Best Colorado Dispersed Camping Sites
Dispersed camping also known as primitive camping can be defined as car camping outside of a designated campground but still within applicable regulations. You can find most of the best Colorado dispersed camping sites on federally owned lands, such as national forest and BLM lands. There are typically no bathrooms or amenities, but you get to camp free of charge.
Most dispersed camping areas are located along roads that can only be handled by high clearance vehicles. However, you can access a few with just about any passenger car.
Please remember to respect the places you visit. And practice leave no trace principles by packing out everything you pack in. Now get out and enjoy Nomad Colorados list of some of our favorite Colorado dispersed camping areas, many of which are within two hours of Denver!
Horsetooth Reservoir South Bay
Why you should camp here: Fort Collins backyard reservoir is perfect for stay-cations and some low-key camping fun.
- Reservations accepted: Yes
- Campsite type: Tents, RVs, Boat-in
- RV hookups: Yes
Horsetooth Reservoirs South Bay Campground offers over 150 campsites perfect for any adventure. There are even 15 campsites you can only reach via boat. The boat-in sites are in small inlets or shores along the reservoir and there are only 2 sites per inlet, and 1 per shore. Talk about privacy!
Horsetooth can be crowded in the summer, but its hard to beat a quick getaway like this one! I wouldnt recommend camping here if you are looking for peace and isolation since Horsetooth is so close to town. But if youre from around the area and just looking for some easy camping fun, or youre taking the kiddos out for the first time, then this campground is perfect!
Family-friendly and with plenty of amenities, space, and options, theres something for everyone here. One great perk of camping near town, you can always just pop in for some great food or the local breweries such as Odell and New Belgium for some post-outdoor activity brews.
Timber Creek Campground In Rocky Mountain National Park
No list of the best campgrounds in Colorado would be complete without including a campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park! This corner of the Rockies boasts more than 100 peaks and jaw-dropping vistas. Within the park, there are over 350 miles of trails and 147 lakes.
While you cant go wrong with any of the five scenic campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park, Ive chosen the Timber Creek Campground on the western side of the park.
Located by the Colorado River and nestled between magnificent peaks, you can see fly-fishermen casting for rainbow trout or being visited by curious elk.
Things to Know
- The campground is first-come, first-serve, though there are 100 sites which make it easy to find a spot.
- There is no ADA access.
- Park entry does have a fee and may require a reservation check before you go. An additional camping fee is also required.
- Pets welcome
What to Do Nearby
How to Get There
Make your way toward Estes Park on US-36 W. Continue on US-34 W/Trailridge Rd to Grand County. Look for Timber Creek Campground on your right.
Looking for more ideas of things to do in Estes Park or near Rocky Mountain National Park? Weve got a few suggestions in this post.
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The 10 Best Camping Spots In Colorado
Since Colorado is known for its outdoor recreation, its no surprise that the colorful state is home to hundreds of incredible places to camp. Whether you are car camping, backpacking or in an RV, there is a camping spot for you in Colorado. From national parks and lesser-known forests, Colorado will provide you with a wilderness to escape to. Here are the 10 best camping spots in the state.
Camping At Rifle Gap Rifle
- Address: 5775 SH 325, Rifle, CO 81650
- Contact: 970.625.1607 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
- Facilities: Visitor Center, Boat Ramp, Dump Station, Group Picnic Area, Picnic Sites, Primitive Campsites
- Recreation: Biking, Boating, Cross-Country Skiing/Snowshoeing, Fishing, Hunting, Ice Fishing, Ice Skating, Jet Skiing, Ranger/Nature Programs, Sail/Paddle Sports, Snow Tubing, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wildlife Viewing, Winter Camping
While Rifle Falls is oriented toward land-based activities, Rifle Gap focuses more on water sports. Totaling 1,333 acres, Rifle Gap lies at an elevation of 6,000 feet and is located 200 miles west of Denver.
Positioned on the north side of Rifle Gap Reservoir and Grand Hogback ridge, this CPW park offers both motorized and non-motorized boating on the lakes 359 acres. Visitors fish the lake year-round in pursuit of trophy perch and northern pike, trout, bass and walleye. Expect to see plenty of ice-fishing here in winter. All winter sports except snowmobiling are allowed.
Wildlife watching is also popular here and animals are often seen from campsites. Alas, Rifle Gap has no trails but adjacent to the park is BLM land that can be hiked. Note swimming is only allowed at the parks swim beach.
Choose from 3 campgrounds with 89 campsites , 14 picnic sites, and a group picnic area. Theres also a boat ramp and a dump station.
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Why Youll Love The Views Rv Park & Campground
Youll be able to watch the sun rise and set from the comfort of your roomy RV site, then head into town to see the sights during the day. Explore the many historic sites and museums, head to local wineries for some wine tastings, or spend the day hitting balls at a golf course. Or you can simply explore the Colorado trails in the 42 acres at the campgrounds!
