Car camping is plentiful, and Angel of Shavano, at the base of Mt. The Colorado Trail starts here, too, so the hiking options are plentiful. Great scenery, not crowded, plenty of sites to choose from.” — The Dyrt camper Alyssa B. Lakeview Gunnison Campground is set on Taylor Park Reservoir, offering stunning views of the water and the surrounding wilderness. Shavano (a 9-mile fourteener that climbs 4,600 feet), is one of the best spots. 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. Piñon Flats is the best place to camp inside this remarkable setting and provides access to nearby hiking trails that meander over and around dunes that can reach as high as 700-feet in height. 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. “Absolutely breathtaking views on your drive up to this site! One of the best fall color spots in Colorado, Rocky delivers on the foliage. “Mueller State Park is a great location, close to Colorado Springs and far away enough to have that quiet camping experience. The area is also popular for wildlife viewing, as campers can regularly catch glimpses of Bighorn sheep, Golden Eagles, and a variety of other creatures. Last-minute getaway? 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. Take the new (opened last year) Dixon Trail, a grueling 15-mile, round-trip hike with big aspen groves at the top. Each site comes with a picnic table and fire ring, and the campground offers drinking water, trash collection, and vault toilets for all visitors. While you could cruise to Aspen and up to one of the great Western scenic drives, the Top of the Rockies, we suggest you earn your views on a hike to Crystal Mills, near Marble. Some are just suitable for car camping with tents, other can fit a full fledge travel trailer. 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. Colorado Free Camping: Campendium has 1488 reviews of 322 places to camp for free in Colorado If you don’t mind some company, it’s a great way to get introduced to Colorado’s wonderful sights. Angel of Shavano Campground checks that box too. Chasm View on the North Rim of the canyon is one of the most breathtaking vantage points. 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. The adventure starts in Denver, where you can get supplies before steering west toward Rocky. At this adventure park, the founders have figured out every which way to get you to tackle the 1,200-foot gorge. Best to time your Colorado car-camping trip to arrive in the park mid-week. 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. Get fresh recipes, wine pairings, weekend getaway ideas, regional gardening tips, home design inspiration, and more. The least-visited national park in the country, Black Canyon of the Gunnison plunges up to 2,700 feet and stretches for 42 miles. 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. COLORADO.com campgrounds listings, the Colorado Campground and Lodging Owners Association and Colorado KOA Owners Association are just a few places to make reservations and locate campgrounds. 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). Dispersed camping is the perfect outdoor overnight option for people who want the comforts of car camping but the solitude of backpacking. 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. 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. Baby Doe is the best of both worlds when it comes to Colorado car camping, offering direct access to Turquoise Lake without being too far off the beaten path. Each site comes with a fire ring and picnic table, and drinking water and trash collection is available at the campground as well. Buena Vista’s calling card is still adventure, but the art and restaurant scenes are coming in strong. From there it’s on to Rocky Mountain National Park. The highest continuous paved road in the country peaks at 12,183 feet. Acrophobics can stay closer to land on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad that cruises along the base of the canyon. 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. Go there to river surf, tube, or rock climb, then head somewhere like Simple Eatery, inside The Trailhead gear shop, or Deerhammer Distilling. Alpine lake camping is an absolute must-do when visiting Colorado, and it would be tough to beat one place in particular, Snowmass Lake. SUNSET is a registered trademark 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. 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. His favorite place he's ever visited is Alaska, and his favorite activity might be fishing or reading, depending on the day. 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). 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. 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. And you can always rent an RV near Denver if you’d prefer to glamp it up a level. Among the reliable mom-and-pop lunch spots, new places are starting to move in. 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. Tucked away ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN! 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. Salida is one of the most outdoorsy towns in Colorado. Hunker down here for two nights. Camping along Lincoln Creek is permitted from late May to late September. “We came here last year during the summer and it was so beautiful and quiet. Some of the state’s best kayaking and whitewater rafting happens on this part of the Arkansas River. For the most recreational options, best views, and fewest crowds, drive the extra two miles to camp along Grizzly. 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. 