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Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland, COLORADO
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Most Recent Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland Camping Reviews
Nice camp

Nice campground. No park rangers around for help. You sign in yourself pay on the honor system. Wood is sold til 6:30 so be hasty for pick up. RMNP has rules for the protection of wildlife to not allow dogs on any trails and although I think that wildlife should be protected that this is a dumb rule. Like everything else they charge for and give permits for they should permit pets. 3 stars for wasting my time and I wasn’t able to do a single trail.

Great park

Super fun and great for a quick trip. There are a couple of bald eagles nesting in the tree in the middle of the lake that is amazing to watch!

the Elk wanted to camp too

the first time I ever camped here (I've gone a half dozen times) I'll never forget. We had just finished setting up the pop up ( there was pleanty of room for it) and had opened a drink when a heard of elk came through. i mean litereally, an elk walked between my father and I only 5 feet apart! the whole herd walked though  our campsite heading down to the valley. beautiful views of Long's Peak and quick access to Estes Park. love it

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.

Best Campground sites on this side of Lake

Love this campground. Lots of good times and good spots. Big sites for campers, right next to lake, trees and wind blocks, great to good fishing. Almost always try to go here when we go.

High Country Lake. Weather can be severe at times, including very high winds. Bears and wildlife will want to eat your food. Be aware that your closest means of supplies/gear are at the Master Bait and Tackle on the other side of the lake.

That being said, boating and swimming plus other water sports are great for Summer. But Spring and Fall can be chilly. Or snow even.

1 of the 2 best on this side of the lake

Weather and fishing dependent, easily one of the best campground on this side of Green Mountain. Multiple sites right next to the lake. Good to okay fishing. Swimming and water sports are good during Summer. But can be chilly in Spring and Fall. Not as much coverage in some sites compared to South Cow. But still has some good wind block, which you will want during most evenings. Weather can be unpredictable and severe at times. Beware. High Country lake. Bears, wildlife, weather all unpredictable. Phone service can be scarce. Only services and gear/supplies are at the Master Bait and Tackle on the other side of the lake, sometimes the Marina depending upon what you need.

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.

Nice spot

Good camping very quite with minimum traffic threw there. Many trails around the area for hiking biking or even dirt bikes. Had some spooky experiences up there tho something isn’t right up there.

This really is Heaven on Earth!

To say we love Beaver Meadows would be a huge understatement. We spend just about every other weekend there all year long - winter and summer. We got married there in 2014 (as our photos show) and it was beautiful. The outdoor wedding area is amazing and right by a river. The reception hall for after is so cool with giant windows so you can look out in every direction on nature and you celebrate your big day. Ever since we've been hooked. They had cabins, condos, lodges, and camp spots so every guest had a place to stay the night.

When you pull around the corner and into the valley it takes your breath away every single time. Lush green fields, ponds, stunning mountain backdrops, wildlife, horses running free, people fishing and riding horses. It's a playground for adults and kids and it's only an hour from our house in Fort Collins - we can't stay away. They have a yummy restaurant too so we never even bring food - we just eat there.

In the winter we go snow tubing (12 + runs with a lift) and stay in one of their little heated cabins which is so cozy but also provides all the amenities of home (kitchen, bedrooms, entertainment, etc). We love to go up before a storm and watch the snow start to fall. In the spring and summer we are up there camping along the river all the time. Each site is unique so we like to change it up each time - we go hiking, horseback riding, and fish in the stocked ponds! There are some unique fish in there - really neat. In the fall we like to go up and do the "river walk" - a series of paths and bridges through tall foilage that feels like your in a different world. Watching the leaves change is awesome in the fall - compares to any drive you can do in the state - soooo many aspens.

If your looking for a romantic weekend with the significant other or a family vacation with the kiddos - I would highly suggest making the drive up - I bet you will fall in love with it just like we did and won't be able to stay away.

Our new spot

This place is great. It's way off the path. Beautiful drive to get there. It is in the woods with no water activities, but very nice and peaceful.

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.

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.

Love this place

This campground is absolutely gorgeous. The lake is great for crawfish and rainbow trout. The town is very near by and a great resource for any needs you may have.

Go-To

This was one of our go-to spots. If we needed a place to get outta dodge for a weekend with no fear of having a spot available, this was the spot. The creek flowing by the camp makes for a great nights sleep and to toss a line into. If, by some crazy happening, the campsite is full or you don’t want to pay…keep on truckin’ down the road and you might be able to find a free dispersed camp spot (some of which are by the water as well). Overall, it’s a great space close to Summit county that is not widely known.

Early spring shake down

If you facing the water, its awesome. Residential area directly across the street kind of felt like you are on display. Called to make sure freash water was on for the season and was told it was. Showed up at 5pm and water was NOT on!

Off the grid

We love taking our kids and dog camping out here. It is dispersed camping and it’s first come first serve. There is a camp ground near by with a porta-potty and there is a small market about 10-20 miles away. There is no cell service but there are call boxes in the area and we often see rangers driving by. There is fire permitted depending on the fire ban in area at the time and you can only camp where there are fire rings. You can’t cut down trees for wood but we usually chop up trees that are already down and dead. You can buy wood at the shop. There is a lot of wildlife in the area so be careful. We have had full grown moose run through our camp site and there has been reports of black bears near by as well as elk and deer. It does get cold at night even in summer as it’s about 9,000 ft above sea level.

Great week long trip!

This area used to be a lot nicer when all the trees were still around before the pine bark beetle infestation. However, they planted new trees to take their place! The river is relaxing at night and keep you cool on those hot summer nights.

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.

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.

Great to bring your boat

This is a great location to bring your boat for wakesurfing, kayak or SUP. I recommend the South Bay. The campground is nice and the natives are chill.

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.

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!

Nice camping near a resort

We stayed here for a weekend since we were married there the year before. It's a beautiful camping spot close to amenities. Felt like camping in a forest.

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.

It has been years...

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.