Incredible Spots For Camping Near Denver Colorado
Personally, in order to really experience the Centennial State, I highly recommend looking to find camping near Denver, Colorado! While the city is fun and knowing where to stay in Denver can make a big difference, nature is the main reason youre visiting, right? Here are some awesome recommendations for campsites near the citysome are only a short drive but feel a world away.
Washington Gulch Road Dispersed Camping Crested Butte Co
This dispersed camping spot offered some of the most incredible scenery of anywhere weve boondocked. The big blue Colorado sky, dramatic mountain views and then throw in wildflowers in the spring and I think we took about 500 photos in the three days we were there! We loved that there was a lot of wide open space in this area so you didnt feel crowded with other campers. It was only short drive to downtown Crested Butte and even had good reception.
Perfect Fall Camping Spots In Colorado
Fall in Colorado is a beautiful time as the aspen trees turn from green to a golden yellow. The best time to view fall foliage in Colorado is from September to October. Trees in the high mountains start changing as early as September while fall foliage isnt at its peak in lower elevations, such as Denver, until October. To really enjoy this beautiful season, choose to go camping at one of these five perfect fall camping spots in Colorado.
Denver Campgrounds: Your Home Away From Home
Denver is a beautiful and busy city, so you may want to escape and enjoy the scenery in the surrounding areas. Here are some of the best camping spots near Denver!
Sitting in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, Denver, the largest city in Colorado, and the capital of the state is a gateway to some of the best camping localities in the U.S. What makes these places more special is the fact they are within an easy drive of the capital. If you are ready to pitch your tent and prepare your campfire, be sure to check out these campgrounds.
When you head north out of Denver and travel for 71.3 miles, via US-36, you will come to the Moraine Park Campground. Located at 8,160 feet, you will find yourself in the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountain National Park. You will be stunned with the beautiful views of this enormous park along with the remarkable mountains. Before you leave home, you will first need to make reservations at this developed campground. RVs are allowed up to 40 feet, as are trailers. Campers should look for D loop: the spaces are not only private, but they are also attractive. There are plenty of campsites and campers have reported seeing a herd of elk meander through the area on several occasions.
Quick Tips For Free Camping In Colorado
There are a few things you should know before you go camping in Colorado. For starters, if you plan on going dispersed camping in Colorado, be prepared. Youll want to bring a trash bag for ALL of your trash, all of your water, and a proper backcountry bathroom kit.
Additionally, keep the following in mind when you go camping in Colorado:
Check for road closures and fire bans. Conditions change constantly in Colorado, so be sure to check before you head out.
Be prepared. If youre camping in the alpine, storms typically roll in every afternoon. Dont get caught and be prepared. Stay off of ridgelines or summits in a storm.
Acclimatize properly. Altitude adjustment can be a little rough so take your time if youre arriving from out of town.
Dont chop live trees. Its not only illegal, but it makes for a smoky mess. Instead, forage for fallen trees or branches you can snap. Bring your own firewood only if its been locally sourced to prevent the spread of plant disease.
Stay in designated spots only. Dont create a new campsite. Use whats already established to avoid trampling pristine nature.
Now youve got the inside scoop about dispersed camping in Colorado. This exclusive local guide gives you a complete look at some of the most amazing dispersed camping in Colorado. So pitch your tent and happy camping!
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Best Early Season Camping In Lost Creek
Most people dont know that you cant really camp in the mountains until mid to late June. It takes a while for the snow to melt in the Rockies, but every year, you get the itch to go camping early in the season.
Only an hour from Denver, Lost Creek Wilderness offers a variety of free dispersed camping perfect for low-elevation camping adventures.
Check out Stoney Pass Road near Segment Three of the Colorado Trail. There are also other options around the Wellington Lake area too.
Use Google Terrain to find some hidden free campsites in Colorados Lost Creek Wilderness. Some of the best hiking trails near Denver can be found nearby.
Lost Creek Wilderness used to be a quiet spot to set up camp, but this area has been increasing in popularity. However, beggars cant be choosers when the high-altitude spots are still socked in with snow.
Head to Lost Creek early or late season for the pine-tastic camping weekend. Most camping within Lost Creek doesnt require a high clearance vehicle, but be sure to Google around your specific camp area to make sure.
Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway
Campgrounds run nearly the entire length from Fort Collins to Walden.
This national scenic byway follows the Cache La Poudre River for most of the way, so the scenery and recreation are spectacular. Rafting is common in parts, and there is plenty of other activities do in the Roosevelt National Forest.
The 101-mile byway is fine for all cars and takes about 3 hours, so any bargain car rental will do. If renting a car for your trip, most 2WD cars will be fine for driving around Colorados scenic summer roads. However, if youll be enjoying the forest roads, pay attention to its ground clearance the most, and opt for something higher.
