National Scenic Byway B/w I
Guanella Pass is a remarkable drive between two major highways. This national scenic byway connects I-70 and Georgetown, to the north, with Highway 285 and Grant, to the south.
Camping and hiking are the main activities on the byway. Mount Bierstadt is one of the easier 14ers in the state to hike and is accessible from the Summit Area of the pass. The three mile trail to the top takes 3 to 6 hours roundtrip. Mt Evans is another 14er with a trail from the pass. You can also drive up Mt Evans.
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.
Camping Near You Find A Free Campsite
Whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip, we’ve got you covered. You can simply use your smart phone’s GPS to find camping near you or even use our trip planner to plan your route from coast to coast.
Our community provides the best free camping information available. Free campgrounds can be hard to find. Freecampsites.net makes it easy. We give you a simple, map based search engine to find free and cheap camping areas. Community reviews and ratings provide you with up to date information and help you select the best camp site for your next camping trip.
This is a platform for sharing campgrounds and camp sites you have discovered. We are community driven, and while we will be adding many free camping spots, we hope that you will add some of your favorite camping places as well. By sharing camping information freely, we can all spend less time researching campgrounds, spend less money, and more time camping. If everyone contributes a few campsites, we’ll all have more places to go camping.
Please come back and let us know what you find!
We are not actively seeking Wal-Marts, truckstops or other parking lots and will not be adding very many of these. There are enough Wal-Mart and truck stop directories out there already. However, if a member of the community finds one of these locations to be useful for overnight RV parking and creates an entry, we may approve the listing.
Please come back and let us know what you find!
Recommended Reading: Camping Near Harriman State Park
Before You Go: Read Our Camping Safety Tips
Beyond having fun, being safe while camping should be your biggest priority. Please Remember to:
- Check out Fire Restrictions in the area and what is allowed at your campsite open flame campfire, propane or gas stove
- ALWAYS ensure your campfire is COMPLETELY out using both water and dirt
- Double-check your fire pit for any embers
- Clean up your entire campsite, removing all trash and items
- If you Pack it in Please Pack it out
Here are a Few Items to Remember:
- First Aid Kit
- Sleeping bag, sleeping pad and/or air mattress
- Folding Chair
- Ropes and tarps for shelter reinforcement/clothesline
- Camping kitchen items for food preparation, consumption and cleanup
- Trash bags with handles
- Portable gas stove
- Waterproof, Weatherproof and Durable Outer Layers
Remember Cotton Kills ~ Wear Polypropylene or Synthetic Materials
Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests
Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests circle Rocky Mountain National Park. On the northern end, landmark cities include Fort Collins, Estes Park and Loveland. On the southern end, youll be closer to Boulder, Winter Park, Georgetown and Denver.
As of 2018, this area offers 33 no-reservation campgrounds. To see a full list of the areas campgrounds, .
If you prefer dispersed camping instead of campground camping, to check out a full list of dispersed camping options in this region.
Location: Meeker Park, CO
Available sites: 29
Close to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, Meeker Park Overflow Campground is a rustic option and all 29 sites are first-come, first served! Each one allows tents, campers, trailers and RVs but due to rough roads, tent camping is best.
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Places To Camp For Free In Colorado
Camping Below the Stars Scenic view along the Colorado River with tent illuminated from within with Milky Way.
Colorado has some amazing campgrounds, with scenic beauty and accommodations like drinking water, restrooms, and picnic tables all for a nightly fee that is a fraction of what a hotel would cost. But sometimes, dont you just want to find a secluded spot along a dusty road and enjoy some privacy? Or maybe you just forgot your checkbook. With that in mind, here are 7 places to camp for free in Colorado. Please keep in mind that no fee means no cleaning or trash pickup, so for the sake of the forests, follow Leave No Trace principles by using existing campsites and campfire rings and packing out all your trash.
White River National Forest
White River National Forest is surrounded by the must-visit mountain towns Glenwood Springs, Aspen and Beaver Creek.
As of 2018, White River National Forest offers 35 no-reservation campgrounds. To see a list of all the available campgrounds, .
If you prefer dispersed camping instead of campground camping, to check out a full list of dispersed camping options in this National Forest.
Location: Beaver Creek, CO
Sites available: 10
With 10 campsites total nine single sites and one double White Owl Campground is a beautiful and affordable campground near Beaver Creek and Vail.
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The Best Dispersed Camping Near Denver
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.
Denver is Colorados hub of activity and a must visit on any trip to the area. The backdrop for this great city is the beautiful Rocky Mountains, which offer nearly endless opportunities to explore. One of our favorite ways to experience the area is the plan a free dispersed camping trip near Denver.
Although you wont find any dispersed camping directly adjacent to Denver, there are tons of camping opportunities within 50 miles of the City. That means that in under 1 hour from downtown, you could be pitching your tent for an unforgettable night of camping.
