The Best Turquoise Lake Camping
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Turquoise Lake is one of Colorados best high-country summer destinations. Located just a few miles outside of Leadville, Turquoise Lake features boating, fishing, a swim beach, and miles of hiking and biking trails. The spectacular backdrop of some of Colorados highest peaks makes this a must visit spot in the area.
Our favorite way to visit is to take advantage of the some of the incredible camping available at Turquoise Lake. This includes nine developed campgrounds surrounding the lake as well as a few opportunities for free, dispersed camping nearby.
Weve put together this guide to help you pick the right campground for your Turquoise Lake camping adventure!
Lets get started.
Crested Butte And Gunnison
Scope out one of the best national parks in Colorado and enjoy world-class mountain biking with a camping trip to Crested Butte and Gunnison. The wildflower blooms and fall colors in Crested Butte have to be seen to be believed, they are just that beautiful. Gunnison is close to one of the most beautiful canyons in Colorado, the mighty Gunnison Canyon that cuts through the earth with vertical granite walls.
Locally Recommended Campgrounds: Oh Be Joyful Recreation Area , Cement Creek Campground , Lake Erwin Campground ., North Rim Campground , South Rim Campground .
Look For Dispersed Camping Options
National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands have many areas where dispersed campingnamely, camping on public lands in undesignated areas away from developed recreation facilitiesis allowed. That often means you can simply pull up and set up camp for a maximum of 14 days within a 28- to 30-day period. For Forest Service lands, the general rule is to camp 100 feet from any road, trail, or water source. BLM guidelines encourage campers to reuse areas where its obvious someone has previously set up a home away from home.
Some public lands have additional restrictionsfire bans or bear canister requirements, for exampleso check the public areas website and maps before leaving home. Once there, respect any posted rules, and pack out all garbage, including solid human waste.
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Best Camping Spots Near Colorado Springs Colorado
Nestled at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the doorstep of Pike National Forest, its no surprise that Colorado Springs is overflowing with great campgrounds.
Camping in Colorado Springs is a wonderful way visit this unique city and landscape. Whether youre looking for a home base to tour the city or heading deep into Pike National Forest, the Colorado Springs area has you covered!
There are so many attractions around Colorado Springs, its honestly hard to decide what to do sometimes. If youre looking for a little adventure inspiration, check out our article on the best hikes around Colorado Springs or visit the citys adventure guide for tips on what to do. Dont forget to ask your campground host for ideas, too!
Ready to pitch your tent? Heres a list of the best campgrounds around Colorado Springs, covering everything from national forest campgrounds to state parks and private camping resorts.
Why you should camp here: A backpackers dream, where hikers are greeted with a hot meal and warm bunk.
- Reservations Accepted: Yes
- Best Seasons: Year-round
- Campsite Type: Cabins, bunkhouses, lean-tos, tents
Barr Camp makes it possible for hikers to test their skills in the winter months. I know I would only want to hike Barr Trail in December if I could expect hot meals and a roof over my head!
When Do The First
There is no exact answer to this question. It varies. It depends on the park. It depends on the popularity of the campground. It depends on the time of year. It depends on what is going on in the area. It depends on how many people wake up the night before and decide they want to camp.
Above I mentioned, I found a campsite at Norris Campground at 5 pm on a Saturday. The following morning, I headed out at 6:00 am to sit by Steamboat Geyser. There were 10 vehicles in line waiting to see if they could grab a campsite. I dont know why Norris didnt fill on that Saturday but I got extremely lucky. Norris was filled mid-morning for the four nights I was there.
A general rule is the more popular the park and the more popular the area of the park the earlier in the morning said campground fills. A good example of this is Many Glacier campground in Glacier. This campground ALWAYS fills early in the morning. While Kintla Lake Campground fills in the later afternoon.
The same goes for popular times such as holidays and school breaks. Take Big Bend National Park. This is a hugely popular spring break park and it isnt uncommon for campgrounds that rarely fill to fill mid-morning during this busy season.
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Lewis Mountain Campground Shenandoah National Park
Image from The Dyrt camper Danielle V.
The only 100% first-come, first-served campground in Shenandoah National Park is Lewis Mountain Campground at mile 57.5 of Skyline Drive. Its also the smallest campground in the park, set in a beautiful woodsy area near some of the parks best hikes and overlooks.
This campground also has several cabins, which can be reserved. There is a small store, restrooms, picnic tables, fire rings, and water fountains. Remember that hundreds of black bears live in Shenandoah National Park, so proper food storage is not only advised but mandatory.