There is lots of dispersed camping if you know where to look. There arent any sites on the byway itself, but numerous side roads hold campsites in the Roosevelt N.F.
Best Camping Sites:
Dispersed camping is a bit tricky on this byway since there are no sites directly on the highway. But there is still plenty. South of Walden, there are lots of free sites, minutes from the mostly ghost town of Gould. Take CR 21 a mile or so back to the national forest.
Check out this Roosevelt Ranger District PDF map of Canyon Lakes North to identify more dispersed camping .
Activities: Boating, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding, OHV, Rafting
Lakes, high mountains and lots of camping.
Two campgrounds are reservable at Twin Lakes and one on the Aspen side of the pass. Dispersed camping be found in the hills above Twin Lakes.
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Halfmoon Road Near Leadville
Take Highway 24 south out of Copper Leadville. Just outside of Leadville make your way along Halfmoon Road. This is also home to the trailheads for both Mount Massive and Mount Elbert, Colorados tallest peak.
Halfmoon Road is bursting with free camping opportunities. What I love the most about camping here is that theres plenty of room for larger groups and campers.
Almost all of the camping has plenty of space and privacy. Go on a nearby hike , head into town for some grub, or just relax with friends at camp.
Mueller State Park Divide Co
When we get asked for recommendations on where to camp in our hometown of Colorado Springs, we find ourselves recommending either nearby Mueller State Park or Cheyenne Mountain State Park versus staying at any of the RV parks in town. While youre a bit out of the city with both parks, youll enjoy your stay considerably more. Both parks are equally beautiful and will give you the feel that youre far in the mountains while still being close to all the local attractions and amenities.
The reason we recommend Mueller is because it will put you within a short drive to all our favorite tourist things to see and do while youre here. Youll be in middle of all the action Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, the Crags rock formation, and even a quirky mining town with casinos called Cripple Creek. Plus, the camping sites and grounds, just like the other state parks, are very well maintained.
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What To Pack For Camping In Colorado
We have a comprehensive list of what to pack for a camping trip, but below weve included some specific suggestions for camping in Colorado.
- Water, water, and more water!Dont underestimate the amount of water youll need. Staying hydrated not only helps keep your temperature regulated but can also prevent altitude sickness. We recommend bringing a hydration daypack with 100oz of water for hikes, and sipping constantly from a water bottle back at camp.
- Sun Protection: Youll need plenty of environmentally-friendly sunscreen, as well as a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and sunglasses. The Colorado sun is scorching, especially. at high altitude or in the desert.
- Moisturizer & Lip Balm: Colorado air is DRY, especially in higher altitudes and in the desert! Bring more than you think youll need and apply regularly.
- Layers: Regardless of the weather forecast but especially if rain or snow is predicted pack some warm clothing, even if it seems hot. A lightweight rain jacket is always a good idea, as is a packable down jacket or fleece jacket and a warm hat. Additionally, if you have space, it never hurts to pack extra blankets for an overnight in case the temperature plummets.
Camping Near Denver Offers Many Different Options
If you enjoy hiking, fishing, and swimming, then Guanella Pass Campground will fill your bill. The facility is located just 54 miles from Denver. You drive west from the capital on US-285 to Grand, take a right turn, then head north on to Park County Road 62. Drive another 14.5 miles to enter the campground. The site is split into two loops, with 18 sites available. Eleven of these are great for RV camping seven are best for tents. You will find restrooms and water readily available. Each site has a tent pad, fire grate, and a picnic table. Open your tent flap and head out to find your favorite activities. You might also be interested in visiting the nearby historic Georgetown and some of the ghost towns in the area.
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Our Top 20 Rv Camping Spots In Colorado
As a Colorado native and near-native, we get asked all the time for great camping recommendations in the state. We decided to do some research ourselves and have explored many amazing spots so we could compile this list!
Weve broken them up into three categories. You can click the categories below to be taken straight to that section of this post.
The Google map below will show you all the spots we recommend, so you can find the areas that are closest to where you live or where youll be visiting.
Twin Lakes And Chaffee County Road 399
If youve got a high clearance vehicle, head down County Road 399 outside of Twin Lakes. Continue 2 miles past the junction with Highway 82 for some exceptional camping.
What I love most about this area are the beautiful rocky peaks. Youll be nestled close to some of Colorados best 14ers, amazing fishing, and a few 4WD adventures.
Head up to the end of the road for the start of Grizzly Peak, the highest 13er in Colorado. Take the alternate fork in the road to explore old mining ruins and beautiful mountain views.
Local Tip: There is endless free camping along the Leadville to Salida corridor. Check out Caffee County Road 390 for more spots.
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Cherry Creek Road Campground
Image from The Dyrt camper Rosie R.
