If I Have A Camping Reservation Do I Also Need A Timed Entry Permit Reservation To Enter The Park This Summer
Timed Entry Permit Reservations will be in effect in Rocky Mountain National Park from May 27, 2022 to October 10, 2022.Visitors with campground reservations and wilderness camping permits will use those permits as their timed entry reservations. You may enter the park on the first day of your camping reservation. Entrance fees apply and can be paid at the entrance station.Visitors must have these camping permits in advance. There will be no same day sales at the parks campgrounds. Visitors must have their camping reservation confirmation visible.
Park visitors who have reservations to camp at Moraine Park, Glacier Basin and Aspenglen Campgrounds will have access to Bear Lake Road corridor and the rest of park.Park visitors who have reservations to camp at Timber Creek Campground will have access to rest of park, excluding the Bear Lake Road corridor.The Longs Peak Campground will be open this summer beginning in July. As always, this is a first come, first served tents only campground.
- Park visitors camping in Longs Peak Campground will need a timed entry reservation permit to visit any areas of the park or visit outside the daily reservation windows. The camping fee for Longs Peak Campground will not include a timed entry permit reservation to the park.
Visit Rocky’s Timed Entry Permit Reservation page for more details.
Access and Senior Pass holders receive a 50% discount on standard sites.
Timber Creek Campground On The West Side
Just 10 miles inside the park from the Grand Lake entrance, the Timber Creek Campground has 98 sites. Open late May through early November, it is the only campground on the parks west side. Sites can be reserved on Recreation.gov.
Located along the Colorado River, this beautiful campground is the definition of Rocky Mountain high since it sits at 8,900 feet. It has flush toilets, offers ranger-led programs and can accommodate RVs up to 30 feet in length. Be aware that there is no shade at this campground since the pine beetle infestation in the area forced the park service to take down a number of trees.
Because this is the only campground on the parks west side, make your reservation early .
When To Camp Near Estes Park
Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the surrounding wilderness is all situated at elevations ranging from 8,000 14,000 above sea-level. For dispersed campers this means youll want to plan your trip during the peak summer season of May September.
Keep in mind that snow will linger in many areas through mid-June and the flurries can begin as early as September at many of the camping areas included in this guide.
Summer is of course also the busiest time to plan a dispersed camping trip near Estes Park, so consider shoulder season if you can handle the cold temperatures and snow conditions allow.
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Elk Meadow Lodge & Rv Resort
En route from Estes Park to Rocky Mountain National Park, you will pass the Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Resort. It makes for a great home base if the national park and the town highlights are on your agenda for your trip to Estes Park.
The 30-acre compound is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, making for an unbeatable backdrop of snowcapped peaks and lush, rolling pine forest. Accommodations include 169 full hookup RV sites, as well as one- and two-room cabins, dry camping sites, and teepees.
The park is chock-full of amenities, as well, including a heated swimming pool, hot tub, mini golf, playground, space for group campfires, Wi-Fi, cable TV, and even a game room. Plus, as mentioned, the park is adjacent to the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s one of the best located places to stay within Estes Park.
Address: 1665 CO-66, Estes Park, Colorado
Dispersed Camping Near Estes Park
The following list contains the 7 best dispersed camping areas surrounding Estes Park, Colorado.
For more ideas, we recommend checking out the Motor Vehicle Use Maps for both the Boulder and Canyon Lakes Ranger Districts. They show all of the Forest Service Roads that permit dispersed camping, including a few we chose not to include.
Additionally, our Guide to Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park is a great resource for those looking to camp in or near the park.
Finally, the map below gives an overview of each sites location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!
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Forest Service Road 119 is situated just south of Estes Park. The road here is incredible rough, so 4WD and high clearance are essential. While the road used to connect through to County Road 82 E on the south end, this is no longer the case after the road was damaged in the 2013 floods.
FR 199 isnt the most spectacular, but it does provide very convenient dispersed camping near Estes Park. Given how rough the road gets, FR 119 tends to be a little less crowded than some other options in the area.
Rocky Mountain National Park Aspenglen Campground
Aspenglen Campground is located near the Fall River Entrance in Colorado’s awe-inspiring Rocky Mountain National Park.From lush valleys to craggy peaks stretching over 14,000 feet, visitors are provided opportunities for countless breathtaking experiences and adventures. Scenic driving, hiking, backpacking, fishing, horseback riding and wildlife viewing are popular activities in the park.
