When it comes to camping in Colorado, the options are almost limitless. From the valleys of the state’s highest peaks to Garden of the Gods and beyond, you’ll find alpine lakes, red rock formations, craggy peaks, dense pine forest, and wildflower-dotted meadows all right outside the tent door.
While Colorado claims many iconic destinations, Garden of the Gods ranks near the top of many visitors’ lists. The red rock formations backed by towering mountain ridgelines offers a jaw-dropping location for both hiking and camping in Colorado. Head to the Garden of the Gods RV Resort and pitch your tent for easy access to adventure, or opt for a cottage to enjoy a little luxury at the edges of one of Colorado’s most scenic locations. Enjoy easy day hikes through the namesake park, or explore the trails that trace through Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
If wilderness and solitude are more of what you’re looking for, ditch the big city and head for Twin Lakes, the basecamp for Colorado’s highest peak, Mount Elbert. Situated at a lofty 9,900 feet on the edges of Turquoise Lake, May Queen Campground offers both tranquility and million-dollar views. Sleep beneath a starry sky amidst lodgepole pines and spend your days exploring the Turquoise Lake Nature Trail. Ambitious hikers can post up at the Elbert Creek campground and head for the Mount Elbert trailhead to tackle the challenging trek to the 14,433-foot summit. And, don’t forget the fishing rod for this destination: angling on any of the nearby lakes is a great way to enjoy sunny summer days camping in Colorado’s mountains.
Those looking to stay closer to the Mile High City can find tent camping at Echo Lake campground on the outskirts of Idaho Springs, or at Aspen Meadows campground in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Whether it’s a weekend getaway not far from the city or a challenging and inspiring adventure deep in the mountains, the medley of camping in Colorado has something for everyone.
As a local of the nearby town of Salida, I've seen a lot of campgrounds in Chaffee County and the San Isabel National Forest, but this one stands out for its beautiful scenery and prime location to nearby towns and the Colorado Trail.
We chose the site because it's free of charge, a good mid point between the next day's destinations, and close to where our friend would be heading out from for her week long Colorado Trail mountain sufferfest.
After a long day of driving shuttle to pickup a good friend in Durango, we drove back from Southern Colorado to spend the night at this lovely mountain spot halfway up Monarch Pass just down the road from the CT. When we arrived at night---close to midnight---we were easily able to make our way into the solo spot, find flat areas to set up three tents, and settle in for the night. While you could probably fit two groups at this site, it's definitely best as a single site. Despite the rain clouds, we could still see a smattering of stars and enjoy a night in the trees protected from the breezes.
In the morning, my roommate and I took our dogs for a short walk up the nearby county road and enjoyed sweeping views of the Collegiate Peaks, as well as some tracks from a curious bear that had wandered nearby during the night. Up the road there were a number of pull offs for other dispersed camping areas.
Once back at camp, we started to dry out our camp from the night's rain and helped our friend unload her gear for her Colorado Trail mountain biking trip for the next week. As it was drizzling most of the morning, my roommate and I opted to see our friend off for her CT ride and head to the town of Salida for breakfast, which was only about 20 minutes away down Highway 50.
- Private, no other people
- In a gorgeous mountain alpine setting
- Easy to navigate to, even at night
- Within 30 minutes of nearby town of Salida
- Within 30 minutes of Monarch Ski Area
- Less than a mile from the Colorado Trail
- Easily fit three tents and our Subaru Outback
- Bear activity
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from unique brands from time to time. At this campground and in the following weeks, I got to test out the INNO Aero Light 2 bike rack. This is the first hitch rack I've ever used on my Outback, and was immediately an improvement on the cheaper trunk mount models I've used before (and definitely easier to coordinate compared to loading the bikes into the back of the Subaru itself).
Like most hitch racks I've help installed, however, the hardest part of using it was initially attaching it to the hitch mount. But after 10 minutes or so of wiggling and adjusting the mount, I was able to get the pin secured and the rest of the assembly was a breeze.
The rack, which features a secured lock over the pin at the hitch as well as a cable lock for the bikes themselves, felt super sturdy and easily fit my roommate and my gravel grinder road bikes on the drive down from northern Colorado. The quality rubber straps were easy to pull over the top and seat tubes to secure the bikes and the cable lock was a great extra security step for when we left the car to grab coffee and beer during the trip.
