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Dispersed Camping Near Steamboat Springs

Where And How To Camp At Red Feather Lakes

Ep. 71: Steamboat Springs and Laramie | Colorado & Wyoming RV travel camping

There are many options for where to stay at Red Feather Lakes. There are multiple campgrounds which have reserved and first-come-first-served campsites. You can also find many dispersed camping areas, some accessible by car and some by backpacking only. Red Feather Lakes dispersed camping should not be missed.

This is bear country and it is an area where we all have to work to minimize our impact so that we dont destroy the beauty. For more information about being bear aware, check out the Colorado Parks and Wildlife videos posted here.

Learn more about preserving natures beauty through leave no trace principles on this website.

Steamboat Lake State Park Campgrounds

Steamboat Lake is often described as one of the jewels of the Colorado wilderness. With over 1,000 acres of mountain lake, views of Hahn Peak, and close proximity to ski areas this lake and the two modern, well-equipped campgrounds on it are extremely popular destinations. You can boat, fish, hike, ride horses, or mountain bikes while taking in the spectacular scenery. With 188 campsites to choose from you can have a wilderness experience with nearly all the comforts of home. A note to campers, a camping permit required in addition to a daily or annual vehicle pass.

  • Closest town: Clark Steamboat Springs
  • Specs: 78 sites arranged in three loops, water, flush toilets, open
  • Amenities: Convenience store, marina, swim beach, showers, laundry, electric sites at Wheeler loop
  • Reservations: Yes, at for the week before Memorial Day to Labor Day, first-come, first-serve remainder of the year
  • Address: County Road 62, Clark, CO 80428
  • Directions: From Clark take County Road 129 9.1 miles. Turn left on County Road 62, go 1.1 miles. The campground will be on the right.

Summary Of Red Feather Lakes Dispersed Camping

Red Feather Lakes dispersed camping should not be missed. Its a beautiful area with numerous options for camping of all types. Gorgeous lakes are ready for a good swim, and plenty of peaks need to be conquered to see stunning views. It is a unique part of the state with large boulder outcroppings spotted throughout, and heavily forested nearly everywhere. Avoid the people and avoid I-70 with this Colorado gem.

If youre wondering how in the world I found these areas instead of the usual Dowdy Lake area, check out How to Find Campsites, and pay attention to the discussion on Strava heat maps. It takes some effort to find hidden spots!

Dont forget to pack everything you need! Check out our Essential Camping Gear List for tons of tips and our list of 25 Cool Camping Gadgets!

What are your favorite camping spots in Colorado? Let us know in the comments below.

More on camping in Colorado:

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What Kind Of Camping Is Available

Youll find a variety of camping options close to Garden of the Gods and Colorado Springs. There are RV hookup sites that have so many amenities and services , itll feel like you actually did choose an Airbnb and not the camping option. Of course, there are also sites for traditional tent camping with the bonus of nearby restrooms. Or if youre really ready to rough it and experience nature, you can choose a camping option in the national forest that doesnt even have a proper tent site.

Here are some great places to camp near Garden of the Gods:

Dispersed Camping Sites With Bathrooms In Colorado

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Not everyone has the luxury of traveling with a portable toilet. Likewise, not everyone wants to do their duty in the outdoors. Fortunately, you can still find campsites that are free, and come with bathrooms!

For starters, apps like The Dyrt already list campground amenities so if youve found one you want to visit bathrooms are easy to check.

As a rule of thumb, you should expect all dispersed camping areas to be primitive and undeveloped unless otherwise stated.

You can look up bathrooms and other amenities at specific campgrounds using these links:

For the National Forest and BLM campsites, click dispersed camping and you can find information including location, directions, water and restroom facilities.

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Where Is Dispersed Camping Allowed In Colorado

The first step is planning a Colorado dispersed camping trip is to understand exactly where dispersed camping is permitted. In Colorado, there are several public agencies that allow dispersed camping on land they control. The two largest of these are the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management .

Find additional details on dispersed camping on USFS and BLM land in Colorado below:

US Forest Service Dispersed Camping in Colorado

The USFS manages millions of acres across 11 distinct National Forests in Colorado. These are home to some of our favorite dispersed camping areas. All of these national forests permit dispersed camping within their boundaries and they all feature tons of great recreational opportunities. These forests are always our first choice for dispersed camping in Colorado, and weve provided additional information on each one below.

Each of Colorados 11 National Forests are listed below along with a link to the dispersed camping guidelines for that area:

The map below shows where each of Colorados National Forests are located and is a helpful resource when planning your trip:

Bureau of Land Management Dispersed Camping in Colorado

The BLM has four administrative offices in Colorado, and we always recommend reaching out to them if youre not clear whether dispersed camping is permitted in a specific area or not:

In addition, you can find a good overview of BLM dispersed camping rules here.

