Colorado is known for its beautiful outdoors, especially in the spring and summer time. What better way to embrace that beauty than to camp! There are hundreds of beautiful places to camp in Colorado, but I am going to touch on some of the most popular! I will also be making it easy for you by including the distance the camping destination is from Boulder and Denver, a camping checklist and some other websites that offer camping tips and tricks. I have added locations for every type of person from hikers, bikers, fishers, relaxed campers, water activity lovers to nature lovers. So keep reading for the top places to camp in Colorado and let me know what place(s) you’d add to the list!
We went to Columbine Campground and just the drive up there is worth it because it’s located just off the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway/Highway 119, west of Denver. Please note: Right now, their site says their facility is experiencing a temporary water outage and asks all campers to bring all the water you’ll need for your visit, including drinking water. Tents (max 30 ft), RV (max 30ft). They have picnic tables available at each spot as well. Reserve your spot here.
Camp Dick was another one we stayed at last summer and was probably one of our favorites. It is situated “in a glacial valley (doesn’t that just sound dreamy!) adjacent to Middle Saint Vrain Creek with a mixture of forest and open meadow,” as stated on the USDA and Forest Service website. The campground is expansive which means you don’t feel like you’re not on top of your neighbors and there’s a lot of hiking right around the camp ground. There’s a hike that’s right by a river where we spent hours just sticking our feet in the water and letting the kids play there. Make sure to bring water shoes for the kids or even Crocs water shoes work great! There are 41 sites that will accommodate tents, campers, trailers and RVs. Some are first-come first served and others are by reservation by calling 1-877-444-6777. They fill up fast so consider making a reservation if you haven’t already!
This is another one we did last Summer and Cripple Creek is great for first timers as it’s considered a KOA—the largest KOA in the world, perched on the side of a hill in an alpine meadow that offers panoramic views. It has it’s own shower/bathroom area and it is legit y’all. It’s not like the lack-luster ones from your high school camping trips. Since it was our first time, it was nice to be able to have that shower area to feel “normal” after a full day of hiking, camping, etc. Spots go fast, so book now!
Eleven Mile State Park
Another place that Coloradans love to camp is at Eleven Mile State Park. This is located 2 hours and 15 minutes from Denver, and 3 hours from Boulder. This is about a 6 mile long hike, where you can explore all of the fun lake activities. For that reason, I think this could be one of the best camping spots with the most activities and adventure awaiting. From kayaking, fishing to jet skis, this spot really has it all! Campsite reservations may be made by calling 1-800-244-5613 or online at www.cpwshop.com. They have 325 campsites in nine separate campgrounds scattered around the lake. “From basic and walk in sites to electric or lakeshore sites, there is something for every camping style.”
Next, just an hour’s drive outside Denver is Guanella Pass, in the Pike National Forest. Another site we visited last year and loved every bit of this campground. This site is known for spectacular views of the night sky. All three of these locations will leave you with breathtaking views and memories you will never forget! This is one of the closet locations, only 1 hour and 45 minutes from Denver and 2 hours from Boulder! Check the camping checklist sites I have added at the bottom of this blog post to be fully prepared for this wonderful trip! You make reservations here. Taken from their website, “Located at an elevation of 10,900 feet on the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest, visitors to the campground can also enjoy hiking and fishing in the area.”
The Great Sand Dunes
Next is the Great Sand Dunes. This is a different but once in a lifetime camping experience, resembling the Sahara more than the Rocky Mountains! We visited the Sand Dunes a few months ago on our way back from New Mexico and it was just beautiful as you can tell! We had no idea you could camp here but said we would definitely come back! This destination is 3 and a half hours from Denver and 4 hours from Boulder. When you arrive, there is a hut on the way in which you can rent sleds for all the fun activities with friends or family when you arrive at the massive hills on the actual dunes! Here is a helpful link that provides information on how you should prepare for a trip to the Great Sand Dunes which includes tips, packing ideas and where to go when you arrive at this location! The park ios always open – no reservation needed to visit, though due to COVID restrictions there is currently a limit of 10 visitors in the visitor center.
Maroon Bells, Aspen
One of the best parts about Maroon Bells is that it is located very close to the town of Aspen! BTW, it’s touted as “the most photographed place in Colorado.” The Maroon Bells is 5 hours from both Denver and Boulder, but very worth the trek! Camping is going to be at Silver Bell Campground which has 14 tent sites and boasts gorgeous panoramas of aspen groves, wildflower meadows and towering spruce in the While River National Forest. In addition to camping, the Maroon Bells is one of the most stunning backpacking trips in North America. Make sure you bring gloves, a warm sleeping bag, sleeping pads, bug spray and a water filtration system. Here is a guide to backpacking trip at the Maroon Bells!
Trinidad Lake State Park
Trinidad Lake State Park location is gorgeous, and more for being secluded from others. You can really find a spot for yourself here. It is just 3 hours from Denver and 3 and a half hours from Boulder. At this location, you can explore biking and hiking for 10 miles along the lake. Can you think of a better spot for that?! Camping will be at Carpios Ridge Campground but please note their website says “Construction during the months of April, May, June and July 2021 making some sites not available,” To make a reservation, please visit www.cpwshop.com or call 1-800-244-5613. And check the links to camping lists below for a list of what to bring. And of course, do not forget your biking and hiking gear for this gorgeous location!
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Calling all FISHERS! Lastly, we have Cheyenne Mountain State Park. This location is 1 hour and 20 minutes from Denver and 2 hours from Boulder. This location is great for fishing. Additionally, it has 25 miles of trails for hiking and biking for mostly beginners and intermediate levels. For the more experienced hikers, there is a 17 mile round trip loop that climbs over 3,000 feet to the summit of Cheyenne Mountain. Be sure to look for wildlife here! Mainly mule deer, wild turkey, elk and coyotes! These campsites also have laundry facilities and showers, how nice is that?! Or, you could camp the traditional way in a good old tent! I just love that you have so many different options depending on the camping experience you want.
I also wanted to add some helpful links that you can also check out when deciding where to go and what to pack. The more information the better, am I right?! These links will help you successfully prepare for your summer camping trips and will help you make sure that nothing is left behind!
Camping Checklist from Love The Outdoors
58 Insanely Useful Camping Tips for Beginners from Well Planned Journey
Hope you liked this roundup of the top places to camp in Colorado! Have you been to any of these camping locations? Which one(s) would you add to the list? Let me know below I love to hear from you!
Since places are starting to open back up, make sure to check out my blog post on What To Do In Colorado Springs with Young Kids and the Top Things To Do In Silverthorne, Colorado.