When it came time to swap bikes, it was easy to fit both my All City gravel bike's frame and the modern women's mountain bike frame of my friend's bike on the rack at the same time. The only downside we noticed was that after hours of windy mountain passes back, the mount points had shifted the bikes closer together. However, they still remained very secure.
The next morning, the rack's easy lowering feature allowed us to get into the back gate of the Subaru to remove our other gear, even with the bikes on it.
In the weeks after our trip, I also tested the rack with street cruisers and was able to fit two full beach cruiser size bikes on the rack, too!
- tilting arms that can lower when not in use
- rack folds down for access to rear gate
- includes cable lock and key for added security
- anti-sway cradle
- accessible foot pedal to easily lower rack
- locking knob on hitch pin for added security
- fits a wide variety of frame types
- incredibly stable compared to other brands
- strong, lightweight aluminum (42 lbs)
- mounting points move over rough/windy roads, moving the bikes closer together
After months testing this rack for trip and daily use, I'm in love. It fits every frame type I have from classic cruiser to modern mountain bike, and the ability to lower the arms and the rack itself for rear gate access means I can leave the rack on even when making lumber trips to Home Depot. If you're looking for a bike rack that supports every two-wheeled adventure on your list (short of a penny-farthing one), the INNO Aero Light 2 is the way to go.
I camped during the Elk Rut and watching the elk come out at dusk was amazing. Hundred of elk at the meadow below. Jawdropping.
Great campsite and great view. Even with plenty of RV's and campers around it was extremely quiet. Each site had a picnic table and fire ring. Sites are pretty close together so just keep that in mind when setting up camp. Bear boxes are there for a reason so use them!
Pit toilet close to my site was fairly clean and stocked. Water was a little bit of a walk but not horrible.
I visited in Oct and during the day it was up in the 60's. The morning I woke up to snow. So again keep that in mind when camping during months that snow can happen.
I've hesitated on if I wanted to post a review about this site or not. It's such a great site that not many seem to know about and sometimes you just want to keep those hidden/sorta secret sites to yourself. But since there is already another review guess I will add mine as well.
By far my most favorite site I've ever camped. It's quite the experience being able to camp at the bottom of this canyon after seeing it from the top side. The river is close for fly fishing, there is no RV's, mostly tent or van/truck camping due to the road being restricted to vehicles under 22'. There is a 16% grade and extremely sharp and narrow curves.
There is only 15 sites in two locations. One is a drive in and has about 8 sites. The other was closed when I arrived but looked like very nice sites as well. Only pit toilets in both and I saw no working water so bring in what you are going to need.
Saw and heard lots of wildlife. Deer for sure and a few bald eagles, the other critters heard and not saw, well who knows but mostly birds. There are bear boxes on site.
Picnic tables and fire rings.
I'm sure as the snow/cold weather comes in this campsite will be closed down due to road conditions so double check before planning a trip to be sure it's open.
And to top it off the fishing here is amazing. So many open areas to climb down to the river and just fish away with no crowds. It was magical! and then to have a Bald eagle watching you, couldn't ask for a better experience!
One last thing, you are at the bottom of the canyon so it is in the shade quite often so meaning it is a bit cooler down there than at the top.
The walk to the river was short and there even is a parking area for those who are not camping but want to fish.
Sites were well maintained, restroom and showers were as well.
Picnic tables, fire ring and grill at all sites. Deer wandered around freely and was an extremely restful night.
They offer pull in sites or walk in tent sites. I chose a pull in even though I was tent camping. Had to check out a few sites to be sure there was level/cactus free spot to pitch the tent.
I thought I would grab a tent only site but after cruising around and checking them out, the views at the tent only sites are not that great.
I ended up choosing a site in the B loop. This loop seemed to have the best views. Even with RV's set up it was pin drop quiet. Picnic tables and a grill at all sites. NO fires were allowed while I was visiting. You sometimes have to search around to find a good site in this loop for a tent but it's not that difficult. Many sites have a short little walk to beautiful overlooks. Catch the sites at sunset and sunrise and you won't be disappointed.
Restrooms were clean and well maintained.