A sunny oasis in the heart of the city, Cherry Creek Road Campground is a spacious and well-appointed camping area by the water that enables you to explore the natural beauty of Cherry Creek State Park and enjoy the culture of downtown Denver, Colorado. Interwoven with biking and hiking trails, it is a thrilling getaway for wildlife enthusiasts who can spot horned owls, bald eagles, and whitetail deer year-round.
The RV spots have full hookups and are nice and spacious, as are the neighbors. We were able to set up a tent too! Great place to stroll and relax. Beautiful sunsets.
- Price: $28 $41, $11 park entry fee
- Number of sites: 125
Palisade Basecamp Rv Resort Palisade Co
Most people dont even know that Colorado has its very own wine country. Its truly a unique hidden gem and this RV resort is perfect for exactly what its name suggests a basecamp! From the resort, you can bike around to all the different wineries, orchards, and Palisade also has a great little brewery we love. It also doesnt hurt that the owner of Palisade Basecamp RV Resort is super friendly and since recently opening the resort, hes continued to make updates and improvements.
We also cant forget to mention the 360-degree views youll get while staying at Basecamp. And when you arent sipping on delicious wine or eating their famous peaches, youll have adventure waiting for you. With biking and hiking trails, the nearby Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa National Forest, theres lots to explore!
We also love having the option to use our Harvest Hosts membership and parking at participating wineries for free. There are a few great options of hosts in Palisade! *Get 15% off of a Harvest Hosts membership using code HHFRIENDS15.
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Horsetooth Reservoir South Bay
Why you should camp here: Fort Collins backyard reservoir is perfect for stay-cations and some low-key camping fun.
- Reservations accepted: Yes
- Campsite type: Tents, RVs, Boat-in
- RV hookups: Yes
Horsetooth Reservoirs South Bay Campground offers over 150 campsites perfect for any adventure. There are even 15 campsites you can only reach via boat. The boat-in sites are in small inlets or shores along the reservoir and there are only 2 sites per inlet, and 1 per shore. Talk about privacy!
Horsetooth can be crowded in the summer, but its hard to beat a quick getaway like this one! I wouldnt recommend camping here if you are looking for peace and isolation since Horsetooth is so close to town. But if youre from around the area and just looking for some easy camping fun, or youre taking the kiddos out for the first time, then this campground is perfect!
Family-friendly and with plenty of amenities, space, and options, theres something for everyone here. One great perk of camping near town, you can always just pop in for some great food or the local breweries such as Odell and New Belgium for some post-outdoor activity brews.
Backcountry Camping In Rocky Mountain National Park
There is dispersed camping in Rocky Mountain National Park as well as many of the other Colorado National Parks.
It is often called wilderness camping, or backcountry camping.
Wilderness camping in Rocky Mountain follows a different set of rules than National Forest campsites. For one, permits are required and there is a fee. You can pick up permits at one of the visitor centers or online.
- Beaver Meadows Visitor Center
- Kawuneeche Visitor Center
Pets are not allowed in the backcountry campsites at Rocky Mountain National Park, and you cannot stay at one camp area for more than three consecutive nights. You can find all of the dispersed camping rules here.
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Moraine Park Campground Rocky Mountain National Park
For a really nice camping experience, without the feel of a resort, park your RV here. There are fantastic views, and its close enough to head into the small town of Estes Park if you want to.
Where it is: Estes Park is also where this campground is located, technically, but it is deeper into the park. Its rockier, dense with trees, and even more wildlife than Elk Meadow.
Cost: $26 a night during the peak season
What Makes it Unforgettable: The views for one thing. I may say this every time but there are many high peeks that you can see from here. The opportunity to see wildlife is really nice. The hikes you can take will be picture perfect, preserving memories forever.
- Not open year-round
- Pine beetle killed off a lot of trees in this area.
- No reservations can be made
- Expensive for not having any hook-ups
Tips For Camping In Colorado
When planning any camping trip particularly in Colorado there are a few things to keep in mind to keep you safe as well as to protect the local environment. To make the most of your trip, its important to pack appropriately, camp responsibly, and do your research luckily, weve done. a bunch of research for you!
- Budget-Friendly Tip: If youre planning to visit multiple National Parks this year and two of them are on our list below we recommend picking up an America is Beautiful National Parks Pass! The pass is valid at over 2,000 National Parks and 10% of the sale proceeds are donated to the National Park Foundation, helping to keep our parks beautiful. The average cost of admission to a National Park is $35, which means that the pass quickly pays for itself after just a few visits. AND you are supporting the National Park Foundation. Win/win! You can pick up a pass online at REI or in person at any National Park.
To fully enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors in Colorado, taking proper precautions is a must. Here are a few things you should consider before you set off into the wilderness.
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