Camping Near Rocky Mountain National Park Find A Free Campsite
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A Definitive Guide To Camping When Visiting Colorados Most Popular National Park Rocky Mountain National Park
First, Ill talk about how to find and reserve the best campsites in the Park.
Then, Ill give you camping alternatives during the busy summer season.
Finally, well talk about wilder camping: backcountry, winter, and the ultimate adventure cliff camping.
Sound good? Lets dive right in
- Cliff Camping the ultimate camping adventure
Things you need to know to make your trip successful
The Importance Of Leave No Trace
When dispersed camping on Colorado public lands, its crucial to follow leave no trace principles, including:
- Be prepared by planning ahead.
- Walk and camp on durable surfaces that can withstand the tromping of boots and tents.
- Whenever possible, camp where the ground has already been impacted and use existing fire rings rather than making new ones.
- Dont camp at or close to trailheads.
- Look for a dispersed camping spot at least 100 feet away from a water source.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Take all of your trash out with you.
- If you need to wash things, use biodegradable soap and do so at least 200 feet from waterways. Never pour your soapy water into streams, creeks, or rivers.
- Bury human waste at least six inches deep in a cat hole and pack out your toilet paper in doubled-up plastic bags. If you bury it, it can get disinterred by critters or the weather. Leave what you find Dont go around collecting wildflowers, plant specimens, birds eggs, etc.
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The Complete Guide To Camping In And Around Estes Park
Do you like to car camp? Prefer the comforts of a RV? Get back to the basics in the backcountry? Do you dare sleep on a portaledge on the side of a cliff? Between Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park you have access to it all. Use this guide to plan the ultimate rocky mountain camping trip.
Types of campsites
Frontcountry sites are in or closer to town and run the gamut from amenity-filled campground lots filled with car camping sites, RV hookups and yurts to camping loops that afford more privacy, more nature and fewer amenities. Backcountry sites are clustered throughout Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest and yes, one even allows you to sleep hanging off the side of a cliff.
Find the perfect site for you:
Roosevelt National Forest does not have any designated campgrounds in the Estes Park area, but allows dispersed camping in certain areas. You have to work harder and be a bit more prepared to earn these dispersed camping sites from getting there to no amenities you get the picture) and there are some rules and restrictions, of course, so educate yourself before you go.
While most campsites require a reservation, the Longs Peak Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park is first-come, first-served. These sites fill up quickly as well, so plan ahead and get to the site early for the best chance of securing one of these coveted spots.
When to camp
How to camp
What to do
Rocky Mountain Camping Basics
Here are some simple insider tips to help you stay warm in your campsite while camping in the Rocky Mountains:
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Kolob Reservoir Dispersed Camping
Summary – BLM lakeside camping, roughly 20 minutes further up the road from Lava Point.
Pros – Beautiful area with TONS of privacy. Youll find beautiful aspen tree groves surrounding the far end of the lake, making this area exceptionally beautiful during a lush, green spring or early summer season. No reservations are ever needed, and theres literally no limit to where you can set up a tent, so its a great backup option for a beautiful, open campsite if your other options fall through.
Cons – No bathrooms or facilities whatsoever. Being quite a bit higher in elevation than the Zion valley floor, nights will be noticeably colder. Its also nearly a 45 min. drive each way from Hwy 9, adding quite a bit of extra time if you’re trying to access Zion National Park early the next day. You wont find a single gas station along the way, so fill up in town before you make the trek.
Directions – Continued from our last example, if you continue following Kolob Terrace Rd. all the way up , youll eventually run into Kolob Reservoir, where you can camp anywhere theres a dirt pull-out.
Estes Park Koa Holiday
Located near the town of Estes Park this KOA is a perfect launching pad for adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park. A campground with all the amenities, a short distance from the eclectic downtown experience of Estes Park this could be your perfect destination.