When I was a teenager, my family came here every year. The trout fishing was always great, wildlife viewing fantastic, and stargazing doesn't get much better. The beetles damaged many trees, causing a safty issue: no one wants a tree falling on their tent or camper at 4 a.m., so all of the mature trees in the campgroud were taken out a few years ago. Bathrooms are available within easy walking distance of each camping area. Showers are not available here, but there is a place in nearby Grand Lake that offers pay showers (always clean in my experience, as well as other reviews I have read) Bear-proof lockers are available. It is highly recommended you use them. Make sure you take the trail out the back of the campground to the nearby Holzwarth Ranch (Also known as Never Summer Ranch) If you're lazy, you can drive, it isn't far. Lots of great hiking trails, and it is quite near Grand Lake if you need to replenish supplies.
The fire tower has two levels with 2 twin beds on each level. I recommend staying in the top level as the views are amazing. Look one way, you can see downtown Denver. Look another, Pike's Peak. Another, Mount Evans. It is windy up at 11,500 feet and it rattles the windows at times, but again…the views. The space itself is only about 20' x 20' but you are never bored as the scenery changes in every direction every 5 minutes. You have to reserve the tower well in advance but it is definitely worth it. I must mention there is also about a mile hike up to the tower with your gear but again, it is definitely worth it.
If you are looking for a place to set up that is close to fishing this is your spot. There are a couple sites that are right by the river and a very short walk to wet your hook.
Yes the road noise is noticeable but it's unbearable. I would say just try to find one of the sites closer to the river verses the road.
I don't recall seeing a water faucet but did see one sight with power hook-up. Did it work? I haven't a clue. Only 2 other campers when I set up camp and both were in smaller RV's. Fire rings, picnic table and a fairly level site. Pit toilets that were bearable.
The views and the river is what this campground is all about
I'll agree with the other posters. Platte River Campground is a great location if you are looking to do some fly fishing. The river is right there and easy access. Or if you want to set up camp here and then drive up/down the road there are tons of fishing spots.
Keep in mind there isn't a store or anything close by so be sure to carry in all you need. I don't recall water on site so better to be safe and carry plenty in.
I went in mid Oct so off season and there was only 2 other campers in the campground. I chose site #8, furthest away from the parking area but also more trees. There was a bit of road noise but not horrible. Was quiet and just a cozy place to stay.
A great site to check out what this campground looks like and how it's laid out is you can check out this video I found useful on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mc9JPE53Lf4
**Campground Review **
I came upon this campground in an effort to squeeze in one last big fall hike before the Colorado winter (aka snow) settled across the Front Range Mountains. My research led me to the Fourth of July Trailhead and adjacent Buckingham Campground, just west of Boulder, Colorado. Our plan was to car camp at the campground the night before hiking to ensure that we would get a good parking spot at the trailhead and an early start on the hike. We arrived after nightfall and were very surprised to find that we were the only people there, despite many online reviews describing how crowded this area got on the weekends. The lack of other cars and light made it quite difficult for us to differentiate between the campground and the trailhead parking, so we drove around for a bit and finally settled on a nice flat spot that was relatively free of snow. While driving around looking for a spot, a giant mother moose and her baby crossed the parking lot which was such a cool (but slightly terrifying) surprise! We were sure to find parking far away from the direction that they were wandering towards.
Overall, the campground didn’t offer much. We visited quite late in the season and there was a lot of snow on the ground, so it was really hard to tell where the actual designated camp sites were. I am guessing that it is better maintained during the summer. While there was a bathroom, as my photos show it was unfortunately quite dirty and full of trash. The location totally made up for any downsides of the campground though! When we woke up the next morning we were shocked by the beautiful views seen from every direction. The parking lot began to fill at dawn and there were only a few spots remaining when we started hiking around 8 am. We hiked two of the trails from the campground, Arapaho Pass and Diamond Lake, both were absolutely amazing and some of the most beautiful hiking I have done in Colorado. I would highly recommend hiking, backpacking, and/or camping around this area to anyone visiting the Colorado Front Range!
A word of caution-The road to this campground can be fairly rough in some spots and was made more difficult by the snow on the ground when we visited (mid-October). A high-clearance vehicle is definitely needed and something with 4WD would be necessary if there is any snow or mud on the road. Check trail conditions and road closures prior to setting out to this beautiful destination!
