My first winter camping trip in Colorado. Just south of Glenwood Springs and west of Carbondale is Sunlight Mountain Resort, an awesome little mountain with great tree skiing and untracked powder that can be found days after a storm. It sits in the western side of the White River National Forest in the Sopris Ranger District. From Glenwood or Carbondale follow directions to the resort and just about a mile before you get there you'll take a right to stay on Four Mile Rd or county road 117. Travel about 2 miles after turning and you'll come to a parking area on your left, in the winter its mainly used by cross country skiers and snowmobiles. From here we took off on foot in our winter boots down 2 miles of groomed snow covered road until you reach an intersection with a bunch of signs giving you several different options in directions and places to go. We strapped on our snow shoes and headed west up Fourmile Park- North through 16 to 24 inches of snow for an additional mile and settled at the 2nd camping spot we came to on our left. The low that night was 19 but I stayed warm most of the time until around 4 or 5 and finally had to get up and move around. The best part about the trip was we got to ski before and when we got back the bar was still open. I loved living in Glenwood Springs and choose this area for its proximity to so many awesome places, can't wait to get back.
Just west of Leadville Colorado sits Turquoise Lake at an elevation of around 10,000 ft. Baby Doe Campground is one of the few camps that are situated around the lake on its east side. You camp under the pine trees beside the lake with beautiful views of Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert to the south over turquoise water. Cost are $24 per night for car camping, bathrooms and water are provided. We camped on June 26th and 27th of 2018 and got to summit Mt. Sherman one of Colorado's 14ers on the 27th. I was really surprised at how bad the mosquito's were at the lake and at this elevation, definitely the worst mosquito experience I had while living in Colorado. If your in town while visiting be sure to check out Periodic Brewing and High Mountain Pies. Highlight: Being able to summit my 1st Colorado 14er was definitely the highlight of the trip, can't wait to go back for another one, I know where I'll be camping.
The campground is located on the Ruedi Reservoir just a few miles east of Basalt Colorado. It also sits in the White River National Forest on the Fryingpan River at an elevation of 7,800 ft. Costs are $24 per night for car camping, restrooms and water are provided. We stayed in one of the sites closest to the water which was about 100 yards away, it had a few trees but was mostly an open grass field with great views of the surrounding. Boating, fishing, camping, and hiking are definitely the things to do here but especially fishing. The Fryingpan River is a tributary of the Roaring Fork River, both of which are part of Colorado's Gold Medal Waters. We camped on May 19th and 20th of 2018 to great weather of highs in the 50's and a low around 30. Two cool places in town we would recommend if your making the trip would be Capitol Creek Brewing and The Brick Pony Pub. Also this is the best time to go camping to avoid the crowds, the reservoir can be pretty crowded during the summer. Highlight: Seeing mother moose and calf tracks on our morning hike around the lake.
Like most KOAs, you get a wide variety of people stopping through, and will inevitably pay more than most of the smaller locations in this area that have fewer amenities. Be prepared to share elbow room, but otherwise a good, safe spot for a night.
If you are looking for a place to set up that is close to fishing this is your spot. There are a couple sites that are right by the river and a very short walk to wet your hook.
Yes the road noise is noticeable but it's unbearable. I would say just try to find one of the sites closer to the river verses the road.
I don't recall seeing a water faucet but did see one sight with power hook-up. Did it work? I haven't a clue. Only 2 other campers when I set up camp and both were in smaller RV's. Fire rings, picnic table and a fairly level site. Pit toilets that were bearable.
The views and the river is what this campground is all about
This is one of the smaller sites alongside the main road you will find just a short distance outside of Aspen. I was passing through late in the season, technically during "closure" but was able to snag a site because it had not yet been closed due to unusually warmer fall. There had been some snowfall higher up but where I was there had not so the camp had not been closed. They had however turned off the potable water source but vault toilets and sites remained open.
I was located in site 5 which had a small back in area, a picnic table and fire ring. There were also bear boxes throughout camp, which you need to use if you are here because there is a population of bears that will raid camp. I made sure to keep any food in the car behind doors and cleaned up away from camp with my own water source so as to not attract anything to come near. Bears do scare me a bit!!
The site for my tent was lush and grassy, it had not yet frozen or died for the season so it felt very fluffy underneath my tent.
Temperatures dropped dramatically at night and I was happy there was no fire ban when I visited because I used my fire for a heat source in the evening and then hand warmers inside extra socks at night. It was pretty peaceful at the camp as a whole.
