Jackson Lake State Park
Jackson Lake State Park offers 2,600 surface acres for boating, sailboarding, and jet skiing. Other activities here include volleyball, wildlife viewing, and trails. It was ranked as one of the top park beaches by Reserve America.
There are 251 campsites at Jackson Lake, including ones available all year, just for tents, trailers, and camper vans. Most have electric hook-ups but not all. There are even some sites where hammock camping is available as well as group camping.
26363 County Road 3, Orchard | 970-645-2551 | cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/JacksonLake
Camping In State Parks By Lakes
Campgrounds and state parks may often have fire restrictions that can change often. Learn more about Colorados fire ban stages, so you know what to expect when youre out in the wilderness.
If there is public access to swimming, Colorado state parks do not have lifeguards on duty. Children must be supervised at all times by adults, and its swimming at your own risk. The Red Cross has suggestions for swim safety.
For boating, some boats may be required to be inspected before entering the water. Colorado Parks & Wildlife also offers tips for boating safety. There are often various safety requirements, such as wearing a life vest.
Check-in and check-out times may vary by the campground and can change. This is also true for minimum and maximum stays. Reservations, usually always required, for state parks can be made by visiting cpwshop.com or calling 800-244-5613. Bookings can be made up to six months earlier.
Best Free Camping Spots In Colorado
Colorado is filled with surprises, including a shocking amount of places to camp for absolutely free.
But it can be a little hard to know exactly where those sites are. So before you start driving around checking to see if you can find a fee sign or camp host, scroll down to check out this list of the best free campgrounds in Colorado from all corners of the state.
With over 23 million acres of public lands in Colorado, you can bet there are plenty of choices for free camping. Theres public land spread across the states various landscapes, including the Rocky Mountains, high desert, and sprawling grasslands. Most of the best free campgrounds in Colorado are on National Forest or BLM land.
Most free campground areas do not offer bathrooms, clean water pumps, or trash dump areas (this is also known as dispersed or primitive camping. So its important to come prepared and follow Leave No Trace principles.
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Lake Pueblo State Park Campground
Image from The Dyrt camper Kristin K.
This campground is a 50-minute drive south of Colorado Springs, and it lies along the edge of the 4,500-acre Pueblo Reservoir. The campground has three main group picnic areas and several well-equipped pavilions for large gatherings and events. Another feature of note is that all of the campgrounds communal areas are ADA accessible.
Pueblo Reservoir has plenty of options for day use and also camping. Whether you want to boat, fish, swim, hike, suntan, or just chill with some scenery you can do it here. Brooke H.
Trinidad Lake State Park
Trinidad Lake State Park has an archery range, nine miles of bike trails, opportunities for hiking, and terrific proximity to local attractions, such as the Highway of Legends and the Santa Fe Trail. Boating, jet skiing, and water skiing are a few of the popular lake activities.
Carpios Ridge Campground and South Shore Campground are the two campground options here, with a total of 73 available sites. Views of the lake can be enjoyed at all of the sites that are RV-friendly. There are ten non-electric sites that are within walking distance , and Carpios Ridge Campgrounds sites are open to tents, trailers, and RVs.
The park also has a retail store where you can buy firewood, maps, and hiking accessories. There are also picnic sites, a playground, showers, and a visitor center. Camping is available through winter, too.
32610 Highway 12, Trinidad | 719-846-3813 | cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/TrinidadLake
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Best Campgrounds In Colorado: Timber Creek Campground
Timber Creek Campground. Located on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, this campground is located at a higher elevation, affording wonderful views of the wide-open spaces. All sites are first-come, first serviced, and each has a picnic table and fire ring. It is a dry campsite, with toilets but no showers, however, you can get a pass from the campground to access showers at a nearby motel, if you need it. Lots of wildlife. Nightly rates are $26.
We wrote a 7 Day adventure Guide to Colorado- and watch the video below.
Elk Run And Fishermans Paradise Campgrounds
Sylvan Run State Park is home to some of the best camping in Colorado, especially if you have an RV.
Two campgrounds are set on the lake: Elk Run and Fishermans Paradise.
Both campgrounds are incredibly beautiful. The area is set in the heart of the Rockies. Take in the groves, wildflowers, wildlife, and, of course, the really, really, really big mountains!
During the summer, the lake is perfect for kayaking or canoeing. This campground is perfect for family relaxation.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is amazing and camping at North Rim Campground will make your visit even better.
The remote campground is located off an unpaved road, although all vehicles should be able to make the drive just fine.
The campground is quite small and the campsites arent all that spacious, so we recommend camping elsewhere in a large rig .
Do be ready to look down into the 2,000 foot deep canyon, fly fish in amazing streams, and take photos that will pale in comparison to the real-world views youll experience.
Learn more about North Rim Campground.
