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It’s official: most of the country (even the Pacific Northwest!) is slowly but surely exiting the fog of late winter. If you’re really craving sunshine, put Colorado at the top of your summer camping list.
The state’s proverbial 300 days of sunshine and mountain scenery create a camper’s paradise, especially in the town of Estes Park. With trails, breweries, fishing, and easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a popular summer destination.
There’s only one problem—Estes Park has so many camping options that it’s hard to know where to start. Not to worry! We’ve put together a list of ten of the top campgrounds in Estes Park, so you can get busy planning your trip to one of the Centennial State’s most popular destinations.
Camping In Estes Park: Our Top 10 Campgrounds
Estes Park’s biggest claim to fame is its proximity to the expansive Rocky Mountain National Park. In over 415 square miles of hallmark Colorado terrain, Rocky Mountain National Park combines high alpine tundras with more than 350 miles of hiking trails. Campers should be mindful of safety while camping and hiking, as bears and mountain lions are common in the area.
Estes Park is a ten-minute drive from RMNP’s Beaver Meadows Entrance Station, making it an ideal option for campers. You can choose between camping in Estes Park itself or going slightly further afield to camp inside Rocky Mountain National Park. With these ten campgrounds, you’ll never be far from either destination.
Distance from Estes Park: 5.5 miles, 12-minute drive
Aspenglen Campground is one of Rocky Mountain National Park’s reservable campgrounds, located near the Fall River Entrance. Its 52 sites (five of which are walk-in only) provide excellent shade underneath towering Ponderosa Pines along with access to wildflower meadows that reach full bloom in the mid-summer months. Aspenglen opens at noon on May 23, 2019, and remains open until noon on September 30. Like most car campgrounds located within the park, this campground offers food lockers, restrooms, water, firewood, and ice.
“Of all the national parks where I’ve camped, this was my favorite campsite. I got a walk-in site, and, besides not having trees perfectly situated for my hammock, I had no complaints – secluded, quiet, well-maintained, beautiful scenery, plenty of bear lockers, easy park access with proximity to a grocery store, flush toilets and running water! The only thing missing here is showers, which most parks don’t have. I can’t recommend it enough!” —The Dyrt camper Kyle K.
Distance from Estes Park: 9.2 miles, 18-minute drive
Glacier Basin Campground is another excellent place to camp, albeit a larger campground than its cousins within the park. With 150 sites and over 70 tent-only sites, this campground has become a haven for families and dedicated tent campers alike, and provides great access to Rocky Mountain National Park and the nearby Estes Park with only a 20-minute drive. The campground includes 4 ADA fully accessible campsites and 13 group sites, making it one of the most popular destinations when it comes to camping in Estes Park and the surrounding area.
“Best of National Park camping! This was a great weekend. We camped in our 26′ Travel Trailer…Stunning Views, Clean Campground, Bear Boxes available at almost all tent sites. Small stream to fish at the entrance to [the] campground. Great trails to hike close to [the] campground. Shuttle stop at Campground to get around the park.” —The Dyrt camper Jennifer L.
Distance from Estes Park: 6 miles, 13-minute drive
Moraine Park Campground is another attractive option for camping within Rocky Mountain National Park. Sitting at 8,160 feet in elevation, Moraine Park is a car-camping destination for high alpine junkies looking for a bird’s eye view of the Rockies. Moraine Park is Rocky Mountain National Park’s largest campground, featuring 244 campsites; 101 are for tent camping only.
Though spaced out and relatively secluded, the campground still has restrooms, food lockers, water, and a dump station. Firewood and ice are sold on a seasonal basis. The campground also features a sizable amphitheater which hosts educational events for all visitors throughout the camping season. Moraine Park opens for the season on May 23, 2019, and remains open until October 15. It is first-come, first-served in winter. Note that the campground will be closed from June 3-14 for road work.
“We camped in Moraine Park Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park in September 2017, and had a lovely experience! Whenever I camp, I try to find a more secluded site on the outskirts of the campground – we chose site 154 in loop D, and it was perfect! The site was in the very back of the campground, had a large distance between the two neighboring sites, and faced the mountains.” —The Dyrt camper Amanda M.
Distance from Estes Park: 10.6 miles, 21-minute drive
Longs Peak Campground is the highest campground in Rocky Mountain National Park, sitting at 9500 feet above sea level. With only 26 tent-only sites available on a first-come, first-served basis, this campground is frequently used by hikers and campers seeking a more removed camping experience. Water is available onsite but few other amenities are offered. Each site is forested and relatively secluded from the rest of the campground.