While there I enjoyed hiking on the Weller Trail which heads directly out from the parking area near the camp and treks a short distance with some amazing views. I was so happy to have found this site for only $21.
Typical season is May to the end of September if it is before or after this time check with the Forest Service to see if they have opened camp for season.
Bring a flashlight there is no external light at the campground so you will not be able to see anything without one.
This campground lies across the road from Chalk Creek. It has pit toilets and a few ants, but otherwise is quite nice. There are still plenty of trees, nice fire rings, etc. Outdoor activities do not abut the campground, so you'll get back in your car to visit trailheads, fishing locations, the local ghost town, or the hot springs.
The area is spectacular. The Colorado trail passes nearby, fun in all seasons. St. Elmo offers tame chipmunks to feed and a look at our mining history. Sunrise turns the Chalk Cliffs a beautiful rose hue. Civilization and pampering (or just a shower) are available down the road at the hot springs resort and spa, complete with restaurant and general store. Four-by-fours tackle Tin Cup pass above the campground. Bikers can head over to nearby Cottonwood canyon for a classic Colorado road ride.
I wasn't familiar with the hot springs which jut up all though the mountains in this area and for that I am sad!! Turns out at the bottom of the mountain just a short hike you can find a pretty nice spring to soak the time away, but since I didn't know about it at the time I took in the other parts of the natural beauty around me (guess that just means I will have to return).
I was there late in the year and technically a lot of the camps along the road to St Elmo were "closed" however there were some rogue camps using the sites which welcomed me to come and join the mix. One was a photographer who actually had some great insight to the area and made me feel right at home. Apparently closed doesn't mean you can't use the pads, you just can't use facilities and park inside so they come to places like this in droves to snow camp, and while I wasn't wanting to snow camp I now know that there is a group of brave nature photographers out there who do just that all winter in the Colorado Mountains.
Because it was post season there were NO amenities so basically it was a free site to just have an even space for a tent. During the regular season sites are $22 and peak season ends September 28th. Following the end of peak season the closures are based on discretion of rangers.
Campfires are banned in much of the area unless in an approved campsite, this is on of those sites so they have adequate preparation with camp rings. They do recommend sourcing wood locally as this is a part of the National Forest and they do not want foreign tree diseases to take over.
The site is cozy with placement so during the more busy season I could see it feeling like a community. There is room for smaller RVs at this camp and there are toilets available as well.
During my stay it was a stay like no other and it encouraged me to come back perhaps during the warmer weather.
- Bring your supplies there are no stores at this facility.
- Be careful on roads which begin to narrow the closer you get to the ghost town of St Elmo. Snowfall and ice appears throughout the year due to elevation and roads quickly can become slick.
- Try ATV trails which will take you to an additional ghost town on the Tin Cup pass not accessible without a 4 wheel drive.
So close to everything, no worries if you forgot anything.
The campground was more or less deserted when I was there. It was also very cold and windy but incredibly beautiful. With easy access to area attractions, I chose to stay here because there is was just off my route between Grand Junction and Denver. There are several areas that are specifically for tents although it didn't look as if all of the tent sites had great spots to actually pitch a tent. It's also a deceptively large campground and I drove around for quite a while before finding a good site.
Wow. Totally worth checking this out. There were plenty of other free spots at lower elevation but the view here is worth it. You drive up the mountain and then it’s a very short dirt road to the sites(about 5 in total). My little Saturn car was able to make it with 2 wheel drive easy. No water or amenities. Campfire rings and spots for tents. I wouldn’t bring an rv up there. Enjoy!!
Sitting above Twin Lakes Reservoir is Lakeview Campground. There are several loops of camping, with no real separation between RV and tent camping. We got here late in the afternoon after checking a few other campgrounds and not finding any sites and were lucky to get one of the last two sites available. The camp host was friendly, but not much help in deciding between a slightly sloped site and a site lower down that might be breezy. We rolled the dice and took the lower site (loop E I think) and lucked out when the wind died down with the setting sun. There are no showers but fairly clean vault toilets and lots of access to water pumps. And of course, the usual picnic table, fire pit, and a nice addition of standing grills. There was plenty of dead sage and some downed limbs to gather for our campfire. There wasn’t much privacy from other sites as there really isn’t any underbrush and no real trees. Which means nowhere to hang the hammock in our site (it looked like some other sites had a couple nice trees for hammocking, but not all sites were so lucky). The Continental Divide Trail goes right through the middle of the campground, so you have access to great hiking. There is also a nice trail that goes partly around the reservoir; or at least I thought it was a trail until it petered out into nothing, not even a game trail. The campground is close to Mount Massive Wilderness, Leadville, and Independence Pass, so lots of hiking and sightseeing nearby.