This is the best campground in the park! The spots are secluded, there are bathrooms that are in good shape, and its super close to some awesome hikes and great sunset lookouts. We loved being able to hang our hammocks and watch the wildlife roam around. Our dogs were welcomed and we felt right at home. One of my favorite NPs and definitely my favorite camp spot in the park! The Dyrt Camper Molly G.
Halfmoon Campground And Twin Lakes
If youre looking to hike to the top of Mount Evans, the highest point in Colorado, look no further than Halfmoon Campground. Similar to Beuna Vista, there are endless dispersed camping opportunities at Twin Lakes and the surrounding areas. However, Twin Lakes is also home of the best campgrounds in Colorado can be found here, but they are all primitive, so be prepared.
Locally Recommended Campgrounds: Halfmoon Campgrounds , Twin Peaks Campground , White Star Campground , Lakeview Campground .
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Camping In Rocky Mountain National Park
Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the highlights of any Colorado adventure. There are a variety of camping options inside Rocky Mountain National Park, including some of the most scenic camping in Colorados National Parks. However, competition is fierce, so its best to reserve in advance or arrive early if you want to snag a spot during the busy season.
Local Tip: Camping outside of the national park is also an option, but keep in mind there is not much free camping to be found near Estes Park since most of the land surrounding the park is private. You can also camp at nearby Grand Lake and access the park from the quieter, western side.
Locally Recommended Campgrounds:Moraine Park Campground , Glacier Basin Campground , Aspen Glen Campground , Longs Peak Campground , Timber Creek Campground .
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.
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Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
Famous for hiking in the summer and backcountry skiing in the winter, Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park is another wilderness area that has no road access, necessitating a hike or horseback ride into its core. Most people base camp at Lake Magog, where you will find the parks largest campsite, offering 29 first-come, first-served sites along with water taps, food caches, cooking shelter and pit toilets.
Other campsites in the park include Mitchell Meadows with 3 sites, Og Lake with 7 sites, Porcupine with 7 sites and Rock Lake with 4 sites. All of these sites offer first-come, first-served camping, as do the rustic cabins found at Surprise Creek, the Mitchell River and Police Meadows. We recommend bringing along a fishing rod on your trip into Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, as Lake Magog offers excellent cutthroat trout fishing.
Breckenridge And The Tenmile Range
The Tenmile Range near Breckenridge is one of the most accessible spots to explore the mountains. It also happens to have some of the best mountain camping in Colorado, which is a double-win in my book. Enjoy camping right on the reservoir, or head into the mountains for epic alpine views.
Locally Recommended Campgrounds: Peak One Campground , Kite Lake Campground , Gore Creek Campground , Blue River Campground .
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The Procrastinators Guide To Camping In Colorado
This post was updated June 12, 2018 to include current information and recommendations.
There are those fortunate people who plan their summertime camping adventure months in advance clearing their schedules, making campsite reservations, checking the air mattress and tent for damage, preparing their campfire menus, and packing the Suburban with the utmost care and organization.
And then there are the procrastinators who scramble to come up with a camping plan the day before, just hoping they will have a space to set up camp when the sun goes down.
If you fit in the latter category of folks who have spent the summer stargazing rather than calling around to Colorado campgrounds to make your reservations, this guide is for you.
The Best Campgrounds Near Northern Colorado Mapped
Its camping season! And youve got your tent, sleeping bags, hiking boots and sense of adventure but where will you go?
Thankfully, Northern Colorado is packed with a number of exceptional campgrounds, some just outside the renowned Rocky Mountain National Park and others nestled along the Cache la Poudre River.
Weve included a mix of reservation-only campground and campsites that operate on a first come, first served basis, in case you forgot to plan ahead. No matter what type of adventure youre seeking, youre bound to find it at these campgrounds in Northern Colorado!
Use our interactive map to track down the best campground for your outdoor adventures.
Fort Collins / Lakeside KOA Holiday has the amenities and accommodations to suit any kind of camper, including big-rig-friendly RV sites with 50/30 amp, water, sewer, WiFi and cable. Plus, they have five tent sites, cabins, and deluxe cabins. Their tent sites all enjoy incredible lakefront views as well as electricity, a picnic table and a barbecue grill on 12-by-15-foot site pads. Campers can take advantage of the KOAs many amenities, including a pool, mini golf, bike rentals, a laundry room, pickleball, a recreation center, a playground, a dog park, paddleboats and much more.
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Finding Free Camping In Colorado
Finding free campingis relatively simple and Colorado has some of the best free camping options in the entire country. We are really spoiled for choice here, and free-dispersed camping is one of my favorite activities. You can learn all about how to camp for free with my How to Find Free Camping mini-course!
