Best Campsites in Colorado

by Emily Morgan
best-campsites-in-colorado

When it comes to camping in some of America’s most awe-inspiring locations, few can compare to Colorado. With incredible diversity in climate and landscape, it’s no wonder Colorado draws in millions of visitors every year to their thousands of campsites. From the looming Rocky Mountains to the grand rock formations at the Garden of the Gods, the state truly has breathtaking views everywhere you look.

If you ask us at Outsider, one of the best ways to experience all that Colorado has to offer is to spend a few nights camping out under the stars. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, and if you need help choosing the perfect spot to pitch your tent, we’re here to help.

With more than 13,000 campsites in the sate, visitors can experience the grandeur of the state’s wilderness areas easily. With so many campground locations, it’s easy to find a spot to revisit the simplicity of nature. Below we’ve listed our favorite places to go camping while visiting the Centennial State.

Moraine Park Campground

For those who want the quintessential Colorado views

Location: Located on the east side of the Rocky Mountain National Park and accessed from Bear Lake Road at US-36, Estes Park, CO 80517
Campground Contact: (970) 586-1206
Park Hours: 24 hours a day
Campground Website

Moraine Park is one of five campgrounds located inside Rocky Mountain National Park and is the largest campground in the park. When it comes to views, this campground delivers. It offers incredible views of Moraine Park and the mountain peaks surrounding it, including Long’s Peak, the tallest mountain in the park at 14,258 feet. With over 200 places to pitch a tent, each site offers campers breathtaking views of the nearby mountains. Despite the campground’s vastness, it doesn’t feel large. The nearby hills do a stellar job of secluding the campground and isolating parts from one another; you can only see campsites in your area or loop.

In addition, it’s also a gem for wildlife viewing. You can enjoy sipping on your early morning coffee while you watch elk, moose, black bears, and long-horned sheep graze nearby.

What You Need to know About Campsites in Moraine

It’s good to know that both tent and RV camping (up to 40 feet) is permitted here, however, there are no hookups. Potable water is also available, and vault toilet facilities are provided for use all year round. Flushable toilets are open for the summer months. However, it’s pertinent that you make your reservations in advance, especially if you want to camp in the summer.

Campground Breakdown
• 87 RV/tent sites: $30 per night
• 70 hike-in/hike-out sites: $30 per night
• 79 tent-only sites: $30 per night
• Three ADA sites are available for campers with a disability

Moraine Park Amenities: Flush toilets, sinks, potable water, shower stalls for hangable solar showers (bring your own), firewood, an amphitheater, tent pad, fire ring with grate, picnic table, shared food storage.

Reserve a Moraine Park campsite here

Angel of Shavano Campground

For those who crave solitude

Location: Located inside the San Isabel National Forest near Salida
Campground Contact: (719) 539-3591
Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Campground Website

Boasted as one of the state’s best camping secrets, Angel of Shavano is the ideal location for those who want to get back to nature and escape the crowds when camping in Colorado. Sitting at an elevation of 9,200 feet, the campground is densely-wooded, offering a truly memorable retreat where you can enjoy priceless moments of solitude and peacefulness. 

Spend your days mountain biking or hiking along the 486-mile Colorado Trail, which runs beside the campground. For anglers, drop a line at the nearby North Fork Reservoir to catch some local rainbow and brook trout. 

No Reservation Required at Angel of Shavano

Due to its location, the first-come-first-serve basis and reservations aren’t accepted. The good thing is, the campground isn’t usually not too crowded, making it relatively easy to snag a spot. However, during peak camping season (post-Memorial Day to Pre-Labor Day,) it might be harder to find a spot so be sure to plan accordingly.

Campground Breakdown
• 20 sites: $22 per night
• 2 cars allowed per site
• One RV allowed per site, up to 30 feet
• 1 group site that can accommodate up to 100 people and 12-14 vehicles
• No hookups

Angel of Shavano Amenities:  Picnic shelter, tables, six pedestal grills, a campfire circle with benches, vault toilets and trash collection, drinking water available at the nearby family campground, leashed dogs allowed

Learn more about the Angel of Shavano campsite here

Guanella Pass campground

For those who love history

Location: Located inside the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests near Idaho Springs, Colorado
Campground contact: : (303) 567-3000
Park Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Campground Website

Guanella Pass Campground is located about seven miles south of Georgetown and is also on the South Fork of Clear Creek on the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway. Additionally, the campground is located at an elevation of 10,900 feet on the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest. While camping, enjoy fishing in the crystal clear waters and hiking miles and miles of well-marked trails. Meanwhile, if you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy learning that the Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway follow an old wagon route that linked the mining towns of Georgetown and Grant, Colorado.

The campground is also near the Pawnee National Grasslands, which is nestled along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Nearby attractions also welcome visitors to the historic Georgetown, a former mining town of about 1,000 residents. In addition, other ghost towns frequent the region. 

Campground Breakdown:
• 7 tent sites: $23 per night
• 11 RV sites: $23 per night
• Each site accommodates up to eight people
• The campground is split into two loops by the county road and South Clear Creek

Guanella Pass Campground Amenities:  Tent pads, picnic tables, fire ring, charcoal grills, the facility provides hand pumps with potable water, vault toilets, and trash dumpsters, leashed pets allowed

Reserve a Guanella Pass Campsite here

Silver Bar Campground

For those who want to be inside a fairytale

Location: Near the Maroon Bells mountains, located five miles southwest of Aspen
Campground Contact: (970) 963-2266
Park Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Campground Website

The Maroon Bells are two of the most photographed mountains not just in Colorado but in all of North America. Rising more than 14,000 feet above sea level just south of idyllic Aspen, the twin peaks are lined with snow all summer long.