Camped here over the summer on a biking trip. Came in very late one night and luckily there was an open spot with no reservation. Awesome view of the lake from the tent and the camp host was great! Told us a bunch of cool things to do in the area and just chatted with us forever. Cheers to an awesome trip and campground!
This this is a long Winding Road up the mountain that has many nice places to pull over and Camp right off the road. Some are a bit further back than others. Most are accessible to any vehicle. Further on up the mountain you will find the remanence of an old train stop, cabin, train car… It's all free but there's been a fire ban all summer.
most reasons to head out to the kite lake area are to try and summit 4 fourteeners in one day. Mt. Democrat, Mt. Lincoln, Mt Cameron, and Mt. Bross. We were there to do just that, while we only were able to summit one due to the conditions we still had a great time.
The campsite itself is pretty modest, there are only a few designated spots but plenty of area for extra tents. We went in Late September and there were only 3 other people camping. The temps got way down into the low teens that night so it was a chilly one. The campsite sits at over 12,000 ft so right away the temps will be much colder than other places. Also if you are not from the area or visiting from out of state, remember that you are staying at 12,000 ft and the altitude will effect you much more. Each spot had a metal fire ring and a picnic table. 2 vault toilets were located in the parking lot area and we saw people there that night up keeping them (which is always nice to see)
There is a fee to use this campground, $12 per night or $3 per day use. Envelopes and a drop box are located near the information sign. The road to get out here was pretty rough, 5.5 miles of ruts and bumps. I would stick to a decently high clearance car, 4 wheel drive if the weather is bad.
Note- There is no drinking water out here, so if you are heading up to go for a big hike or just want to spend the night at 12,000 ft you must bring it all in. Oh yea and Kite Lake itself, incredibly scenic and there are tons of trout in there. Bring a rod and spend some time fishing.
Campground Campground is way up in a mountain, a beautiful drive and itself. The spaces are well-kept and far apart from each other. They also each have a bear proof Locker for your items. The river is just nearby, as are some wonderful hiking trails. There is a composting toilet system, never my favorite thing in the world, but it's as good as they get. I will definitely use this campsite again.
Lake Constantine sits about 4 miles off of Tigiwon Rd outside of the town of Minturn. These camp spots are only accessible by hiking in. The lake can get fairly busy on weekends in the summer but the weekdays are usually quiet. We spent a night up there in early July and saw 1 other person on a Monday night. The hike to the lake was fairly easy, takes about 2 hours each way and climbs roughly 1300 ft. Upon leaving the parking lot you MUST fill out the overnight camping sheet and attach a tag to yourself. This is your permit for the night and it is free.
Spots are laid out along the edge of the lake on either side and are not numbered or marked. This is a first come, first served area. The spot we found was to the left side of the lake right off of the trail and had enough room for a couple tents. Coincidentally, this is the same spot where many of our friends have camped as well. I would say this is one of the better areas. There was a pre made rock fire ring that sat against a rock to reflect heat back (we went during Colorado's 2018 summer long fire ban), so we could not take advantage of this and had no fire this weekend.
The lake itself is very large and offers some amazing high alpine fishing. We caught many trout while fly fishing throughout the day and night.Dry flies worked very well at dusk. Because of the lake and the creek, the mosquitoes in this area are bad. BRING BUG SPRAY!
Remember, this area is only accessible by backpacking in and there are no camping amenities. Lake Constantine sits in US Forest Service land so you must obey all forest service rules and closures when in place. Overall, amazing spot. Great for a night getaway or for someones first backpacking trip.
The Deep Lake area of Flat tops Wilderness offers a variety of scenic hikes and drives as well as 4x4 trails and great lake fishing. The drive up to this area is up a dirt road about 10 miles, the road can be a beat beat up in areas. I blew a tire on my truck on the way up. Other than that the drive up is very scenic, you will pass the deep creek overlook and can see Aspen, Beaver Creek, and Vail Ski Resorts all in the same view.
