best camping in colorado

10 Popular Campgrounds to Explore Colorful Colorado

The moment that you enter the state of Colorado, you may never want to go inside again.

And, luckily, if you go camping in Colorado, you don’t need to. From deserts and canyons to the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, you can curate the Colorado camping experience of your dreams.

After extensive research on campsites across the state of Colorado, we have chosen 10 popular campgrounds around Colorado — from the Front Range to the Western Slopes — to get you started. When camping, always research and prepare for your chosen campsite. And, as always, leave no trace and respect your surroundings.


Note: Due to COVID-19, there may be additional closures or restrictions. When planning your next camping trip, be certain to check with the campground directly for any current restrictions or required reservations.


10 Best Campgrounds in Colorado

Chatfield State Park Campground

best camping in colorado

Location: Littleton, Colorado (45 minutes from Denver)
Campsites: 197 sites in four camping areas — 146 sites are full hookup (water, sewer, and electricity) and the other 51 have electricity only
Fees: $10 daily vehicle park pass and campsite reservations required (prices vary by site)

If you’re looking to experience some of the best camping in Colorado in only a short drive from the state’s largest city, Chatfield State Park Campground is a mere 45-minute drive from Denver. With spacious sites and beautiful views of the lake, you can enjoy a scenic getaway.

Whether you’re a Denver local or are visiting from out of town and want to see the mile-high city, the location of this campground is ideal — not too far from and not too close to the city. The location gives you the freedom to explore surrounding towns or never leave the beautiful rolling hills that surround you.

Notably, there’s an expansive reservoir in Chatfield State Park with options to kayak, paddleboard, canoe, and fish. Along with that, Chatfield State Park is home to a dog park that has 69 acres of open space so your dog can have the romp of his dreams and make some new friends!

Other Features 

  • Open year-round
  • Pets allowed
  • Coin-operated shower and laundry
  • Group camping

Guanella Pass Campground

best camping in colorado

Location: Idaho Springs, Colorado (1 hour from Denver)
Campsites: 18 sites —11 are compatible with RVs and seven are better for tents; each site comes with a picnic table, charcoal grill, and a tent pad
Fees: $21 per night

While you’re in the center of Colorado, there’s no need to feel any land-locked blues. Located in the pine trees and river valleys of Arapahoe National Forest, Guanella Pass Campground is surrounded by endless access and views of numerous 14ers, including Mount Evans.

The campgrounds are accessible by car and on foot. Once you’re settled in, you can head on a hike on the nearby Silver Dollar Lake Trail. Because of the proximity to the lake, the main activities at this campground are hiking and fishing.

The drive to the campgrounds is just as beautiful as the campground itself. Throughout your stay, remember you’re staying at 11,670 feet — stay hydrated! And you can finish your weekend off with a walk through Georgetown, a historic mining town nearby.

Other Features 

  • Scenic drive
  • Pets allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Hand water pump

Cheyenne Mountain State Park Campground

jeffrey beall cheyenne mountain
Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall via Flickr

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado (1 hour and 40 minutes from Denver)
Campsites: 51 full hookup sites, 10 basic tent sites
Fees: $41 for a full hookup campsite, $28 for a basic campsite

This campground sits on top of protected state park land in the Colorado Front Range just outside of Colorado Springs. With that, you’ll get the full essence of nature undisturbed. There is plentiful wildlife throughout the park, and you can explore a diversity of landscapes from plains to forested mountain slopes.

Within Cheyenne Mountain State Park, there are 21 hiking and biking trails to explore. It’s important to note that of those trails, only a few allow dogs — Raccoon Ridge, Acorn Alley, Bobcat Way, and the designated portion of Soaring Kestrel.

Located just south of Colorado Springs, you have easy access to the city, less than a 15-minute drive away. So, before you set up your tent, take a walk around downtown. And perhaps eat some famous Colorado green chile.

Other Features 

  • Open year-round
  • Pets allowed
  • Wheelchair access
  • Coin-operated shower and laundry
  • Picnic tables

Moraine Park Campground

camping in colorado

Location: Estes Park, Colorado (2 hours from Denver)
Campsites: 239 reservable sites
Fees: $25 park entrance fee, $30 per night camping fee

We couldn’t talk about the best camping in Colorado without mentioning a campground in Rocky Mountain National Park. This beautiful campground tucked away within Rocky Mountain National Park is open for camping year-round with limited campsite availability in the winter months.