Weve created this guide to simply the process of finding dispersed camping near Denver, and have included our seven favorite campsites.
Lets dive in.
Free Dispersed Camping On Jones Pass Road
Jones Pass is a convenient destination for a primitive summer camping trip. The further up the pass you go, the better off you are with 4WD, and the more expansive the views. Its a relatively simple drive, with incredible views from the top. The dispersed campsites are a lot of open meadows, so consider the possible wind when pitching a tent. Try to get a wooded site.
- Closest town: Empire , Idaho Springs , Winter Park
- Address: Jones Pass Road, CO 80438
- Directions: From Empire take Highway 40 west for 7.2 miles. Take a left on Jones Pass Road/Henderson Mine Road and follow that back. Soon youll begin to see campsites.
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Grand Mesa Uncompahgre And Gunnison National Forests
Gunnison National Forest is on the east side of the Rocky Mountains and is accessible from Pueblo or Colorado Springs. To the west through Crested Butte and Gunnison, youll enter Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Uncompahgre National Forest near Ouray and Telluride.
This region offers more than 40 first come, first serve campgrounds. To see a full list of available sites, .
If you prefer dispersed camping instead of campground camping, to check out a full list of dispersed camping options in this region.
Location: Telluride, CO
Sites available: 41
Woods Lake Campground features three loops with 41 campsites adjacent to Woods Lake in a thick aspen forest. This is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, due to its proximity to Telluride, Lone Cone and Woods Lake Trails in the Lizard Head Wilderness.
Our Favorite Camping Spots Near Denver
If youre looking for free camping spots near Denver, check out these dispersed camping areas. Remember, dispersed, free camping often means no amenities. Be prepared and practice Leave No Trace Principals. This means packing out all waste and leaving the wilderness better than you found it. As always, check with the local ranger station prior to departing for the hills for any fire bans in your area.
Read Also: Free Camping Blue Ridge Parkway
Hiking In Guanella Pass
With plenty of hiking trails along the 22-mile long Guanella Pass, calling this getaway destination a hikers haven wouldnt be an overstatement. There are various hikes to enjoy here, ranging from a simple looping trail to trailing a long and winding fourteener. While some of the hiking trails are challenging there are plenty of scenic sites to see along the way. Here are some of the best hiking trails to take when visiting Guanella Pass Camp:
Mount Bierstadt Trail
This 6.9-mile trail is the first hiking trail you will encounter when visiting Guanella Pass. It is also considered to be the longest and most challenging in the region, mainly because it leads hikers straight up to the summits of Mounts Evans and Mount Bierstadt.
Although moderately difficult for beginner hikers, this trail shouldnt be challenging for you if you have climbed a fourteener before. Remember to wear loose-fitting clothing and carry enough water when embarking on this hike since you may not be able to find locations to replenish along the trek.
Herman Gulch Trail
The Herman Gulch is a 6.3 mile long trail located a short drive past Georgetown. The trail is quite elevated and steep, which makes it moderately challenging for inexperienced hikers.
However, the breathtaking waterfall found along this trail makes it very much worth the effort. Make sure you carry enough supplies for your hike in order to make the trek as comfortable as possible.
Shelf Lake Trail
Dispersed Camping In Western Colorado
- May 25, 2019
In western Colorado the scenery can drastically change by just driving thirty minutes in any direction. High desert can build up into rugged hills and aspen forests that extend for miles. As many different landscapes as there are, there are also amazing opportunities for camping. Here are a few of my favorite places to go dispersed camping in western Colorado. The first four of the five are free campsites near Grand Junction.
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Guanella Pass Georgetown Co
You may have driven this past on the way to Mt. Bierstadt, but you may not have known that it provides dozens of fantastic car camping spots. The drive is about an hour from Denver and it provides a great opportunity to stop in Georgetown for breakfast on the way in or out. Bighorn sheep are abundant, so keep you eyes on the hills!
*Note: Be aware of seasonal closings of Guanella Pass. CDOT closes the road in November and typically opens back up in late-May.
Magnolia Road Dispersed Camping
Magnolia Road Dispersed Camping is in Nederland. Youll be surrounded by nature while still being fairly close to civilization. Both RVs and tents are welcome for camping at this spacious location. Its popular due to its many nearby activities, including hiking, biking, and horseback riding. At night, the stars can also be seen very clearly. Fire rings are available at the camping sites, and each site has plenty of space, so large groups camping trips can stop there.
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Jones Pass Road Marshall Co
Primarily known as a great spot for off road driving and cross country skiing, this area also offers some great camping sites. With an 8 mile out and back trail, there is plenty of action if youd like to hoof it a little bit. During the summer, this is a fantastic spot for wildflowers and a quick hike to the top put you on the Continental Divide.