Trees shoot out of the hillsides, while the Maroon Lake provides a dreamy mirror that looks like a painting thanks to its postcard-style reflection.

As for camping, you cannot get much closer to the Maroon Bells than the Silver Bar Campground, which sits directly on the banks of Maroon Creek. Adjacent to the Maroon Bells Welcome Station, this basic campground may be short on flashy amenities, but it makes up for it with its views and proximity. There is no room for RVs here, but backpackers and car campers will find plenty of space. In addition, it’s only a short five miles from Aspen if you need to stock up on supplies. However, best sure to pack a jacket as snow is possible even in the warmest months.

Campground Breakdown:
• 4 tent sites: $15 per night plus $10 parking fee
• Each site accommodates eight people and two tents
• RVs welcome at the standard sites
• No water or electric hookups available
• Some sites accessible via boat

Silver Bar Campground Amenities: Picnic tables, vault toilets, food storage lockers (bear boxes), campfire rings, leashed pets allowed

Reserve a Silver Bar Campsite here

Piñon Flats Campground

For those who want an experience unlike all others

Location: Situated in the Great Sand Dunes National Park, near Mosca
Campground Contact: (719) 378-6395
Park Hours: 24 hours per day, campground closed from November 1 to March 31
Campground Website

Piñon Flats campground dates back six decades ago and is perfect for direct access to trails leading to the park’s iconic dunes. The dunes, which are also the tallest in North America, acts as the centerpiece of the park’s diverse landscape of wetlands, grasslands, alpine lakes, tundra, and forests. In addition, a wide variety of grasses and wildflowers can be found throughout the area, and visitors often report seeing mule deer in and around the campground.

Piñon Flats: Perfect for Ameteur Astronomists

After spending the day traversing the miles of trails, your trip will really light up when you return to the campground for some stargazing. After the sun sets, peer up at the star-filled sky or also enjoy a moonlit walk across the dunes as a full moon provides your light. If you’re lucky enough to camp when the Medano Creek breaks through the above ground, you can splash around in some clear water that appears at the bottom of the dunes. However, if you plan on coming here from mid-May through mid-September, be sure to play it safe by making a reservation.

Campground Breakdown:
• 86 sites: $20 per night
• Each tentsite accommodates eight people and two vehicles
• RVs less than 35 feet welcome at standard sites
• Three group camping sites available
•Every group site accommodates 15 to 40 people

Piñon Flats campground Amenities: Restrooms with sinks, flush toilets, dishwashing sink, and water spigots, fire grates, picnic tables, drinks, snacks, convenience foods, camping supplies and firewood may be available at the campground store, leashed pets allowed

Reserve a Piñon Flats Campsite Here

Oh Be Joyful Campground

For those who seek mountain charm

Location: Five miles from Crested Butte, located directly on the east bank of the Slate River
Campground Contact: (970) 642 4940
Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Campground Website

Located just a few miles from the mountain town of Crested Butte, the Oh Be Joyful campground doesn’t just have a great name but is also in a killer location. The campground is also a gateway into a massive region known as the Raggeds Wilderness. Encompassing more than 65,000 acres, this national forest ranges from 7,000 to 13,000 feet. In addition, spend time soaking up the beautiful views of the nearby towering mountains. Campers can also hike, fish, or mountain bike within the Raggeds.

While there, make sure to drop into Crested Butte, where you’ll find plenty of excellent local eateries, bars, and shops to explore, each full of mountain-town allure. The Oh Be Joyful campground also gets its name from a nearby stream home to massive waterfalls and colorful wildflowers in the warmer months.

Campground Breakdown:
• 15 tent sites: $10 per night
• 14 RV sites: $10 per night
• One group site: $30 per night

Oh Be Joyful Campground Amenities: Three vault restrooms, metal fire rings, picnic tables, tent pad, bear proof stoarge bins

Resereve a Oh Be Joyful Campsite Here

May Queen Campground

For those who want to recharge with the water

Location: Nestled at the far western end of Turquoise Lake, located at Turquoise Lake Rd, Leadville, CO 80461
Campground Contact: (719) 486-0749
Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Campground Wesbsite

The May Queen campground could be ideal for you if you’re looking for a peaceful, tranquil camping experience. The campground also sits at an elevation of around 10,000 feet. In addition, get outdoors by utilizing the nearby hiking trails in the wilderness areas of Mount Massive and Holy Cross, or take the Colorado Trail, which passes conveniently right by the entrance to the campground.

This spot is also perfect for people who love to be on the water. Many campers haul their kayaks or canoes, which can then be carried down to the lake. Additionally, anglers seek out mostly local mackinaw and rainbow trout. As for wildlife viewing, take it all in as you watch native wildlife such as chipmunks, beavers, and porcupines go about their day. Most campsites are also settled on a level, open field along a creek, feeding into the lake. Six sites are also perched on the wooded hillside above the creek. Moreover, nearby is the Mount Massive Wilderness area, a massive area encompassing Mount Massive, Colorado’s second highest peak at 14,421 feet.

Campground Breakdown:
• 17 tent sites: $24 per night
• 3 tent maximum per site
•  Sites can accommodate RVs up to 32 feet 
• 12 walk-in tent sites perfect for backpackers
• Boat-in campsites also available

May Queen Campground Amenities: Picnic tables, fire pits, firewood available, vault toilets, showers, drinking water, electric hookups, lake access, leashed dogs allowed

Reserve a May Queen Campsite Here

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