Do I Really Have To Go Back Home
Yes, even this step is optional, because if youre on vacationwho wants the trip to end? Its okay, you can start planning yournext trip!
Want to plan the trip back? Get the reverse directions for aRocky Mountain National Park to Denver drive in an RV, or go to the main page to plan a new road trip.
Looking for ideas for more destinations within driving distance of Denver? Try searching for places within 2 hours of Denver.
You can also compare the travel time if youre flying or drivingby calculating the distance from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park. Or get a full Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park flight plan.
Dont forget about exploring your own hometown with a staycation.You can also find some cool day trips or get away for a weekend.Maybe try typing in a faraway location like London, Hong Kong,or Sydney, and get inspired for your dream trip around the world.
And if you know Denver well, please help your fellowtravelers and answer their questions about Denver!
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20 Minutes from Estes Park
32 Minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park Entrance
Camp Sites: 26 forested tent only sites
Why it is Family Friendly: Looking for some quiet family bonding? Look no further than Longs Peak Campground. This small, tent only campground has just the basics and affords incredible access to all Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer. Toilets and water available. No cell service.
How to Book: First-Come, First-Served Only.
Longs Peak Campground On The East Side
The only first-come, first-served Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds in the park, Longs Peak Campground, has 26 sites and charges $26 per night. It is located at 9,500 feet in a pine forest. Because of the high altitude of the campground, pack warm clothing for the mornings and evenings.
Keep in mind that this is on the eastern side of the parks perimeter, south of the main entrance. Take Highway 7 nine miles south of the town of Estes Park to get there. This is a campground that accepts just tents and can be used as a basecamp by climbers preparing to tackle Longs Peak, the parks tallest peak at 14,259 feet.
Are you prepared to camp at a high altitude? Due to the fact that Longs Peak Campground is 9,405 feet above sea level! Most people who come here to camp also do so in order to climb the magnificent Longs Peak, which is about as impressive as it gets. Because the temperature can quickly fluctuate and it is never too warm at this level, bring thick clothing. Enjoy yourself and luck!
Campsite Area: Up to 8 guests per site Up to 6 vehicles
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Required Listening For Wilderness Permit Pickup
A reading of the Wilderness Camping Regulations for Rocky Mountain National Park.
Overnight travel in the wilderness requires a permit. Permits and information are available at two Wilderness Offices within Rocky Mountain National Park. Please contact the Wilderness Office for updated information on the status of Wilderness campsites . For status of wilderness campsites on the west side of the park, call the Kawuneeche Visitor Center Wilderness Office at .
On the east side of the park, the Wilderness Office is adjacent to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.
On the west side of the park, the Wilderness Office is located inside the Kawuneeche Visitor Center.
- There will be temporary closures in some wilderness campsites. Please contact the Wilderness Office for updated information on the status of wilderness sites.
- Park staff are removing some dead trees that have been killed by an outbreak of native pine beetles. The removal reduces risk associated with falling trees. Always be aware of your surroundings, particularly during times of high winds.
- We recommend that you visit the following topics:
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
Recommended Reading: Camping Near St Marys Glacier
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Finding Free Campsites With The Dyrt
More recently, weve switch to using The Dyrt Pro to find National Forest boundaries. Using the map layers you can easily find exact boundaries for:
- Bureau of Land Management Areas
- National Parks
- National Forests
You can download the maps for offline use and see exactly when you cross into forest areas.
Our favorite part about the app is that there are thousands of user-submitted reviews that include photos, amenities, and reports about campsite conditions.
And the reviews are not limited to paid campgrounds only.
Anyone can submit a review of any area so there are plenty of free and dispersed camping sites in there as well.
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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Rocky Mountain Topo Maps
Heres a Rocky small scale topographic map , zooming out to show almost the entire park and much of the surrounding region, such as the Indian Peaks to the south toward Brainerd Lakes.
This is a Bear Lake area topo map , focusing on the Continental Divide peaks and trails at the end of the Bear Lake Road to places like Glacier Gorge, Mills Lake, the Loch, and Emerald Lake.