Colorado National Grasslands Dispersed Camping

Hiking Garden Of The Gods

Are you wanting a more extended hike? 5.5 miles of interconnecting trails traverse the landscape of Garden of the Gods. See a variety of flora and fauna specific to Southern Illinois. Enjoy the delicate wildflowers of Spring or the beautiful colors of Autumn while you traverse the Garden of the Gods. Make Garden of the Gods a day trip and bring lunch to eat at one of the various picnicking sites located along the trails.

Equestrian trails and hiker-only trails meet up with the River to River trail along this scenic valley. Each trail is marked by a different color making the hikes easy to navigate. If you are looking for a wonderful family friendly and educational afternoon along the observation trail or a more vigorous hiking or horseback riding experience, Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois has everything you want and more.

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Free Tent Camping In Colorado Springs

These are large PDFs made available from the Forest Service.

Many, but not all, of these maps show where dispersed camping is permitted. Roads with dots on either side represent free campsites. Each map has a legend.

Its best to download them for an easier time viewing, and so you have them with you if bring a computer on the road. I havent tried viewing them on a cell phone, but they are very large and it would be a headache.

To Print Open the map and find the area you need to print. Go to File, Print, and under Pages to Print, select More Options and Current view. Next under Page Sizing & Handling choose Fit. Select Orientation and then Print.

Tip Bring up the location in Google Maps too, so you can get more street names and info.

MVUM National Forests

Halfmoon Road Near Leadville

âSteamboat Springs Camping: Dry Lake Campground

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.

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Where Can I Camp In Colorado : A Guide To Dispersed Camping

Stargazing is one of the great pleasures of camping in Colorado. Photo Credit: Zach Dischner

If youre a hardcore camper in Colorado, youve probably figured out that dispersed camping is the way to go. Youve got more options, fewer crowds, and plenty of space. That being said, if youre getting into dispersed camping for the first time, there are a few things youll need to know first.

Forest Service Road 296 Rabbit Ears Pass West

Distance to Steamboat Springs: 15 milesRestrooms: NoMap

Continuing up Rabbit Ears Pass from Steamboat will bring you to the FR 296 dispersed camping area. This is a relatively popular spot near the summit of the pass with a variety of sites to choose from. Dispersed camping is permitted along the entire length of the road, so larger rigs should plan to take a site closer to the highway while those with 4WD can head back quite a ways in hopes of find a more private campsite.

Keep in mind that these campsites are all above 9,000 in elevation so youll want to bring plenty of water!

Youre only a 20 minute drive from Steamboat Springs here making this one of our favorite dispersed campsites in the area.

Also Check: Free Camping Blue Ridge Parkway

Developed Campgrounds Near Garden Of The Gods

There are two developed campgrounds near Garden of the Gods that make a good place to spend the night if youre interested in some basic amenities without staying at full fledged RV campground. These includes things such as potable water, picnic tables, restrooms, and trash services.

Both of our recommended developed campgrounds can accommodate smaller trailers and RVs, although there wont be any hookups available.

We think these campgrounds are best for car campers, those with smaller rigs who dont need all the hookups, and for anyone looking for a classic camping experience near Garden of the Gods.

Keep reading to see our top picks:

Number of sites:21 campsitesRVs:Yes, but no hookups available. Max length of 30Reservations: Recommended. Pets: Allowed

The Thunder Ridge Campground is located northwest of Garden of the Gods in Pike National Forest. This USFS campground is about 45 minutes from the park via the winding Highway 24. For those that are willing to make the drive, youll find 21 individual campsites here set in a beautiful forest with views over Rampart Reservoir. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring, room for a tent and a ~30 parking area.

Common amenities at Thunder Ridge include a drinking water source as well as vault toilets. There are no RV hookups here, so if youre after a more deluxe RV camping experience youll want to look elsewhere.

Consider Kremmling Walden Or Craig

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One hour southeast of Steamboat resides the western town of Kremmling. Youll pass it on your way to Steamboat Springs if coming from Denver, making it quicker to reach for a weekend campout. Its a bit long to day trip into Steamboat though, but certainly doable from some of the campgrounds near Kremmling. The biggest attraction in town are the outdoors, with several lakes nearby, including Green Mountain and Williams Fork reservoirs.

One hour northeast of Steamboat lies the North Park town of Walden. Its the county seat and only real town in all of the expansive Jackson County. Unless youre driving from Fort Collins, you wont pass Walden on your way to Steamboat Springs. You can detour north just before Rabbit Ears Pass to check out one of Colorados least visited regions. There are plenty of cool campgrounds by Walden, like those within State Forest State Park.

About forty-five minutes west of Steamboat puts you at 6,198 feet of elevation in Craig. For those looking to hit up Steamboat Springs just for a day, you can pass through town, see its sights, and then roll onto your campground near Craig. At nearly four hours northwest of Denver, youll really get away the crowds here. With a population of around 9,000, there are plenty of businesses in town to outfit your camping trip.

