searching the best restaurants in your area, The Dyrt allows you to search for the best campsites! With this idea, Sara Smith, the founder, gathered up some outdoor enthusiasts with experience in software and marketing and started The Dyrt. Today, the Dyrt is the fastest growing camping app out there. On The Dyrt, outdoor enthusiasts share their stories and learn from others across the country.
Lake Pueblo State Park
With its vast stretches of water and 60 miles of shoreline, Lake Pueblo is a scenic spot for all kinds of recreation, whether youre into jet skiing or hiking. The steady breeze along the lake is ideal for a day of sailing or windsurfing, and anglers will find plenty of trout, bass, walleye and crappie to reel in. Mountain bike or walk through the parks extensive network of trails, where youll see 200-year-old juniper trees, wildflower-covered hills and an array of wildlife, such as beavers, snapping turtles and burrowing owls.Where to Stay: Arkansas Point Campground’s RV park is located near the south boat ramp, and it offers amenities like flush restrooms, coin-operated showers, laundry, electricity and a dump station.See Nearby:Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds
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Best Campgrounds In Colorado: Glacier Basin Campground
Glacier Basin Campground. Here is a gorgeous National Park campground with well-spaced sites, with several walking trails for all levels. This is a dry campground, so no hookups are available, with loops A and B having the most tree cover. The 150 sites all have a picnic table and fire grate. There are flush toilets, potable water, a dump station, and firewood for sale. Nightly rates are $26, with a park pass of $9.
Central Mountains Dispersed Camping
Colorados central mountains are home to some of the most popular outdoor destinations in the State. Youll enjoy bustling mountain towns, easy access from Denver, and tons of areas to explore. The diversity of dispersed camping options in the area is truly astounding, with our favorites highlighted below:
- Aspen: Take in the glitz and glam of Aspen from your free campsite!
- Glenwood Springs: A great low-key mountain town, Glenwood Springs is a worthwhile destination.
- Leadville: The highest incorporated town in North America has some great dispersed camping nearby.
- Buena Vista: A mellow river town with tons of surrounding wilderness to explore.
- Breckenridge: A classic mining town turned ski mecca, be sure to look for campsites on Boreas Pass.
A few of our favorite dispersed campsites in Colorados Central Mountains include:
County Road 48 near Turquoise Lake Leadville Area
County Road 48 just south of Turquoise Lake is the closest dispersed camping area to Leadville, Colorado. This is a popular camping area, so expect neighbors and be sure to leave no trace if you do camp here. Youll be well located to explore Turquoise Lake as well as the Mt. Massive Wilderness Area. Views of Mt. Elbert from the camping area are also stunning.
The road is gravel and should be passable by most vehicles and rigs.
Cottonwood Pass Buena Vista Area
Restrooms: NoWater: No, although sites on the south side of the road may have creek access. Crowds: ModerateMap
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Best Campgrounds In Colorado: Meadow Ridge Campground
Meadow Ridge Campground. This campground is beautiful, with great views of Pikes Peak. It is a little rough around the edges, with some gravel roads. There are 19 sites, all rustic with no hookups, but there are bathrooms, so you will essentially be boondocking. Still, a wonderful place to spend the night! Nightly rates are $20-$23.
Arapaho Bay Campground Lake Granby
Why you should camp here: Relax in calmer waters than the surrounding Lake Granby, hike the abundant trails nearby, and fish for Kokanee Salmon!
- Reservations accepted: Yes
- Campsite type: Tents, RVs
- RV hookups: No
Arapaho Bay Campground lies on its namesake which makes up the very eastern tip of Lake Granby. Lake Granby is one of the largest reservoirs in Colorado, and the waters can be rough if you are hoping to paddle board or kayak. However, Arapaho Bay has natural barriers that creates stiller water for such activities!
Close to camp, you will find the more secluded Monarch Lake. Monarch Lake is so tucked away, it feels more like a lake you stumble upon on a backpacking trip. Except you parked and walked 200 feet! Monarch Lake and Arapaho Bay provide some stellar paddle boarding, lake kayaking, and fishing. Speaking of fishing, you can find Mackinaw and Kokanee Salmon in the bay!
The nearby towns of Granby and Grand Lake are hosts to some of the best recreation in the state! Between the lakes, Winter Park Ski Resort, the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, and world class mountain biking parks/trails, there is something for everyone here!
Why you should camp here: Enjoy some top-notch recreation and relaxation in Colorados San Juan National Forest.
- Reservations accepted: Yes
- Best season: Spring, Summer, Fall
- Campsite type: Tents, RVs
- RV hookups: Yes
- Reservations accepted: Yes
- Campsite type: Tents, RVs, Cabins, Yurts
- RV hookups: No
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