Camping is a pleasant way to get closer to nature, particularly in the Rocky Mountains. In addition, Colorado has some of the top campsites in the country and offers fantastic camping almost everywhere. Therefore, this list of the top places to go camping in Colorado will likely expand over time.
Colorado is a gorgeous outdoor playground, from the grandeur of Rocky Mountain National Park to the meandering roadways of the Million Dollar Highway and the spectacular expanse of the Blue Mesa Reservoir. And camping is the ideal way to explore its enormous nature areas! There are several choices for camping spots in Colorado, whether you're a novice camper or an experienced backcountry specialist, which is overwhelming.
It's no surprise that Colorado is popular with people who enjoy camping as a vacation, given its diversified terrain. Colorado is truly unique compared to most other states! Here are the top ten places to go camping in Colorado that you should check out. Many offer practical facilities and the opportunity to experience Colorado's beautiful outdoors close by!
Top 10 Places to Camp in Colorado
Few states can match Colorado in terms of natural beauty and fantastic outdoor destinations. There is a lot to see and do, from the beautiful views of Towering Mountain National Park to the rocky spires of Garden of the Gods and the breathtaking views along the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway.
Paid-constructed campgrounds and free underdeveloped, primitive campsites coexist here. Some can only accommodate tent-only car camping, while others can accommodate a full-fledged travel trailer. So feel free to travel to the high country after renting an RV in Denver! Let's look at the top 10 places to camp in Colorado.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
Location: Larimer / Grand / Boulder counties, Colorado, United States
Website: Rocky Mountain National Park
When to Visit: June & September
Best Campsites: Vasquez Ridge, Green Ridge CG, Willow Creek CG
Activities: Hiking, camping, climbing, fishing
Established in 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park is a living testament to the magnificence of the Rocky Mountains. Just outside of Estes Park, Colorado, Rocky Alpine is a fantastic family vacation spot with outdoor activities for everyone, including straightforward nature treks around glacier-fed mountain lakes and risky rock climbs up mountains and waterfalls. A visitor to the park can embark on many stunning encounters and activities with elevations varying from 8,000 feet in the damp, green valleys to 14,259 feet at the weather-ravaged peak of Longs Peak.
When you visit the Rockies, experience mountaineering, hiking, camping, fishing, and spectacular vistas of craggy peaks, glaciers, and high-mountain lakes when the hillsides and meadows are covered in botanical color in June and July, wildflower enthusiasts are never let down. Visitors can unwind amid the golden aspens in the autumn or take in the more boisterous antics of the elk rut during the mating season. Since the park is open all year round, those courageous enough to withstand the cold in winter are treated to snowscapes.
“We have been to RMNP many times over the years and have always loved coming. This was our first fall trip and we loved seeing the aspens in their yellow color.”
2. Great Sand Dunes National Park
Location: Alamosa and Saguache Counties, Colorado, United States
Website: Great Sand Dunes
When to Visit: Summer
Best Campsites: Piñon Flats Campground, Medano Pass, Pinyon Flats Campground
Activities: Go sledding, stargazing, Ranger Program, camping with kids
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a national park and preserve in the United States that protects a region of tall dunes that can reach heights of 750 feet on the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley. It also borders a national preserve in the Sangre de Cristo Range in central Colorado. The largest dune towers 750 feet in the air, and the entire dune field is a 30-square-mile sandbox. Every visitor has a child inside who enjoys sliding down the sand all year long and diving into the soft sand footprints of people who climbed ahead of them.
One of the unique camping locations in the United States is found in Great Sand Dunes National Park. It is between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the San Juan Mountains and resembles the Gobi or the Sahara. In addition to the dunes, the area offers picnicking, hiking, camping, the problematic four-wheel scenic drive over Medano Pass, horseback riding routes, and the enigmatic Medano Creek. The park's elevation (8,200 feet) and remote setting make it popular with astronomy enthusiasts, and on many evenings from May to September, it even offers special astronomy activities.
“Here, you can learn about the park and its wildlife, use the restroom and purchase gifts. Please also note there are great views of the dune field here.”
3. Routt National Forest
Location: Wyoming-Colorado, U.S.
Website: Routt National Forest
When to visit: Early spring & late fall
Best Campsites: Rabbit Ears Peak Trail, Fiddlehead Trail, Big Creek Lakes Campground
Activities: Camping, hiking, winter sports, mountaineering
The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests cover Northcentral Colorado and central Wyoming. The Gore Range, Flat Tops, Parks Range, Medicine Bow Mountains, Sierra Madre, and Laramie Range are just a few of the mountain ranges partially covered by the Forests. For thousands of people, the Forests offer year-round recreational options. Due to the vast geographic region, the topography varies drastically throughout the Forests. Elevations vary from 5,500 and 12,940 feet. The Forests' climate ranges from semi-arid at low levels to chilly and humid at higher elevations.