At this campground, you’ll be surrounded by flourishing valleys and rugged mountain peaks. Your options for outdoor activities are endless. You can hike, fish, or safely observe wildlife from a distance — keep an eye out for the infamous Rocky Mountain elk. Or head out exploring the park on a scenic horseback ride.

Moraine Park is home to Trail Ridge Road — America’s highest continuous highway topping out at 12,183 feet. As you drive along this road, you’ll see evergreen forests and alpine tundras. Of course, keep your eyes on the road if you’re the driver! The town of Estes Park is just outside the east entrance of the park. There, you can find dining, shopping, and other outdoor activities.


Note: To enter Rocky Mountain National Park, visitors will need a timed entry permit, entrance pass, and camping reservation.


Other Features 

  • Open year-round
  • Amphitheater
  • Toilets
  • Wheelchair access

Angel of Shavano Campground 

camping sites in colorado
Photo credit: David Herrera via Flickr

Location: Salida, Colorado (3 hours from Denver)
Campsites: 20 individual campsites — first-come, first-serve (no reservations are accepted)
Fees: $20 per site, $6 for a third vehicle (cash, check, or money order)

This “hidden gem” of a campground is, as some have said, one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets. So we’re trusting you with it! When planning your trip, make sure to find a weekend between June 1 and September 24 to camp at the Angel of Shavano Campground, located inside the San Isabel National Forest.

With only 20 campsites, camping here is quaint and stunning. You’ll find yourself surrounded by aspen and spruce trees situated along the south Arkansas River. Be sure to grab your fishing gear for trout fishing. At the base of Shavano Mountain, there are numerous beaver ponds.

Overall, the campsites are best suited for tent camping, but the campground can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 30 feet in length. It’s important to note that there is a maximum of eight people allowed per campsite. If you want to hike, bike, or horseback ride, the Colorado Trail begins in this campground.

Other Features:  

  • Picnic tables
  • Fire ring with grill
  • Trout fishing
  • Leashed pets allowed

Silver Bell Campground

best camping in colorado

Location: Aspen, Colorado (3 hours and 40 minutes from Denver)
Campsites: 14 campsites, first-come, first-serve
Fees: $15 per night for a single site; 5-day car pass for $5

The Maroon Bells are some of the most picturesque mountains in the world. Silver Bell Campground, situated right at the banks of Maroon Creek, is often touted as one of the most picturesque campgrounds around. Located in White River National Forest, Silver Bell Campground is the dream camping spot in Colorado right on the banks of Maroon Creek.

Each season has something beautiful to offer. Spring brings abundant wildflowers. Summer brings access to endless hikes. And fall brings autumn colors unlike any you’ve ever seen before. Notably, the wilderness that this campground is in is one of the five original Colorado wilderness areas, designated by the 1964 Wilderness Act. The open season for this campground is between May and October.

Even during the summer months, be prepared for sudden weather changes, including snow. If you do get caught driving in the snow, use caution. Most of the campsites are first-come, first-served, and the campsite typically fills up by noon during peak season.

Come with plenty of water and battery-operated gear, as water and electricity are not provided at this primitive campground. Once you snag a spot, you have opportunities to mountain climb, fish, and hike. Along with that, the drives to and from the campsite offer scenic views as well. And if you just want to relax, sitting and just watching nature from your campsite is well worth the visit.

Other Features 

  • Leashed pets allowed
  • Food storage lockers
  • Vault toilets

Piñon Flats Campground

best camping sites in colorado

Location: Alamosa, Colorado (4 hours from Denver)
Campsites: 86 reservable campsites able to accommodate tents or RVs
Fees: $20 per night

Within the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Piñon Flats Campground is a memorable location for all sorts of outdoor activities. From dunes to vibrant streams to high mountain peaks, this place will leave you speechless. Keep an eye out for mule deer and wildflowers in season, as they’re both plentiful in the area. And when it gets dark out, enjoy stargazing under the fabulous night sky.

