Colorado is home to 4 national parks and 41 state parks. Between the two, they saw around 18 million visitors in 2019!

From biking, fishing, hiking, hunting, birdwatching, and just hanging out in the sunshine in the glory of the high-country, Colorado is truly a gem for nature lovers.

As leaders in adventure travel, our customers frequent the state and national parks to camp, hike, and connect with outdoors. They come with a sense of adventure, and leave with lifetime memories.

But in recent months, due to COVID-19, Colorado’s state and national parks have been all but shut down to visitors.

As adventurers at heart, we understand your eagerness to return to Colorado’s awe-inspiring state and national parks. As of today, we are one step closer to having that become a reality!

But before you head out, it’s important to know which parks are open to campers, and the current rules and regulations in place to keep you, other campers, and park employees safe.

Which Colorado State Parks Are Open for Camping?

As of yesterday (May 11th, 2020), Governor Jared Polis announced that Colorado Parks and Wildlife would begin work to reopen Colorado State Parks beginning Tuesday, May 12th. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the state will conduct a phased reopening of campgrounds, beginning at 50% capacity.

All campers are required to make reservations in advance, and should be sure to adhere to practices to avoid human-to-human contact. That includes:

  • Bringing your meals with you

  • Filling up gas before leaving home

  • Bringing cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items

  • Wearing personal protective equipment 

Camping facilities and structures (including yurts and cabins), playgrounds, picnic areas, and most bathrooms at Colorado State Parks will likely remain unavailable, so plan accordingly. And of course, we always recommend adhering to Leave No Trace principles.

For more good news, many hiking and biking trails are open for use in most state parks! So if you’re unable to reserve a campsite for your chosen dates, you can still enjoy day-use privileges on the trails and open spaces.

We recommend checking out the free Colorado Trail Explorer app COTREX for up-to-date and interactive information if you need help finding a park to explore. You can also filter your search by activity, distance, trail difficulty, and more!

Note: this is a phased reopening. Colorado Parks & Wildlife is finalizing their reopening plans and will share updates on their website as they become available. So, remember to stay flexible in your travel plans, as they work with counties and local public health officials to open safely and cooperatively.

Stay up-to-date on Colorado state park closures and phased reopening by visiting the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website.

Which Colorado National Parks are Open for Camping?

What about National Parks in Colorado? Are they open and can you camp in them now? 

National parks are a part of the federal government’s National Park Service, and don’t adhere to state policies.

As of today, Colorado national parks are closed for camping. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is the only national park in Colorado that is open for visitors, but with some restrictions. Below are the latest updates from the National Park Service.

1. Rocky Mountain National Park 

Rocky Mountain National Park in northern Colorado spans the Continental Divide and encompasses protected mountains, forests, and alpine tundra. It’s known for the Trail Ridge Road and the Old Fall River Road, both gorgeous drives that pass aspen trees and rivers. Wildlife viewing – including abundant elk, moose, and deer – is a highlight!

STATUS: The park closed on March 20th, 2020 and will begin a phased reopening on May 27th. Portions of Moraine Park and Glacier Basin Campgrounds will open on June 4.

Stay up-to-date with Rocky Mountain National Park updates here >

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

2. Great Sand Dunes National Park & PrESERVE

Located in southern Colorado, Great Sand Dunes is known for huge dunes, like the towering Star Dune, and for the seasonal Medano Creek and Beach created at the base of the dunes. The backcountry Medano Pass Primitive Road winds through a canyon toward the Sangre de Cristo mountains. 

STATUS: The park closed to visitors on April 17th, 2020 and will begin phased reopening on June 3rd. Access to Medano Pass Primitive Road (if road conditions allow), including established campsites on a first-come, first-served basis, will reopen on June 3rd. Pinon Flats Campground will remain closed until further notice.

Stay up-to-date with Great Sand Dunes National Park updates here >

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

3. MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK

Mesa Verde National Park, located in southwest Colorado, is known for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, notably the huge Cliff Palace.

STATUS: The park including the Main Park Road, loop roads, and all public facilities closed on March 25th, 2020, and will remain closed until further notice.

Stay up-to-date with Mesa Verde National Park updates here >

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

4. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is in central-western Colorado. It surrounds part of a deep, steep-walled gorge carved through Precambrian rock by the Gunnison River.

STATUS: The park is open to visitors, with certain restrictions. See below.


Beginning May 15th, 2020, the park will reopen access to:  

  • South Rim Drive

  • North Rim – Day Use Only

  • Inner Canyon Routes – Day Use Only (Permits Required)

  • Red Rock Canyon to Permit Holders Only

The following facilities remain closed:

  • All campgrounds

  • Showers

  • Elk Creek Visitor Center 

Stay up-to-date with Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park updates here >

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

While we’ll update this article as often as possible, be sure to check with federal, state, and local agencies before visiting a state or national park. Remember, it’s your responsibility to research and understand the state and federal guidelines, ordinances, and restrictions for outdoor travel while we continue to navigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Park Service and Colorado Parks & Wildlife websites are great resources to consult before you head out on your next adventure. Closures and alerts will be posted online and at the parks until all the facilities reopen.

We’re extremely excited Colorado State Parks have begun their initial phase of reopening! We hope National Parks will be opening up close behind. Nonetheless, when our parks allow for camping and visitors again, be sure to stay safe, responsible, and courteous of other campers.

Next up, we’ll be posting an article with safety tips and how to prepare to camp in national and state parks in this “new normal.” In the meantime, you may be itching to book your next outdoor adventure. Good thing we put together this guide for how to pick the perfect camper van rental for your next camping trip >