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Curecanti National Recreation Area, COLORADO
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Most Recent Curecanti National Recreation Area Camping Reviews
Alpine Dream

We were able to get our popup to these sites but not necessarily recommended to even attempt to bring a trailer (ours is lifted with heavy duty tires) worth the risk because, Wow!! Perfect lake views, snow capped mountain tops, and wildflowers for days. We were sadly not allowed fires but this year we are getting tons of moisture in CO so we will head back up to Alta by summer, hopeful for fires again. Port a John's are rarely serviced, so if that's a deal breaker for you….and Please Leave No Trace!! This area is so beautiful, let's keep it that way.

Secret gem that many do not know about

I've hesitated on if I wanted to post a review about this site or not. It's such a great site that not many seem to know about and sometimes you just want to keep those hidden/sorta secret sites to yourself. But since there is already another review guess I will add mine as well.

By far my most favorite site I've ever camped. It's quite the experience being able to camp at the bottom of this canyon after seeing it from the top side. The river is close for fly fishing, there is no RV's, mostly tent or van/truck camping due to the road being restricted to vehicles under 22'. There is a 16% grade and extremely sharp and narrow curves.

There is only 15 sites in two locations. One is a drive in and has about 8 sites. The other was closed when I arrived but looked like very nice sites as well. Only pit toilets in both and I saw no working water so bring in what you are going to need.

Saw and heard lots of wildlife. Deer for sure and a few bald eagles, the other critters heard and not saw, well who knows but mostly birds. There are bear boxes on site.

Picnic tables and fire rings.

I'm sure as the snow/cold weather comes in this campsite will be closed down due to road conditions so double check before planning a trip to be sure it's open.

And to top it off the fishing here is amazing. So many open areas to climb down to the river and just fish away with no crowds. It was magical! and then to have a Bald eagle watching you, couldn't ask for a better experience!

One last thing, you are at the bottom of the canyon so it is in the shade quite often so meaning it is a bit cooler down there than at the top.

Great campground if you flyfish

The walk to the river was short and there even is a parking area for those who are not camping but want to fish.

Sites were well maintained, restroom and showers were as well.

Picnic tables, fire ring and grill at all sites. Deer wandered around freely and was an extremely restful night.

They offer pull in sites or walk in tent sites. I chose a pull in even though I was tent camping. Had to check out a few sites to be sure there was level/cactus free spot to pitch the tent.

Great KOA campground

The spots are a little tight for the tents so I felt like I was right next to the neighbors. The highest was also right next to it so you could hear the cars go by all night. Great besides that.

Beautiful. Mini Grand Canyon

Heard of this place from a guy while getting gas. Decided to check it out. He said it was more beautiful than the Grand Canyon. A bold statement, we thought. I wouldn't say more, but it is beautiful. The black canyon walls really are stunning and very steep. The park was open to drive through. It takes about 2-3 hours to drive end to end. The ranger was about to close but saw we just wanted water for our bottles and he kept the center open for us. Very kind staff. The campground was open too but not for any services. Being in a self contained van, it was fine. Best of all, it wasn't the season opening yet so we were able to camp for free! Woke up to light snow just adding to the beauty.

Alpine Loop

Located right off the Alpine Loop. Each site has a grill,fire ring,and table. Some have beautiful views of the lake. Vault toilets were clean and water and soap at faucet at outside of toilet. Camp host was friendly. Road was a little rough to get to. No issue running my generator, sites are spaced well apart. We were in site one which had a great view.

Dispersed camping next to the creek

Dispersed camping along the South Mineral Creek. This is dry camping with a vault toilet- no hook ups. This is popular with RV’ers and OHV’ers as it is free. The limit is the usual fourteen days. Some “sites” have fire pits, and there are a few picnic tables scattered about. There are a few sites right on the water. Further back in at some larger sites that could accommodate small rvs. The plus is the free camping right on the “river”. The minus is that the road to the forest service campground and the Ice Lake trailhead is very close, very busy, and very dusty.

Perfect location in Ouray

Above the town of Ouray with great views of the the town below and access to an awesome trail that circumnavigates the town, hitting the best sites along the six or so miles. The trail takes you to the Bathtubs, the Ice Climbing area, several waterfalls, some cool footbridges, and past the Recreation Center (where you can get showers). The campground itself was very tight with several small loops that hang on the side of the mountain. We were there about two weeks after the fourth of July and all of the vault toilets needed to be serviced. The host was aware of the problem and said he had called it in, then shrugged. In town the visitor’s center had some great information about the town and had several preprinted hiking maps for popular trails with difficulty levels noted. In town was a nice full service outdoor shop as well as several micro breweries.

