There are more than 13000 campsites in Colorado, run by private and public enterprises. They range from 'primitive', with no water or other basics, to full service, including electrical hookups, laundry and shower facilities. There are 14 million acres of state run parks covering mountains, lakes, rivers and valleys. Most public campgrounds are located at high altitudes and offer minimal support during the winter off season, which is usually from mid-October to mid-May. Pets are allowed at some venues but not where they are likely to impact on the local wildlife. The ethos of all campers in these conservation areas should be to leave no trace of their visits.
1.Arapaho Bay Campground
This campground is approximately 100 miles northwest of Denver. It is situated on Lake Granby and is part of the Arapaho National Recreational Area. The Rocky Mountains National Park lies to the north. There are 84 single and family-sized campsites, each with picnic tables and campfire rings. None of the campsites have electrical hookups. The campground is in a lodgepole pine forest and is open all year round. However, in winter months campers need to be self-sufficient as there are no toilet facilities or trash removal. Activities include swimming, boating, hiking and fishing for salmon and trout.
77 Arapaho Bay Rd, Granby, CO 80446
2.Aspen Glade Campground
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Aspen Glade is part of the Rio Grande National Forest and is situated in southern Colorado, on the fast-flowing Conejos River. It is a quiet campground with active birdlife, bears, deer and elks. It has achieved Gold Medal status as a trout fishing destination. The large, quality trout are a drawcard for fly fishermen. There are 32 campsites, without electricity. Some are in a shaded area, lightly wooded with Ponderosa Pine trees. Others are among the spruce, aspen and fir trees. The scenic Forest Road 250 affords view of the Conejos River and Canyon. Nearby is the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad which traverses 64 miles of abandoned mining villages.
23750 State Highway 17, Antonito, Co 81120, Phone: 435-245-6521
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Camp Dick is a Civilian Conservation Camp that was set up in the 1930s and is part of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. It is situated in a glacial valley, on the banks of the Middle Sain Vrain Creek. The habitat is mixed conifer, aspen forest and open meadow. There are 20 campsites for tents and RVs, each with picnic tables and grills. It is a popular destination for fly fishermen, hikers and mountain bikers. The Rocky Mountain National Park is 25 miles away and there are several scenic drives in the area. The nearest town is Allenspark which has a restaurant and grocery store.
Lyons, CO 80540, Phone: 303-541-2500
Cascade Campground is in Chaffee County, near Cascade Falls, a mile west of Chalk Lake and five miles from a private hot springs resort. It is situated in a dense forest of Douglas firs and aspens, 9000 feet above sea level. There are fifteen 14000 foot mountains in the area. Stream fishing is best above the falls and Chalk Lake is a popular with anglers of all ages, for its brook, brown and rainbow trout stocks. There are 21 campsites, with picnic and ablution facilities, 8 of which are 'walk-up', first come, first serve sites. Nearby are off-road vehicle trails and the ghost town of St Elmo.
5575 Cleora Rd, Salida, Co 81201, Phone: 719-539-3591
5.Cheyenne Mountain State Park
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This campsite is 77 miles due south of Denver and is open all year round. There are 28 miles of hiking trails in the park, some of which are suitable for horse riding, mountain biking and walking pets. The Visitor Center hosts exhibits of the area and sells souvenirs and snacks. There are 51 full-serviced sites and 10 tent sites. Amenities, such as a playground, activity room, coin-operated showers and laundry operate only from mid-April to mid-October. Several ranger-led programs are scheduled to entertain younger campers. The annual 'Leave No Child Inside' program offers workshops, craft lessons, campfire activities and field trips.
410 JL Ranch Heights, Colorado Springs, Phone: 719-576-2016
6.Crawford State Park
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The 760 acre Crawford State Park was established in 1964 on the shores of the Crawford Reservoir. The 400 acre lake is a popular destination for camping, swimming, fishing and other water sports. Water-skiing, motor boating and jet skiing are typical summer weekend pursuits. Scuba diving is permitted anywhere that is safe with the proviso that a diving flag marks the spot. Two miles of trails, suitable for hiking, mountain biking and watching birds and wildlife, have been marked out. There are several ecosystems in the park, such as woodlands, sagebrush, grasslands and wetlands.