This forest contains three unique mountain chains and is situated on both sides of the Continental Divide in northwest Colorado. They are the Elkhead Mountains, another spur stretching westward from the Continental Divide, the Gore Range, a southern offshoot of the Divide, and the Park Range, which forms the Continental Divide. Some of the Rocky Mountain region's most stunning and untamed peaks are in this large area. The limitless forests of northwest Colorado are popular for camping, hiking, mountaineering, and winter sports.
“Huge acreage of beautiful national forest set on the continental divide, worthy of a number of photographs from this area. Open spaces with lovely hikes and so much more.”
4. San Isabel National Forest
Location: 2840 Kachina Dr., Pueblo, CO 81008
Website: Pike-San Isabel National Forest
When to visit: March - November
Best Campsites: Turquoise Lake Recreation Area, Cimarron Campground
Activities: Biking, birding, camping, fishing, four-wheeling, hunting
The most diversified of all National Forests are the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron, and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC) regions. The short grass prairies of the eastern grasslands, the alpine tundra of the northern districts, and every kind in between make up these diversified forests and grasslands. Nineteen of the state's 54 fourteeners, including Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado, are found in the San Isabel National Forest.
This easily accessible national forest is home to many beauties and is only a few hours drive from Denver. The upper Arkansas River Valley, the eastern slopes of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, the Wet Mountains, and the Spanish Peaks are all included in the national forest. San Isabel is a hiking and mountain climbing haven with over a million acres of terrain and hundreds of summits. Basecamps in the region, including Leadville, Buena Vista, Salida, Fairplay, and Westcliffe, are excellent.
“San Isabel National Forest is beautiful, 15 degrees cooler than the flats, and accessible.It is a beautiful place to hike and camp if that's your thing. Lots of trails, lots of roads that make hiking easy.”
5. Maroon Bells
Location: Gunnison County, CO
Website: Maroon Bells
When to visit: Late June to September
Best Campsites: Silver Bell Campground, Snowmass Wilderness Area
Activities: Camping, hiking, cycling, winter sports
Discover how a journey through more than 300 million years of angular stone inspires visitors worldwide to "Defy Ordinary" as you explore Aspen's Maroon Bells, the most photographed mountains in North America. Some of the most breathtaking natural views in the world may be seen at the Maroon Bells, a group of uniquely bell-shaped, wine-colored peaks rising 14,000 feet above the pristine, glacial Maroon Creek Valley.
Silver Bell has walk-in sites that are perfect for tent camping and are accessible from roughly late May through late September. Silver Bell is one of three campgrounds located in the woods by West Maroon Creek: Silver Queen, Silver Bar, and Silver Bell. Try to visit in the second part of September to experience the most stunning landscape away from the crowd when you can take in the brilliant golden foliage set against the snow-dusted Bells. The modest National Forest Service campgrounds that line the hiking trails beyond the lake are a great place for campers to discover gratifying quiet. Road bikers like riding their bicycles up Maroon Creek Road.
“A beautiful, unspoiled area just on the edge of Aspen. Easy parking and a pleasant walk to the lake. I loved the scenery, and the mountain backdrop was special.”
6. Steamboat Lake State Park
Location: 61105 Rcr 129, Clark, CO 80428
Website: Steamboat Lake
When to visit: Summer
Best Campsites: Dutch Hill Campground, Sunrise Vista Campground
Activities: Family fishing, camping, picnicking, boating, water play
Steamboat Lake State Park, one of Colorado's natural gems, offers something unique for everyone. Whatever your inclination, you're in for some well-earned rest and fun. Less than 30 miles from Steamboat Springs lies one of Colorado's most stunning state parks. It has a lot of beautiful locations to camp, but it also has a marina where you can hire boats, a swim beach, a visitor center, and 5.5 miles of hiking paths surrounded by Hahn's Peak.
This outstanding park, which offers family-friendly fishing, camping, picnicking, trail, and boating recreational possibilities, is framed by Hahn's Peak. There is a swimming beach and a full-service marina for active water play. Snowmobiling, ice fishing, and tranquil cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in a valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains bring the winter to life. The red fox, mule deer, and a variety of shorebirds and waterfowl, including sandhill cranes that breed in the wetland areas, are among the animals that wildlife enthusiasts might catch a glimpse of.