Oh Be Joyful Campground
Located not far from Crested Butte, the Oh Be Joyful campsite doesn’t just have a great name, but is a fantastic location too. The camping area serves as a gateway into a massive region known as the Raggeds Wilderness. Spanning more than 65,000 acres, this national forest ranges in altitude from 7,000 to 13,000 feet. In addition to soaking up the wonderful views of the towering mountains that prominently line the horizon, campers can hike, fish, or mountain bike within the Raggeds too. Reserve a campsite online and use the filters to find available accessible locations. Oh Be Joyful features 13 options for wheelchair and mobility aid users.
For a small slice of civilization amidst this remote location, be sure to drop by Crested Butte while you’re in the area. There, you’ll find plenty of excellent restaurants, pubs, and shops to explore, each oozing with mountain-town charm.
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The Best Places To Camp In Colorado: In Summary
There are a multitude of great campsites in Colorado offering something for every outdoor enthusiast, whether youre into glamping, family camping with all the facilities you want right there on your doorstep, or hoofing it to the top of the world in search of blissful solitude.
Despite its popularity as a tourist destination, Colorado never feels crowded. So, pack your tent, grab your backpack, and reserve yourself your very own little piece of paradise this summer.
If youve enjoyed our guide to the best camping sites in Colorado, then share or comment below and if you know a Colorado camp site weve missed then let us know too!
Camping Trips Further Afield
Brian has been an avid hiker and backpacker since he was a small kid, often being taken out into the wilderness on trips with his father. His dad knew everything about nature and the wilderness .
After high school, he went to university to read for both a BS and MS in Geology . He’s now hiked, camped, skied, backpacked or mapped on five continents & 30 of the US states.
Pinyon Flats Campground Mosca Co
Pinyon Flats Campground is in the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which is home to the largest sand dunes in the United States. Since this campground is located in desert region, prepare for hot days during the summer yet mild and enjoyable temperatures during the fall months. Pinyon Flats, also written as Piñon, offers restaurants, flush toilets and a sink for dish washing.
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What Are Dispersed / Primitive Campsites
Dispersed camping means camping away from a developed campground. Youre literally dispersed in the wilderness!
Dispersed camping is free, and doesnt require reservations. Usually the spots are secluded and quiet.
There isnt typically access to trash cans, drinking water, or showers. You need to bring all your own supplies, and carry out everything you carry in.
Looking For The Best Colorado Camping Sites
Youre in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:
- 10 top spots to go camping in Colorado.
- Listing of some of the amenities each campsite in Colorado has.
- What beauty spots, national forest and national parks you should visit when camping in Colorado.
Colorado, also known as the Centennial State, is located in the west of the U.S. The state takes in the north-eastern part of the Colorado Plateau, most of the southern Rocky Mountains, and the western border of the Great Plains.
With such an incredibly diverse landscape, its little wonder that Colorado is such a draw for those who love camping as a vacation option. Indeed, few other states can compare to Colorado! Theres so much to do and see here, from the cathedral-like formations of the Garden of the Gods, the glorious views that youll enjoy along the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway, to the awe-inspiring majesty of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Centennial State has it all.
Colorado has a mixture of free dispersed camping sites, paid developed camping grounds, and even some sites explicitly built for glamping devotees. Whether you enjoy the hustle and bustle of busy sites with water sports and kids playgrounds or prefer to float silently in a canoe across a tranquil lake bathed the early morning sunlight, youll find what youre looking for here.
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Golden Gate Canyon State Park
- North Colorado
- rock climbing,
Expansive and gorgeous, the Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a fantastic choice for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
The area offers visitors a huge array of spacious campgrounds, dramatic foothills, hiking trails, and picnic spots. There are thousands of acres of meadows dotted with aspens, rocky peaks, and dense forests its a perfect nature retreat.
The Golden Gate Canyon State Park has more than 150 camping sites. Whether youre a winter sports enthusiast or an amateur hiker, youre bound to spend a lovely time in this scenic region.
Camping Spots At Telluride Go Fast
Normally, all of the campsites are accessed on a first-come, first-served basis, EXCEPT during festivals where camping passes can be purchased with festival tickets. For the casual weekend camper, getting a spot here is difficult. Unless you are attending a festival and purchase passes, the best way to snag a camping spot is to arrive mid-week before a non-festival weekend.
For those who get in, Telluride Campgrounds are charming. The San Miguel River runs behind the park and easy access where hikers will be treated to views of a nearby waterfall. There is also a walking/biking path that follows the river through town. The towns trolley has a station at the parks entrance for those covering longer distances.
Its a unique experience to be able to camp in the forested wilderness and then walk into town for dinner at a fine restaurant. Dont worry about looking ragged either because the campgrounds have shower facilities where guests can get spiffed up. One thing is lacking, however. Because of its proximity to town, no campfires are permitted even on tent sites. Youll have to roast those marshmallows over a propane grill on picnic tables.