- Closest town: Estes Park
- Specs: 54 RV sites, 26 tent sites, 15 cabins, full hookups for tent and RV available, water, flush toilets, electricity, open May to October 16
- Amenities: Showers, dog walk, laundry, tent-area bathhouse, free in-town shuttle, basketball court, playground
- Recreation: Biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, shopping, wildlife viewing
This fully equipped, modern RV park has everything you need to set up your RV or trailer for a day, a week or longer in exploring nearby Estes Park ,and the spectacular scenery of Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Closest town: Estes Park
- Specs: 110 full hookup sites, 22 river shore sites, showers, water, open May 1 to October 15
- Amenities: Laundry, playground, clubhouse, propane, Wi-Fi, cable TV
- Recreation: Fishing, hiking, close access to biking, horseback riding, hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Reservations: call to book 794-7857
- Address: 815 Riverside Drive, Estes Park, CO 80517
- Directions: From Estes Park go .1 mile on East Elkhorn Avenue. Turn left on U.S. Highway 36, go 1.5 miles. Turn left on Marys Lake Road, go .3 miles. Turn left on Riverside Drive, go .3 miles, turn left .1 mile, turn right the campground will be on the left.
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Beaver Meadows Visitor Center
A stopover at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is essential when you visit Rocky Mountain, National Park. In this visitor center or any other visitor center within the park, you are provided with the parks educational overview. The park rangers in this Visitor center are very knowledgeable and helpful. They will advise you on the trails to take based on your skill level and the time that you will be in the park. At Beaver Meadows Visitor Center you will access books and maps about the park and also get walking sticks and other equipment that you do not have but are necessary. You can spend at least one hour here.
Boondocking And Dispersed Camping
Today I am going to talk about the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and ideas on where you should go camping in your RV or tent. Great Smoky Mountain National Park is enormous, there are really only a few main access points into the park.
Now the park itself is bounded by I-40 on the East and the US 129 on the West. Then on the north and the south is your two main access points. In the North, you have Gatlinburg Townsend and Pigeon Forge, on the south side you have Cherokee Bryson City.
Other than the small parks that well talk about in a little bit thats the main part of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The interior areas on both the western and eastern sides of the park are accessible only by foot.
So the main parts of the park are for hikers only, otherwise, youre limited to these main access points. When I say limited its not limited in a bad way. Its just for planning purposes, you need to be aware of that. Where to stay inside Smoky Mountain National Park so lets start out with Gatlinburg Tennessee.
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Technical Climbing Bivouac In Rmnp
The final backcountry camping experience that is possible in RMNP is for climbers needing to bivouac prior to/during a climb of one of the parks many climbing routes. The NPS defines a bivouac as an open air, temporary encampment. If youre not sure what a climbing bivvy is, it is probably not for you!
If you are looking to bivouac before climbing in RMNP, youll need to get a technical climbing wilderness permit. These limit group sizes to four climbers and have limits on the number of permits issued for various zones throughout the park.
Costs And Camping For The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Entrance to the The Great Smoky Mountains is free. It is one of the few national parks in the United States of America where entry is not charged. A rate of between $14-23 is charged per night for camping. Passes to national parks in the USA are $80 annually. People over 62 years or who receive a disability check are eligible for the senior or access pass.
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Moraine Park Campground On The East Side
For striking views of Longs Peak, the parks highest, settle in for the evening at Moraine Park Campground. For summer, reservations are highly recommended. You can make reservations up to six months in advance online at www.recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. In the winter, no reservations are accepted its a first-come, first-served basis.
Nestled in a ponderosa pine forest two-and-a-half miles south of Beaver Meadows Entrance Station, this beautiful campground offers 244 sites in the summer and 77 in winter, but you never feel like a sardine packed tightly between tents.
The site costs $26 per night when the water is on, and $18 when it is off, so youll find a mix of flush and vault toilets, depending on water availability. RVs up to 40 feet in length are welcome here, and generators are allowed from 7:30 a.m.-10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., except in Loop D where generators are prohibited.