Thats a roundup of the best places to camp around Steamboat Springs, Colo. Remember to practice leave no trace and follow all fire bans

About Randy Tucker

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Buena Vista And Cottonwood Pass

Cottonwood Pass has been a long-time favorite place of mine to find Boondocking in Colorado. The front half of the road is paved, while the road turns to dirt on the backside of the pass.

Along this scenic stretch of tarmac, youll find several first-come-first-serve free campgrounds. Alternatively, you can pull off on one of the many dirt roads to snag a hidden free campsite.

These roads stay closed for part of the year, so come with a sense of adventure if youre traveling between Labor Day and Memorial Day. Once the road turns to dirt, there are several options for camping along pullouts and other dirt roads.

Where To Go Dispersed Camping In Colorado

Its the time of year when the snow melts and the weather warms up in the mountains. Its summer and it is the best time to spend a night or two underneath the stars in the great outdoors. Of course established campsites can fill up quickly especially in popular areas and can be a bit pricey. Plus, some sites are packed so tight its easy to forget youre in the wilderness.

There is another option dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is free camping on public land anywhere outside of an established campground. Learn how to take back the overnight wilderness experience with this complete guide to Colorados dispersed camping.

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Rules For Dispersed Camping In Colorado

The rules for dispersed camping are pretty similar for all National Forests in the US. This park system is managed by the United States Department of Agriculture .

The most important rules for dispersed camping are:

  • Camp within 150 feet of roadways, if possible
  • Always use existing fire rings when available
  • No camping within 100 feet of a water source
  • No camping at developed trailheads or picnic areas
  • You must move your campsite every 14 days
  • Do not leave personal property unattended for more than 10 days
  • Minimize your environmental impact
  • Leave no trace

14 Day Stay Limits

All National Forests have a 14-day stay limit. This is to prevent excess damage to the environment. In Colorado, this means that you cant camp in the same spot for more than 14 days within a 28 day timeframe.

That includes both consecutive and non-consecutive visits.

After youve reached the 14 day maximum, you must move your campsite outside of a 25 mile radius.

Camping Near Yampa By Flat Tops

Best Dispersed Camping Near Colorado Springs

Less than thirty minutest west of Yampa on County Road 8, aka the Flat Tops Trail, puts you in the heart of the Flat Top Mountains. Chapman Reservoir Campground is the first one youll reach, but even before then there are opportunities for free dispersed camping. If youre looking to do a looking hiking or even backpacking, there are oodles of trails along the way, especially within the Flat Tops Wilderness.

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Camping Regulations By Segment Of The Ring The Peak Trail

Starting on the south side and going counterclockwise, camping is allowed from Forest Road 376, along Forest Service Road 379, and Forest Service trails 701, and 668 up to the ridge between the Cheyenne watershed and the Bear Creek watershed. Additionally, campfires are not allowed in the Cheyenne watershed , so while trail users can camp in the area near 701 and the south part of 668, they cannot have campfires there.

Then comes a long stretch of trail through areas that prohibit camping.

Though Forest Service generally allows dispersed camping, camping and campfires are not allowed in the Bear Creek watershed, which includes the north part of 668, 667, 776, and 666. Sections of those trails are in El Paso County property, Jones Park, which also does not allow camping. The next part of the Ring is in Colorado Springs parks, on the Bear Creek trail, High Drive, the Palmer Red Rock loop, and part of the Intemann Trail, through Bear Creek Canyon Park and Red Rock Canyon Open Space, so also no camping through there. Manitou Springs does not allow camping, so there is no camping along the Intemann Trail or Iron Mountain Trail. El Paso County does not allow camping, so there is no camping along the Ute Pass Trail, and no camping along the current work around for the missing parts of the Ute Pass Trail, and also no camping on the lower part of the Mount Esther trail, which is on an easement through private property.

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Southwest Colorado Dispersed Camping

The San Juan mountains make for some of Colorados most impressive scenery and youll find an abundance of public land in this part of the State. In addition to the beautiful wilderness there are also plenty of great towns worth exploring. The southwest gets our vote for the top dispersed camping destination in Colorado. Here are the relevant dispersed camping guides along with a few of our favorite campsites:

  • Telluride: The Telluride area has tons of excellent dispersed camping options. Be sure to check out Alta Lakes!
  • Lake City: The wilderness around Lake City is perfect for finding a bit of solitude.
  • Silverton: Big views and great campsites are the highlight of dispersed camping near Silverton.
  • Durango: A southwest road trip isnt complete without a stop in Durango.

Our favorite dispersed campsites in the area include:

Alta Lakes Telluride Area

Water: No, but can be filtered from the lake. Crowds: BusyMap

Alta Lakes lives up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful places in Colorado, and a night under the stars here is an unforgettable experience. There are about 20 dispersed campsites in the area surrounding the lakes. Most sites are pretty well spaced out, allowing for privacy and spectacular alpine views. There are some additional sites located along the road up to the lakes.

Kendall Camping Area Silverton area

Restrooms: YesMap

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