The area is located within 30 minutes of the beautiful Buena Vista, Colorado. It’s no secret that Colorado is host to some of the West’s best camping: from Rocky Mountain National Park to the southern San Juans, the mountain views are seemingly endless—though many of these areas fill up fast and require reservations and site fees.. The upper portion of the wilderness area also offers several trails for ATV and dirt bike riders, making it a haven for the hardcore truck-bed campers as well as the car camping families who haul their kid-size ATVs with them to the campground. The Colorado Trail starts here, too, so the hiking options are plentiful. “Mueller State Park is a great location, close to Colorado Springs and far away enough to have that quiet camping experience. Known as one of the state’s most iconic water destinations, this alpine lake offers campers the chance to boat, fish, hike, and swim throughout the warmer summer months. The beauty of Mueller is that it’s open year-round, and its native population of Elk and Bighorn Sheep are popular to local visitors and guests. Chilly, windy, panoramic!” — The Dyrt camper Terrie J. All of these campsites offer something different in terms of natural beauty, from the stunning rocks of … Mueller’s campground offers excellent views of the Continental Divide, and includes 134 campsites, each with a fire ring and picnic table. The campground itself includes 62 campsites, a handful of which have electric hookups. The oft-photographed 1892 mill, a remnant of the once-prosperous mining town, stands on a rocky outcrop above the Crystal River. Mountain town culture prevails at this adventure basecamp with a cute, historic Main Street that harkens its frontier-town beginnings. Each site comes with a picnic table and fire ring, and the campground offers drinking water, trash collection, and vault toilets for all visitors. Get any last-minute supplies at Wilderness Exchange, where you can find killer deals on consignment base layers, tents, daypacks, hiking poles—anything you need. A lake for everyone, confessions of a pool crasher, and the BBQ king of California. There’s a large meadow near the Winfield ghost town if other sites are full, or if you have a high-clearance vehicle, you can continue on for more remote camping. Massive and Mt. Consider extending your trip if you want to spend time hiking the lesser-visited western side of the park. Alpine lake camping is an absolute must-do when visiting Colorado, and it would be tough to beat one place in particular, Snowmass Lake. From Carbondale, you’ll head to Black Canyon of the Gunnison via the West Elk Loop (Highway 133), which follows the Crystal River and a sea of color (especially around McClure Pass, pictured above). This state is gorgeous year-round, but fall makes for an epic Colorado car-camping trip. After Black Canyon, loop back around to Salida and Buena Vista, another two burgeoning Carbondale mountain towns. All five of us fit in the tent without problem, once we placed one adult perpendicular to the rest (a family of four or less would be ideal). Its under-the-radar campsites are surrounded by aspens right along the Arkansas River. Situated in the heart of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, this campground requires an 8.5 mile trek to get to it. Apart from the occasional Colorado thunderstorm, this campground is a perfect place to get a taste for Colorado car camping, high altitude views and all! People plan entire trips around concerts at Red Rocks. From Moraine Park, it’s about an hour and a half to the other side of the park if you drive straight through, but allow added time to check out the small trails and overlooks along the two-lane road. An old mining town, Frisco gets overshadowed by the major ski resorts that surround it (Breck, Vail, Keystone), but that’s what keeps it awesome. If you’re willing to brave the chillier temperatures of the fall, Lost Park is the ideal spot for car campers to camp amongst the iconic Aspens, whose colors transform the mountainous region into a living masterpiece. Moraine Park Campground, Rocky Mountain National Park. Just 10 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, Cheyenne Mountain stretches out over 2,701 acres. One of the best fall color spots in Colorado, Rocky delivers on the foliage. We camped on the side of the mountain, so when we woke up we were rewarded with the most beautiful overview of the city and mountains.” — The Dyrt camper Keisha M. This article was brought to you by Primus. It’s no secret that one of the most beloved pastimes in Colorado is camping. If it’s summer, check the schedule for the riverside outdoor music venue, BEACH. To stay comfortable, it’s best to wear layered