The best camping near
San Juan National Forest, COLORADO

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Camping Colorado San Juan National Forest
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So Many Stars

The sites all had ample space between them, but no real barrier. There was no light pollution, so the milkyway photos were amazing! Huge sites, picnic table with shelter, fire pit and pit toilets. It was 100% worth the $8.

We had it to ourselves 11/30/19.

Gorgeous Spot

One of the pretties views in America, clear lake just south of Silverton , CO. Does cost extra for showers. I would strongly recommend this campground.

Good campground for lake access

We camped at Vallecito for a week in July of 2019. The water to the reservoir was pleasantly over capacity (a joy after a drought) but meant that the water line was well into the brush making swimming a challenge among the branches and driftwood that would tangle little feet. I saw signs that I assume were supposed to be at a beach, twenty feet out into the lake. I would imagine that this would be a great swimming hole when the lake was at a normal capacity. 

The campground was typical for a forest service campground. There are vault toilets and the host comes around once per day. There is a dumpster. There is clean water.

The campground is almost entirely shaded by tall pines. There is a creek that trickles past some of the campsites (which makes for a pleasant sound when lying in the tent at night).

Noise travels over the water and through this area like it doesn't at many other campgrounds. While overall, I found the campground to be quiet and peaceful, neighbors arguing a few campgrounds down, or being rowdy by the fire, will keep the light sleeper awake at night.

There are many RV parks on the other side of the lake (about a 20-30 minute drive from North Canyon) where showers can be purchased for about $5. Call ahead. There is small store on the other side of the lake too, but it was closed when we went trough.There is a camp store in an RV park only a few miles away from North Canyon where a camper could likely purchases supplies. Bayfield has many amenities.

The campgrounds on the East side of Vallecito are all located on a very well maintained dirt road. If driving to the camp from Bayfield be sure to take a right before the dam. We camped in a large group of people, and most of them missed this turn. Trying to drive around the lake will create two problems. The first is the addition of an hour to your drive time. Secondly, a couple miles north of North Canyon Campground, the road ceases to be well maintained (this questionable area is not marked as a road on all maps and is likely seasonal). There is a dirt road that will connect the North to the East--however, but many vehicles and trailers are not recommended to pass through. To drive through it will look as though the traveller is going through at least two different, private campgrounds. They will pass a warning sign about the road conditions, and they will have to go up a steep grade and around a sharp corner. The dirt road is minimally maintained. Having said that, I arrived at Vallecito from the North after and 4 day wilderness trek in the Weminuche, so I wanted to investigate this stretch of dirt road.  I was able to pass through with my minivan (nicknamed VanJeep). Needless to say, it would be better to take the right before the dam!

First to Review
Ranger Review: Outdoor Element Firebiner, Wombat Whistle and Tinder Quick a

Campground Review: 

Northeast of historic Downtown Durango, CO towers a mountain wilderness with an alpine lake whose breadth and width defy its altitude above the clouds, Emerald Lake. From the bounty of Emerald lake streams ramble, which cascade into waterfalls, and form into large rivers that overflow the reservoirs downstream. The first day of our out-and-back trek, we followed the Pinos River along the fairly level Pinos River Trail for about 6 miles before setting up camp. There is ample camping space along this part of the trail with small fields opening from under the cover of the trees, which is never far from the roaring Pinos River. In the morning, we packed up to turn from the Pinos River Trail and made a 4-mile ascent up to Emerald Lake via Lake Creek Trail. The trail upwards was dramatic, taking us through forest and field, past a tumbling river with many falls, through heavy vegetation, through a hail storm, and into rocky terrain. Many switchbacks later and we spotted the jewel of the mountains, little Emerald. Little Emerald forms from the runoff of Emerald proper. In its own right, little Emerald is larger than any alpine lake that I’ve hiked to or camped at previously. It is near little Emerald that we set up camp. 