Amenities include a free shuttle that connects the campground to Bear Lake and Estes Park, which is especially great to RVers who want to leave their vehicles behind. Moraine Park Discovery Center is in walking distance as are connections to Moraine Park area trails. If you have your own solar shower bag, you can connect to the shower bag stall in the campground to clean off after a day of outdoor adventure.
How Much Time Do You Need For Your Visit
It is not possible to explore Rocky Mountain National Park in one day or a few hours and exhaust everything. This is because the park is quite large and has a long list of interesting hikes that you need to explore. Ideally, for you to have ample time to drive through Old Fall River Road, Alpine Ridge Road and hike a couple of trails, you will need at least 3 days in this park. However, for avid hikers, five or more days are recommended in Rocky Mountain National Park. In the course of the five days as an avid hiker, you can tackle tougher and higher hikes like Hallet Peak, Longs Peak, and Mount Ida.
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What To Pack For Your Visit To The The Great Smoky Mountains
1. Hiking gear to help with the hiking experience in the Great Smoky Mountains boondocking sites.
2. Epi Pen for people with bee allergy as wasps are especially aggressive in the fall.
3. Food to help boost energy during adventures as there are no restaurants within The Great Smoky Mountains Park.
4. A rain jacket for wet days.
5. Adequate drinking water to keep hydrated during the Great Smoky Mountains.
6. Different clothing layers for different weather changes.
7. Headlamp or spotlight to see at night.
8. Sunglasses and sun hats to help protect yourself from the sun.
9. A map.
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Great Smoky Mountains Great Smoky Mountains Rainbow Falls Trail
The Great Smoky Mountains Rainbow Falls Trail is a 5.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking.
The mist from the high waterfall produces a rainbow that is visible on sunny afternoons. It does not end there as during winter months ice formations build around the falls making it a spectacular sight for the visitors. The rainbow falls trail is located in the roaring fork area. The trip around the waterfall is 5.4 miles long and considered less difficult compared to the roaring fork trail. Hiking gear is still essential as some parts of the trail are very rocky. Drinking water is also important for hydration.
Length: 5.1 mi Route Type: Out and Back
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How To Get To The Rocky Mountain National Park
To get to Rocky Mountain National Park, you will have to fly and land at Denver International Airport. You can then reach Estes Park in two different ways since there are no public means of transport to reach the park from the airport. The first means to reach Estes Park is to rent a car then drive yourself 80-something miles Northwest from the airport. The other option is to use Estes Park Shuttle and pay $85 for a round trip or $45 for a one-way.
The advantage of using a car to get to and around Rocky Mountain National Park is that you can come and go freely as you please. The advantage of using a shuttle is to get around the park is that you are taken around many routes and the main trails within Rocky Mountain National Park.
Great Smoky Mountains Laurel Falls Trail
Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the park and parking lot at the trailhead is limited. There is potential for parking along the sides of the road, please watch for all rules and regulations and be careful when driving amongst pedestrians.
This waterfall mimics a double-decker and falls 80 feet. It is also one of the most popular destinations in the This Great Smoky Mountains trail stretching about 2.6 miles which is also the longest paved trail in the area.
Length: 2.6 mi Route Type: Out and Back
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Our Top 10 Paid Camping Near Rocky Mountain National Park
The main campgrounds such as Aspenglen, Glacier Basin, Longs Peak, and Moraine Park around Rocky Mountain National Park are considerably affordable and hence making your tour there convenient. These campgrounds provide you with unique wilderness experiences whether you go there as a couple, group, or family despite their affordability. During the summer season, you are required to pay a camping fee of $26 per site in one night. On the other hand, during winter you are required to pay $18 per site since you are given a discount.
Sunset View Campground Navajo National Monument Navajo Nation Arizona
Explore cliff dwellings with self-guided tours, overlook scenic canyon lands, and learn about the historic people who called this area home.
Sunset View Campground at Navajo National Monument has free campsites and more.
The Sunset View Campground is located near the Visitor Center between Betatakin Canyon and Fir Canyon. Canyon View Campground is also located in the National Monument and free of charge.
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