In pursuit of the perfect campground in Colorado, Telluride has so many to choose from it makes it near impossible to select just one. If you are looking for those post card style views this area is a post card at nearly every corner and nook. While you cannot access many of their campgrounds during a large chunk of the year, it makes finding the perfect spot even more rewarding.
Sunshine Campground is one of the more popular campgrounds and also one of the few I found that charges a fee for usage. Why in a world of free camping does this one charge you might ask? Improvements on top of improvements.
From the road you travel in being paced and easier to navigate to firewood availability and composting toilets you will find that this site is designed for every day camper who is wanting beauty in their backyard without the work of backcountry camping.
You do not need to leave the RV at home to come here, nor do you need to have skill in bushcraft instead you can come out with the family and enjoy the great outdoors while still very close to Telluride itself.
I found this campground and toured it just after the busy season had started to slow during early October. I was about 10 days from its closure so there were not a lot of people around during the week. Busy season for campgrounds and busy season for the community of Telluride are vastly different. Campgrounds of course cater to the outdoor camper thus needing conditions prime for being outdoors while the town thrives on the ski industry which obviously requires the conditions which are not ideal for campers. This particular time of year is that weird time in between so you kind of get to Telluride and things aren’t fully open but in the campground things are not yet fully closed.
The campground was very clean and they enforce the leave no trace mentality despite it being an improved campground. I noticed it is a first come first serve campground and they do not allow reservations. While there is potable water it is not available as the season ends so I didn’t have access to this feature.
There was a camp map as I arrived along with all the normal warnings and regulations so I took note and drove in noticing that each site had a picnic table and fire ring as well as a paved pull off large enough for RVs or tent campers. Each of the sites backed up to large Aspen trees I selected campsite 9 which was right near the first loop of the trail it was $18 for a night. I liked that one because it was shaded and seemed secluded, it also seemed as though it was a little less overgrown so I felt more comfortable in my tent in that location.
I was not far from the restrooms and when I went to actually go and check them out I noticed some deer roaming through camp. One of the signs I had read at the kiosk mentioned deer and potential bear and gave warning of keeping food kept inside hard shell car. I never saw a bear at this location, however I have in other areas around Telluride so heed the warnings!!
- Drive the campground first to see what you might like, each site has a very different view and some sites are larger than others so if you are wanting to spread out a bit more you will have the opportunity to do so in these.
*Consider the hiking trails here before venturing toward others in town. These are great trails just a bit smaller.
*Take a good camera for wildlife photos!
Campground Review: I loved my stay at Sunshine Campground. Only reason it gets 4 stars is the proximity to the main road and road noise, which is minimal at night. A couple of the 18 sites have awesome views. There's firewood for sale for $6, and two primitive bathrooms. Good for RV or tent camping, and loved the access to wilderness near Telluride.
Gear Review: As a Dyrt Ranger, I also get products to test and review in the field.
I recently got to test Osprey’s Aether 70L Backpack while I was at Sunshine Campground.
First off, a 70L pack is big--bigger than your average day pack. I’ve had my eyes on 65L+ packs for a while so I was psyched to get my hands on this one. And it lived up to my expectations. I’m going to be using the pack on a 5-day trek in Mexico in October, so I tried to replicate a multi-day, full load during my field test.
I packed in bulky camping gear and a couple big rocks (to exaggerate the feeling of the weight). I estimate the final weight around 60lbs. Structurally, the pack handled the weight well. I took it on day hikes (each ~10 miles, 3-5k net elevation gain) using Sunshine Campground as my HQ. It sat comfortably and didn’t leave any hotspots.
Only downside? The large size limits it to multi-night or training hikes.
As ranger worthy or not, this is definitely a ranger worthy pack. Check out the pack here: http://www.ospreypacks.com/us/en/product/aether-70-AETHER70.html
We were camping because we were attending Telluride mountain film festival and we did not realize that we would be in for a great surprise. we camped for 3 very long nights at sunshine. the bathrooms were the usual hole in the ground, i'm not complaining because that is a luxury. We went at the end of may and we ended up incredibly cold all night. as we were in the grand canyon a few nights before. the camp groundsman was very nice and we did pay our dues. i think 18 is the right number. we may have payed 15 because we were not using the hookups. you will wake up to an amazing view of the mountain range that is actually on the front of the coors cans( as told by a telluride native). Just BE AWARE that the weather in Colorado is unlike the weather anywhere else. it is bi polar.
If you want to wake up to an awesome sunrise, this is the campground for you.