40468 Hwy 92, Crawford, Phone: 970-921-5721
Difficult campground is situated in the White River National Forest, 5 miles southeast of Aspen, on Highway 82. Many people camp there in order to visit the city or to attend events there. It is also popular for excursions to Independence Pass, when it is open, and fly fishing in the Roaring Fork River. There are 45 single and double camping sites at an elevation of 8180 feet. Many of the sites are shaded by Aspens and some are situated on the river bank. There are more than 2000 miles of forest road and trails to explore.
900 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, CO 81601, Phone: 877-444-6777
, Sedona AZ
8.Jefferson Creek Campground
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Jefferson Creek is a pleasant fishing destination, surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery. The campsite is at 10000 feet above sea level, on a ridge overlooking the creek. It is close to Jefferson Lake which is renowned for its trout stocks. From here, hikers have access to the 471 mile Colorado Trail that runs from Denver to Durango. The local West Jefferson Loop Trail is 11 miles long. The South Park City open air museum is close by. There are 44 buildings and 60000 artifacts to see in this former mining town, depicting life from 1860 to 1910.
Co Rd 37, Breckenridge, CO 80424, Phone: 719-748-3619
9.Lathrop State Park
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Lathrop was established in 1962 and was Colorado's first state park. It is close to the New Mexico border, approximately 170 miles dues south of Denver, in the shadow of the Spanish Peaks. There are two lakes in the park. The warm water Martin Lake has a beach and is popular with swimmers. Horseshoe Lake is known for tiger muskie fishing but there are several other species to be caught including rainbow trout, bass and catfish. Lathrop is the only state park with a golf course. There is a restaurant at the course. There are 103 campsites, some with electrical hookups.
70 Country Road 502, Walsenburg, Phone: 719-738-2376
, Michigan beaches
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This campground is situated at the western end of Turquoise Lake, about 100 miles southwest of Denver. It is situated in a shaded lodgepole pine forest, at 9900 feet above sea level, with panoramic views of the lake and the Holy Cross and Mount Massive Wilderness areas. The Turquoise Lake Trail is 6.4 km long and runs parallel to the shoreline. A variety of plant and animal species can be seen along the way, possibly chipmunks, beavers and porcupines. There are remnants of mining activity evident along the trail. The Timberline Lake trailhead is close by, with access to the Colorado Trail.
810 Front Street, Leadville, Co 80461, Phone: 719-486-0749
11.Mountain Park Recreation Area
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The campsite is set on the banks of the Cache la Poudre River, shaded by a Ponderosa pine forest. It is part of the Arapho and Roosevelt National Forest and is surrounded by steep mountains. The conditions on the river are conducive to white water rafting and trout fishing. Hiking, mountain biking and horse riding are popular pursuits on the Mt McConnell and William. R Kreutzer National Recreation Trails which are close by. There are 32 campsites with electrical hookups and a group site which can accommodate up to 75 people. There are volleyball and basketball courts, a horseshoe pit and playgrounds on the premises.
Hwy 14, Bellevue, Co 80512, Phone: 970-295-6700
12.Mueller State Park
Mueller State Park is south of Denver and close to Colorado Springs. The 5000 acre park has a range of habitats, including meadows, forest ridges, massive rock outcrops and several ponds. Wildlife such as black bear, elks, mule deer and hawks, abound. The Visitors' Center, below Pikes Peak has a display of hand-painted panels of the surrounding mountains which enable visitors to get their bearings. The Rock Road trail starts at the center. The friends of Mueller State Park have regular fundraising events such as the Spring Art Festival and fine arts and photography shows. Pets are allowed in the park but not where they could encounter wildlife.
21045 CO-67, Divide, CO 80814, Phone: 719-687-2366
13.Painted Rocks Campground
This campground is situated in PSICC (Pike and San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands), which covers almost 3 million acres of western Kansas and Colorado's highest peaks along the Continental Divide. Colorado Springs is 30 miles to the southeast. The campground is in a grassy meadow, shaded by Ponderosa pines, at 7800 feet above sea level. It is half a mile from the Centennial Bike Trail and a further five miles to Manitou Lake, a popular boating and fishing venue. For off-road enthusiasts, the Rainbow Falls and North Divide OHV Trail Systems are close by.