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Best Campgrounds In Colorado: South Rim Campground
South Rim Campground. A great choice when in the southern area of the Black Canyon, as it affords the best views of the canyon. Sites are well-spaced, with shrubbery in between sites for privacy. Gaze up and the wide-open night sky and enjoy the scenery and wildlife all around you. This is primarily a rustic campground, with electric hookups in Loop B and available in the summer only. Otherwise, the campground is open year-round, and sites have picnic tables and fire rings. Nightly rates are $16-$22.
How much to we love Colorado? Well, we made a movie about it several years ago when we took a family camping vacation to Colorado. Check it out below!
Get America The Beautiful Pass
Many of the campgrounds we recommend are located in National Parks, which require a separate fee for vehicle entrance, on top of any campground fees. So you may want to consider purchasing an America the Beautiful Pass. For $80 you can obtain this yearly pass and gain access to all National Parks throughout the country. If you are over 62, get the Senior Lifetime Pass for $80, and is good for entrance to all recreation sites run by the National Park Service. Go here for more details.
For such a gorgeous and mountainous state, Colorado does have its share of inclement weather, especially in the higher elevations. Check out this great road advisory website, and check ahead for any road condition warnings.
And now, on to the good stuff! Here are the best campgrounds weve found in Colorado.
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John Martin Reservoir State Park
Situated in Southeastern Colorado, John Martin Reservoir State Park provides a chance to boat, bike, picnic, and play a round of disc golf. East of Lake Hasty, there is a nine-hole disc golf course. There are almost 400 species of birds in the county, making the park a birdwatchers paradise.
There are two campgrounds available Lake Hasty Campground and The Point Campground. Lake Hasty Campground has flush toilets, showers, a laundry facility, and a dump site. At each of the 109 campsites, there are electrical hook-ups and shade. The Point Campground has no electric hookups, no water, and only vault toilets.
30703 Co. Road 24, Hasty | 719-829-1801 | cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/JohnMartinReservoir
State Forest State Park
Known for frequent moose sightings, State Forest State Park is 71,000 acres of forest, trails, and lakes. There is access to bike-friendly trails along with opportunities for birding, horseback riding, hiking, wildlife viewing, and picnicking.
The North Michigan Campground is beside North Michigan Reservoir, and Bockman Campground is one mile north of that. Ranger Lakes Campground has an accessible nature trail. Keep in mind The Crags isnt recommended for trailers or motor homes. There is also backcountry camping available in specific areas, and its recommended to check with a ranger on this.
56750 Highway 14, Walden | 970-723-8366 | cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/StateForest
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Alta Lakes Campground Uncompahgre National Forest
Uncompahgre National Forest is a wild, breathtaking slice of Colorado. Its the place to come to disconnect and sink into all-encompassing nature amid its 955,000-acre expanse. Here, youll find deep blue lakes, Alpine valleys, and Grand Mesa the largest flat-topped mountain in the world.
It really is a treat to camp out amid the unspoiled nature of this national forest. It may be quite an effort to reach Alta Lakes Campground, but once youre there, youll be in for some of the best scenery in Colorado. Its basically primitive camping, but the mirror-like lake, the pines, the mountains and the vast sky all make for stellar views.
Amenities: Campfires allowed, Toilet available, Pets allowed, Picnic table available
Campsite fee: Free per night.
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.
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What Is The Best Season For Camping In Colorado
While all seasons have their perks, fall has some distinct advantages for camping in Colorado with cooler weather, fewer bugs, smaller crowds, and generally lower prices. On the flipside, depending on your elevation, you can encounter unanticipated changes in temperature or even early snowfall.
Spring can be a difficult time to camp, as the weather is still unpredictable, allergies are problematic, and there are a lot of bugs. Between snowmelt and mud, not all campsites are open or optimal. But the wildflowers are perhaps most beautiful, and youll enjoy cooler weather.
Lastly, some folks enjoy the challenge and endurance it takes to camp in the winter. If you do camp in the winter, its important to know how to stay safe and warm and to choose your campsite accordingly.
In short, theres no perfect answer to what season is the best for camping in Colorado. It comes down to what youre looking for in a camping experience.
Off Grid Tiny Home In The Heart Of The Rocky Mountains Red Cliff
This tiny home may be totally off the grid, but that doesnt mean its some woodsmans hut. Nope, not at all. This is one streamlined and sophisticated piece of architecture, replete with Scandinavian-style simplicity.
Sitting seamlessly within the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the wide windows of this tiny home perfectly frame the views of the landscape.
Its got everything you need. Theres a double bed, kitchen, lounge and dining area, a TV, and a bathroom. The space has been used pretty ingeniously. And if thats not enough, the garden is awesome: its got a volleyball/tennis court, a grill, and a seating area!
