Hey there campers and welcome to my post where we will take a look at my 10 best campsites in Colorado. Now, we all know the joys that camping can bring, from experiencing the great outdoors, to time with family and of course, just doing nothing around the campfire. But where should you go?
There are of course so many different options out there so if you looking for a good campsite in Colorado, or have one in mind but are not sure what it has to offer, here are 10 good options below.
Let’s check them out…
10 Best Campsites in Colorado
Colorado’s diverse landscapes offer a wealth of choice for every camping enthusiast. Whether you prefer the rugged splendor of high alpine peaks, the tranquility of a secluded forest, the unique allure of desert sand dunes or the captivating history of ancient dwellings, Colorado’s campgrounds provide a perfect escape into nature.
So to help you out here, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 best campsites in Colorado for you to consider on your next adventure.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
Spread over a sprawling 265,000 acres in the northern part of Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is a dream come true for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. Known for its majestic mountains, diverse wildlife and enchanting alpine and subalpine ecosystems, the park is a wonderland that offers campers an unrivaled experience.
When it comes to camping, the park offers five well-equipped campgrounds – Moraine Park, Glacier Basin, Longs Peak, Timber Creek, and Aspenglen and for the backcountry adventurers, there are over 120 designated backcountry campsites as follows:
- Moraine Park Campground – the largest, operates year-round and is nestled in a picturesque pine forest with the Big Thompson River flowing through it.
- Aspenglen – located near the Fall River entrance, is renowned for its breathtaking sunrise views.
- Longs Peak – the highest elevation campground, offers easy access to the trail leading to the summit of its namesake peak.
- The Glacier Basin Campground – tucked away among beautiful pines and aspens.
- Timber Creek – on the western side of the park, offers more solitude.
Rocky Mountain National Park’s extraordinary landscape includes towering peaks, verdant forests, serene alpine lakes and meandering rivers. There are over 350 miles of hiking trails that range from flat lakeside strolls to steep mountain peak climbs. Iconic hikes include the Emerald Lake Trail, Sky Pond via Glacier Gorge Trail, and the challenging Longs Peak Trail.
Wildlife viewing is another highlight of the park. It’s home to a variety of animals, including elk, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes and numerous bird species. Elk and mule deer often wander through the campgrounds, providing memorable encounters from a safe distance.
Book your campsite here.
2. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness encapsulates the raw, pristine beauty of Colorado. Encompassing over 181,000 acres within the White River National Forest, this area features some of the most picturesque and dramatic scenery in the Rockies. The stunning Maroon Bells, two peaks over 14,000 feet high, form the centerpiece of this wilderness area.
The Wilderness boasts a plethora of backcountry camping sites that attract outdoor enthusiasts seeking solitude and a direct connection with nature. The Conundrum Hot Springs backcountry site, reachable via a challenging 8.5-mile hike, is one of the most unique offering natural hot springs amid the rugged alpine landscape.
Crater Lake, a stunning body of water located just below the Maroon Bells offers additional camping opportunities and the trail leading to it is one of the most heavily trafficked in the area, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and the vibrant Maroon Lake.
The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is a backpacker‘s dream with over 100 miles of trails, including a segment of the famous Colorado Trail and the Four Pass Loop, which offers a challenging multi-day backpacking adventure over four mountain passes.
As above, this wilderness area is renowned for its hiking with trails ranging from beginner-friendly paths to challenging high-altitude treks. Hikers and backpackers can explore glacier-carved valleys, high alpine meadows brimming with wildflowers, crystal-clear lakes and snow-capped peaks.
Photography enthusiasts will find endless opportunities with the Maroon Bells being the most photographed peaks in North America. The reflection of these twin peaks on Maroon Lake, especially during sunrise and sunset, is truly a sight to behold.
The area is also home to diverse wildlife including black bears, mule deer, bighorn sheep,and a wide array of bird species. Fly fishing is popular in the many streams and rivers that course through the wilderness.
Given its popularity, the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness faces significant ecological pressure and permits are required for overnight stays at this location to preserve its delicate ecosystem. These can be booked here.
3. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Nestled in southern Colorado, The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a captivating location with an enchanting blend of ecosystems. Known for its immense sand dunes—the tallest in North America—it also hosts high mountain peaks, verdant forests and crystal-clear streams and lakes, making it an enthralling camping destination.
