Camping in Colorado is a popular activity for locals and tourists alike, as the state offers a plethora of natural beauty and outdoor adventures. From towering mountains to serene lakes, there are numerous spots to pitch a tent and immerse oneself in nature. One of the most appealing aspects of camping in Colorado is the opportunity to experience breathtaking views of the state’s stunning landscapes. In this response, we will explore the top 9 best camping places Colorado has to offer.
9 best camping Places Colorado Has to Offer
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is a popular destination for camping, with five campgrounds located within the park. Longs Peak Campground is the only first-come, first-served campground and has 26 sites located on the east side of the park in a pine forest. Timber Creek Campground is the only campground on the west side of the park and has 98 sites that must be reserved.
Other campgrounds in the park include Aspenglen, Moraine Park, and Glacier Basin. Additionally, there are over 150 backcountry campsites available for those interested in wilderness camping. The Little Rock Lake Backcountry Campsite is one of the hardest sites to reach, requiring hiking at least six miles. There are also RV parks in the nearby town of Estes Park, including Manor RV Park, which has 110 full hook-up sites.
Rocky Mountain National Park is a national park located in north-central Colorado, USA, established in 1915. The park covers an area of 265,461 acres (415 square miles) and is home to a wide range of mountain environments, from meadows to alpine lakes and towering peaks. The park is one of the most visited national parks in the USA, with over 4.3 million visitors in 2022. It is situated in the Rocky Mountains and has four separate ecosystems: montane, subalpine, alpine tundra, and riparian. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, scenic driving, and wildlife viewing. The park has four entrances, three on the east side near Estes Park, and one on the west near Grand Lake.
2. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is a US national park located in Colorado, USA. The park is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, which are up to 750 feet tall. The sand dunes are located on the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley and are cradled against the rugged backdrop of the forested and snowcapped Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The park covers an area of 78 sq. km and contains about 5 billion m3 of sand. The park is open 24/7 year-round with no limitations, timed entries, or reservations required to visit.
The park is home to diverse landscapes of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. The mountain watershed of Great Sand Dunes receives heavy snow and rain each year. Creeks flow from alpine tundra and lakes, down through subalpine and montane woodlands, and finally around the main dunefield.
Visitors can hike, sled, splash in Medano Creek, or just play in the sand. The park is a unique place to discover the intricacies of the natural world, as well as natural quiet and dark night skies where you can see countless stars with very little light pollution.
3. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is a designated wilderness area in Colorado, USA, that spans over 183,847 acres within the Elk Mountains and is managed by the White River and Gunnison National Forests. It was one of the five original wilderness areas designated in Colorado by the Wilderness Act of 1964. The wilderness has elevations ranging from 9,000 to 14,000 feet, and visitors can enjoy over 100 miles of trails for foot and horse travel through rugged terrain.
Some of the best campsites in Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness with stunning views include Crater Lake, West Maroon Creek, Snowmass Lake, Geneva Lake, and Conundrum Hot Springs. The Crater Lake campsites offer views of the Maroon Bells, while West Maroon Creek campsites provide an excellent view of Pyramid Peak. The Snowmass Lake campsite offers panoramic views of Snowmass Mountain and Hagerman Peak. Visitors can also camp at Geneva Lake, which is surrounded by high peaks, including Mount Geneva and Cathedral Peak. Finally, the Conundrum Hot Springs campsite is situated in a beautiful valley with a natural hot spring to soak in.
Visitors to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness can enjoy a variety of activities, such as hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, and horseback riding. The wilderness has numerous trails that cater to hikers of all levels, and experienced hikers can climb the six 14,000-foot peaks within the area, including Maroon Peak and Snowmass Mountain. The wilderness also offers opportunities for backcountry camping and fishing in the pristine alpine lakes and streams. Finally, visitors can take a scenic drive to Maroon Lake, which is one of the most photographed spots in North America and offers breathtaking views of the Maroon Bells.