The campsites are typically quite shaded and private. You can rent sandboards to slide down the dunes for a very unique and memorable experience. Or you can simply head out for a hike to explore these stunning sand dunes.

Reservations are required, and this campground is open from the beginning of April to the end of October. The campsites have a maximum capacity of eight people, two tents, and two vehicles. There are a few campsites equipped to hold RVs up to 25 feet in length.

Black bears are relatively common in this area, so use precautions, including storing all food in the bearproof containers provided at each campsite.

Other Features 

  • Full-service restrooms
  • Fire grate and picnic table
  • Leashed pets allowed
  • Wheelchair access
  • Campground convenience store

Saddlehorn Campground

colorado national monument

Location: Grand Junction, Colorado (4 hours and 30 minutes from Denver)
Campsites: 80 sites (seven-person site limit, three tents per site, and two vehicles per site)
Fees: $22 camping fee, $15 monument entrance fee

No, this is not the Grand Canyon — these gargantuan rock formations are in western Colorado. And you can enjoy them from Saddlehorn Campground, high on the Colorado Plateau in the Colorado National Monument Park. And as you’re soaking in the views of canyons, be sure to also look to the sky for the chance to spot soaring eagles.

Throughout the park, you’ll find a good amount of shade as a result of the many pinyons and juniper trees. This campground is a paradise for all outdoor enthusiasts — hikers, cyclists, motor enthusiasts, geologists, and photographers. Also, if you’re an experienced climber, there are plenty of places for you to take on the towering sandstone.

Leave your fire logs at home, because wood fires are prohibited throughout the park. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, backcountry camping is permitted — you just need to obtain a free backcountry permit at the visitor center.

The campground is located close to three cities — Grand Junction, Fruita, and Palisade. All three have a lot to offer if you have the time to visit them.

Other Features 

  • Open year-round
  • Restrooms
  • Leashed pets allowed (not allowed on hiking trails, only on paved surfaces)
  • Picnic areas and charcoal grill
  • Bookstore

Oh Be Joyful Campground 

crested butte

Location: Crested Butte, Colorado (5 hours from Denver)
Campsites: 30 campsites — 15 walk-in tent campsites, 14 RV campsites, one group campsite
Fees: $10 per night for a designated site, $5 per night for an overflow site, and $30 per night for a group campsite

If the name alone doesn’t convince you to immediately load your car up and head to Oh Be Joyful Campground, there are plenty of other things that will make you want to run, not walk, to one of the best camping spots in Colorado! It’s situated near the Oh Be Joyful Creek — a prime spot to see wildflowers along the creek’s multiple cascades.

The campground itself is right on the east side of the Slate River. To get to this campsite, the road is rather windy and steep. With that, we’d recommend an AWD or 4WD vehicle with high clearance to get to the campsite and cross the Slate River.

The main activities around this campground include fishing, water activities, hiking, and motorized recreational use. Of course, if those aren’t your activities of choice, take out your current book, grab your camera to capture amazing photos, or birdwatch until it’s time to stargaze.

The campsite is near Crested Butte, so you can also head to town to grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants before heading home.

Other Features 

  • Vault restrooms
  • Open year-round
  • Wheelchair access
  • Pets allowed
  • Picnic tables and fire pits

Molas Lake Park & Campground

molas lake
Photos Credit: Lox & Cream Cheese via Flickr

Location: Silverton, Colorado (6 hours and 40 minutes from Denver)
Campsites: 57 campsites
Fees: $20-60 per night depending on the type of campsite

First off, Molas Lake Campground was once rated the Most Scenic Campground by AAA. Unlike most campgrounds, Molas Lake Campground provides descriptions for each of its 57 sites. You could go to Molas Lake 57 different times and have a unique experience every time!

Take advantage of the large lake to canoe, kayak, or paddleboard using onsite rentals. If you’re a mountain biker, head out on the Colorado Trail toward Durango. The trail leaves right from the campground. Do be aware of the altitude — because of the elevation of over 10,000 feet, pace yourself with strenuous activity.

If you’re in the area and just want to spend the day at the campground, there are four free day-use areas. All of the day-use sites include a picnic table and a BBQ grill. After spending the day there, finish off your visit with a stop at the city of Silverton.