clothing. Colorado Car Camping Gives You Easy Access to the Rockies, This article on Colorado car camping is brought to you by Primus, whose. Luckily, some of the best camping in Colorado costs absolutely nothing. Or, drive a little further east toward Salida and set up camp at Curecanti National Recreation Area, which has three reservoirs, including the state’s largest body of water. Plan for a brewery lunch in outdoor-loving Boulder. Dispersed sites are abundant in this area. Clean vaults excellent hosts and cleanest sites – many things to do including hikes on multiple trails and kayaking on [the] lake or just looking for moose and casually relaxing.” — The Dyrt camper Marty L. Located in the Colorado National Monument territory, this campground is unique in its proximity to a wide variety of activities. Shavano (a 9-mile fourteener that climbs 4,600 feet), is one of the best spots. It’s ideal for families who want an easy drive into a campground that offers a classic car camping experience, complete with easy access to the lake and stunning views directly from the campsites. There are 21 campsites at Thunder Ridge, 3 of which are fully accessible. Best Camping in Colorado on Tripadvisor: Find traveler reviews, candid photos, and prices for 357 camping in Colorado, United States. Head out early enough to catch the sunrise and avoid traffic. Colorado Glamping -- … The host greets you with a bundle of wood and may schedule a guided walk around the property. This area is part of San Isabel National Forest, one of the best areas to camp for free in Colorado. And, you can go to the flagship of the outworld-favorite Topo Designs, in RiNo—they have a repair program to rehab your Topo gear when it gets worn out. One of the most popular places to camp for residents of Colorado Springs, Thunder Ridge campground at Rampart Range Reservoir is a pristine and well-trafficked campground that overlooks the water. If you have pups in tow, go for the 7-mile Twin Sisters trail, off Highway 7, or Lily Lake, where you can picnic on boulders overlooking Estes Park. The least-visited national park in the country, Black Canyon of the Gunnison plunges up to 2,700 feet and stretches for 42 miles. The Roaring Fork Valley is gorgeous with its towns of Glenwood Springs, Aspen, and Carbondale. A small lake on a mountainside flush with gorgeous Aspen trees, Cottonwood Lake campground is a super popular summer destination for Colorado car camping enthusiasts, and particularly for anglers on the hunt for some high altitude trout. “We came here last year during the summer and it was so beautiful and quiet. Visitors and residents alike will never tire of pitching a tent, eating their weight in gooey s’mores, and soaking in the natural beauty that is a Colorado campground. Make sure you're properly outfitted with good hiking gear—especially boots with solid traction (the trail is rocky) and maybe traction cleats if you plan to walk up the glacier. Baby Doe offers 51 family sites that include a picnic table and fire ring. Popular destinations near this campground include Independence Pass, which at 12,095 feet is the highest paved mountain pass in the country. If you’re less interested in stopping at Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods, camp at Mueller State Park instead. I’m reticent to give away all of the good spots, but I’m happy to share enough to get people exploring. Car Camping Checklist. Home to thousands of weekend warriors, Denver is loaded with outdoor retailers. Then, spend time wandering the tiny downtown to see the historic buildings, craft drink spots, shops, and galleries—all of which earned it certification as Colorado’s first Creative District. Kelly Dahl Campground is located just outside of the small mountain town of Nederland, Colorado, and offers some of the best proximity to hiking of all the Colorado car camping destinations on our list. Colorado is home to some of the best, free, dispersed camping if you know where to look. Unique to Mueller is their RV camping loop, which includes 11 campsites that can only be reserved as one group — if you’re friends with enough RVers, you can rent the entire loop out for yourselves. The first mile is the hardest, so don’t get discouraged on the front end. Camp along the way and you'll save money on lodging while maximizing your time outside. His favorite place he's ever visited is Alaska, and his favorite activity might be fishing or reading, depending on the day. “I definitely see why the campground is called Lakeview! Dispersed camping, which is also referred to as primitive camping, is a term used to describe camping in a national forest outside of a designated campground. of Sunset Publishing Corporation. Black Canyon is