Things go wrong on the road ALL THE TIME. Be prepared for what life throws at you.
Buy an AMK Travel Medical Kit before you head out on your next adventure dont be daft!
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The Top Places To Camp In Colorado
We stayed over the weekend on site 58 the beaver point primitive site.
“We somehow forgot the stakes for our tent at home but Don rescued …”
“Plenty of space for multiple camp trailers, tents and RV’s…”
“Best camp host I’ve ever met ever, hollah David!”
“Some sites don’t have a tent pad which was way more rustic and great.”
“Most likely the best campground I have been too.”
Moraine Park Campground Rocky Mountains National Park
Moraine Park Campground is located in the Rocky Mountain National Park and is one of five excellent campsites in the National Park.
The views of the nearby mountain peaks that youll enjoy from every site are breathtaking, and the area is a Mecca for wildlife spotting too. Here, you can see elk, mountain lions, moose, black bears, and long-horned sheep. For those who crave total peace, quiet, and seclusion, the campgrounds are open year-round, and a trip here during the winter months is truly magical.
Tent camping only is permitted here, and there are no hookups. Potable water is available, and there are vault toilet facilities provided for use year-round. Flush toilets are available for the summer months. For the summer season, reservations are recommended and may be made up to six months in advance.
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Elk Creek Campground On Blue Mesa Reservoir
Elk Creek Campground is located on the north shore of the magnificent Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorados largest body of water. This is a fantastic place to go for summertime fun on the water: the area is known for its mesas, narrow canyons, and reservoirs that almost resemble fjords. Bring a boat to take advantage of the marina attached to the campground!
Elk Creek Campground is located within the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Though its named after a Ute Indian sub-chief, theres evidence that humans lived in this area as far back as 10,000 years ago in fact, 5,000 acres of this recreation area are conserved as the Curecanti Archeological District and recognized on the National Register of Historic Places! Oh yeah, and dino fossils were also recently discovered here.
The campground offers stunning views of the reservoir and the San Juan Mountains, where Ute tribes would once hunt in the high alpine meadows in the summer and spend the winter in the ranges valleys. Its also the place where Kit Carson the famous frontiersman is known to have roamed, trapping beavers for fur back in the 1800s .
Things to Know
- Coin-operated showers
What to Do Nearby
How to Get There
You can start either to the north at Blue Mesa or to the south at South Fork . From there, take Highway 149 for 117 miles.
Leave No Trace When Free Camping
- Be prepared with plenty of trash bags. If you have a long drive home, I recommend putting the bags in a designated bin so your car doesnt smell the whole way home.
- Come with all the water you think you will need for your trip, and then some. Cooking and cleaning dishes always seems to use more water than you think. Bring a water filter if theres fresh water near where youll be camping.
- Dont clean your dishes in a fresh water source. Bring along a bucket, designated jug, or something like the Primus Campfire Utility Bag to contain and dispose of grey water properly.
- Bring Wag Bags to carry out waste. Human waste is unnatural to all ecosystems, but especially to drier, more sensitive ecosystems, since it doesnt break down as fast as it does in a forest.
- Know before you go. Do some research on the location and become familiar with any seasonal rules or fire bans. Fire bans are all around Colorado in the summer months. If you can have a campfire, only purchase firewood from a local source. Dont bring firewood from your hometown. This helps stop the spread of invasive insect populations.
- Leave it cleaner than you found it: you can pick up and carry out trash, even if its not yours. Keeping the free campgrounds in Colorado clean and clear helps ensure theyre available for years to come.
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Colorado Heights Camping Resort
Why you should camp here: Glamp in style and enjoy the long list of amenities that Colorado Heights has to offer!
- Reservations Accepted: Yes
- Campsite Type: RV
- RV Hookups: Yes
Colorado Heights Camping Resort is right in the town of Monument, just north of Colorado Springs. Their slogan is your home away from home, and youll quickly find thats true when you get a chance to enjoy their amazing amenities and community feel.
With their own fishing pond, volleyball and basketball courts, swimming pool, BBQ pavilion and kitchen, and other fun activities, Colorado Heights is an ideal destination for extended stays and van-lifers. Given its close proximity to Colorado Springs, its a great home-base for touring the city and surrounding landscape.
Stylish Secluded Cabin Black Hawk
For a cultured camping experience, this beautiful VRBO in Colorado throws out the rulebook when it comes to glamping and offers up a luxe cabin moment. With warm wood-clad interiors and stylish furnishings, large windows, and high vaulted ceilings, its a sophisticated year-round option.
Located close to the town of Black Hawk and surrounded by national forest, it feels like a very private spot to enjoy nature all to yourself. There are hiking trails within feet of the cabin doorstep, for one thing. Back at the ranch, kick back round the fire pit with the outdoor sound system blasting your favorite tunesall just an hour or so from Denver.
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