Chaffee County Road 390
This dirt road between Buena Vista and Twin Lakes offers stunning scenery deep in the mighty Sawatch Range, with several ghost towns and four 14,000-foot peaks to climb. Free, heavily used campsites can be found along the road. Passenger cars can make the drive for up to 12 miles along the road. Theres a large meadow near the Winfield ghost town if other sites are full, or if you have a high-clearance vehicle, you can continue on for more remote camping. This area is part of San Isabel National Forest, one of the best areas to camp for free in Colorado.
While youre there: Tackle some 14ers. Go for Mounts Columbia and Oxford , Missouri Mountain, or Huron Peak.
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Old Stage Road/gold Camp Road
This road was the original stagecoach route from Colorado Springs to the gold fields of Cripple Creek and is a great easy weekend getaway, close to the city but miles apart in terms of atmosphere. Camping is limited for the first several miles, as private property lines the road, but campsites abound as you get deeper into Pike National Forest. High-clearance-vehicle drivers will find lovely though heavily used campsites up Forest Road 379 in Frostys Park, which sits in a valley between Mount Rosa and Almagre Mountain.
While youre there: Hike up Almagre Mountain, which at 12,367 feet is topped only by Pikes Peak in the Colorado Springs skyline.
Camping Near Georgetown And Idaho Springs By Guanella Pass And Mt Evans
Idaho Springs and Georgetown are a couple of the most accessible mountain towns from the Denver Metro. Both are often overlooked for nearby Summit County, but these towns of Clear Creek County offer a gateway to some incredible gems in the surrounding wilderness, and even in town.
Most of the campgrounds reside within the Arapaho National Forest, managed by the USFS. They are usually seasonal, open during the typical Colorado summer from late May to September. Camping is easy to access from Georgetown and Idaho springs, with a chance to discover two great fourteeners: Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt. Explore the great outdoors from Clear Creek County, home to some epic stretches of whitewater rafting on Clear Creek.
List of camping by Georgetown, Idaho Springs and Empire, CO, in order of proximity:
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Other Activities To Do At Guanella Pass
There are numerous fishing locations and scenic sites to explore along Guanella Pass. You will also find plenty of fun and activities to do in the towns of Georgetown and Grant.
If you are a history buff, you can visit one of the local museums and learn about the forgotten past of this idyllic part of the world and its people. There is also a scenic train ride that will treat you to an exciting tour around Georgetown so that you can soak in the sights and sounds of this breathtaking landscape first hand. For those who are into water sports, Guanella Pass offers exhilarating water rafting tours courtesy of the numerous rafting companies that operate in this campers paradise.
If camping is not exactly your thing, you will be happy to know that there are plenty of hotels and restaurants in Georgetown, where you can go to unwind and relax while enjoying the serene country air. Historic Georgetown is also home to the Guanella Pass Brewing Company, which you can visit to learn more about the beer brewing tradition of this part of the world. You will also be treated to freshly brewed beer to enjoy as you chat with the locals of this iconic town.
Camping By Guanella Pass Near Georgetown
The railroad town of Georgetown welcomes all who come to its humble historic streets. It sits as a gateway to Guanella Pass, an easy national scenic byway to drive south an hour to Grant at US-285. Guanella Pass Road starts up from town, making camping on this route very convenient if you need to be close to amenities. Once you enter the Arapaho National Forest youll come across two campgrounds on the Georgetown side of the pass, plus a bunch of free, dispersed campsites alongside the highway.
On the opposite, south side, of Guanella Pass lies the Pike National Forest. Youll descend from the summit down to Highway 285 at Grant. There are a couple of campgrounds near Grant on that side of Guanella Pass. They put you within a reasonable drive of I-70 and Georgetown, plus the back way to Denver Metro via Highway 285. Its a nice auto tour to loop. The closest big town to Grant is Bailey. Grant has a few limited businesses, but not much.
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Dispersed Camping Near Denver Co
The following list contains the 7 best sites for dispersed camping near Denver, Colorado. If youre looking for additional camping opportunities in the area, your best bet is to use the Motor Vehicle Use Maps for the ranger districts in the Denver area. They contain detailed maps on where dispersed camping is allowed.
In addition, our Denver dispersed camping map below gives an overview of each sites location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!
Distance to Denver: 60 miles Restrooms: NoWater: No, although you may be able to pull water from Geneva Creek.Crowds: BusyMap
Guanella Pass offers a popular place for dispersed camping near Denver. The regulations have changed over the years and you are no longer permitted to camp directly along Guanella Pass, instead having to stay in one of the designated dispersed sites along Geneva Creek Road/FR 119.
There are between 30-40 designated dispersed campsites along the road, and the further back you get the more quiet and secluded you can expect your site to be. This is a great place to camp before climbing Mt. Bierstadt or exploring the beautiful drive along Guanella Pass.
You can get here by either taking I-70 through Georgetown or US-285 through Grant, but either way youll want to arrive early to secure a spot.
Given the popularity and proximity to Denver, please be sure to pack out all of your trash and practice Leave No Trace principles here.
Distance to Denver: 50 miles Restrooms: NoMap