601 S. Weber St., Colorado Springs, Co 80903, Phone: 719-636-1602
The campground is located in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, which is in a sheltered glacial valley and forms part of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. It is just off the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, west of Boulder and 35 miles from the Rocky Mountains National Park. The campground is situated at an elevation of 10350 feet, at the foot of the Continental Divide. It is often cold and wet with lingering snow packs and is only open from June to September. There are 47 camping sites with basic amenities. It is a popular destination for fishing, kayaking, rock climbing and winter sports. Trails nearby provide access to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.
Brainard Lake Rd, Ward, CO 80481, Phone: 303-541-2500
15.Platte River Campground
This small campground is in the PSICC (Pike and San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands), midway between Denver and Colorado Springs. It is at the end of Highway 67, on the Platte River. Goods need to be carried to the campsite. There are 10 sites for tents only, with no amenities, water or toilet facilities. Each site has a picnic table and a campfire pit and grill. The host is at Lone Rock Campground, 9 miles down the highway. It is a fly fishing destination and is open from May to early September.
CO-67, Deckers, CO 80135, Phone: 303-275-5610
16.Rainbow Lakes Campground
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The campground is located at the end of Rainbow Lakes Road, 57 miles northwest of Denver, at an elevation of 10000 feet. The road is the only access to the campground and is closed for much of the year. The Rainbow Lakes are 9 small ponds, a mile from the campground. They are stocked with rainbow trout. The Arapaho Glacier Trail starts at the campground which is also close to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. There are 18 campsites, some of which require goods to be carried in. It is a primitive but popular destination, with no amenities, water or toilet facilities.
2140 Yarmouth Ave, Boulder, CO 80301, Phone 303-541-2500
The Redstone campground is located on a ridge overlooking the Crystal River. It is part of the 2.3 million acre White River National Forest which incorporates eight wilderness areas and 10 peaks above 14000 feet. The river is stocked with trout and the rock outcrops are home to Bighorn sheep and other alpine wildlife. The hike up Mt Sopris is 14.8 mile long, peaking at 12953 feet. There are 37 widely spaced campsites, suitable for tents, trailers and RVs. Seventeen of the sites have electricity hookups. The Valley of the Coal Miners is close by.
CO-133, Carbondale, CO 8162, Phone: 970-927-0107
18.Reverends Ridge Campground
Reverend's Ridge is in a remote location in the Golden State Canyon State Park, at the base of the Rocky Mountain National Park, 35 miles northwest of Denver. There are 97 campsites, 59 of which have power. Bookings are made by reservation only. The park also offers back country camping, cabins, yurts and guest houses. From the Panorama Point Scenic Outlook, visitors can see 100 miles of the Continental Divide. The fishing ponds are well stocked and there are several hiking trails. The campground is open from Memorial Day weekend to mid-September.
92 Crawford Gulch Road, Golden, Phone: 303-582-3707
19.Ridgway State Park
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Known as the 'Switzerland of America, this park in southwest Colorado has 258 campsites, 25 of which are remotely situated. Alternative accommodation includes yurts which sleep six people and have electricity and basic appliances. The park is popular as a wedding venue and can accommodate up to 250 in two large picnic areas, close to each other. There are also conference facilities, sufficient for 40 people. There are hiking paths, fishing spots and 14 miles of biking trails The area has a vibrant bird population, including raptors, water fowls, shorebirds and summer breeders.
28555 Highway 550, Ridgway, Phone: 970-626-5822
20.Rim Rock Campground
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Rim Rock is a privately owned campground in northwest Colorado, which is attractive to retirees and hunters. The campsites are leased by the day, week or month and are available all year. Campers have access to showers and a laundry. It is situated below rocky cliffs, overlooking the White River valley. The shaded grass-covered sites are close to birds, grazing deer and other wildlife. The bald eagle has been spotted in the area. In nearby Meeker, residents can visit the White River Museum or hike some of the 78 miles of trails in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area.
73179 Highway 64, Meeker, CO 81641, Phone: 970-878-4486
21.Rocky Mountain National Park
Glaciers were largely responsible for shaping the Rocky Mountains landscape which forms part of the Continental Divide. Large tracts of land were purchased by the state in 1803 and hunters and trappers operated on the periphery. The 1859 gold rush brought miners to the area. They were followed by homesteaders and ranchers who were drawn by the mountain water. The Rocky Mountain National Park Act of 1915 set the boundaries, incorporating some private lands. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps built campgrounds, roads, trails and bridges. There are 415 square miles of which 250000 acres have been declared wilderness areas. More than 4.5 million people visit the park annually.
