Camping in Colorado is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. This state is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the country, with towering mountains, vast forests, and picturesque valleys. Colorado has something for everyone, whether looking for a rugged wilderness adventure or a peaceful escape from city life. This article will explore ten of the best camping spots in Colorado, each with its unique features and attractions.
Colorado USA Camping Spot Roundup
1. Rocky Mountain National Park:
In northern Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-see destination for any camper. The park’s stunning natural beauty is unmatched, with towering mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. The park boasts over 350 campsites, ranging from backcountry spots to RV-friendly sites with electricity and water hookups. Visitors can participate in various activities, including hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching. This park is also home to some of the greatest breathtaking scenic drives in the country, with the Trail Ridge Road offering spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
2. Great Sand Dunes National Park:
Nestled in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a unique and otherworldly destination. The park’s main attraction is its towering sand dunes, which rise to over 700 feet. Camping is available at the Piñon Flats Campground, which has 88 sites with stunning views of the sand dunes and the surrounding mountains. Visitors can enjoy various activities, including hiking, sandboarding, and stargazing. The park is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, and prairie dogs.
3. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness:
The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is a designated wilderness area located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The site is known for its stunning mountain scenery, crystal-clear lakes, and abundant wildlife. There are over 100 campsites, ranging from primitive backcountry sites to more developed campgrounds with amenities such as fire pits and picnic tables. The area is a popular destination for hiking, with numerous trails offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, wildlife watching, and scenic drives.
4. Mesa Verde National Park:
Mesa Verde National Park is a bucket list destination for anyone interested in history and archaeology. The park is home to over 5,000 archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings and pit houses. Camping is available at the Morefield Campground, which is located inside the park and has over 260 locations. Visitors can take guided tours of the park’s archaeological sites, hike scenic trails, and enjoy the park’s stunning natural beauty. Mesa Verde National Park is a unique and fascinating destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.
5. Gunnison National Forest:
Gunnison National Forest is a vast wilderness area in western Colorado. The forest covers over 1.7 million acres and is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elk, mule deer, and black bears. There are over 30 campgrounds to choose from, ranging from primitive backcountry sites to more developed campgrounds with amenities such as showers and electrical hookups. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking, fishing, and hunting. The forest is also home to some of the most incredibly scenic drives in the country, with the Kebler Pass Road offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park:
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a hidden gem in western Colorado. The park’s main attraction is its dramatic canyon walls, which plunge over 2,000 feet to the Gunnison River below. The park offers a range of camping options, from backcountry sites to RV-friendly campgrounds with electrical and water hookups. Visitors can explore the park’s numerous hiking trails, take guided canyon tours, and enjoy some of the best stargazing in the state. The park is also home to wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep.
7. Great Divide Basin:
Located in southern Colorado, it is a stunning wilderness area known for its vast open spaces and rugged beauty. The area offers a range of camping options, from primitive backcountry sites to more developed campgrounds with amenities such as fire pits and picnic tables. Visitors can enjoy various activities, including hiking, horseback riding, and wildlife watching. The Great Divide Basin is home to some of the best stargazing in the state, with minimal light pollution and clear skies providing unparalleled night sky views.
8. San Isabel National Forest:
San Isabel National Forest is a vast wilderness area in central Colorado. The forest covers over 1.1 million acres and is home to wildlife like elk, mule deer, and black bears. There are over 40 campgrounds, ranging from primitive backcountry sites to more developed campgrounds with amenities such as showers and electrical hookups. Visitors can participate in various activities, including hiking, fishing, and hunting. The forest is also home to some of the best scenic drives in the state, with the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
9. Chatfield State Park:
Located just outside Denver, Chatfield State Park is a popular attraction for campers looking for a quick getaway. The park offers over 200 campsites, ranging from tent-only sites to RV-friendly spots with electrical and water hookups. Visitors can enjoy various activities, including boating, fishing, and hiking. The park is home to diverse wildlife, including bald eagles, coyotes, and beavers. Chatfield State Park is an excellent option for campers who want to experience the beauty of Colorado’s natural landscapes without straying too far from the city.