“Longs Peak campground is super high up. This is a first come-first serve campground, we didn’t have any trouble finding a spot in the middle of the week in July when we stayed. We actually came back the next year and camped in the same spot because we loved it so much. Incredible views of Longs Peak right from our campsite.” —The Dyrt camper Kelly Z.
Distance from Estes Park: 3.3 miles, 7-minute drive
Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake is close to the national park and across the street from the natural basin of Mary’s Lake. With mountain views and the amenities of a traditional, developed campground, Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake is a reasonable option for people who want to be close to major area attractions without being right in the middle of them.
“Great staff and great people!! Big area and right across the road from the lake so easy walk. Has super clean bathroom showers and facilities. Cute very well stocked store with anything you might need from tons of camping gear to OTC medicines, clean laundry room, clean outdoor pool, free outdoor large hot water sink areas to wash dishes and such. Nice safe playground and relaxing pool!” —The Dyrt camper Kim B.
6. Hermit Park
Distance to Estes Park: 5.4 miles, 14-minute drive
Hermit Park is a relatively secluded drive-in campground just south of Estes Park offering over 100 RV and tent sites. The campground includes water, a camp store, hookups for RVs, and seasonal firewood. Hermit Park is a popular summer destination for its forested campsites and easy access to trails.
“My friend and I have camped here twice, and we love the location. The sites aren’t sitting on top of each other, and some spots feel relatively secluded. It is within a few miles of Estes Park, so we hike during the day and dash into town for a drink with our dogs in the afternoon!” —The Dyrt camper Erin K.
Distance from Estes Park: 5.2 miles, 11-minute drive
Estes Park Campground at East Portal is a developed campground with premier access to Rocky Mountain National Park and East Portal Reservoir. For campers with tents and small RVs, this out-of-the-way campground offers the best of camping in Estes Park, and features views of RMNP peaks and surrounding wilderness. There are 66 campsites, each equipped with a picnic table and fire ring. Drinking water, showers, firewood, and hookups are available at the campground.
“This campground is at the end of the road, zero traffic noise, lots of shade from trees, nature trails, deer visit in the mornings. Facilities are exceptional, clean, free with camping. Each site has a bear box/food locker to keep food items safe and stored near your site. So quiet at night…good sleeping! Friendly hosts! Great camping in the Rockies!” —The Dyrt camper Beth S.
Distance from Estes Park: 0.2 miles, 3-minute drive
Located at 7,500 feet, the Estes Park KOA is the answer for families and RVers looking for a close-to-town camping option. This KOA has an outdoor firepit, a 24-hour laundry facility, showers, a pet park, and even a shuttle to take visiting guests into town. The KOA also offers cabins for guests who prefer a more lodge-like camping experience.
“Great location right near most attractions in Estes park. Inexpensive. They have showering/bathroom facilities, there’s a store for your camping essentials. Fire pits, great view of the mountains.” —The Dyrt camper Christine M.
Distance from Estes Park: 5.8 miles, 9-minute drive
One of a number of Jellystone Park locations, this familiar line of campgrounds is geared towards young kids and families. Jellystone Park at Estes has the traditional Jellystone amenities like a pool, game room, playground, and regular activities. With easy entry to both downtown Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, campers get a blend of the ease and convenience that make this chain so popular, along with the wilderness access that comes with camping in Estes Park.
“Very kid-friendly campground with tons of activities for them and adults. Game rooms, pool, hiking, etc. Some of the sites are a little challenging to get into with a big camper, but doable. We’d definitely go back again. Just a few minutes from downtown Estes Park. Beautiful setting!!” —The Dyrt camper Jason B.
Distance from Estes Park: 2.1 miles, 5-minute drive
Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Park is another good option for families who want the comforts of resort-style amenities. The family-friendly campground has 40+ tent sites, seven cabins, and 169 RV sites with full hook-ups. Elk Meadow has an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, teepees, showers, horseshoes, mini golf, and a playground, along with organized activities throughout the summer.
“The park itself is lovely, well maintained and a spectacular view of Long’s Peak. Facilities were very nice and clean. Hot tub and pool were wonderful for days after hikes. They had live music and drinks on the weekends, plus free pancakes in the morning on Sunday!” —The Dyrt camper Ally K.
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