The Longs Peak topo map includes the summit of Longs Peak and other popular locations such as Moraine Park. Note that things may have changed since this map was last updated in 1978.
Leave No Trace When Free Camping
- Be prepared with plenty of trash bags. If you have a long drive home, I recommend putting the bags in a designated bin so your car doesnt smell the whole way home.
- Come with all the water you think you will need for your trip, and then some. Cooking and cleaning dishes always seems to use more water than you think. Bring a water filter if theres fresh water near where youll be camping.
- Dont clean your dishes in a fresh water source. Bring along a bucket, designated jug, or something like the Primus Campfire Utility Bag to contain and dispose of grey water properly.
- Bring Wag Bags to carry out waste. Human waste is unnatural to all ecosystems, but especially to drier, more sensitive ecosystems, since it doesnt break down as fast as it does in a forest.
- Know before you go. Do some research on the location and become familiar with any seasonal rules or fire bans. Fire bans are all around Colorado in the summer months. If you can have a campfire, only purchase firewood from a local source. Dont bring firewood from your hometown. This helps stop the spread of invasive insect populations.
- Leave it cleaner than you found it: you can pick up and carry out trash, even if its not yours. Keeping the free campgrounds in Colorado clean and clear helps ensure theyre available for years to come.
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Rocky Mountain National Park Basic Location And History
Established in 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson, Rocky Mountain National Park proved something of a boon to local communities, particularly the small town of Estes Park. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps helped stich together a network of park roads and other infrastructure. Today, Rocky Mountain National Park covers some 250,000 acres located a short 70 miles from Downtown Denver. This proximity makes the park quite convenient as a daytrip or short overnight adventure from Denver, Boulder, or Fort Collins. Estes Park is the primary gateway into the parks eastern sections and a good place to stop for provisions if you need them. In addition to a smattering of dining and drinking options, there are a few art galleries specializing in works dedicated to Rocky Mountain imagery. Youll also find the smallish Fun City amusement park featuring a go-kart track, waterslides, and miniature golf. The Estes Park Aerial Tramway normally ferries visitors up to the top of nearby Prospect Peak for an impressive panoramic view however, the tram is not operating this season due to COVID-19.
Other Federal Lands Blm And More
You can find camping on other types of federal land including Bureau of Land Management , The Army Corps of Engineers, and US Fish and Wildlife Service lands. The National Recreation Reservation service lists campgrounds by state for all federal lands.
The BLM has a lot of land for use in CO, WY, UT and more. You can check out their interactive map here. They have some regional maps that are really helpful such as this MOAB area map. If you search the BLM websites you will find many wonderful resources!
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Reserve A Slice Of Heaven
Get immersed in nature within Rocky Mountain National Parks more than 124 peaks, 150 lakes, forests, meadows and rivers. Five campgrounds and backcountry camping offer tent campers access to the mountain views, waterfalls and wildlife wonders at elevations exceeding 8,000 feet. Tent camping within this magnificent corner of the United States requires planning. Although the seasonal Timber Creek and Longs Peak campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-served basis, most park tent sites fill by reservation. Make reservations up to six months in advance to secure a spot at the seasonal Aspenglen, Glacier Basin campgrounds or the year-round Moraine Park walk-in tent sites. Visit Recreation.gov or call 444-6777 to stake claim to a campsite. More than 200 backcountry campsites are located throughout the park, many within a short hike from trailheads. Select a backcountry individual or group site from the wilderness campsite map on the park website. Backcountry permits are issued online beginning March 1 of the current year, or at the Beaver Meadows and Kawuneeche visitor centers. Backcountry tent campers are limited to three consecutive nights at one campsite. From June 1 through September 30, stays are limited to seven nights total throughout the park.
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Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Trail #2 Bear Lake Nature Trail
On this trail, you cover a distance of 1.1km round-trip where you gain an elevation of 15 meters hence rated as easy. It features a lake and best used between March and November mainly for hiking, snowshoeing, nature trips, and walking.
