We ended up in a dispersed site right next to the road on a whim one evening on August 17th. It's a long, rough dirt road that you share with bikers, other cars, and cows. Yes, cows. Where we stayed was a round parking space next to the road and just on the top of a hill that led down to the creek. We were able to pull our car over and camp right next to it. We had two sets of neighbors no closer than thirty yards away who kept to themselves. The only thing I can see people seeing as a drawback were the slightly noisy neighbors… cows. They wandered through the campsites and relatively close to the tents, trailers, and vehicles and mooed late into the night and early the next day. Honestly didn't bother us at all, we thought they were hilarious, but obviously some folks might not be happy about their presence. The space is very dusty though, so expect your vehicle, equipment, and yourself to get a little dirty.
Just past the Oh Be Joyful Campground. GPS Coordinates: 38.93123,-107.05068 I spent two nights in a row here in mid August. There were plenty of people near by but I didn’t feel over crowded. Things to know: •Verizon service was decent •15-20 min from Crested Butte proper •Vaulted toilets near my coordinates •River/stream near by for rinsing off if need be, be warned tho it is quite cold. •If, by chance, this location is full, you can continue driving along the road and there are miles and miles of available spots.
Oh do enjoy!
Located about 20 minutes from the town of Crested Butte, Slate River Road is home to a bunch of campgrounds. Note: These areas differ from the BLM section you will drive through. After the Oh Be Joyful BLM land, you will then make your way into Forest Service operated areas where there is tons of dispersed camping and it is free.
We spent some time here around 4th of July and all the spots were filled as expected. Camp grounds are all dispersed, free and have no amenities at the site except some areas have vault toilets. There are a few campgrounds on the left side of the road and if those are all full there are many other spots just along the sides of the roads. The spot where the pin is for this site is one of the few “Camp grounds” where there is a small parking lot built and spots are somewhat defined.
Most of them were big enough for multiple cars and tents as well as full sized RV’s. The forest service does patrol this area and we saw them writing tickets for people who were parked in areas they should not be in. It seems they used rocks to define camping areas and people were parked beyond them. Keep that in mind when selecting a spot.
If you cannot find a spot in one of these campgrounds, keep driving. A good portion of the road is Forest Service and camping is allowed on the sides of the road. We saw people camping for miles up the road.
As is with most of Crested Butte, there is tons to do in this area. Drives, hikes, mountain biking, fishing…the list goes on. We spent a long weekend here, it was a great base camp spot however our spot was pretty exposed to the sun.
Bonus: We saw tons of wildlife every day right across the river from our camp chairs. Deer. Moose and a Bear!