5 Best Campgrounds In Colorado

It’s hard to say where the best places for camping in Colorado are located. Our state is full of snow-covered mountain ranges, icy blue lakes, and outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy. 

Whether you prefer dispersed camping or a developed campground (local, state, or national park), you’re sure to find a stunning place for your next adventure.  

What are Dispersed / Primitive Campsites?

Dispersed camping means camping away from a developed campground. You’re literally dispersed in the wilderness! 

Dispersed camping is free, and doesn’t require reservations. Usually the spots are secluded and quiet.

There isn’t typically access to trash cans, drinking water, or showers. You need to bring all your own supplies, and carry out everything you carry in. 

What are Developed / Designated Campsites?

Designated, developed, or established campgrounds are well-established areas with amenities. 

These usually have restrooms, running water, and sometimes even showers. Developed campgrounds require reservations, and typically fill up quickly.

These can get booked up months or more in advance, so you’ll want to do some advanced planning for your trip!

Finding the best places for dispersed or developed camping in Colorado can seem overwhelming, considering there’s an abundance of primitive camping to be found all over the state. 

We’ve done the research for you and listed some of the best camping in Colorado for your next adventure. Let’s start with dispersed campgrounds.

Best Dispersed Campgrounds in Colorado

1. Twin Lakes, Colorado

  • Campsite Name: Twin Lakes Area North

  • Distance From Denver: 120 miles. VIA (which route): I-70 W 

  • Bathroom/facilities: No

  • Top Activities: Fishing, hiking, kayaking, boating, paddle-boarding  

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Twin Lakes, Independence Pass 

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Mount Elbert, Bartlett Gulch Loop Trail 

Photo by: Seth Hughes

Photo by: Seth Hughes

Twin Lakes, Colorado sits at the base of Mount Ebert — Colorado’s highest mountain. This is the perfect town for a romantic, outdoorsy getaway, or for a family who loves to spend time outside and learn about history. 

Photo by: Seth Hughes

Photo by: Seth Hughes

The historic village in town is home to a general store, blacksmith, and schoolhouse from the town’s mining days. You can visit the Shooting Star Gallery to explore the work of local artists, or schedule a 2-hour guided boat tour of Twin Lakes to learn about the town’s history and geology.

Twin Lakes Area North is the best dispersed camping site in the area. It’s completely free, with beautiful views of the lakes and surrounding scenery. And of course easy access to some of the best hiking, fishing, kayaking, or paddleboarding in the state. 

2. Salida, CO

  • Campsite Name: Shavano Wildlife Management Area 

  • Distance From Denver: 143 miles. VIA: US Hwy 285 S 

  • Bathroom/facilities: No

  • Top Activities: Mountain biking, hiking, wildlife viewing 

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Browns Canyon National Monument

  • Top Hike Nearby: Mount Shavano

5 Best Campgrounds in Colorado

Salida, Colorado, is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and is a beautiful mountain town with something for everyone — trails for mountain bikers, white water rafting, three hot springs, and tons of local artisans sharing their goods.

You can camp for free at the Shavano Wildlife Management Area, just 15 minutes outside of the hustle and bustle of Salida. This area is a great spot with lots of campsites available, and any service you need is a short drive away in town.

3. Grizzly Reservoir – Aspen, CO

  • Campsite Name: Portal Campground 

  • Distance From Denver: 155 miles via I-70 W

  • Bathroom/facilities: Vault toilets, picnic table, fire ring

  • Top Activities: Hiking, mountain biking, ATV, fishing 

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Aspen – Maroon Bells, Independence Pass, Ute Trail, Grottos Trail 

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Independence Lake, Lost Man River, La Plata Gulch

5 Best Campgrounds in Colorado

Aspen, Colorado is a world-renowned spot for skiing and snowboarding. But this area also boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. 

In the summer months, there’s plenty of hiking, mountain biking, and fishing in the Aspen area. Or if that’s not your speed, there’s also high-end shopping and fine dining in town to keep you busy while your friends or family hit the trails. Anything in the picturesque town is worth snapping a photo of. 