Fall Colors

Big grassy sites, great staff, clean bathrooms. Stocked Trout pond. Great kid pay areas

Gorgeous high altitude Dispersed Camping

There are 16 sites, rock fire pits, need a high clearance vehicle to reach the sites. Small trailers can reach half of the sites as long as you have someone directing you! Beautiful views. Telluride ski mountain is just behind this campground and for a long hike you could hike down to mountain village about 5 miles away. We were there for 2 nights and there were always sites available. This is a free campground! Portapots available.

Quick Overnight Stay

We stayed at the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground IN Ridgway SP in Late April as a spot to stop for the night on our way to Mesa Verde NP. The campground during this time was very empty, we saw a few other people there and they were all in RV's or Trailers. This made sense as the temperature got down to 6 degrees that night. I would say our time there was short, we showed up in the afternoon and left by 7 am.

The spot we stayed in was fairly large, as you can see by the picture, we had plenty of room for 3 tents. Picnic tables, fire rings and stand up charcoal grills were available at every spot as well. I would like to go back down that way and visit in the summer as the lake and surrounding area look like they could be a lot of fun and Black Canyon Np is only 40 minutes away. Maybe next summer i will be able to add to this review.

Great spot outside of town

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.

Great dispersed camping right outside the south entrance to Black Canyon

BLM land just outside the south (main) entrance to Black Canyon National Park. Road can be rough, especially slippery mud after rain. Many dispersed sites with cleared space and fire rings along the road, which goes for miles. Reserved campsites within the National Park can be difficult to get … there's no shortage of sites here, just outside. There's a small store at the junction of the Park access road with US 50, selling firewood, ice, and necessities. Montrose is a short 15 miles away for more substantial needs (gasoline, repairs, shopping).

Glamper’s Dream

The campsites on the South Rim do take reservations, so I would recommend reserving ahead of time—especially during the summer. The campsites are well-maintained, private, easily accessible, and family friendly. The campers around were all respectful, which made for a great community of campers!

Long hike to the perfect backcountry spa

We loved this hike in, the beginning is fairly easy and the ending can be a bit of a challenge. There were a handful of people day hiking this but i prefer to spend the night there. in the past this area was open to anyone without the need of a permit and became very overcrowded. Now that the campsite is on a permit system the area is much cleaner and way less crowded. We only saw about 25 people there on a Monday night in July.

The springs are amazing as well as the views. one large spring sits close to spots 1-7, all of there other spots will require a walk to get to the main hot spring. The campground is very spread out, some sites are almost a mile away from the hot springs and it makes for great privacy and quiet. The spots that are further away are more designated for horses but we did not see any on this trip. I would stick to spots 1-7 to get a closer spot.

This area does require a bear canister to store your food at all times and we did see the forest service out there checking permits and for proper food storage. Sites are primitive and do not have any fire rings. You will find rock rings in areas.

Sites pretty close together, although our site was on the end and larger.

This campground is sold on the surrounding areas, which are breathtaking. The sites themselves, however, weren't anything too exciting to me, personally.

campground is not the greatest

the view is what you take away from this campground, camping is not the most enjoyable

Backpacking to Cathedral Lake

For those looking for an amazing backpacking experience in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, this one is not to be missed! 

Many people take on the Cathedral Lake trail as a day hike, with the most adventurous (and in shape) pushing on towards Electric Pass. However, following a recommendation I read online, I decided to make this trail into a weekend backpacking trip. This was our general itinerary:

On Friday afternoon we hiked in the ~3 miles to Cathedral Lake. We set up camp just off the trail, about a 1/2 mile before the lake, below the tree line (see more below about the camping sites). On Saturday morning we intended to make the hike to Electric Pass but woke up to a rainstorm that lasted until about noon. We spent the afternoon hanging out by the lake and fishing where we caught some rather impressive trout! We were delighted when all of the lingering rain clouds began to clear out in the late afternoon and decided to make an evening attempt at the Electric Pass hike (~6 miles RT from the lake) where we were rewarded by amazing sunset views. We then returned to camp and spent another night. We left mid-morning on Sunday and had a much easier (all downhill) hike back to the trailhead. 