The campgrounds are very large and spaced out. We went with a large group, 5 cars and many tents and had plenty of room. Some site are able to accommodate an RV or trailers. Sites vary between open and exposed to set against the forest for shaded. Restrooms were located fairly close to our spot and i remember it being one of the cleanest vault toilets i have ever used! Each spot also has a metal fire pit with a grill over top.
Like i mentioned earlier the Deep Lake area is a great base camp to go out and explore. You will find many people driving off road vehicles around. The fishing in the lake is also very good, the Forest Service stocks the lake every year. Lastly the campground sits at 10.500 ft so it does gets chilly up there even in the middle of summer.
The Piney Lake area of Vail is by far the most scenic spot anyone can drive to. The ranch at the lake is ever growing and offers a restaurant, canoe rentals, SUP, fly fishing lessons as well as cabin and yurts to rent for the night. If you are looking to spend your night closer to nature the campground is just located about a mile away from the lake.
This may get confusing as there are camp spots along the road that are forest service controlled and have fire rings and right next to that you will find many spots that are in the National Forest but are primitive. The "Camp Spots" that have fire rings are located on the final stretch to the lake. There are maybe 6 or 8 of them. Really the only difference in these spots compared to the primitive ones right next door are the fire rings and the fact that they are fenced in with a small wooden fence.
The upside to grabbing one of these spots is all of summer 2018 in the valley we were in a stage 1 fire ban, meaning you could only have a fire in a permanent fire ring, leaving these few spots the only legal camping in the area. The spots themselves are fairly large, we have put 4 cars and 5+ tents comfortably in one of them. There are no toilets or anywhere to get water unless you drive to the ranch (the ranch is privately owned and closes and opens at a certain time, the lake is public and can be accessed anytime) There is also no fee which is always a plus.
We stayed here in Mid September, the last day the campground was open. Note about this spot compared to the other campgrounds around Turquoise Lake is that even after the campground closes for the summer they keep the gates open so you can still camp here.
The spots are large and set back against the forest with the lake at the end of the road. Each spot has a driveway big enough for a couple cars. There are some spots that offers areas big enough for a trailer. 2 bathrooms are located in the campground, one on either end. There is a campground host located in the middle of the grounds during open season, which runs from Memorial day to September 17th. All other campgrounds around the lake close on the Tuesday after Memorial Day.
Each site has a fire ring, picnic table and a standing charcoal grill. The spots had their numbers removed when we were there but we camped in the second spot on the left and we could have easily fit 5+ tents. The campground also allows dogs! the must be leashed up though. The opposite side of the campground is Butcher boy picnic area which offers grills and tables overlooking the lake for day use.
This side of Turquoise Lake is much less trafficked and quieter, but with less spots. Great camp spot for a night or a few. Leadville is at 10000+ ft so it gets chilly, dress warm.
I love this area of crested butte. Gothic road is home to some 4x4 drives and of course great hiking and scenic spots. We spent a few nights here, the spots are spaced out and quiet. This is dispersed camping, I did not see any vault toilets close by but did see on further down the road. No fire rings or tables, but plenty of trees for cover or room to set up a canopy. Some spots for larger Trucks or RV's were available on a first come first served. Not far from the spots you will find the nature center that will offer restrooms as well and a few things to purchase if necessary.
I recommend a drive to emerald lake when your there. We did experience some crazy storms while we were there, apparently the lighting is worse there because of the amount of iron n the mountains.
These are my go to spots to get away for a day or two. The area is surround by rivers to fish, many hiking trails, backpacking and some climbing. The spots are dispersed along home stake road which runs for about 10 miles and some spots are also along Missouri Creek. The best part about this area is that it is free. Don't get confused with the FS designated campground about 7 miles down the road (Gold Park, this is a paid spot with vault toilets, fire rings and tables)
Each spot is of course unique, some are small and some large enough for RV's and trailers, though i have not seen many RV's in the area and i would not recommend it based on road width and lack of turn arounds. These spots do not have fire rings or tables, they are primitive and you will find rock rings in most areas. I highly recommend this area, it does get very busy on the weekends as its a favorite local spot. At the end of the road, roughly 10 miles, you come to a large reservoir that is good for fishing and non motorized rafts.
Homestake road is usually a easy drive and most cars will be fine on it. Like most areas in the White River National Forest, the roads will open and close based on weather. Usually this is open Mid June to Mid October.