Finding a campsite at Emerald lake can be like playing a game of hide-and-seek. A strict camping set back from the water pushes campers out into a boulder-filled moraine where a level patch of ground is not so easy to find. There is no camping directly alongside Big Emerald Lake, whereas the entire canyon makes up the watershed. However, there is a small side canyon towards the northside of the lake where the adventurer can find some great campsites with a little more elbow room. And venturing another half mile beyond the northside of the lake will yield more camping space. The northside will afford the camper more solitude, but it will come at the cost of a longer walk to the water to replenish supplies. We were happy to find our place among the boulders of the moraine above Little Emerald, where we camped for two glorious nights. 

With camp set up, we sat still and quite by the moraine and watched our curious marmot and shy, silky pika neighbors pop in and out of their boulder-made mansions. Mule deer silently wandered in and out of camp, foraging on the abundant plants throughout the forest. Exploring little Emerald, we found Lake Creek, peaceful and playful, large for the name of "creek", here in the Southwest. Hiking alongside Emerald Lake proper carried us through lush vegetation, overflowing with wildflowers. The lake surpasses all expectations, surrounded by snowy peaks that stand like sentinels. From a distance we could gaze at a waterfall freefalling off the cliffs high above us. In the evenings we sat by the campfire and watched the sky turn to fire and the peaks glow purple, reflecting their brilliance on the water. Despite the fact that Emerald Lake is a popular destination, we found peace and restoration by the shores of Emerald. 

Trail to Emerald Lake begins at Pine River Campground and is approximately 20.5 miles round trip.

Product Review: 

As a backpacking enthusiast, I weigh out every ounce of my gear before setting it in my pack. Anything that I bring into the backcountry must carry more than its weight in value, while having almost no physical weight. This is what makes the products designed by Outdoor Element so brilliant. Outdoor Element makes survival gear for the adventurer that is based upon the essentials that we already carry in our pack. Their gear helps me to be more prepared, while carrying less. On this trip I carried Outdoor Element’s Firebiner and Wombat Whistle stuffed with their Tinder Quick(https://www.outdoorelement.com/product/firebiner-carabiner/). . )

The Wombat Whistle is emergency gear that no hiker/backpacker should travel without. While I had the great fortune of not having a misfortune to require the use of the emergency whistle, my sons and I played with it before setting out on our adventure. The shrill, sharp notes of the whistle are sure to grab the attention of any would be rescuer. It is lightweight and clips easily onto the outside of my pack, where I can grab it in any emergency situation. The Wombat whistle doubles as a waterproof vial to keep the Outdoor Element Tinder Quick dry and ready for use. The Wombat Whistle boasts a screwdriver tool for the Firebiner that doubles as a reflector. While the screwdriver works nicely with the Firebiner, the reflector is so small that it would take a lot of skill to direct any noticeable amount of light into the eye of a passerby; so I'm not counting on that feature. 

Outdoor Element’s Firebiner delivers on every promise. It primarily served my needs as a lightweight carabiner. I always clip a carabiner on my pack; their uses are many. I used this one to clip on some camp shoes for the weekend. The utility blade is handy. It doesn’t get caught on the assortment of straps, and gadgets that may swing from my pack, and instantly helps to cut through athletic tape, food bags, or anything too tough to rip or shred. 

The key to the Firebiner’s namesake and emergency preparedness is the Ever Spark Fire Wheel. We placed a Firebiner on every pack in our household and my son was the first to test the Ever Spark Fire Wheel. The wheel itself operates perfectly, tossing sparks in a predictable arc, which made aiming the sparks easy. Smaller and lighter than the traditional flint and steel, we love knowing that we are ready to make a fire when our matches and lighters give us grief. We gathered the fire materials to progressively build a safe, small, but roaring campfire. Spinning the Ever Spark Fire Wheel, we gingerly directed the sparks onto the Tinder Quick, kept snug and dry in the Wombat Whistle. The very first spark landed on the Tinder Quick which immediately lit, and tenderly encouraged flame among our awaiting materials, until we could rest beside the warm glow of fire. Outdoor Element has provided us security in time of an emergency without requirement me the need to carry an extra ounce. 

