Standard (tent/RV)
Dispersed
RV Sites
Tent Sites
Fires Allowed
Pets Allowed
Drinking Water
About Rainbow Lakes Campground

This campground is open mid-June through mid-September and located at 10000 feet at the end of the Rainbow Lakes Road and adjacent to the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This road is closed for winter and typically reopens in June. Before traveling to this area, check the Road Status Table.

There are 18 first-come, first-served campsites that accommodate tents (on 14X16 foot tent pads) and small trailers. A maximum of eight people are allowed per site. Campsite 8 is oversized and accomodates up to 15 people. Campsites 15 - 18 are walk in sites for tents. Picnic tables, fire grates, vault toilets and trash services are provided at each campsite. 14-day stay limit. This campground does not feature drinking water, electricity, hook-ups, dump stations, nor showers. Please remember to bring water.

Rainbow Lakes Campground is normally full for the weekend by Friday morning so plan to arrive early. No reservations are accepted.

Click here for a map of this campground.

Operator
National Forest
Access
Drive In
Features
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Fires Allowed
Firewood Available
Pets Allowed
Phone Service
Reservable
Toilets
Trash Available
Location
Rainbow Lakes Campground is located in Colorado
Latitude
40.0091 N
Longitude
-105.5689 W
Get Directions
Directions
From Nederland, head north on Colorado Highway 72 for approximately seven miles. Look for the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station sign and turn west onto National Forest System Road 298. This route is gated during the winter. This road is a five-mile, native-surfaced road. A high clearance vehicle is recommended.
7 Reviews of Rainbow Lakes Campground
Clean Campground Worth The Drive

Well worth the 5 mile service road bumpy drive.  HIGHLY encourage you to have a high clearance SUV on this road.  The camp sites are all really clean and orderly.  The host does a good job with up keep.

Heads up that the trail to the lakes is currently closed as of this review.  Take the Arapahoe Glacier Trail though, you will not be disappointed!

Lots of free camping nearby

It's a great campground and there is plenty of beautiful dispersed camping a short drive (or walk) down the road, so you're guaranteed to get a spot!

Stunning views, bumpy ride in

Definitely worth checking out for the stunning views. It can be a bit tough to find a spot to pull over and park as it's a narrow dirt road into Rainbow Lakes. It's also definitely a super bumpy ride in so brace yourselves. If you want more luxurious camping you can rent out a campground at the very end and have access to water and restrooms. Definitely very family friendly when you pay for camping. Otherwise the free camping is great so long as you can find a spot to park and don't mind hauling your gear.

Cold at the end of september

We really enjoyed this free camp site. There is paid camping at the end of the road but we chose to camp on the free sites before hand. No facilities just how we like it. Absolutely beautiful hiking in the area and also hot springs near by. Love this area of colorado. very cold at the end of september.

National Forest primitive camping with no reservations

This is a pretty short drive from Boulder (or Denver) but since you can’t make reservations at this small site (15-20 sites), so plan to get there as soon as you can after it opens. The site is lovely and right along lakes with snow-capped peaks in the distance. A friend said she saw moose and beavers in this lake but I’ve only ever seen deer. There are vault toilets but no water so bring some and/or treatment methods.

Clean Campground and Friendly Host

We happened to come across Rainbow lakes campground in a google search of nearby campgrounds. Upon arriving during the middle of the week in the first week of July we found it to be completely empty and super clean. We met the camp host, Rick, and he introduced us to the area by explaining the trails and where to go for what purpose. He was incredibly helpful and the site was stunning. He even gave us free firewood in return for helping him with keeping the dumpster area clean. The lakes next to the campground are beautiful and the train is easy to follow. Lots of wildlife and beautiful flowers. He even came around to the Free sites and helped us put out the fires when there was a fire ban.

First to Review
A little backcountry for a lot of solitude

Easy access off the main highway makes the main camping of this area accessible for any car that can handle the 9600 ft altitude. Clearly equipped to be family-friendly with designated camping plots and basic amenities like toilets. The lake is lovely, and with hiking trail access to more than one trail, it offers fishing, hiking, and of course relaxing. This place is popular, however, so you may elect to go the more secluded route.

A 4WD access road exists soon after the main entrance to the rainbow lakes campground. As of June 2016 it is closed. That's because water levels have made parts of the road inaccessible. But if you want a more secluded and unbelievable experience, hike in. It's 1.5 miles on a 4WD road that has parts that will see you walk ankle deep in water. Yes, you can avoid it by simply walking in the woods around these large puddles, but at .4 miles into the whole hike there's a knee deep (I'm 5'9") slow current river you're going to have to wade through, so your shoes will be wet anyway, so might as well. Warm the shoes by the campfire :-) When you reach camp, there are more than 30 campsite spots, and spread out. Id be shocked if it was full ever. I was the only one there that night. And they're real campsites with cleared space and fire pits. Naturally well shaded too.

At this camp, you're close to a river for fishing. You can easily hike around too. Or chill.

Its a bit of a workout to get there, but w packing properly and toughing a water wade, the seclusion will be well worth it for those looking for a little for quiet or looking to best the family crowds. There are moose in the area. Saw two during the one day stay there.

Remember, regardless of where you stay, you're at almost 10,000 ft elevation so at night, you'll be cold without some layered clothing options and a proper sleeping bag..