well worth the detour, even for a quick view, but if you want to take it slow, there are a few car camping options within the park as well as dispersed camping right outside the southern entrance. Last-minute getaway? Car camping is plentiful, and Angel of Shavano, at the base of Mt. #8 Best Value of 224 Colorado Pet Friendly Campgrounds “ However, the inside area is very cozy, with giant Jenga (pieces had just been cut and sanded by one of the employees), a box with table games, a friendly dog , and pizza slices for sale. “Beautiful drive [to get] there over Kenosha Pass, [especially] during Aspen Yellow season. “Excellent stay – camp is at Brainard Lake recreation area and one of our all time favs ! As the leaves change, mountain towns host festivals most weekends and locals head out on the trails in droves. Take highway 50 to Colorado Springs—you’ll only add 10 minutes to your drive and get to squeeze in a quirky roadside attraction. A tucked-away car-camping site in a sweeping Colorado valley? The Lincoln Creek dispersed camping area has 22 campsites for car camping along the Lincoln Creek road. Set up camp at the reservable Moraine Park, which has more than 200 campsites scattered around the forest. What You Need to Know • The weather can change quickly, even in the summer months. If you’re one of them, know that you can car camp at Bear Creek Lake Camp, which has a walking trail that leads to the venue. I’ve spent years camping in dispersed sites in Colorado, and I’ve racked up a few favorite locations. To help you get the most out of your experience, we’ve looked far and wide for some of the best dispersed camping in Colorado. And if you're looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush while you're there, you can even go sandboarding while staying inside the park. The facility offers 25 campsites that can accommodate both RVs and trailers, but its small size makes for a rich and uncrowded-feeling camping experience. As a local of over 11 years, I know all of the secret campsites in the state. Elbert to the south over turquoise water.” — The Dyrt camper Fain H. Located southeast of the small mountain town of Jefferson, Lost Park campground features 12 campsites, each of which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. One of our favorite spots is located at the junction of Deadman Road and Forest Service Road 502.How to Get There: The area is located up Deadman Road, northwest of Red Feather Lakes. This part of the state is awash with fall color. Tent. Regardless, dispersed camping has one major theme: you can arrive at the site with your car! With several different areas to fish and hike, this campground is perfect for families toting their fishing gear along in the car as well as those that want a heavy-duty high-altitude hike to round out their weekend camping adventure. What’s a road trip without stopping at an offbeat only-here kind of place? The town's Main Street houses artists priced out of Aspen and young entrepreneurs who have come back to invest in their hometown. Kelly Dahl Campground offers 46 single-family campsites that are large enough to accommodate both tents and RVs. has the capacity to cook you camp worthy meals night after night so you’ll never want to leave the comforts of your campsite! Plus, it has electricity and showers. Dispersed camping is the perfect outdoor overnight option for people who want the comforts of car camping but the solitude of backpacking. Other family-friendly activities include hiking, wildlife viewing, and fishing in one of the man ponds that dot the area. Each site comes with a fire ring and picnic table, and drinking water and trash collection is available at the campground as well. Highlights include a quick path from campground to reservoir, very friendly camp host, and the campground sites are all very roomy. It may take some of the “roughing it” out of it, but who minds. There’s not much camping in Boulder proper, so if you’re looking for a fun night on the town to start your trip, camp close by in Nederland (a highly underrated, quirky gem of a town in and of itself) at Camp Wilder, located on a secluded private site. “Just west of Leadville Colorado sits Turquoise Lake at an elevation of around 10,000 ft. Baby Doe Campground is one of the few camps that are situated around the lake on its east side. Salida is one of the most outdoorsy towns in Colorado. Visitors have the chance to explore both the West Magnolia Trailhead and the East Portal Trailhead, both of which just a short drive from the campground entrance. It’s one of Colorado’s most hikeable glaciers. It's epic and something you have to see at least once in your life. Located just an hour from Fort Collins, this area is a labyrinth