Other Features 

  • Leashed pets allowed
  • Fishing (with license)
  • Camp general store
  • Showers

Honorable Mentions

Glamping in Colorado

glamping

We couldn’t talk about the best camping in Colorado without mentioning glamping. Luxury camping has been on the rise for several years now. And Colorado has a lot to offer in that sphere.

The website GlampingHub features options to experience the beauty of the Colorado wilderness and stay in a stunning cabin or a luxury tent.

Colorado State Park Yurts

best camping in colorado

Doesn’t the word “yurt” just sound wonderful? Many Colorado State Parks provide campers with the option to rent a yurt. And to that I say, “What are you yurting for?” OK, that doesn’t quite work, but you get what I mean.

Some of the parks with yurts include Golden Gate Canyon, Pearl Lake, and Ridgeway. If you love being in nature but want a little extra security and a few more amenities, a yurt could be the perfect solution.

River Run Resort 

river run
Photo via River Run Website

Located in Granby, Colorado, this camping resort is essentially the Disney World of camping experiences. The property features tent campgrounds, RV campgrounds, vacation rentals, Conestoga wagons, Airstreams, and yurts.

The amenities are endless — a general store, multiple restaurants, a bowling alley, an arcade, a sports court, an amphitheater, an off-leash dog park, hot tubs, and a wellness center. If you want to go camping but not rough it, this resort-style experience is waiting for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the essential equipment for camping?

To fully experience the best camping in Colorado, you want to be prepared. So we’ve made it as easy as possible to get your camping gear together by compiling a printable checklist. Along with that, we’ve also covered, in detail, why you need the gear for your upcoming camping trip.

Here’s some of the most important equipment:

What is the best season for camping in Colorado?

While all seasons have their perks, fall has some distinct advantages for camping in Colorado with cooler weather, fewer bugs, smaller crowds, and generally lower prices. On the flipside, depending on your elevation, you can encounter unanticipated changes in temperature or even early snowfall.

By comparison, summer is undoubtedly the most popular season for camping. With its popularity, you may find it more difficult to find available campsites. You can expect campgrounds to be full and the temperatures to be warmer. Although, typically on even the hottest days, by the nighttime, the mountain breeze cools everything down.

Spring can be a difficult time to camp, as the weather is still unpredictable, allergies are problematic, and there are a lot of bugs. Between snowmelt and mud, not all campsites are open or optimal. But the wildflowers are perhaps most beautiful, and you’ll enjoy cooler weather.

Lastly, some folks enjoy the challenge and endurance it takes to camp in the winter. If you do camp in the winter, it’s important to know how to stay safe and warm and to choose your campsite accordingly.

In short, there’s no perfect answer to what season is the “best” for camping in Colorado. It comes down to what you’re looking for in a camping experience.

How can you protect yourself from wildlife while camping?

If you’re choosing a dispersed campsite, keep a couple of things in mind to help deter unwanted animals. Typically, you’ll want to find a flat and open campsite. And if there’s a water source (such as a lake or stream), be sure to camp farther away from it, as water will attract animals.

In Colorado, it’s important to store food correctly to avoid any incidents with bears or other animals. With that, leave no trace after meals and store all your food in a bear vault whenever possible. Along with that, leave any products with unnatural smells at home. This includes scented lotions and sometimes deodorant.

Overall, be aware of your surroundings and pack the necessary gear to protect yourself from wildlife. More often than not, if you keep your distance, so will they.

How do I secure my dog while camping?

Your dog absolutely wouldn’t want to miss out on camping with you, and there’s no reason you have to leave your pup at home! After all, camping is more fun with your dog. GearJunkie has compiled some tips and tricks for camping with a dog.

Overall, you’ll want to make sure your chosen campsite allows pets, keep your dog leashed at all times, and always pick up after your dog. And make sure there are no holes in your tent and that the tent is fully zipped at night.

Joybeth Sullivan
By

Joybeth is a brand new resident of Denver, Colorado, recently graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in English and Entertainment & Media Studies. You can find her anywhere outside with beautiful sights alongside her German Shepherd companion, Jasper. She loves all things photography, film, and poetry. And, hopefully, she'll be hiking a fourteener the very near future!

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