The park offers two campgrounds:
- Pinyon Flats Campground – open year-round with over 88 sites with access to restroom facilities and water. It provides easy access to the park’s main attractions and is a comfortable base for exploring the park.
- The Medano Pass Primitive Road Campground – for the more adventurous spirits this one offerw 21 sites along a rough, 4WD road that crosses the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Here, you can camp right next to a babbling creek amid ponderosa pine and aspen trees. For those seeking a unique experience, the park allows sand dune camping where you can pitch your tent amidst the towering sand dunes and under a sky full of stars, far from the lights and noise of civilization.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is an adventurer’s paradise with a variety of recreational activities including sand sledding and sandboarding. The Medano Creek, at the base of the dunes, is a seasonal stream that is perfect for splashing and playing in during spring and early summer when it has the most water.
The park is also home to diverse hiking trails ranging from easy, flat walks along the dunes to challenging hikes in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The High Dune on First Ridge and the Star Dune, the tallest dune in North America, are popular trails as well.
The dune field and alpine tundra areas are especially sensitive and require careful treatment to ensure their preservation for future generations. Book your campsite here.
4. Guanella Pass Campground
Located just south of Georgetown, Colorado and nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Guanella Pass Campground is a high-elevation campground that lies at approximately 10,900 feet and offers a captivating blend of rugged mountain peaks, verdant pine forests and crystal-clear streams.
The campground features 18 campsites, each equipped with a picnic table and fire ring and given the campground’s high altitude, it’s typically open from late May through September, weather permitting. Campsites are distributed across two loops – one alongside the tranquil waters of Clear Creek and the other near Geneva Creek – both designed to blend seamlessly with the natural landscape ensuring minimal impact on the environment and an immersive experience for campers.
Both RV and tent campers are welcome, though it’s worth noting that the campground does not provide hookups and the winding, narrow approach road may be challenging for larger vehicles.
One of the most appealing aspects of camping at Guanella Pass is the access it provides to a range of outdoor activities. Hiking is a favorite pursuit here with numerous trails catering to various skill levels. Two of the most popular trails lead to the summits of Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt, both of which exceed 14,000 feet in elevation. These “14ers” offer challenging hikes and breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
The streams flowing through and around the campground are known for their excellent fishing opportunities. Clear Creek and Geneva Creek teem with Rainbow and Brook Trout, making them a popular choice for both fly and lure fishing.
Guanella Pass Road, which winds through the area, is recognized as a Scenic Byway and driving along this road is an activity in itself, offering stunning views of the alpine scenery and opportunities for wildlife viewing, including sightings of Bighorn Sheep, Moose and a variety of bird species.
Reservations are highly recommended, particularly during the summer months as the area is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Book your campsite here.
5. Lost Creek Wilderness
Tucked within the Pike National Forest in central Colorado, Lost Creek Wilderness is a 119,790-acre paradise known for its unique geology and vibrant ecosystem. This area offers a distinctive and less frequented alternative to the state’s busier recreational areas ensuring a tranquil wilderness experience for those who venture here.
The area boasts several campgrounds and a myriad of dispersed camping options that allow visitors to set up camp outside of designated campgrounds, provided they follow specific guidelines to preserve the area’s natural beauty. Some established campgrounds in the vicinity include Spruce Grove and Twin Eagles, each offering basic amenities such as vault toilets and fire rings.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of camping here is the opportunity to explore the backcountry and find your own ideal camping spot. However, it’s worth noting that certain regulations apply, such as camping at least 100 feet from water sources and trails, to minimize human impact on the environment.
Lost Creek Wilderness boasts over 130 miles of trails, offering visitors an array of hiking options ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging multi-day treks. The Brookside-McCurdy Trail and the Goose Creek Trail are two favorites, winding through diverse landscapes including lush forests, meadows speckled with wildflowers, towering granite rock formations and past the wilderness area’s namesake, Lost Creek.
The wilderness area is also a haven for wildlife where visitors can spot animals such as Mule Deer, Elk, Black Bears and a variety of bird species. Fishing enthusiasts can try their luck at Brook Trout in Lost Creek and its tributaries.
Lost Creek Wilderness also features intriguing granite formations including The Castle and Arch Rock which add a unique element to the landscape. The area’s vast expanses of unspoiled nature and relative solitude make it a perfect destination for nature photography, bird watching or simply escaping the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Book your campsite here.