Grizzly Reservoir is a short distance from Aspen, and is one of our favorite camping destinations. The reservoir has clear blue water, and is a great spot for those who love fishing or relaxing by the water.

There are many trails for ATVs or mountain bikes nearby. Portal Campground is a hidden gem at the Grizzly Reservoir, located just outside of Aspen. And you’re within an hour’s drive from the trailhead for a beautiful day hike. 

4. Kebler Pass – Crested Butte, CO

  • Campsite Name: Kebler Pass Dispersed Camping 

  • Distance From Denver: 198 miles via US HWY 285 S 

  • Bathroom/facilities: No

  • Top Activities: Wildlife viewing, hiking, photography 

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Kebler Pass 

  • Top Hikes Nearby: 3 Lakes Loop, Irwin Lake Loop

Photo by: Bryan Minnear

Photo by: Bryan Minnear

Probably the most rugged option on the list, you can disperse camp anywhere along Kebler Pass Road, right before you get to Lost Lake Road. Find a spot, park your camper, and enjoy the scenery! 

There are no reservations and no services. This is a great spot for those looking to get out into nature and away from the camping crowds.

Kebler Pass connects Crested Butte to Paonia, Colorado, and will take you about two hours to drive from one to the other in either direction. This is an especially beautiful drive in the fall, as the changing colors of the foliage are breathtaking. 

The hikes around Kebler pass are fairly easy and around 3 miles in length, allowing you to take in the foliage without breaking too big of a sweat.

5. Silverton, CO

  • Campsite Name: Anvil Campground 

  • Distance From Denver: 323 miles, VIA: US Hwy 285 S and US 50 W 

  • Bathroom/facilities: No

  • Top Activities: Wildlife-spotting, hiking 

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Columbine Lake and Pass 

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Ice Lake Trailhead, Handies Peak 

Silverton is a small mountain town in Colorado with no shortage of exciting recreational activities — horseback riding, hiking, and white water rafting, to name a few. There’s also a ton to learn about the history of the mining town, which dates back to 1860. 

You’ll love spending your day exploring the outdoors, and cozying up at a brewery or restaurant in town before returning to camp. Visitors love the quaint, small-town feeling of Silverton, with the towering Rockies in every direction.

Just outside of Silverton is the Anvil Campground, a great choice for dispersed camping. The campground is located right next to Mineral Creek, a gushing creek of mountain runoff water. 

The Ice Lake Trailhead (one of the most popular hikes in the area), is in the campground, with the trailhead to Handies Peak, a 14er, close by.

Best DEVELOPED Campgrounds In Colorado

6. Angel of Shavano Campgrounds

  • Name: Angel of Shavano Campground 

  • Reservations Link: Reserve Here

  • Distance From Denver: 151 miles. VIA: US Hwy 285 S 

  • Bathroom/facilities: Vault toilet, drinking water from a hand pump 

  • Top Activities: Water sports, horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking 

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Monarch Crest Scenic Tramway 

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Colorado Trail, Mount Shavano, Blank’s cabin

Named for the image of an angel that becomes visible on the side of the mountain when the snow is melting, this campground is a beautiful secluded spot for those who love a quiet spot in the woods. This spot is surrounded by aspen and spruce trees, and nestled next to the North Fork of the South Arkansas River. 

Angel of Shavano Campground is nearby to Salida, a bustling town with it’s own unique personality! The Colorado Trail begins within this campground, which offers 487 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. 

7. Fruita, CO – 18-Mile Road

  • Name: 18 Road BLM Campground – North Fruita Desert 

  • Reservations Link: First come, first serve 

  • Distance From Denver: 266 miles via I-70 W

  • Bathroom/facilities: Vault toilets, fire ring, picnic table 

  • Top Activities: Mountain Biking 

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Colorado National Monument 

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Rattlesnake Arches, Devil’s Canyon

5 Best Campgrounds in Colorado

Photo by: Trevor Steffensen

Photo by: Trevor Steffensen

18-Mile Road is known for being a mountain biker’s paradise. There are 28 total mountain biking trails here, so no matter your skill level, you’ll be sure to find something that meets your needs.