1000 US Hwy 36, Estes Park, CO 80517, Phone: 970-586-1206
Saddlehorn is the only campground in the Colorado National Monument, with its towering sandstone and granite monoliths, vast plateaus and 400-500 foot cliffs. The Grand Mesa, in the park, is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. The Rim Rock Drive climbs up high, where Bighorn sheep and eagles live, and affords travelers panoramic views of the canyons. Most of the 20500 acres are wild territory. There are no showers or electrical hookups in the campground and campers need to bring their own drinking water as the selenium content in the mountain run-off is too high for human consumption.
1750 Rim Rock Drive, Fruita, CO 81521, Phone: 970-858-3617 x360
23.State Forest State Park
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There are almost 200 campsites, spread across five venues, in this 71000 acre, north central Colorado state-run park. There are also cabins, ranging from rustic to deluxe, and seven yurts in the park. There is much to do in any season in the park, including hunting, horse riding, fishing and a variety of winter sports. Birdlife and other wild animals abound and more than 2000 moose were introduced into the park. There are several miles of set trails and backcountry hiking is also permitted. Lake Agnes, one of many alpine lakes in the park, is located at 10600 feet and is a mile's hike away.
56750 Highway 14, Walden, Phone: 970-723-8366
24.Sylvan Lake State Park
This is a small park, about 140 miles due west of Denver. The 42 acre lake is used for trout fishing, canoeing and kayaking. OHVs are allowed on the forest roads but not in winter, when ice skating, ice fishing and other winter sports are appealing. Accommodation facilities include single and group campsites, cabins and yurts. The park is surrounded by the White River National Park and the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. Other attractions nearby include the Eagle and Colorado Rivers which have rapids suitable for white water rafting. The canyon, hot springs and adventure park at Glenwood are drawcards to the area.
10200 Brush Creek Rd, Eagle, CO 81631, Phone: 970-328-2021
This campground is part of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. It is located on the Laramie River at the confluence with one of its tributaries, in a mature lodgepole pine forest. Unfortunately, the mountain pine beetle has killed off many trees so the campground is less shaded than in the past and there are warnings to look out for fallen trees. There are 49 sites with basic amenities and some have bear lockers. The campground is ideal for stream fishing and is popular with hikers who head into the Rawah wilderness.
2150 Centre Avenue, Building E, Fort Collins, CO 80526, Phone: 970-295-6600
25 Best Camping Spots in Colorado
- Arapaho Bay Campground, Photo: cenchild/stock.adobe.com
- Aspen Glade Campground, Photo: Robin Nolan/stock.adobe.com
- Camp Dick, Photo: Juan Llauro/stock.adobe.com
- Cascade Campground, Photo: cherryandbees/stock.adobe.com
- Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Photo: New Africa/stock.adobe.com
- Crawford State Park, Photo: Uwalthie Pic Project/stock.adobe.com
- Difficult Campground, Photo: esmehelit/stock.adobe.com
- Jefferson Creek Campground, Photo: Jacob Lund/stock.adobe.com
- Lathrop State Park, Photo: New Africa/stock.adobe.com
- May Queen, Photo: Andrey Armyagov/stock.adobe.com
- Mountain Park Recreation Area, Photo: New Africa/stock.adobe.com
- Mueller State Park, Photo: moodboard/stock.adobe.com
- Painted Rocks Campground, Photo: evannovostro/stock.adobe.com
- Pawnee Campground, Photo: kikovic/stock.adobe.com
- Platte River Campground, Photo: Shutter2U/stock.adobe.com
- Rainbow Lakes Campground, Photo: Soloviova Liudmyla/stock.adobe.com
- Redstone Campground, Photo: wavebreak3/stock.adobe.com
- Reverends Ridge Campground, Photo: YY&L/stock.adobe.com
- Ridgway State Park, Photo: Andrey Armyagov/stock.adobe.com
- Rim Rock Campground, Photo: Tomasz Zajda/stock.adobe.com
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Photo: Photo-maxx/stock.adobe.com
- Saddlehorn Campground, Photo: Elena/stock.adobe.com
- State Forest State Park, Photo: Juan Llauro/stock.adobe.com
- Sylvan Lake State Park, Photo: kaninstudio/stock.adobe.com
- Tunnel Campground, Photo: stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: luckybusiness/stock.adobe.com