6. Rifle Falls State Park
Rifle Falls State Park, located in northwestern Colorado, is a small but enchanting natural oasis known for its unique geological features and lush vegetation. The park’s centerpiece is its namesake triple waterfall, a rare and picturesque sight that draws visitors from near and far.
Despite its relatively small size, Rifle Falls State Park offers a well-equipped campground that is a delight for both tent and RV campers. The campground consists of 13 drive-in and seven walk-in campsites, each equipped with electrical hookups, a picnic table and a grill. Additionally, three cabins are available for rental providing a more comfortable and sheltered accommodation option.
For those seeking a more secluded camping experience, the park also offers a handful of designated backcountry camping sites as well.
Without a doubt, the main attraction of Rifle Falls State Park is the spectacular 70-foot triple waterfall, the only one of its kind in Colorado. The falls have carved out deep limestone caves at their base over the centuries, which visitors can explore too.
The park boasts a relatively easy, yet highly rewarding 1.5-mile loop trail that guides visitors past the falls, through lush vegetation and along the banks of East Rifle Creek. The trail offers multiple vantage points of the falls and a chance to appreciate the park’s diverse birdlife and vibrant plant life, including stunning wildflowers in the summer.
For more adventurous spirits, the park also offers excellent opportunities for rock climbing with a variety of routes on the limestone cliffs above the falls. Fishing is also popular, with East Rifle Creek being a habitat for Rainbow and Brown Trout. And finally, a visit to the nearby Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery can be an enlightening detour, especially for families with children. Here, you can learn about the process of breeding and raising different fish species, which are later used to stock Colorado’s many bodies of water.
Book your campsite here.
7. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Often overshadowed by its more famous national park siblings in Colorado, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a hidden gem that more than deserves its time in the spotlight. Known for the stunningly steep and deep gorge carved by the Gunnison River, the park offers visitors awe-inspiring views and a wild, unspoiled landscape to explore.
The park offers two primary campgrounds:
- The South Rim Campground is the larger and more easily accessible of the two with 88 campsites and amenities such as potable water, restrooms and picnic tables. Some sites offer electrical hookups and reservations are available for part of the campground.
- North Rim Campground, on the other hand, offers a more rustic and secluded experience. It features 13 campsites and being more remote, it sees fewer visitors. Amenities are limited with vault toilets but no potable water, and it operates on a first-come, first-served basis.
Both campgrounds provide an excellent base for exploring the park’s many features and visitors can choose based on their preference for either convenience or solitude.
The Black Canyon is defined by its dramatic vertical cliffs and narrow chasm, the result of millions of years of the Gunnison River eroding the hard ancient rock. The park offers several vantage points for marveling at this geological wonder, with the South Rim Road and North Rim Road providing access to numerous overlooks.
Hiking is a popular activity with trails of varying difficulty available. The Rim Rock Nature Trail is a relatively easy and family-friendly hike that provides panoramic views of the canyon, while the more challenging Gunnison Route takes adventurous hikers down to the river’s edge.
The park also offers world-class climbing with the tall, sheer canyon walls providing a playground for experienced climbers. Other recreational activities include fishing in the Gunnison River and stargazing. With little to no light pollution, the park is an excellent spot for observing the night sky and has been designated an International Dark Sky Park.
The park’s rugged cliffs also serve as a nesting habitat for several raptor species, so climbers are asked to avoid certain areas during the nesting season to protect these birds. Campsites can be booked here.
8. Mesa Verde National Park
Located in southwestern Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park is not just a nature lover’s haven but also an archaeological treasure. The park is renowned for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, especially the iconic Cliff Palace. It offers a unique opportunity to journey into the past and explore the rich history of these ancient civilizations that once thrived in the region.
Mesa Verde provides a single campground just inside the park’s entrance called the Morefield Campground that boasts over 260 sites nestled amid wildflowers and native fauna. The campsites accommodate tents, RVs and there are also a few group camping sites. While some spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis, making a reservation is always a good idea, especially during the peak season.
One of the advantages of camping at Morefield is the access to a network of trails leading straight from the campground that allow campers to start their hiking adventure right from their tent’s door. It also offers full amenities including utility hookups, laundry facilities, a gas station, a village store and even a full-service restaurant.