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What Are Developed / Designated Campsites
Designated, developed, or established campgrounds are well-established areas with amenities.
These usually have restrooms, running water, and sometimes even showers. Developed campgrounds require reservations, and typically fill up quickly.
These can get booked up months or more in advance, so youll want to do some advanced planning for your trip!
Finding the best places for dispersed or developed camping in Colorado can seem overwhelming, considering theres an abundance of primitive camping to be found all over the state.
Weve done the research for you and listed some of the best camping in Colorado for your next adventure. Lets start with dispersed campgrounds.
Car Campers Will Also Like
CROW VALLEY RECREATION AREA FAMILY CAMPGROUNDNearest town: Briggsdale
Located about 30 minutes from Pawnee National Grassland, Crow Valley offers a lot more than just a place to sleep in your tent or RV , including an education site complete with a museum and an amphitheater, a baseball field, and a volleyball court. Take a drive to the striking Pawnee Buttes, towering sedimentary rock formations within thea grassland, for prime bird-watching opportunities . $13 to $18 per night
ARAPAHO BAY CAMPGROUND Nearest town: Granby
Reservations are a good idea for Arapaho Bays 84 tent, RV, and trailer sites, which are located on the edge of Lake Granby and offer easy access to fishing and boating , plus hiking and wildlife viewing . Our favorite spot to set up camp is in the Roaring Fork Loop, which offers the largest number of sites on the shore. Check out sites 72 through 78. $21 per night plus a feestarting at $5, depending on the length of your stayfor use of the recreation area
LOCH LOMOND Nearest town: Idaho Springs
PEARL LAKE STATE PARK Nearest town: Clark
SAND GULCH CAMPGROUNDNearest town: Cañon City
Take Note: Reservations May Be RequiredSet a reminder to ensure you get the campsite you desire
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Mueller State Park Campground
Take in panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains at Mueller State Park Campground while you relax in the shade of a verdant forest made up of spruce, pine, fir, and bright green aspens. This campground has the added benefit of being close to two major Colorado cities , so its ideal for a quick weekend getaway!
This area used to be a popular hunting ground for Ute Native Americans. But when gold was discovered in the late 19th Century, prospectors and ranchers rushed in to strike it rich. One of those settlers, a rancher by the name W.E. Mueller, turned the area into Mueller Ranch. In the 1980s, Muellers descendants turned the ranch into a game reserve, and then later sold it to the Nature Conservancy and Colorado State Parks, who then turned it into a State Park.
Today, 5,121-acre Mueller State Park Campground is accessible to tents, trailers, and RVs, and offers year-round camping and excellent amenities, including a laundromat and showers. This is also a great place for equestrians with specially-designed facilities for horses and trails for horseback riding.
What to Do Nearby
How to Get There
From the north or south, get on I-25 to Colorado Springs. Continue west on US-24 W/W Hwy 24 to Woodland Park. Pass through Woodland Park and take CO-67 south to your destination in Teller County.
Rule No : Youre Going To Forget Something
and other camping fails, as told by 5280 staffers.
On our first family camping trip to Golden Gate Canyon State Park with our boys, ages four and two, my wife and I focused so much on making sure we had all the gear they needed that we forgot pants and a jacket . Of course, that was nothing compared to my youngest sons echo-off-the-canyon-walls screaming at 11 p.m.followed by him waking up every two hours after that until 5 a.m. Talk about roughing it.
I never expect to get a great night of sleep while camping, but my wilderness insomnia reached new levels when the group of kids in the campsite next to us decided to sing 99 Bottles of Beer all night. Thank goodness for campfire coffee.
My friend brought her dads brand-new pop-up canopy on a trip without telling him. As luck would have it, a massive thunderstorm blew through the area and cracked the poles in half. All of our food ended up soaked and she had to confess to her dad that shed broken his new toy.
On a family camping trip when we were younger, my dad decided to pack the raw chicken in the same cooler as the juice and soda. Unbeknownst to us, the chicken juice leaked out of the package, and everyone got food poisoningexcept for him. He was only drinking beer, which was in another cooler! Instead of canoeing the final day of camping , we ended up cutting the trip short and finding the closest doctor.
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Popular Campgrounds To Explore Colorful Colorado
August 10, 2020 | By Joybeth Sullivan
The moment that you enter the state of Colorado, you may never want to go inside again.
And, luckily, if you go camping in Colorado, you dont need to. From deserts and canyons to the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, you can curate the Colorado camping experience of your dreams.
After extensive research on campsites across the state of Colorado, we have chosen 10 popular campgrounds around Colorado from the Front Range to the Western Slopes to get you started. When camping, always research and prepare for your chosen campsite. And, as always, leave no trace and respect your surroundings.
Note: Due to COVID-19, there may be additional closures or restrictions. When planning your next camping trip, be certain to check with the campground directly for any current restrictions or required reservations.