**Product Review **
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, sometimes I have the opportunity to test some great products! At this campground, I tested the RoM Pack. This unique backpack comes with quite a cool origin storyfrom its’ inventors, so I was very excited for the opportunity to test out something so innovative. When the pack arrived, I certainly was not disappointed. Unfortunately, quite a few early snow season storms delayed my attempts to get out in the field to test it although once I finally got the opportunity, it was totally worth the wait!
This pack is nothing short of versatile. It not only serves as a backpack with optional removable outer pockets, but can also be used as a blanket and a wearable poncho!! Seriously, this thing is so cool. I could probably go on all day about the reasons I was impressed by this product, but for the sake of those reading, I decided to narrow down my top 3 favorite features of this backpack:
1) The material. The designers of this product clearly have been in the woods a time or two. The pack is made out of a water resistant and super durable material on the outside but the other side is a thin polar fleece. This feature was really important as we went camping in the snow with it.
- As a backpack-this means everything inside your pack is protected from the dirt and the elements. I had no fear of my gear getting wet when I set my pack down directly in the snow.
- As a poncho-the inside is warm and soft while the outer material keeps you dry.
- As a blanket-although this product is lightweight, it is surprisingly thick and well insulated. We had to camp directly on the snow one night, so I laid down the blanket on the floor of my tent to use as an extra layer of insulation below my sleeping pad. It really added some much appreciated warmth!
2) Did I mention all of the pockets?! I am a bit of an organization freak when it comes to camping, so I really appreciated how many places there were in this backpack to store and then easily access all of my things.
3) The versatility. To me, this seems to be one of the major selling points of this incredibly innovative product and for good reason. Not only is it a high quality backpack, but it can also serve to provide two essential things while adventuring in the outdoors-warmth and protection. You can leave your extra layers and picnic blankets at home when you have this backpack to cut down on weight and gear. Additionally, switching between the uses is really quite easy and well explained in this videofor first time users.
Overall, I was really impressed by the RoM pack. I will definitely be following this brand in the future and can’t wait to see what other novel products come from the genius behind RoM Outdoors!
Great camp sites. Spacious and clean. Great little place. We were almost all alone in mid October with a full moon. Unfortunately, the big trucks on the roads near by were very noisy downshifting at the 4 way stop sign just outside the park. All day and into the night.
This is one of the smaller sites alongside the main road you will find just a short distance outside of Aspen. I was passing through late in the season, technically during "closure" but was able to snag a site because it had not yet been closed due to unusually warmer fall. There had been some snowfall higher up but where I was there had not so the camp had not been closed. They had however turned off the potable water source but vault toilets and sites remained open.
I was located in site 5 which had a small back in area, a picnic table and fire ring. There were also bear boxes throughout camp, which you need to use if you are here because there is a population of bears that will raid camp. I made sure to keep any food in the car behind doors and cleaned up away from camp with my own water source so as to not attract anything to come near. Bears do scare me a bit!!
The site for my tent was lush and grassy, it had not yet frozen or died for the season so it felt very fluffy underneath my tent.
Temperatures dropped dramatically at night and I was happy there was no fire ban when I visited because I used my fire for a heat source in the evening and then hand warmers inside extra socks at night. It was pretty peaceful at the camp as a whole.
While there I enjoyed hiking on the Weller Trail which heads directly out from the parking area near the camp and treks a short distance with some amazing views. I was so happy to have found this site for only $21.
Typical season is May to the end of September if it is before or after this time check with the Forest Service to see if they have opened camp for season.
Bring a flashlight there is no external light at the campground so you will not be able to see anything without one.
I wanted to stay in Manitou originally to hike Pikes Peak, unfortunate weather stopped that from happening so I had to make due and get in as many activities as I possibly could before heading out. I searched the area far and wide for great camping, and this place came up. I only at the time had the address but not much info and so as I was already in the area went ahead and made a stop in hoping to find a site to stay. Unfortunately I was told they only accept RVs, something very predominant in this area. It was a nice park so I went ahead and asked if I could check out some of their amenities before heading out, aka I asked if I could use their restroom and walk around. They let me but said since I wasn't staying I couldn't snag a bunch of photos and invade privacy, I think they told me this cause I had an entire convo about being a travel blogger..lol.