Fine Print: The lighting wasn’t favorable for photos during the outdoor adventure, so I took a few in my backyard with just enough material to demonstrate.

Nice campground - High price

Morefield Campground is the only campground in Mesa Verde National Park, but be forewarned, you might just experience a little sticker shot at the price. Cost for a tent site with NO hookups was almost$35 after taxes. The campground does has flush toilets and wifi through out the campground. Next to the camp store are showers and a coin laundry. Each campsite has a picnic table, tent pad and metal fire ring. The campsites really vary in appearance, some are out in the open right next to each other, other are in the trees and bushes which gives you a little more privacy, but most are still right next to another very close site. Some other these are perfectly level areas, others will have you going up of down stairs. The sites with stairs seemed to be slightly more secluded. While it was nice to have restrooms with running water, their was no way to dry your hands, so bring a towel with you as they have no paper towels or air driers for you hands. Water could be found at the restrooms. For you trash you had to find the one dumpster in the middle of the camping loop, but be warned, it could be difficult for some to open. I was a bit disappointed that the campground wasn't kept in better shape, especially for the price they were charging. Several campsites were closed due to needing repair, and the trail from the camp loop to the store was falling apart, it is need of new pavement or just remove it and go to a dirt path. They have Wifi, and said it was better the closer to the restrooms you were, but if a few people are using it, it really slows down. The Wifi was nice as you have no cell service in the campground. All in all this is a nice campground except for the price.

Great spot!!!

Great site! It's about 12 miles down usfs22. Takes about 35-40 minutes to get back there. Road is very well maintained. Follow signs for parking once to get to end of road. There is a bathroom and multiple sites right on the river! Heard some coyotes in the distance! And hunters will frequent there!

Great spot!

Great camping spot! Super close to Mesa Verde National Park! And it's freeeee! The road to get the the sites is rutted out so you do need some clearance! We have a subaru impreza and it was fine! No amentinites.. Spots are numbered. We stayed in 4!

Perfect Colorado Camping

See my other Review for Dakota Ridge. Another 5 stars with all amenities and screaming Verizon Wifi

Stunning CO mtns surround you

We tested out maiden working on the road trip at this spectacular state park. It was end of the season so some loops were closed. Each site gave privacy with nature in between. The WiFi tower was right in the campground so WiFi was screaming. Mild temperatures in October. 5 stars!!!

Nice campground - But be prepared for sticker shock

Morefield Campground is the only campground in Mesa Verde National Park, but be forewarned, you might just experience a little sticker shot at the price. Cost for a tent site with NO hookups was almost$35 after taxes. The campground does has flush toilets and wifi through out the campground. Next to the camp store are showers and a coin laundry. Each campsite has a picnic table, tent pad and metal fire ring. The campsites really vary in appearance, some are out in the open right next to each other, other are in the trees and bushes which gives you a little more privacy, but most are still right next to another very close site. Some other these are perfectly level areas, others will have you going up of down stairs. The sites with stairs seemed to be slightly more secluded. While it was nice to have restrooms with running water, their was no way to dry your hands, so bring a towel with you as they have no paper towels or air driers for you hands. Water could be found at the restrooms. For you trash you had to find the one dumpster in the middle of the camping loop, but be warned, it could be difficult for some to open. I was a bit disappointed that the campground wasn't kept in better shape, especially for the price they were charging. Several campsites were closed due to needing repair, and the trail from the camp loop to the store was falling apart, it is need of new pavement or just remove it and go to a dirt path. They have Wifi, and said it was better the closer to the restrooms you were, but if a few people are using it, it really slows down. The Wifi was nice as you have no cell service in the campground. All in all this is a nice campground except for the price.