About the camping at Cathedral Lake: 

If you plan to make this a backpacking trip, you will really be able to enjoy the area far more than the day hikers who only spend a bit of time at the lake and have to turn around. I would highly recommend staying a night or two and attempting to summit the Electric Pass as we did. Be sure to fill out a permit (no cost) at the trailhead, per wilderness regulations. There is plenty of water available near the lake and in the surrounding creeks, but a water filtration device should be used for safety of course. Following wilderness regulations, campsites cannot be within a certain distance of the lake, which is no issue as there are plenty of sites just off the trail after the grueling last set of switchbacks. You’ll know when you have finished the switchbacks I am referencing because they are quite strenuous, especially with a heavy backpack on! The primitive sites are marked by previously built stone ring fire pits, many of which have well placed logs and stumps to sit on. The sites are all far enough apart that you cannot see your neighbors and have plenty of seclusion to enjoy the woods. Dense forest surrounds the camping area which adds to the privacy and provides protection from the sun and storms that often roll through this area. A note on the storms-due to the high altitude and mountainous location, this area is frequented by strong thunderstorms and caution should be taken to avoid lightning strikes, especially on Electric Pass which was named for just this reason! Even on the sunniest day, I would not set out on this trail without proper rain gear and lots of layers in my pack. It also gets quite cold up here! We stayed in early August and it definitely felt like the air temperature was below freezing at night. Bear canisters are required for camping here and the proper precautions should be kept in mind to avoid any potentially dangerous encounters with the amazing wildlife in this area. Please also follow all of the additional wilderness regulations and leave no trace principles to keep this beautiful place in pristine condition! 

Overall, I would recommend the Cathedral Lake and Electric Pass hikes to anyone visiting the Aspen area…but for those willing and able to turn this into a backpacking trip, you will be rewarded with an even more amazing backcountry camping adventure! 

For more info:

https://www.outdoorproject.com/adventures/colorado/hikes/cathedral-lake-trail

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5186764.pdf

Beautiful, convenient, accommodating

This campground rocks. Helpful staff, amazing views of the mountains, and 5 minute walk to the Telluride shops, restaurants and galleries. Bathrooms and showers are super nice and have hot water. A river/creek flows right next to the campground too which is lovely!

Private. Near a stream.

There are only a few spots on this road, but they're located near a filterable stream. I saw bears, but they didn't bother me. Spaces work great for a tent/car or a van. No cell service. Great location close to Ouray.

Great place to camp for a week or two

Well kept, very clean, cafe on site, great food

Peaceful

Very peaceful, beautiful campground. Right on Taylor River, you can fish or just sit and relax and listen to the water! Restrooms are clean and the camp host, Denise, is so nice and helpful!

Sheer High-Alpine Car Camping Perfection

There's not likely to be a more beautiful place than the high alpine of the San Juan Mountains. Alta Lakes boasts a series of small lakes stocked with fish annually - making for great fly fishing, naturally. Dispersed camping means pack it in, pack it out but since you can park at your site, this is never difficult. Get there early to enjoy the pick of the pack then get on the water with SUPs, kayaks, and beyond. Stunning views of the Milky Way, always!

Comfortable, But Tight

What more can you say when you're staying in the most beautiful place on earth? Telluride is not a spot to miss when visiting (or living in) Colorado. The campground is very well maintained, clean and well appointed. The spots are close together so plan to hear your neighbors and be very friendly with them. Go for a spot by the river if you can (deeper in the campground). This is, of course, a great place to stay during music festivals if you have the ability to get a camping pass early on.

Great place to camp to explore this area of Colorado.

I had a fun and enjoyable trip to this campground, but be aware there are little to no trees or shade. Summer trips get hot, so a canopy is needed for shade. Most sites are close enough to the water to walk down to the reservoir but there was also plenty of parking spaces. I had consistent cell service for both phone service and 4g. I did several trips into Gunnison and Crested Butte for hiking and exploration. Great place to camp to explore this area of Colorado.

Easy and fun campground

Great campground in the foothills. Shallow river that follows the highway.

Altitude, hydrology, stargazing

High (8,200) and deep—dramatic landscape carved by Gunnison River. Wonderful hiking trail along the rim and interesting plant community of the high plateau. Be prepared for any type of weather. We had a wild thunder, lightning and wind storm with violent downdrafts—typical for this country. Absence of light pollution means awesome night skies!

Popular and fun

I love this campground. It is close enough to Crested Butte to head in for dinner or supplies, but far enough away not to feel like you’re in town. When we were there (July) the lake was crowded and the campground was full. I don’t know that I have seen that many SUP boarders in one place outside of Austin. I did see a few folks fishing but I can’t imagine they had much luck considering the amount of recreational activities happening. While the lake was full, the hiking trails were empty. The trail off the lower parking lot follows the creek down the mountain and had several nice waterfalls. I had spotty service at this site but it seemed like other campers had better luck. The sites were very nice. They are big, with lots of trees and space between sites.

It was a-ok

Right off the road. Easy access drive up. Clean facilities. Overall it was nice. Conveniently close to town and general store.