The location wasn't huge but it was quaint. It backed up to a creek which you could hear trickling trough and it made for a nice setting for a place to stay when in this area. Only a few moments away from Manitou only made it even more of a bonus.
Rates seemed pretty reasonable when I was visiting in fall a $45 a night but I did notice rates change seasonally so they could be a bit higher in summer months. They did also offer long term parking within guidelines of maintenance in an attempt to keep their campground looking nice. I really liked the location, I really just wish I had been able to stay, but like with most in Colorado, you have to search a bit harder if you are a tent camper.
Reserve in advance and hold your reservation or you will forfeit your deposit.
Check out Rainbow Falls, Garden of the Gods and downtown Manitou if you want to see some amazing different things. If you want a challenge try the Incline!!
I was hoping to go here to see some people launching their white water rafting, however that was not the case when I was visiting. Despite being open year round there was not a lot of activity going on when I was there in late October during midweek. The surroundings were amazing, however I opted to not stay because a cold front was coming in to push through some snow, probably the reason why people where not rafting.
The sites for camping were nice, there were many campgrounds to choose from along the area and sites were large and spacious. Most importantly they were reasonably priced at only $18. Part of what makes these camps be able to not close their doors seasonally is their vault toilets, with no running water at camp they do not have to worry about pipes bursting or issues relating to this so camp can keep going.
Sites are equipped with traditional picnic table, fire ring and grill and there is a changing area at the campground too just to get out of the gusty winds and provide a bit of shelter for getting cleaned up each day.
The Salida campground does have a boat ramp and launch right beside camp and fully backs up to the river itself so you have amazing views from any campsite. You really can't lose with this place!!
Come prepared there is limited cell service here and no store on site so you will be needing to go to town if you forget anything.
Check weather conditions, though open year round you will want to prepare if cold fronts are passing through as this area is already a bit cooler being so close to the waters edge.
Trees, trails and tranquility just an hour from Denver? Yes please! This is one of my new favorite spots -perfect for a quick weekend escape. We loved the roomy pull through spots for our camper, easy electrical hookups, super clean bathrooms and shower house. So many other campgrounds in Colorado have been hit hard by the pine beetle epidemic, but Reverends Ridge still has towering trees that make the loops feel private and remote. Dont mIss the easy hike to Panorama Point. From there you can let link to the rest of the extensive trail system through the park.
This campground lies across the road from Chalk Creek. It has pit toilets and a few ants, but otherwise is quite nice. There are still plenty of trees, nice fire rings, etc. Outdoor activities do not abut the campground, so you'll get back in your car to visit trailheads, fishing locations, the local ghost town, or the hot springs.
The area is spectacular. The Colorado trail passes nearby, fun in all seasons. St. Elmo offers tame chipmunks to feed and a look at our mining history. Sunrise turns the Chalk Cliffs a beautiful rose hue. Civilization and pampering (or just a shower) are available down the road at the hot springs resort and spa, complete with restaurant and general store. Four-by-fours tackle Tin Cup pass above the campground. Bikers can head over to nearby Cottonwood canyon for a classic Colorado road ride.
The campground was awful and kick started a sinus infection with all the dust blowing around. The bathrooms have a code on them so if you forget the code in the middle of the night as you’re groggy and walking to the bathroom, you’re SOL.
This campground was pretty ok. If you don’t have a mattress pad watch out though because some of the sites have very rocky tent pads. Some sites have raise platforms with a sand pit in the center, which is obviously way more comfortable. The showers are clean and fine. The camp store has everything you need.
The campsite doesn’t give you the feeling of being “camping” it has more of an RV park feel but it did the trick if you’re looking to stay near the national park but not in a hotel
The road to Zapata Falls is super rough but passenger cars shouldn't have any problem as long as you keep it slow. The campground itself is zigzagged along the hillside. There are big firepits, picnic tables and bearsafe lockers for your food at every site. Some sites have tarps laid out where ideal tent sites are. There are multiple RV sites as well. The camp host is super friendly and does a good job upkeeping the grounds. The is no water access and pit-toilets. There is hand sanitizer in every bathroom though. Just a heads up, the country store down the road towards Great Sand Dunes was closed for the season when we visited, so make sure you have plenty of ice and gas.
