Five miles north of Nederland, National Forest System Road (NFSR) 226, commonly known as Gordon Gulch, turns east off of Colorado Highway 72. NFSR 226 intersects other forest roads: NFSR 314, 228, 233 and their off-shoots. There are 15 numbered, designated campsites scattered along the road system within 1.5 miles east of Highway 72. Camping is permitted in designated sites only. Take care when driving in this area. Snow and mud can persist through most of the year.
The free Boulder Ranger District Motor Vehicle Use Map displays National Forest System (NFS) routes open to motorized travel and is available online and at the Boulder Ranger District offfice.
Camped here for one night in August. Like the title suggests, this campsite is typical for a free forest service campground. Prior campers have left some trash, bullet casings and obviously neglected to dig cat holes. After a quick clean up, the site was fine for my purposes. I hammock camp and I was happy to see that many of the sites here have more than adequate trees for hanging. The roads can be a bit rough so the further back you go the necessity for a high clearance vehicle increases. There are several off road and hiking trails directly attached to the camping areas. I noticed that the forest service had erected wooden barriers at several of the campsites in an effort to control where people park. At my campsite #6 someone had obviously pulled off road vehicles into the campsite and tore the ground up pretty good. Tent camping at this particular site would be difficult due tot he lack of flat spots. Other sites seemed to be flatter. All in all this was a great place to camp for free with several nearby hikes and attractions.
We arrived late (3pm) on a Saturday and all of the numbered sites were taken. Luckily, we stayed on 233 and found an awesome spot at the top of a very steep and rocky hill. Our Nissan Rogue handled it pretty well, surprisingly. Highly suggest a vehicle with high clearance that can handle sharp rocks and steep incline.
The view was amazing at the top! Felt very “secluded” with the exception of an occasional child yell or music from a nearby site.
Also - tons of trash! Our site was littered with shotgun shells and casings.
All-in-all pretty good spot for a last minute trip.
Just kidding. But there is a shit load of moose droppings everywhere. Nice dispersed camping however no trails so that’s why I gave it 4 stars. Spots are relatively close to your neighbors; we heard ours every now and then.
Get there early! It's a campsite close to Denver and Boulder, so spots can fill up quickly with people wanting to escape the city for the night/weekend. Great views of the higher peaks facing west. Some campsites face Boulder, so depending on preference, get a campsite that faces west. There are fire pits in several of the sites, and sites are clearly marked. Even with all the campsites full, it doesn't feel like you're on top of people. There's plenty of open space. Leaving around 6pm on a Friday night from Denver took about 60 minutes from central Denver to the campsite.
The drive to this site from Boulder was phenomenally beautiful and an adventure in itself. There’s a small town about 5 minutes from the campsite. The sites were a good distance away from each other so it was quiet for the most part and you couldn’t hear other campers. The roads around the campsite were very rough, so I didn’t adventure too far in to check out the other sites further from the road because I have a tiny car and didn’t want to get stuck. Occasional could hear sound from the road but it’s not a heavy traffic road so it wasn’t a bother. At night it got incredibly windy, but I was there only one night so I’m unsure if that’s a regular thing.
We have camped here for years as large groups. There are plenty of places to camp for just 1 or 2 people but group camping is a bit tougher up there. There is a big wind shielded area that fits about 30-40 people easily. We have camped there in snow, Spring, Summer, and Fall. It's easy to get to and close to Nederland.
So the Gordon Gulch dispersed camping area has around 15 numbered sites that are ok… but if you keep driving further down 233.1 you will find many more unnumbered campsites. I am reviewing one of these unnumbered campsites in particular, because this one had the best view. Before you read too far, I can't guarantee you will be able to reach this campsite without a 4X4 high clearance vehicle. We got to the site with a Jeep Wrangler and Toyota Tacoma TRD so we had no problems… I can't definitely say a Subaru would make it though. In the pictures I have included a map of the Gordon Gulch trail system. Entering through the Gordon Gulch entrance and taking 226.1 to 233.1 is the hardest route - there is one very steep and washed out spot. Entering via 120J/Switzerland Trail from the Peak to Peak Hwy and then turning right onto 233.1 is the easier option. On that map I have marked the general area of the campsite with a pink dot and here are the coordinates.
DMS: 40°01'18.5"N 105°28'37.6"W
DD: 40.021814, -105.477103 - if you type this into Google Maps it will locate it
As for the actual campsite, it is a great option for spring/fall camping in Colorado. The elevation is about 8,800 ft and it is on the south side of a hill so it gets a lot of sunlight and is protected from northern winds. In terms of privacy, there are no other campsites that can be seen from this one. However, Gordon Gulch is a popular off-roading area so dirt bikes and Jeeps pass by frequently. This campsite is set up high above and away from the road though, so it is really not that bad. Another thing to point out is that this is a popular area for shooting as well, so if you absolutely hate guns it may not be the place for you. Also, as stated before, this is a dispersed campsite the only thing it has is a fire ring. Pack it in, pack it out!
So, the camps themselves aren't anything spectacular but make for a really nice one maybe two nights to get out of Denver. The types of people camping up here can be sort of rough, my girlfriend and I were woken up at 4 AM by someone accidentally discharging a firearm, which the sheriff responded to.
There are fifteen "marked" campsites. Throughout the summer they are all frequently occupied so it may be hard to find a spot a times. Moose visitors at dawn and evening, and hungry bears scavenging for food at night is a common occurance. Luckily my car alarm scared them off pretty easily. You'll hear dirtbikes during the day. The only main complaint I had was the lack of peace due to constant checks from boulder sheriffs.
I personally really like this spot. it’s disperesed so there’s no reason to worry about your neighbors while your walking around naked or embarrassed when your neighbor sees you when you try to do the salsa.
only bummer is that if you get there late on the weekend, you might not get I spot. fills up before 4pm, also a bummer is that there’s some people that hangout there for weeks at a time. but it’s cool! good views