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. 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. Best Camping in Colorado on Tripadvisor: Find traveler reviews, candid photos, and prices for 357 camping in Colorado, United States. Campers willing to brave the chillier temps of early Fall can expect to wake up to the unique yet piercing Elk bugling call. 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. Colorado Glamping -- … REI has a store in the city, too. 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. Tyler Wildeck is a writer with a passion for all things outdoors. It may take some of the “roughing it” out of it, but who minds. Wrap up your Colorado car-camping road trip with a visit to one of the most iconic places in the state. This article on Colorado car camping is brought to you by Primus, whose Tupike Stove is the ideal setup for cooking up some multi-dish car camping meals or just boiling your morning oats because everyone knows that food tastes better when you are dining outside! Camping near Rocky Mountain National Park is easy with Hipcamp, where private landowners offer one-of-a-kind camping experiences. Highlights include a quick path from campground to reservoir, very friendly camp host, and the campground sites are all very roomy. of Sunset Publishing Corporation. This part of the state is awash with fall color. 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. Ours was wonderful and looking around other people’s were too.” — The Dyrt camper Kayla M. Located in the stunning Brainard Lake Recreation Area, Pawnee Campground includes 47 campsites for tents and RVs alike. Massive and Mt. Popular destinations near this campground include Independence Pass, which at 12,095 feet is the highest paved mountain pass in the country. As the leaves change, mountain towns host festivals most weekends and locals head out on the trails in droves. And don't forget to pack some extra layers (hey, you've got your car, after all), as most of the campsites are situated around 9,800 feet. In late summer and fall, elk take over the park and its basecamp town of Estes Park. “Nice peaceful campground on the weekdays. Just 10 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, Cheyenne Mountain stretches out over 2,701 acres. Plan for a brewery lunch in outdoor-loving Boulder. Between Colorado’s 50-some peaks over 14,000 feet (nicknamed “14ers”) and the near-infinite quantity of backcountry terrain, the Colorado car camping scene often gets overshadowed by the sheer volume of other ways to camp, hike, and explore. The average daily budget for a Colorado road trip is between $150-$200 – this includes gas, a rental car, lodging, food, drink, and entry fees.. Thankfully, Colorado has some of the cheapest gas in the USA, which will help you stretch your dollars. 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. Weekends are absurdly busy as everyone from the Front Range and beyond descends upon the country’s third-most visited national park to peek at the fall color. The campground offers 50 campsites, and includes restrooms with flush toilets. | Updated June 17, 2020, Creative Commons photo by Mark Byzewski is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Javier Vazquez is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Christian Collins is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Wayne Boland is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Beni Graham is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by David Evenson is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Agnish Dey is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Mike Gerpe is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Clint is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Avalanche Ranch is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by David Deaton is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Bud Hirsh is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Thomas Franta is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Kyle Hammons Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by John Abraham is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Andy Mcgee is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Mike Hawkins is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Beer and Loathing is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Think Like a Black Belt is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Frank Thompson Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by G. Verver is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Jerry Stone is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Michelle is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Circled Thrice is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Creative Commons photo by Bruce Hausknecht is licensed under CC BY 2.0, Cattle Roping and Cowboy Soaks: My Ranch-to-Ranch Colorado Road Trip, The 11 Best Rooftop Tents for Awesome Car-Camping Trips. If you plan to linger, Morrow Point Boat Tours offers a 1.5-hour ride through the canyon for a different perspective. Luckily, some of the best camping in Colorado costs absolutely nothing. Baby Doe offers 51 family sites that include a picnic table and fire ring. All of these campsites offer something different in terms of natural beauty, from the stunning rocks of … The first mile is the hardest, so don’t get discouraged on the front end. For food, Village Smithy (pictured) is a classic for brunch and Señor Taco has some of the best tacos in the area. To stay comfortable, it’s best to wear layered clothing. Situated in the heart of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, this campground requires an 8.5 mile trek to get to it. Located just an hour from Fort Collins, this area is a labyrinth of forest service roads that offer endless camping opportunities. So this list of best Colorado camping spots (in no particular order) probably will grow over time. At up to $45 a night in Colorado's most popular areas, camping can feel more like a luxury than a chance to get outdoors for a weekend escape. We had an excellent stay here with the exception of the hail and thunderstorm, but there was no planning for that. The oft-photographed 1892 mill, a remnant of the once-prosperous mining town, stands on a rocky outcrop above the Crystal River. 