A dirt road about a mile and half in leads to the camp area on this BLM land. The road is easy to drive on. There are no amenities here. Pack it in and out. I don't recall seeing any trash cans at the pit toilets that are at the trailhead. This trailhead is close to the highway, that you will pass on the way to the camping area. We have a self contained camper van and there were others like it there as well. But it looks like it would be easy enough for RVs too and of course tents. The area is open dotted with large trees. Free. Hiking, OHV trails nearby.
When staying in Colorado, there are just way to many amazing campgrounds, so finding the perfect fit has so many faces for every individual camper. To be honest, I could camp my way though Colorado and never become bored. Cayton Campground is one of those little gems in the mountains that personifies all that you think of when you envision on of those signature Colorado Campgrounds.
Nestled in a small valley of the mountains and surrounded by trees, passing a small stream it is rustic and beautiful. A little bit of modern with a rich history of Colorado past, this campground is named for a former ranger which worked and did big things in this area. What sets this camp apart from others is just that, the camp has numerous signs telling of the past making it a little treat for those hiking around camp to discover.
I found this camp when in the Telluride area late in the year. It was posted that it has seasonal closures and I could easily see why when traveling into the campground. Though the campground roads were wide, clear and even, some of the drive out through the mountains looked like as snowfall would come along it could get a little hairy on some of the turns and climbs.
The campground was very impressive for a mountain camp, spaces all had amazing views of the mountains around you, they were large and spacious making for a lot of room to really spread out your camp and enjoy and the toilets, despite being vault toilets, were in great shape. There also happened to be potable water which was a big bonus.
I spent time here hiking around in the wide open space, enjoying the river which runs through camp (many spaces running just up to its shore) and enjoying the sounds of my neighbor at camp who was a musician playing his guitar, which seemed to be a soundtrack to the mountains.
My site was one of the non-electric sites, though about half the campground does have electricity running to the sites, these were primarily occupied by small RVs. The site had typical amenities with a fire ring and grill and picnic table. It was peaceful and pleasant.
Sites here are $30 for electric connection or $24 for non-electric.
I plan to return to do more hiking in the area now that I am more familiar with just what happens to be around the area. While I was there for hiking near Telluride, just south are also some amazing places to check out. This area is known for the 14ers.
We arrived in Denver area on October 12th, who would've guessed it would snow. We spent 25 years in Florida…so this was a treat. 3 days later it was 60 again. The campground it spacious, level, paved, lots of green space. The staff here is helpful and organized. The campground is almost always sold out every weekend but they have a wait list you can be on starting at 9am…we were lucky enough to extend. Plenty of city conveniences nearby and they have free wifi that works great!
We missed the reservation window for this popular spot so spent the first night camped down the hill in a Forest Service road pull-off. Luckily we were able to pull in at 11:30am just as some folks were leaving and scored one of the few walk-up sites.
They say beggars can't be choosers, but we felt like we won the lottery because our site had million dollar views. After exploring a bit, we realized that every site had million dollar views.
This 9000foot high lake is a gem for kayaking, fishing and overall zen-ing. The lake was busy with folks doing all of these things, it never felt too crowded or overused.
The camp host and her young son were friendly, helpful and diligent and we loved seeing him "help" the sites and pick up rocks.
The road up to the site is bumpy and steep and bit dicey when wet, but once you've made it up here, you won't want to leave.
I wish I could write a review about Cataract Creek campground, which is nestled in the trees 2 miles above Green MountaIn Resevoir. But even in October those 5 sites filled up too fast.
Instead we ended up at McDonald Flats on the south end of the lake near the boat ramp. I like sites with a few trees, no road noise, and limited views of my neighbors. This campground didn’t offer any of those. We had the sites and sounds of semis barreling down HWY 9 all night. Our neighbors were friendly and polite, but we were parked right next to them and heard their car doors as they set out at 6:30 am to go hunting. Regardless, we were happy to have the spot sInce most of the other campgrounds had closed for the season. ServIces lIke trash removal had been suspended for the season, the sIte was free, whIch was a nIce surprIse. The water levels were way too low in October to really enjoy the lake, but it would be a great camp for boaters in the summer. A hIghlIght of the weekend was takIng the 15 minute trek to Kremmling and hitting Grand Adventure Brewery. We loved theIr dog frIendly patIo, diverse beer list, tasty food and friendly service.