Best of all, this campground is located right in the middle of the trails, so you can hop on your bike at any time of day and head for the trails. And your adventure companions who aren’t into mountain biking can explore the nearby Colorado National Monument, head for the local hiking trail, or explore the cultural district of Fruita.

8. Bear Lake Campground – La Veta, CO 

  • Name: Bear Lake Campground 

  • Reservations Link: Reserve Here

  • Distance From Denver: 170 miles, 4 hr 18 min. VIA: US-40 W 

  • Bathroom/facilities: Pit toilets, picnic tables, grills, fire ring, drinking water 

  • Top Activities: Lake and stream fishing, hiking

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Culebra Mountain Range, Blue Lake  

  • Top Hikes Nearby: West Spanish Peak Trail, Teddy’s Peak, Indian Creek Trail #1300

Bear Lake Campground is a perfect spot for fishing, as a tributary of the Cuchara River runs right through the grounds. The Indian Creek Trail #1300 is also right in the campground, which gives you access to 23 miles of trail that can be used for ATVs, motorcycles, or regular old hiking. 

Blue Lake is a gentle mile walk up the road for more fishing and pictures of sky-blue water. The campground is surrounded by views of the Culebra Mountain Range, and is within 15 miles of the Spanish Peaks Wilderness area — a great spot for hiking. 

This is a quiet campground near the small town of La Veta, with a picturesque Main Street where you can stroll and check out some local art. 

9. Moraine Park CampgrounD

  • Name: Moraine Park Campground (Rocky Mountain National Park) 

  • Reservations Link: Reserve Here

  • Distance From Denver: 71 miles. VIA: US-36 West 

  • Bathroom/facilities: Flush toilets, picnic tables, fire rings with grates, tent pad, dump station 

  • Top Activities: Trail Ridge Road, wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road, Alberta Falls

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Adams Falls, Deer Mountain, Twin Sisters Peaks

This developed campground is inside Rocky Mountain National Park and is the best camping near Denver on our list.

Inside the park, there are over 355 miles of hiking trails with impressive lakes, gushing waterfalls, and impressive summits. You can view wildlife, take a scenic drive, catch some fish, take a gentle stroll, or get suited up for a challenging hike. 

Rocky Mountain National Park is a great place for families to visit without worrying about a single complaint from their kids about being bored! 

10. Sand Dunes National Park

  • Name: Piñon Flats Campground 

  • Reservations Link: Reserve Here

  • Distance From Denver: 238 miles. VIA: I-25 S

  • Bathroom/facilities: Toilets, food lockers, sinks 

  • Top Activities: Sand sledding, swimming, hiking 

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Sand Dunes National Park, Joyful Journey Hot Springs  

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Star Dune, Zapata Falls

Photo by: Christian Martin

Photo by: Christian Martin

Sandy deserts and dunes aren’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Colorado. But this National Park isn’t a sight to be missed. 

Photo by: Christian Martin

Photo by: Christian Martin

Pinon Flats Campground is right inside this park and gives you stellar views of the huge, rolling dunes that cover 330 square miles. 

Families with kids will love staying at this campground — why sled on snow when you could sled on sand? And Medano Creek fills up at the bottom of the dunes, making it a great place for a refreshing dip in one of the coolest natural pools ever. 

Even without kids, this campground is an incredible place for adults to have a wonderful time hiking the dunes or forest trails within the park. 

You Can’t Go Wrong When Camping in Colorado

For either dispersed or designated camping in Colorado, you’ll want to stay aware of wildlife in the area — especially bears. Research seasonal restrictions for your camping area, especially for building fires, or campground/road closures due to snow. 

Lastly, you’ll always want to check the weather to make sure you have the right clothing and equipment for where you’re going!

Colorado is home to so many beautiful options for a camping trip, and you can find plenty of the best campgrounds that are nearby to your interests. Whether you’re looking to hike, fish, mountain bike, shop, check out art, or any other activities, there’s a camping spot in Colorado where you can stay to do that. 

Before you head out into the wilderness, download our favorite outdoor apps to make the most of your time outside. From finding camp spots to the best hiking and biking locations and more, here are our favorite outdoor adventure apps >