“This campground is 45 minutes north of Steamboat Springs, which was perfect. You feel like you are getting away from it all and yet can drive into town for supplies and activities. It's a gorgeous drive along Elk River.”
7. Grand Lakes of Colorado
Location: 14700 US-34, Grand Lake, CO 80447
Website: Grand Lake
When to visit: Winter
Best Campsites: Arapaho Bay CG, Stillwater CG, Green Ridge CG
Activities: Biking, fishing, boating, horse riding, camping, snowmobiling
Grand Lake is the most significant and deepest natural lake in Colorado. It is situated in Grand County, Colorado, near the source of the Colorado River. The historic village of Grand Lake, which bears its name, is located on its northern shore. There are six excellent natural lakes in Colorado, including the biggest one. Grand Lake is a quaint alpine town in Colorado encircled by several natural lakes.
Downtown has anything, like a welcoming promenade with vibrant, independently-owned stores and eateries. During the bustling summer months, entertainment is readily available, and outdoor activities are countless. It is located at an elevation of 8,369 feet at the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. This Grand County village has roughly 410 residents, with a spike in visitors during the warmer months. Despite the quieter atmosphere, snowmobiling and ice fishing are still popular winter activities.
“This is my favorite place in the US! I have been to many states, and Colorado is amazing. Grand Lake says it all! If you like to go back in time when life was slow, and people were friendly, I would recommend visiting Grand Lake!”
8. Flat Tops Trail
Location: Meeker, CO 81641
Website: Flat Tops Trail
When to visit: September to December
Best Campsites: Chapman Reservoir CG, Vaughan Lake CG
Activities: Hiking, boating, camping, fishing, skiing
Colorado's Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway spans 82 picturesque miles as it weaves through lush river valleys, surrounds the abundant Flat Tops Wilderness, and ascends over two of the state's least-traveled passes. You arrive in Meeker at the end of the voyage to a town with a sad heritage and rural beauty.
In Northwest Colorado, the Flat Tops Trail is a beautiful area to unwind and take in the scenery. This 82-mile byway, which connects Meeker and Yampa, is appropriate for most autos. There are no other places to fill up once on the road, so fill up at Meeker or Yampa. The distance might be covered in 2.5 hours or more, depending on the number of stops. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling can all be done in the winter. Bike riding, camping, fishing, hiking, and hunting are among the summer and fall activities.
“This was a great hike, very challenging in some spots, and the views at the top were incredible! The only reason I didn't rate it 5 stars is the pathway markings were limited.”
9. Buffalo Pass
Location: Jackson / Routt counties, Colorado, U.S.
Website: Buffalo Pass
When to visit: Late June to early August
Best Campsites: Dry Lake CG, Summit Lake CG
Activities: Camping, hiking, boating
Buffalo Pass leads northwest from Steamboat to Highway 14, close to Walden. From Steamboat, it is 11 arduous miles to the peak, then 32 miles to Highway 14. The major road to Walden used to be along this ancient path.
The viewing season for wildflowers is condensed due to Buffalo Pass' high elevation, and the ideal time to see them is from late June to early August. The pass is about halfway between Walden and Steamboat Springs. Although the road is in decent shape, and 2WD vehicles would manage just fine at lower levels, the last few miles and the top are rugged for about four miles. Buffalo Pass is located in the Park Range, a mountain range that runs north to south. The Park Range is excellently positioned to block the moist air throughout the winter as storms approach from the Pacific Ocean on the west and particularly northwest flow.
“Nice, easy hike with our dog, with great fall views of Aspen foliage and the surrounding mountains.”
10. Mesa Verde National Park
Location: Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330
Website: Mesa Verde
When to visit: Spring to Fall
Best Campsites: Morefield Campground
Activities: Camping, hiking, climbing, birding
For more than 700 years, Mesa Verde's cliffs and mesas were home to vibrant Ancestral Pueblo civilizations. Today, the park provides tourists with a breathtaking view of the past while safeguarding the rich cultural heritage of 26 Pueblos and Tribes. Nearly a thousand species live in this World Heritage Site and International Dark Sky Park, some of which are unique to our planet.
Join a tour to learn more about the significance of these historic locations. Park rangers lead guided tours of the ruins throughout the year, giving visitors a detailed insight into life hundreds of years ago. There are hiking routes in Mesa Verde National Park as well, and many of these lead to picturesque overlooks with stunning views of the surrounding desert.
“There is a lot to do in this park, but an absolute must-see is the cliff-dwelling Cliff Palace. This is the traditional set of ruins you always see as they are the largest and most diverse.”
