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Applewood, COLORADO
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A giant homeless camp

I would avoid if you have children. I have found needles and human waist there. It seems like most of the camps in Boulder and Denver are all the same…..

Early season but only way to find a vacancy

This campground is always full. Right inside the border of RMNP out of Estes Park, it’s accessible but removed enough from traffic and noise. Some of the sites are close together but each has a generous tent pad, bear proof storage (most, not all) and a fire pit. Also available are reasonably clean toilets and sun shower stations. Nice views (Longs Peak), trees for hammock-hanging, and great camp hosts. Definitely recommend, if you can snag a site. Reserve in advance if possible.

Gorgeous

What a great spot to spend the day. Traveled to Colorado from NJ and this is spot is really breathtaking and relaxing.

Great Local Campground

Very close to home. Lake Dillon Res is cold water. Always, even in July and August. Were at about 9000 feet, weather can change rapidly, and forecasters can be wrong. Be prepared for all 4 seasons. It can snow in July. No lie.

Update on getting in water, it is open seasonally. When allowed, you can try to swim and get into the lake. Very short season that this is available.

The ski resorts listed are NOT open year round. There is "shoulder" or "mud" season as we call it, where the resorts close, the restaurants close, shops, everything on the mountain stops. Towns still are fully open. But not the base of the ski resorts.

Only Reservoir in lower 48 with Arctic Char. Also have Kokanee Salmon. In addition to many species of trout. Lake, Rainbow, and Brown.

Lots of space in campground. Our usual spot has trees still and cover. Helps when it gets windy. Access to lake is great. Clean and up kept. It can be beautiful but chilly for most folks. Can even shore up boats in certain camp sites.

Lake is extremely low this season (2019) and camp will be further away from any water access.

Very basic campground with basic amenities.

This campground is one of many driving up route 67. They're all closed in the winter and through the beginning of May. Very basic sites are available no amenities. Make sure you have 4-wheel drive available in the early spring.

Basic campground with bathrooms.

This was a very basic campground. A place to park a table and a fire ring. The bathrooms were cleaned and stocked. There was also a dumpster available for use.

Standard Campground, but Excellent Hiking

Brainard Lake Recreation Area has some really great hikes to alpine lakes, and Pawnee campground is the place to stay if you want to be the first person on the trail. Overall it is your standard large campground - the sites have grills, fire grates, picnic tables, bear boxes, and are fairly close to one another. The campground also has clean restrooms and you can book your site online.

There are a lot of moose in the area! I have been here twice and I have seen moose both times. Once was just along the road, and the other time I saw 2 moose while I was hiking to Lake Isabelle. Also, the Lake Isabelle hike is one of my favorites - I recommend coming here just to do this hike. It is helpful to stay at the campground the night before because the trailhead parking lots fill up quickly.

Free Dispersed Sites on Kenosha Pass

This is a pretty popular area for camping thanks to the Colorado Trail being in close proximity and the abundant amount of aspen trees here that turn gold come September. There are 2 campgrounds to accommodate - one on each side of Hwy 285 and they can become rather crowded on summer weekends. Luckily, there is a limited amount of dispersed camping sites here as well if you are searching for some peace and quiet to go along with your camping trip. In this area the Forest Service specifically states that dispersed camping is only allowed in designated sites along NFSR 126 and 126.A on the east side of Hwy 285.

We drove along 126 and were able to snag the last dispersed site late on a Saturday. I would say that there couldn't be more than 10 dispersed sites along 126. I did not drive down 126.A. Also, on 126 you eventually come up to a gate and the road goes through private property. The very last dispersed site is right before this gate, and that is the one we got. This site required some hauling of gear from the road down to the site, but it wasn't very far. This would not be a good site if you have a rooftop tent though, because you are not allowed to drive down to the site you have to park on the road (not all of the dispersed sites were like this though). There were actually 2 fire rings at this site too - we went with the further one from the road for privacy. Overall it was a good site and much quieter than the campgrounds. Would recommend if you are trying to stay near the Colorado Trail or want to camp in the aspens in fall.

Dispersed Campsite with Views - Gordon Gulch (4x4 recommended)

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!

Amazing views if you pick a good spot

Moraine Park is a great campground inside RMNP. Close to the Bear Lake Trailhead, which is the most popular in the park and a gateway to amazing hikes, and also close to Estes Park. Bathrooms are very nice, water available, bear boxes at every site along with fire rings and picnic tables. We had a tent-only site and it was great. But the key was our location - go for D loop sites on the bottom/south side. Map attached with location circles. OUTSTANDING views of the Rockies and a whole field below with elk, moose and other wildlife. Sites in this area are pretty spread out and it’s quiet after dark. Staff super friendly and helpful. This is a huge campsite, so picking your spot is important to have the best experience.