Length: 0.7 miElevation gain: 49 ftRoute type: Loop
Kid friendly, Hiking, Snowshoeing, Walking, Forest, Lake, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Fee, No dogs
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Free Campsites In The Central Rocky Mountains
Every boondocker has their favorite out-of-the-way free campsites. Sometimes it is nice to shake things up and try a new spot. There are several websites out there that help adventure-seekers find good free sites, such as RV LIFE Campgrounds and Freecampsites.net.
Most public lands offer free dispersed camping as well, although some established campgrounds on public lands do have a use fee. Here are some new ideas to try for your next outing.
Be sure to check to make sure that your particular rig can access these campgrounds, as some are fairly remote or cannot accommodate longer rigs. Also, keep in mind that free campsites often also mean limited or no services, so plan accordingly.
Traveling The Eastern Sierras Via Us 395
The Inyo National Forest puts you in the thick of all things Mammotha trendy ski town where the high school kids take skiing as part of their curriculum, Lee Viningthe perfect small town basecamp for exploring Yosemite, and the hot springs and stunning snow-capped mountains of the Eastern Sierras. From massive red firs in the Sierras to ancient bristlecone pines in the White Mountains just to the west, this is a forest campers paradise.
The KlamathShasta-Trinity and Modoc National Forests place you in the Great State of Jefferson where natural wonders range from Mt. Shasta herself, to perhaps our personal favorite Lassen Volcanic National Park, and endless free camping in between. Lassen has its own national forest as well, and Plumas National Forest fills the gaps between Tahoe and Lassen.
Los Padres National Forest puts you in position to explore Big Sur. Mendocino National Forest fills the inland gap between San Francisco and Eureka, Redwoods abundant. Six Rivers National Forest also provides free camping to the west of the Redwoods National and State Parks.
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Websites For Free Campsites
FreeCampsites.net: A relatively low tech map with user generated reviews for free campsites. This is a much beloved option for vanlifers, as it has everything from business parking lots to remote backcountry campsites near national parks.
Campendium.com: My personal favorite website for finding campsites with cell service. Campendium has free and paid campsites all over the United States and Canada to look for free sites, set your search parameter to free. Reviewers often upload pictures, give specific gps coordinates to the spot they stayed in, and include what their cell service was like with their cell carrier. An absolute must for those working on the road. If you donate and become a member, you can also filter results by cell service.
Google Earth and Google Maps: If you like the idea of finding your own campsites or are a bit more familiar with dispersed camping, Google Maps and Google Earth satellite view are your new best friends. Search for little dirt roads, campsites on public land, and much more. Typically, you can zoom in on your planned campsites to see things like fire pits, road condition, and how level a site is. Remember that this data is only updated every few years, so may not be up to date.
Our Top 11 Rocky Mountain National Park Boondocking Spots
Rocky Mountain National Park has over 100 peaks, hiking trails of more than 350 miles, and about 147 lakes that you need to explore for you to exhaust the major sceneries there. The park is open 24/7 and it would be beautiful if you wake up to a mountain sunrise. There are many Rocky Mountain national boondocking spots around the park but the following are the best and most of them are located in Estes Park:
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Rocky Mountain National Park Dispersed Camping Along Coyote Hill Rd
Management: Coyote Hill Road Managed By: Forest Service
Free dispersed camping sites along Coyote Hill Road -> First camped No Reservations.
4×4 is definitely recommended, but I have seen a few 2wd who must have gone very slow. The road is pretty insane at points but theres quite a few places to stay. The best spot has got to be the first pull out on the left as you get onto the rough road, most of the camping spots are in the trees. Very peaceful
Dispersed Camping Sites With Bathrooms In Colorado
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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Best Hikes In Rocky Mountain National Park
With 355 miles of hiking trails, Rocky Mountain National Park is a go-to destination for backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts. Heres a list of 15 of our favorite hiking trails in and around the park:
Easy, perfect for families:
Rocky Mountain National Park Airbnb
If youd prefer not to go camping or stay in a hotel, theres always the option to stay in one of many incredible Airbnb properties based in or around Rocky Mountain National Park. Despite its small size, the charming town of Estes Park is one of the most popular areas to stay in an Airbnb. Estes Park has a huge variety of stunning accommodation options available whether youre on a budget or looking to immerse yourself in pure luxury!