10. Poudre Canyon:
Located in northern Colorado, Poudre Canyon is a popular destination for campers looking for a wilderness experience close to home. The canyon offers a range of camping options, from primitive backcountry sites to more developed campgrounds with amenities such as fire pits and picnic tables. Visitors can participate in various activities, including hiking, fishing, and kayaking. The canyon is also home to some of the best scenic drives in the state, with the Poudre Canyon Scenic Byway offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Bonus! Gear checklist for camping
When preparing for a camping trip, it’s essential to make sure you have all the gear and equipment you’ll need to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here is a crucial gear checklist for camping:
- Tent (with stakes, guylines, and footprint)
- Tarp (for extra protection from rain or sun)
- Hammock (optional)
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad or air mattress
- Blanket (optional)
- Camp stove (with fuel)
- Matches or lighter
- Cookware (pots, pans, utensils)
- Cooler or ice chest (for storing food and drinks)
- Food (non-perishable or perishable with ice)
- Base layers (thermal or moisture-wicking)
- Insulating layers (fleece or down jacket)
- Outerwear (rain jacket, windbreaker)
- Hat and gloves (for cold weather)
- Comfortable shoes or hiking boots
- Socks (wool or moisture-wicking)
- Swimsuit (for swimming or water activities)
Tools and Accessories:
- Headlamp or flashlight (with extra batteries)
- Lantern or campfire light (optional)
- Multi-tool or knife
- First-aid kit
- Insect repellent and sunscreen
- Map and compass (or GPS)
- Backpack or daypack (for day hikes or excursions)
- Camera or binoculars (optional)
- Camping chairs, Check out this article on the best camping chairs
- Water bottles or hydration system
- Water filters or purification tablets
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer)
- Towels (for drying off or cleaning up)
- Trash bags (for packing out the garbage)
- Cash or credit card (for emergencies or unexpected expenses)
The most important thing to note is that this list is incomplete and may vary depending on the length and type of camping trip you’re taking. It’s always a good idea to double-check your gear before heading out and ensure you have everything you need to stay safe, comfortable, and prepared for any situation that may arise.
The Right Way to Bring Food Camping
Bringing food camping is an essential aspect of any outdoor adventure, and proper planning and preparation can make a big difference in your camping experience. Here is some advice on how to properly bring food camping:
- Plan your meals: Before heading out on your camping trip, plan your meals for each day. This will help you determine what foods to bring and how much each. Consider how many people you’ll be feeding, how long you’ll be camping for, and what cooking equipment you’ll have available.
- Pack non-perishable foods: To avoid spoilage, it’s best to pack non-perishable foods like canned goods, dry fruits, nuts, and snacks. These items can be stored at room temperature and won’t require refrigeration.
- Use a cooler: If you’re bringing perishable foods like meat or dairy products, use a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs to keep them at a safe temperature. Keep the cooler out of direct sunlight and replenish the ice as needed.
- Bring the right cooking equipment: Depending on your camping style and the meals you plan to prepare, you’ll need the right cooking equipment. This might include a camp stove, portable grill, cooking utensils, pots, pans, and a cutting board. Pack these items securely, so they don’t get damaged during transportation.
- Store food properly: Once you’ve arrived at your campsite, store your food correctly to avoid attracting animals. Store the food away from your tent and campfire area to avoid attracting wildlife. Use sealed containers or resealable bags to keep food fresh and prevent spills.
- Clean up properly: After each meal, clean up your cooking equipment and food waste. This will help prevent the spread of food odors and reduce the risk of attracting animals. Pack all your garbage and dispose of it properly in designated trash receptacles.
By following this advice, you’ll be able to properly bring food camping and enjoy delicious meals while exploring the great outdoors. Remember to plan, pack carefully, and always clean up after yourself to ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience.
Which Camping Spot in Colorado Are You Going Next?
Colorado is a camper’s paradise, with an abundance of stunning natural landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a range of camping options to suit every taste and style. From the towering peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the rugged beauty of the Great Divide Basin, there is no shortage of incredible Colorado explore destinations. Colorado has something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned wilderness adventurer or a first-time camper. You now have all the information you need to pick a spot, pack your gear, and eat some yummy camp food. So pack your tent, grab your hiking boots, and get ready to experience the beauty of this great state for yourself.