Aspenglen contains several drive-to family sites for tents and RVs. A few sites are more secluded, walk-to tent sites. Each campsite is equipped with a picnic table, fire ring with grate and tent pad. Roads and parking spurs are paved. Flush toilets and drinking water are provided. Generator hours are from 7:30 to 10:00 am and 4:00 to 8:30 pm and are only allowed in loop C.
What You Need To Know About Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds
Seasonal dates may change from year to year. While you are arranging your vacation, be sure to check the website for details on the opening and closing dates of the various Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds.
Make reservations early in the year if you plan to go somewhere in the summer. Reservation-friendly Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds frequently sell out months in advance.
In the summer, each of the Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds have a 7-day stay restriction, and Senior/Access Pass holders can camp for half price
During the summer, many of the first-come, first-served locations should be claimed right away! Make travel arrangements so you can arrive at the Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds early before it fills up.
The maximum number of campers per regular campground is eight. You will need to reserve two campsites or find a campground that offers double or group campsites if you are traveling with a larger group.
Bear country is the Rocky Mountain National Park! Find a bear box nearby to keep your food and other aromatic stuff in, or put everything that has a food smell in a closed car. Before you begin your adventure, make sure you are knowledgeable on the best ways to store food.
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Estes Park Campground At Marys Lake
Looking for a campground that can handle every type of camping from tents to semi-tractor big rigs? This is the place for you. Adjacent to Marys Lake and just a few miles from Rocky Mountain National Park this campground has myriad activities of its own and is the perfect base camp for day trips into the national park.
- Closest town: Estes Park
- Specs: 128 sties, RV, tent, trailer, fool hookups, water, flush toilets, open May 22 October 1
- Amenities: 30 / 50 amp service, dump station, showers, heated swimming pool, camp store, playground
- Recreation: Fishing, horseback riding, biking, rock climbing, off-road vehicles
Parachute Hill/johnny Park Road Rmnp Dispersed Camping Usda Forest Service
On the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park, Parachute Hill Road and Johnny Park Road are both acceptable choices for free RMNP dispersed camping. Take Highway 7, which connects Estes Park and Allenspark, to Boulder County Road 82 to reach the camping spot. From this point, proceed east in the direction of the Johnny Park Trail before leaving on FS Road 329.
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Camping In Rocky Mountain Natl Park By Estes Park
Colorados most popular park welcomes visitors year round. There are five campgrounds at Rocky Mountain National Park, three of which are open year round. Four out of five of them are located by Estes Park, the other one called Timber Creek, is the only campground by Grand Lake in RMNP. You can reserve your campsite at Aspen Glen, Moraine Park and Glen Basin ahead of time, while the Longs Peak Campground is first-come, first-serve.
Pole Hill Road Rmnp Dispersed Camping Usda Forest Service
Just south of Estes Park, on Highway 36, is a RMNP dispersed camping area called Pole Hill Road. Just before Highway 36 starts its descent into Estes Park, keep an eye out for the crossroads with Pole Hill Road. As there have been several complaints from neighboring landowners, 4WD is a necessity here, and you should also be sure to follow Leave No Trace guidelines while backcountry camping.
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Allenspark Rmnp Dispersed Camping Usda Forest Service
Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland
RMNP Dispersed camping is permitted on National Forest System areas, with a few restrictions. Restrictions save resources, reduce harm to roads, and ease tensions between landowners and visitors. Camping is only permitted for a total of 14 days in one place. The campsite must be moved after 14 days.
I hope this gives you everything you need to find the perfect camping spot for your dream vacation to the Rocky Mountain National Park.
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For complete photos and videos of our trip visit our photos on our page
Best Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds 2022
Staying in the Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds is a fun way to enjoy the area. With five campgrounds offering everything from secluded tent sites to roomy spots for RVs, plus Rocky Mountain backcountry camping and backpacking trails, there is something for everyone. Known for its peaks, alpine lakes, and tundra landscapes, Colorados Rocky Mountain National Park is one of Americas favorite national parks. Its home to over 350 miles of hiking trails and a huge array of peaks and rock formations that entice rock climbers from around the globe. The Trail Ridge Road is one of the parks top highlights and offers wildlife viewing and mountain scenes from numerous viewpoints along the road.