However, with free camping comes great responsibility. Youll need to pick up all of your trash and pack it back home with you. This includes toilet paper, dog poop, food waste, and other trash. Youll also be responsible for bringing your own water.
There are no toilets at many free camping establishments, so be sure to follow Leave No Trace when going for bathroom breaks!
Kakwa Provincial Park And Protected Area/kakwa Wildland Provincial Park
Found on either side of the Alberta/British Columbia Border and straddling the Continental Divide, the Kakwa Provincial Parks do have road access, albeit on remote and sometimes rough logging roads. In BC, access is via the Walker Creek Forest Service Road, while the Alberta side can be accessed from Two Lakes Road. This keeps visitor pressure on the parks low, and chances are you will have your campsite all to yourself, especially if you utilize the random camping permitted in Kakwa Wildland.
There are also established campsites at Dead Horse Meadows Recreation Area and at Kakwa Lake , all offering first-come, first-served camping. While visiting the area, check out Kakwa Falls, which are the tallest in Alberta at 30 m , or take in the otherworldly sight of the Moon Valley Sinkholes.
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What Is First Come First Serve Camping
First-come first-serve sites are non-reservable sites, and you must be there in person to get one. Simply put, you get there first, you get the spot. While first-come first-serve sounds similar to boondocking or free camping, this phrase is generally referring to campgrounds.
It applies to campgrounds that book up quickly due to high demand and people who are on top of making reservations. However, these in-demand campgrounds typically hold a few spots to be used on a first-come first-served basis.
Additionally, most first-come first-serve camping only offers dry camping sites. Meaning they dont offer water, electric, or sewer hookups.
Youll want to be sure your RV is set up for this type of camping. Dont fret though, these campgrounds almost always offer flush toilets , showers, and a central location to get drinking water. Some even offer fire rings and picnic tables!
Pro Tip: Read our article on Everything You Need to Know About Dry Camping Sites before attempting to snag a first-come first-serve site!
Check Out Private Campgrounds
If your heart is set on camping in a specific area, but the government-run campgrounds are full, dont forget to look into private campgrounds like Yogi Bears Jellystone Park outside of Estes Park and the numerous KOA Campgrounds scattered around the Centennial State. While these options are often more expensive , they also tend to have more amenities on-site, like pools, playgrounds, showers, and maybe even a mini-golf course.
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Mount Robson Provincial Park
At 3,953 metres tall, Mount Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and is found towering over this parks western entrance. The rest of the park is made up of 217,000 hectares of largely undisturbed wilderness, including the headwaters of the Fraser River. Mountain goats traverse the many cliffs and rocky mountainsides found throughout the park, while moose roam the wetlands. Deer, caribou, bears, elk and many other animals call this park home as well, and there are many trails for hikers to explore to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife.
For those wishing to stay the night in Mount Robson Provincial Park, there are a variety of camping options available. There are 36 rustic, vehicle-accessible first-come, first-served campsites at the Lucerne Campgrounds near the parks east entrance. Robson Meadows Campground, located right next to the Fraser River, offers 95 first-come, first-served sites and Robson River Campground has 9 well-treed sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, there are seven backcountry campgrounds found along the famous Berg Lake Trail.
Did we miss your favourite first-come, first-served camping spot in the Canadian Rockies? Let us know! Share your Canadian Rockies camping adventures with us on using #brmblife for a chance to win prizes and be featured on our feed.
Tuolumne Meadows Campground Yosemite National Park
Image from The Dyrt camper Darrin L.
Yosemite National Parks Tuolumne Meadows Campground lies along the wonderful Tioga Road, an hour and a half to the northeast of Yosemite Valley. Because of its location in the Sierra Nevada high country, it is open only from about July through late-September.
This is a huge campground with 304 regular sites, 7 group sites, and 4 horse sites. Half of them can be reserved in advance, while the other half offer first-come, first-served camping. Bathrooms have flush toilets and drinking water but no showers campsites come with a food locker, picnic table, and fire ring. Youll find groceries at the small store in Tuolumne Meadows.
This section of the park, while not as popular as the Valley, is arguably just as beautiful, and is much easier to secure camping. This campground is MASSIVE. Reservations can be made in advance, but we didnt have any trouble finding a walkup site in the middle of June. The elevation here means that it gets fairly cold at night, even during the summer. The Dyrt Camper Leslie R.
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Rocky Mountain National Park
Reservations for developed campgrounds are available through recreation.gov. Prices are $30 per night for standard sites, $40 to $60 for group sites. For wilderness backcountry reservations, information can be found on the park website, including a list of currently available sites. If you can find a site that works for you, go to the pay.gov portal for purchase. The cost of a wilderness permit is $30.