of forest service roads that offer endless camping opportunities. Rocky Mountain National Park offers the quintessential Colorado camping experience, and by pitching your tent at Moraine Park campground, you’re likely to get a closeup look at the mule deer, coyotes and … Look to River Runners and Absolute Bikes for gear rentals. REI has a store in the city, too. Beer? The following checklist for car camping covers all gear necessary for an easy-going camping experience. Book yourself for the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. slot to soak away achy muscles and freshen up before you continue on your Colorado car-camping route. The campground offers 50 campsites, and includes restrooms with flush toilets. For food, Village Smithy (pictured) is a classic for brunch and Señor Taco has some of the best tacos in the area. Lost Park is Colorado car camping at its smallest, as each site is set evenly throughout a large area, and can accommodate a max RV length of 22 feet. Even if it is cheap, gas will still be one of your greatest expenses because it can be difficult to properly gauge how much you will actually use. At this adventure park, the founders have figured out every which way to get you to tackle the 1,200-foot gorge. 1. While most visitors who camp here are anglers looking to snag a vintage Colorado trout or two, the area is well known for its off-roading and biking trails as well. Our first night out was at the lovely and established campground by Lost Lake, up on Kebler Pass, our second night would put us just outside of Ouray, an area with which I am less familiar. On your way out of town, it’s worth a drive or short hike through the Garden of the Gods park with its dramatic red sandstone formations. Take the new (opened last year) Dixon Trail, a grueling 15-mile, round-trip hike with big aspen groves at the top. From there it’s on to Rocky Mountain National Park. Camping, Campgrounds & Tent Sites in Colorado Campsites are suitable for overnight camping for a family, usually have a fire ring or grill, picnic table, accessible to nearby drinking water, modern restrooms and hot showers. Buena Vista is the nearest town and is home to some of the best white water rafting in all of Colorado. Check. The largest urban wildlife refuge in the country is a sight to see with its 15,000 acres and more than 300 species—including bison and eagles—set against the Denver skyline. About 40 minutes from the valley's glittering Aspen, Carbondale may just be one of raddest towns in Colorado. Among the reliable mom-and-pop lunch spots, new places are starting to move in. Spend your time tackling a few shorter gold-filled hikes like Alberta Falls (continue to Loch Vale to extend this one) and trails in the remote Wild Basin area. Baby Doe Campground is located on the eastern shore of the lake, and is walking distance from the shoreline as well as the popular Turquoise Lake Nature Trail. On your way out of town, it’s worth taking a small detour to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. Set within unique red rock formations and large Pinyon and Juniper forest, Saddlehorn provides visitors the chance to get away in an area with breathtaking views and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. Dispersed camping means taking on extra responsibility, but the rewards can be great. Angel of Shavano Campground checks that box too. This campground is unique in that it provides legitimate backcountry access while still allowing visitors to camp from the comfort of their vehicles. or just boiling your morning oats because everyone knows that food tastes better when you are dining outside! It’s only a 15 minute drive from Fruita. Campers can access water and toilets at … Colorado Free Camping: Campendium has 1488 reviews of 322 places to camp for free in Colorado That said, the activities here are abundant, and include fishing, hunting, and hiking throughout the recreation area, and even into the popular and scenic Indian Peaks Wilderness. Tucked away ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN! The area is heavily used for hiking and fishing, and is popular large-in-part for its proximity to Pikes Peak, as it sits along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. “Perfect place for a quiet weekend away near CO Springs. You camp under the pine trees beside the lake with beautiful views of Mt. The adventure starts in Denver, where you can get supplies before steering west toward Rocky. If you plan to linger, Morrow Point Boat Tours offers a 1.5-hour ride through the canyon for a different perspective. The site hosts were very welcoming and friendly!” — The Dyrt camper Elizabeth M. 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