Camping in Colorado Essentials
Camping is a fantastic way to see many places quickly and affordably. When camping in Colorado, you won't need to worry about carrying supplies on a long hike through the woods. Only a few short steps are required from your RV. There are other essential preparations before camping, even though a camping checklist may help you remember particular items! Remember to check the weather and see if any permissions are required.
The camping in Colorado essentials are listed below:
- Campsite Essentials: tent, sleeping bag, table & chair, flashlight, firewood
- Camp Kitchen Essentials: cooking grill, stove, knife, cutting board, coffee maker, food
- Clothes & Footwear: water-proof jacket, hiking pants, boots, gloves
- Personal Items: ID, map, cash, bottle, book
- First Aid Kit: personal medication, bandages, finger splints, eye drops
For more details, see this camping must-haves guide. The need for obnoxious, smelly diesel generators to power an RV or a mobile office is no longer necessary for campers. It would be best if you first determined precisely what you need to power while off the grid or during a power outage before you can start comparing portable solar generators, and their benefits. Much less energy is used to recharge your phone and camera to run appliances or power a camper.
For solar power stations, solar panels, and solar generators, Jackery is the industry leader. It is a solar generator industry pioneer and a top-selling brand recognized by more than 100 official media outlets and organizations globally. The Jackery Solar Generator 1500 and Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro are suggested here as the ideal camping necessities for Colorado.
The Jackery Solar Generator 1500 is an excellent solution for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and fishing. The bundles contain 4 SolarSaga 100 and 1 SolarSaga 100. Whether you're going camping for a weekend or an extended period, this solar generator is perfect. The Solar Generator 1500 has 3600 peak watts and a big 1534Wh capacity. Thanks to its multiple USB and output connectors, it can power up to 85% of your RV's appliances, including microwaves, refrigerators, lights, power tools, home appliances, and other significant power users.
With a maximum output of 1,002 watt-hours, the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro is a highly-rated portable power generator. With dual PD 100W ports, double 80W solar panels, and two-sided sunlight absorption, the 1000 Pro can be the ideal travel companion for camping, RV trips, and any power outages. AC rapid charging takes 1.8 hours. The foldable handle is made to be portable and take up less room. The improved 80W solar panel is highly suitable for outdoor exploration and power interruptions thanks to its IP68 weatherproof rating. The product has a battery system (BMS) for extremely long battery life and operates silently (46 dB). The movable LED light is designed to meet your outdoor lighting requirements.
Input & Output Ports
Jackery Solar Generator 1500
Explorer 1500 + SolarSaga 100W
3*AC Pure Sine Wave AC outlets, 1*PD 60W USB-C Port, 1*Quick Charge 3.0 Port, 1*USB-A Port, 1*12V car port
14"L x 10.4"W x 12.7"H
Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro
Explorer 1000 Pro + SolarSaga 80W/200W
2* USB-C, 2* 100W PD ports, 3* 1000W AC output ports, 2* USB A, 1* DC car port
12.5"L x 6.1"W x 9.2"H
Camping in Colorado Tips
With so many camping options, it's simple to locate a quiet place to rediscover nature's simplicity and go back to the fundamentals. Camping in a gorgeous place like Colorado can be a lot of fun. However, if you're unprepared, this enjoyable pastime could turn perilous. The next time you go camping in Colorado, use these pointers to stay safe and have a blast.
- When in use, keep all gas heaters and stoves outside. Use only battery-operated lamps inside the tent, and avoid lighting a grill too close to it.
- It's a fallacy that you won't spot any wild creatures at your campground during the day. Since people are familiar with Colorado parks, animals will be safe to approach you in search of food.
- A bug bite can cause more harm than merely being annoying. It may result in illnesses that require months to treat. Always have a bottle of bug spray with you, and use it as needed.
- It can be very hot or chilly in Colorado, depending on when and where you are camping. It might be both, with oppressive heat during the day and cold at night. You should pack additional clothing so that you are ready for weather fluctuations.
Accessible dispersed camping areas, developed campgrounds, and even some locations explicitly designed for glamping enthusiasts may all be found in Colorado. You'll discover the best places to camp in Colorado, whether you float in solitude in a canoe across a serene lake bathed in the early morning sunlight or enjoy the activity of crowded sites with water sports and kid's playgrounds.
With Jackery, you can have a safe and chargeable trip to Colorado! The Jackery portable solar generator converts solar energy into electrical power and then stored for later use. This portable solar generator will keep you constantly powered no matter where you are in Colorado or the type of camping you pick.