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Allenspark/ski Road Dispersed Camping
Distance to Estes Park: 18 milesRestrooms: NoWater: No, but may be drawn from Rock CreekCrowds: ModerateMap
Outside of the small town of Allenspark on the Peak to Peak Highway is a lovely dispersed camping area along Ski Rd/CR 107. Youll be less than 20 miles from Estes Park here and also have easy access to many of the areas popular trailheads, including St. Vrain Mountain.
The road is generally passable for most vehicles at the beginning, so this makes a great place for those hoping to dispersed camp without the hassles of a rough road. Of course, the further back you head, the rougher the road gets and the less busy the campsites get.
This is one of our favorite places for dispersed camping near Estes Park.
To get here, head to the town of Allenspark and then head west along Ski Road. The road crosses private property for the first few miles before entering Roosevelt National Forest, where dispersed camping is permitted. There are no services here so be sure to practice Leave No Trace camping.
The Best Dispersed Camping Near Estes Park
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The gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, is wonderful place to explore the outdoors while also relishing in a historic and character filled town. From here you can explore the park, stroll the quaint shops on Elkhorn Ave, and enjoy any number of activities in the surrounding wilderness. Given all of this, we think the best way to explore the area is to do some free, dispersed camping near Estes Park.
There is ample public land around Estes, although the camping regulations can vary quite a bit. Weve created this guide of the best dispersed camping near Estes Park to make your trip planning a bit easier.
Read on to learn about our eight favorite dispersed campsites in the area and how you can plan your perfect trip!
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Best For Water Loving Campers:
Estes Park Campground at Marys Lake
8 Minutes from Estes Park
18 Minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park Entrance
Camp Sites: 128 Sites suitable for tents to big rig RVs.
Why it is Family Friendly: Estes Park Campground at Marys lake is great for families to have easy access to town, fishing in Marys lake, and heated outdoor swimming pool, and playground for the kids. There is also a camp store and laundry facilities.
How to Book: Reservations recommended.
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Elk Meadow Lodge & Rv Park
Distance from Estes Park: 2.1 miles, 5-minute drive
Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Park is another good option for families who want the comforts of resort-style amenities. The family-friendly campground has 40+ tent sites, seven cabins, and 169 RV sites with full hook-ups. Elk Meadow has an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, teepees, showers, horseshoes, mini golf, and a playground, along with organized activities throughout the summer.
The park itself is lovely, well maintained and a spectacular view of Longs Peak. Facilities were very nice and clean. Hot tub and pool were wonderful for days after hikes. They had live music and drinks on the weekends, plus free pancakes in the morning on Sunday! The Dyrt camper Ally K.
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Recommended Reading: How To Find Dispersed Camping
Alerts And Important Information
Hermit Park specific notices:
All Campsite Reservations:
What You Need To Know About Camping In Rocky Mountain
- Season dates may vary by year. Be sure to check the website for information on opening and closing dates while you are planning your trip.
- If you want to make a reservation for the summer, be sure to do it early in the year. Campgrounds that accept reservations often fill many months in advance.
- There is a 7-day stay limit per campground during the summer months, and Senior/Access Pass holders can get 50% off of the camping fee
- Many of the first-come, first-served sites should be claimed first thing in the morning during summer months! Plan your trip so that you can get to the campsite early before it fills.
- Each standard campsite only accommodates eight people. If you have a larger group, you will need to book two campsites or look for a campground that offers double or group campsites.
- Rocky Mountain is bear country! Locate a nearby bear box to store your food and other scented items in, or place all scented items in a locked car. Be sure to educate yourself on proper food storage practices before you go.
- To prevent the spread of the mountain pine beetle, you should only purchase firewood from the campgrounds within Rocky Mountain National Park. The devastating effects of the beetle can especially be seen in the Timber Creek and Glacier Basin campgrounds, where many of the trees have been removed.
Getting to the Campgrounds in Rocky Mountain
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Elk Creek Campground & Rv Resort
Number of sites: 48 RV site + 10 tent sitesFee: $42 $62/night depending on the siteCapacity: None stated.RVs: Yes, full hookups available.Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: Recommended.Pets: Allowed
The Elk Creek Campground & RV Resort is located just across Highway 34 from the town of Grand Lake. This is a great location for exploring the East Inlet as well as the many shops and restaurants in Grand Lake. Youll find both tent and RV sites at this well run campground.
Amenities include WiFi, a general store, playground, and the chance to encounter some of the local wildlife!