A little piece of solitude right next to the big city!

This is a pretty popular campsite and I can see why! It’s right outside of Denver and can easily be a quick night away or a weekend of fun. Sites filled up quick when we decided to go around the end of July. We didn’t get a personal campsite but got on the waiting list. When we arrived back to check to see about availability there were other campers waiting as well. One of the campers suggested we all go in on a group site and we got enough people to agree. Everyone was very friendly and we met all kinds of families. I’d definitely recommend trying a group site if a personal one isn’t available. There was plenty to do during the day. We fished, kayaked and walked around the park. There were plenty of people on bikes as well. We also noticed lots of SUPS out on the water as well. There is a dock for boats and even an area for dogs off leash. The campsite had some construction going on when we went but everything was well kept and clean. We will definitely come back to this campsite soon!

Small but nice

Nice and easy

Convenient urban camping

Camped here one night as we prepared to leave Colorado for home. The park is in the city, but surprisingly doesn’t feel that way. The place was busy and no privacy between sites. Bathrooms were clean and well kept. There were a few “interesting” characters in the park. Felt like they came here to party and hangout on the weekend. It was a convenient camping experience.

First to Review
Lost Alpine Lake

Lost Alpine lake is a 5 miles hike from the camp ground. I highly recommend searching for it if you’ve never been. Camp ground is at the start of the hike.

Gross Reservoir

Good hiking spot that takes you down to the reservoir. Not to far from the campsite. There is camping only in designated area.

Free Dispersed Camping in the Rockies

Beautiful spot with a gorgeous view of a couple of mountain peaks (Thunderbolt Peak?) with the reservoir in the foreground.

-Camping is on the left as you approach the lake, there is nothing past the first big area you see.

-Many spaces available, just pick a primitive firepit and setup around it.

-Lake is technically private and the locals WILL hassle you if they catch you fishing/swimming/boating.

-We easily made the drive up in a low clearance car, and Rv's should have no problem.

- In total I'd say around 15 separate campsites could operate here comfortably on a busy weekend.

Busy and Covered in Bullet Casings

We were actually surprised when we found a quiet spot out here. We tried to turn into a lot of the turn offs and there were bullet casings all over the ground. There are signs everywhere that say "DO NOT SHOOT THE TREES" and we laughed at it but then we kept going and noticed that the reason why those signs were there were because there were clear cuts of trees just shot down and the casings were left on the ground.

We spent a good hour cleaning up our site before setting up camp. We carried out a large trash bag of bullet casings.

It was a beautiful view of Pikes Peak and it is a great easy place to get away from the hustle of the city. We found a safe spot for us to go shooting clays the next day and we had a blast just releasing some energy. We did clean up all of our trash as we went. Leave no trace!

Easy Get Away from the City

This si the place my friends and I go to just for a night away from everything. It is just out of reach of the city and far enough away where we can find some peace and quiet. The views are incredible!

Lots of climbing routes nearby and easy to find some good spots away from others.

Excellent in all respects

Excellent stay - camp is at Brainard Lake recreation area and one of our all time favs ! Clean vaults excellent hosts and cleanest sites - many things to do including hikes on multiple trails and kayaking on lake or just looking for moose and casually relaxing. Reservations very difficult to get but if you get in - enjoy it’s excellent . Moose loop nice with trees - Elk loop has some sites with no trees or shade due to wind storm years ago. Our site 9’was partial shade and site 11 was also shaded.

Nice Weekend Getaway

This is nice for quick getaway - easy drive from Denver and right at Kenosha Pass which has fall beautiful colors. We bought a new pop up tent and had to try it out arrived in the dark and awoke to beautiful fall colors - hiking trails closeby. Vault toilets very clean only about 20 sites forest service campground. Rating reflects some highway noise closeby only downside

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!

Gorgeous Scenery RMNP, Rest-Room Facilities Very Dirty in Need of Rehab

I used to really enjoy this campground and beauty of park. I stayed spot A075 in Sept 17 and was really looking forward to the trip. Positive is beauty of park, friendliness of park rangers and support, staff, and overall experience smelling campfire at night. Negative is restrooms were in really poor condition, really poor - staying in many facilities with Pits/Vaults that were a more favorable experience. Negative is sights (some of them) are too close to neighbors

Elk watchers paradise

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.

Great spot with 360 degree views

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.

Small and cozy enough, your perfect fishing spot

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

Ranger Review of RoM Pack at Buckingham Campground

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!

Typical campground

Pretty standard place. Nothing fantastic one way or another.

My favorite in Estes

Best place to camp around. Wooded area at the end of the road. Book early!

Great spot

Loved this campground. The tent areas were pretty open, but plenty of options if you book super early.

Perfect Quick Escape

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.