Ranger Review of Banner & Oaks' Patriot Navy Blue T-Shirt At Morefield Cam

Nice campground but a bit pricey

Morefield Campground is the only campground in Mesa Verde National Park, but be forewarned, you might just experience a little sticker shot at the price. Cost for a tent site with NO hookups was almost$35 after taxes. The campground does has flush toilets and wifi through out the campground. Next to the camp store are showers and a coin laundry. Each campsite has a picnic table, tent pad and metal fire ring. The campsites really vary in appearance, some are out in the open right next to each other, other are in the trees and bushes which gives you a little more privacy, but most are still right next to another very close site. Some other these are perfectly level areas, others will have you going up of down stairs. The sites with stairs seemed to be slightly more secluded. While it was nice to have restrooms with running water, their was no way to dry your hands, so bring a towel with you as they have no paper towels or air driers for you hands. Water could be found at the restrooms. For you trash you had to find the one dumpster in the middle of the camping loop, but be warned, it could be difficult for some to open. I was a bit disappointed that the campground wasn't kept in better shape, especially for the price they were charging. Several campsites were closed due to needing repair, and the trail from the camp loop to the store was falling apart, it is need of new pavement or just remove it and go to a dirt path. They have Wifi, and said it was better the closer to the restrooms you were, but if a few people are using it, it really slows down. The Wifi was nice as you have no cell service in the campground. All in all this is a nice campground except for the price.

Ranger Review of Banner& Oaks Patriot Navy Blue T-Shirt

I really like this T-shirt. Fit is just right and the shirt is really soft, and has stayed that way after numerous washings. The best thing is that it is American made, hard to find much in the way of clothing that is anymore.

Lake camping

Great small campground,  beautiful lake, clean,  good fishing, ATVing, biking.

Diamond in the Rough

This is an absolutely amazing place to stay and camp in the desert. The owners are amazing and have gone above and beyond to make this place awesome. It’s like college dorm style living, but outside. Hot showers, pit toilets, and a fully appointed public kitchen with an ice machine really bring it all together. I really enjoyed using the kitchen and covered sitting area, which is nice to get out of the wind. The observation deck is also a great place to sit and watch the sunset and stars. I will be coming back to here again and again! Would be an awesome place for a teardrop camper.

Location location location

Location location location

A true San Juan gem

Having stayed in the Telluride area many times, the west fork of the Dolores River was a welcome reprieve from the leaf-peeping crowds in late September who flock to the upper reaches of Lizard Head Pass. 

After passing the Mavreeso Campground and finding the gate already closed for the season, we were happy to pull into West Dolores, where a sign greeted us saying that it would be open, but with very little amenities, until the snow came. Didn't see a host or firewood, but paid our money in the envelope regardless. There were a few sites still available on a Saturday night at this time of year.

Friendly staff and great location

I recently stayed at this campground and it was wonderful. The staff were very friendly and helpful. I forgot my spare tire cover behind at my campsite and when I called they grabbed it and held onto it for me. The campsite was well maintained and the bathrooms and showers were very clean.

The greatest thing about this campground though is that the Durango steam train goes right through the campground. To see the historic train right from your camper or tent window is pretty great.

I would absolutely stay here again.

It’s okay

It’s not my favorite place to camp. I wouldn’t recommend staying by the water if you have kids, it’s right by a cliff. You have to walk into the spot which isn’t to bad. If you have a boat then this is a great place. The views and sunset are amazing though!!

Amazing!!

They camp host were amazing!! The bathrooms were the cleanest I have seen at a campground!! If you love to SUP this is an amazing place to go to. We are definitely coming back next summer!!

Good Option if you cant go Dispersed

Awesome little campground just outside of Telluride. Best part is you can drive just up the road and catch the Gondola into town or all over the mountain. Camp host was awesome and really friendly and pit toilet was really clean. There was a bear in the campground—we didn’t see it—but you’re camping in the mountains so you should expect it. Beautiful aspens but marsh area might result in some extra mosquitos. Overall great way to stay near telluride for $20 a night!