The primary draw for visitors to Mesa Verde National Park is undoubtedly the cliff dwellings. The park offers ranger-guided tours to the Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House, which provide fascinating insights into the Ancestral Puebloan people’s lives. The self-guided Mesa Top Loop Road tour also provides a comprehensive overview of the park’s archaeological sites.
The park offers a series of hiking trails that wind through the rich cultural and natural landscape ranging from easy walks, like the Soda Canyon Overlook Trail to more challenging hikes, like the 7.8-mile-long Prater Ridge Trail. Wildlife watching is another popular activity within the park with Mule Deer, Coyotes and over 200 species of birds inhabiting the area.
The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum is also worth a visit showcasing artifacts, dioramas and informative displays about the Ancestral Puebloan culture. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, conservation is critical in Mesa Verde National Park. Visitors are reminded to respect the ancient structures, not to climb on the walls or remove artifacts and to stay on the designated trails.
Campsites can be booked here.
9. Eleven Mile State Park
Eleven Mile State Park is a high-altitude retreat situated in central Colorado known for its sprawling reservoir, striking mountain views and diverse recreational activities. Whether you’re an angler, boater, wildlife watcher or camper, Eleven Mile State Park offers a wealth of experiences.
This state park features more than 300 campsites spread across nine unique campgrounds that line the northern shore of the Eleven Mile Reservoir. Each campsite includes a fire ring, picnic table and access to vault toilets and some also provide potable water and showers too.
Rocky Ridge and Stoll Mountain are favorites among RV campers, offering a mix of reservable and first-come, first-served sites. For tent campers seeking solitude, backcountry campsites on the park’s southern shore offer a peaceful retreat. It’s important to note that at an elevation of about 8,600 feet, the weather can be chilly even during summer nights, so campers should pack accordingly.
Eleven Mile State Park is best known for its water-based recreation thanks to the vast Eleven Mile Reservoir. Anglers will find one of Colorado’s premier fishing destinations, with the reservoir teeming with Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon and Northern Pike. Ice fishing is also popular during the winter months.
Boating is another popular pastime, whether you’re sailing, motor boating, canoeing or kayaking. A large portion of the reservoir is open for boating, and there are multiple boat ramps for easy access.
On land, the park offers over 5 miles of trails that are perfect for hiking, wildlife viewing and birding. The park’s diverse habitats are home to a range of wildlife from Mule Deer and Foxes to a plethora of bird species. In the winter, these trails can be used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Campsites can be booked here.
10. Colorado National Monument
Perched on the edge of the Uncompahgre Plateau overlooking the city of Grand Junction, Colorado National Monument stands as a testament to the power of natural forces that shaped its dramatic landscapes. Its towering monoliths, deep canyons and expansive plateaus carved from red sandstone create a visually stunning playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
Colorado National Monument offers one established campground, the Saddlehorn Campground, located near the Visitor Center. Tucked within the high desert terrain, it features 80 sites for both tent and RV camping equipped with a picnic table, grill and ample space for your gear.
While Saddlehorn doesn’t offer hookups for RVs, it does provide potable water and restrooms, making for a comfortable camping experience. It’s worth noting that camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis from November to March, while reservations are required for the rest of the year.
For those desiring a more rustic experience, backcountry camping is also an option. This type of camping offers an intimate connection with the rugged surroundings but requires a permit and adherence to certain regulations designed to protect the area’s natural beauty.
The Monument, as locals often call it, offers a variety of activities to engage with its stunning landscapes. A drive along Rim Rock Drive, a 23-mile road winding through the heart of the park, offers breathtaking views of the canyons and rock formations. Numerous overlooks along the way offer photo opportunities and spots to simply marvel at the geological spectacle.
Hiking is another popular activity in the Monument, with over 40 miles of trails catering to different fitness levels. Some of the more popular hikes include the Canyon Rim Trail, Devils Kitchen Trail and Serpents Trail, often referred to as the “Crookedest Road in the World.”
Rock climbing is a beloved pastime for visitors due to the park’s abundance of towering rock formations. However, given the potential impact on the fragile desert ecosystem, climbers are asked to adhere to a set of guidelines designed to minimize their environmental footprint.
The Monument’s skies also offer a spectacular display of color at sunrise and sunset, adding to the area’s alluring beauty.
Campsites can be booked here.
There you have it, my best campsites in Colorado. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual, let me know of your experiences with them.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, or corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time.