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. Consider extending your trip if you want to spend time hiking the lesser-visited western side of the park. All of the campsites are first-come, first-served, and although there’s no water available onsite, there is one restroom as well as firewood for sale. A lake for everyone, confessions of a pool crasher, and the BBQ king of California. Its under-the-radar campsites are surrounded by aspens right along the Arkansas River. The Roaring Fork Valley is gorgeous with its towns of Glenwood Springs, Aspen, and Carbondale. Home to thousands of weekend warriors, Denver is loaded with outdoor retailers. You could take your time and stop for lunch at one of the restaurants on the water on Grand Lake, or make haste and take a 30-minute detour (each way) to St. Mary’s Glacier, near Idaho Springs. 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. Car camp on this 10-day fall road trip that loops from Denver through some of the state's most stunning landscapes to Colorado Springs. Take highway 50 to Colorado Springs—you’ll only add 10 minutes to your drive and get to squeeze in a quirky roadside attraction. 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. While there are no electrical hookups available here, the campground does offer water, picnic tables, fire rings, and dump stations. The rangers here host stargazing events with the Gunnison Valley Observatory in summer. The Lincoln Creek dispersed camping area has 22 campsites for car camping along the Lincoln Creek road. “I definitely see why the campground is called Lakeview! This … Tent Sites are for a tent, pickup, van, or car. 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. Due to its elevation and location in Boulder County, Colorado, Pawnee Campground experiences a shorter camping season for many of its sites, as they’re only available starting in early July and running through Labor Day. Refuel for more days of hiking at Pure Kitchen, which opened earlier this year, with colorful power bowls, sandwiches, and flatbreads. Check. To get there from Fort Collins, take US Hwy 287 north to Livermore, turn west onto County Road 74E towards Red Feather Lakes. 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. 1. Plus, it has electricity and showers. Spend the day hiking and scoping out the wildlife, then head into Estes for some grub and a nightcap. I’ve spent years camping in dispersed sites in Colorado, and I’ve racked up a few favorite locations. Of the 134, 99 offer electricity as well as tent pads. There isn’t much shade, but the views and accessibility (with stops for a free shuttle to trailheads like Sprague Lake) are stellar. The host greets you with a bundle of wood and may schedule a guided walk around the property. Hop around between places like Carbondale Arts, Carbondale Clay Center, and Steve’s Guitar, a guitar shop that often hosts live music. September 8, 2019 Head out early enough to catch the sunrise and avoid traffic. I’m reticent to give away all of the good spots, but I’m happy to share enough to get people exploring. “Excellent stay – camp is at Brainard Lake recreation area and one of our all time favs ! The campground itself includes 62 campsites, a handful of which have electric hookups. There’s no shame in car camping. 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. Campsites are fine, but if you’re going to get to truly know Colorado while saving money, you should look into dispersed camping. Check. or just boiling your morning oats because everyone knows that food tastes better when you are dining outside! Mueller State Park is a heavily-visited hiking and camping area located within 45 minutes of Colorado Springs. 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. Courtesy of Seth K. Hughes; Features; The Guide to Camping in Colorado. “Perfect place for a quiet weekend away near CO Springs. Dispersed camping means taking on extra responsibility, but the rewards can be great. The Rio Grande Trail's 42-mile corridor runs through town, so you can easily get between places downtown like True Healing Arts (a wellness center with a free, public garden that has a stone reflexology path perfect for soothing tired hikers’ feet), and the nearby warehouse district with cool and sustainable restaurants and shops like Silo (its farm-fresh breakfasts are out of this world). Tent. Nearby Hotels. Meanwhile, the stylish Batch tasting room pours its Roaring Fork Valley Brewing beers, some of which are made with fruit from nearby Paonia. Located at the lower end of Taylor Canyon, Granite Canyon campground provides excellent backcountry hiking, fishing, and rafting opportunities for those with the gusto to get there! 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