Peaceful, Clean, Gorgeous, Secluded

Over the past three weeks, I have camped in 12 different campgrounds across the country and this one remains my most treasured camping experience. 

I arrived to some doe casually munching on vegetation around my site. This site was very close to the river, which I enjoyed greatly, the sound of the river put me right to bed that night. I will note the temperature was colder and wetter in this site than I imagine it would in the others further from the river. Sites 1,2,3, had amazing views of the early morning sunrise between the mountains. I have a honda accord and it managed to make it down the 30-40 minute drive on an unpaved road. 

They had the cleanest vault toilets I have had the pleasure of gracing. There was hand sanitizer, a rug, and posters hanging on the wall. 

Site included:

 picnic table

Perfect

Great campground that feels like you are remote when Ouray is just down the road. Camp Attendant was friendly and helpful and the camp was clean and orderly. Our spot was level and had everything we needed. Picnic table, big fire ring, plenty of room to spread out and never heard another campers voice.

Campsite is beautiful but there’s a bear problem.

The campsite is beautiful. It’s close to the water and the views of the mountains are great. The sites are much more spread out than the nearby Thistledown site. That being said, we stayed for two night and both nights we were awoken by bears. The first night one tore into a plastic container we have with things like rope, propane, hammers, etc. The second night they were trying to get into the bear proof food lockers. It appears that these bears rely on food found at the campgrounds and it’s a dangerous situation for both the campers and the bears.

Nice and quiet

This is a great area to camp. I was there at the end of August on a week night. There was a little vehicle traffic on the road but at night it is quiet. The sites very from very large, like the one pictured below, to small and tight. Almost all are directly on a creek. Bugs are around but not too bad. One thing to be aware of- most of the area is an open grazing area for cattle. Cows=poop. Lots of it…… I would definitely return though.

Nice place to stay.

This place gets pretty crowded but nice place to stay. The views are awesome and you're right in the middle of everything, edge of townzl, minutes drive to forest service access, rivers all around, and lakes not far away. Silverton has ohv road access and plenty of places to take them. The staff is friendly and helpful they will escort you to your side and if available have you pull straight through to your spot. The sites are a bit close but for the most part the place is quiet make sure you have blocks as they are not level at all. The facilities are clean and well kept but no shop in the office however the town market is right across the street. The lower sites back right up to the rail road and you can watch the train roll by. They offer jeep rentals and plenty of other options for that area as well.

Will come back!

This site is amazing, great staff willing to help and friendly. The bathrooms are very well kept and the upkeep of the park is great. They have wifi hotspots throughout the park so it works on all corners. The sites are well spaced out with grass on each side and big enough for a 38' fifthwheen with plenty of space to park full hookups and shade trees in some sites. The lake view spots are amazing backed right up to their private lake. Plenty of walking trails and areas to run with the pups. This place is 20 from durango but bayfield has plenty to do in town. They are open year around and maintain the roads during a snow making access in and out easy.

Big Nope

Did have full hookups. Campers stacked on top of each other. No showers or bathrooms. Very urban feeling.

Convenient, beautiful little campground

Located right on the edge of Telluride makes it easy to access the town. We set up camp and walked to get dinner/drinks that night. Quarter-operated showers and flushing toilets. Potable water and dish washing sinks.

Great campground above Ouray

Beautiful spot to camp. I think we got lucky that all of the spots weren’t booked. Probably the best views we had all week. Definitely check out the hiking trails in the area. Chief Ouray trail is difficult, so be prepared before you go up the mountain.

Beautiful views from this little campground

One of my favorite campgrounds that we stayed at last year. Quiet, small, and had great views over the hill.

Worth the drive, 4WD recommended

Half of the camping spots are kind of difficult to get to if you don’t have a Jeep/4Runner/Tacoma. Definitely worth the drive up the mountain to see these Alpine lakes. Kind of crowded when we went on Labor Day weekend, but that was to be expected. Make sure you hike up to the other two lakes, they are even more beautiful than the main lake.