4. Black Canyon of the Gunison
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a stunning destination located in western Colorado, managed by the National Park Service. The park has two primary entrances: the south rim entrance, located 15 miles east of Montrose, and the north rim entrance, 11 miles south of Crawford (closed in the winter). The park boasts 12 miles of the narrowest and deepest section of the Gunnison Gorge, exposing visitors to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America.
As for the best campsites with stunning views, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has three campgrounds: South Rim, North Rim, and East Portal. South Rim Campground has 88 sites available for reservations and is open from early April to mid-October, providing spectacular views of the canyon. North Rim Campground is more secluded, with only 13 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis, and is only open from mid-May to mid-October. East Portal Campground has six sites available on a first-come, first-served basis, and is only accessible by a narrow, steep road. All three campgrounds offer picnic tables, fire grates, and flush toilets, but only South Rim has access to running water and electrical hookups.
Visitors to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park can enjoy a variety of activities and attractions. Some of the most popular activities include hiking, camping, stargazing, and wildlife watching. The park has several hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous, that provide breathtaking views of the canyon. The Rim Rock Nature Trail is a relatively easy 1-mile hike that offers an overview of the canyon. The Warner Point Nature Trail is a moderate 1.5-mile hike that provides a panoramic view of the canyon from the north rim. The Gunnison Route Trail is a strenuous 1.5-mile hike that descends 1,800 feet to the Gunnison River, allowing visitors to experience the canyon from a different perspective.
In addition to hiking, visitors can also enjoy scenic drives, fishing, and ranger-led programs. The South Rim Drive is a scenic 7.2-mile road that provides access to all the viewpoints and hiking trails on the park’s south rim. Those interested in fishing can try their luck in the Gunnison River, which runs through the park and is home to rainbow and brown trout. Finally, ranger-led programs such as guided hikes, stargazing, and wildlife watching are available throughout the year, providing visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the park’s geology, flora, and fauna.
5. The Weminuche Wilderness Area
The Weminuche Wilderness Area is located in southwest Colorado and is the largest wilderness area in the state, covering 499,771 acres across the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests.
This wilderness area is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, established by the Wilderness Act of 1964 to “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an…”. The landscape is diverse, with forests, meadows, lakes, and alpine areas. There are several hundred miles of trails within the wilderness, providing opportunities for hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding.
As for the best campsites with stunning views, the wilderness area has numerous campsites, and it is difficult to select only a few. However, some of the most popular campsites include the Weminuche Creek and Johnson Creek areas. The Weminuche Creek area has a large meadow with a stream running through it and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. Johnson Creek has several campsites, some of which are near the creek and offer a great view of the mountains. Additionally, the Columbine Pass area is known for its stunning views of the Needle Mountains.
Regarding activities and attractions in the area, the Weminuche Wilderness offers many opportunities for outdoor adventure. Some popular activities include hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, camping, fishing, and horseback riding. There are several peaks exceeding 12,000 feet, including the granitic Needle Mountains in the western end of the wilderness, which contain three 14,000-foot peaks: Eolus, Sunlight, and Windom. The wilderness area also has many lakes and streams that offer excellent fishing opportunities. The delightful mountain towns of Durango, Silverton, Pagosa Springs, South Fork, and Creede surround and provide access to the Wemin.
6. Telluride Town Park Campground
Telluride Town Park Campground is located in the town of Telluride, Colorado, USA. The campground is open seasonally from mid-May to mid-October. The campground has 28 campsites with mixed pad types. Reservations are required and can be made online starting on April 24, 2023, at 9:00 am MT. RVs are allowed at the campground with a 30-foot limit, but there are no hookups or dump stations.
Regarding the best campsites with stunning views, unfortunately, the sources do not provide specific information on this topic. However, given the campground’s location in the town of Telluride, nestled in the San Juan Mountains, it is safe to say that there are likely many beautiful views from various campsites.
As for activities and attractions in the area, there is a range of options for visitors to enjoy. In the summer, visitors can take advantage of the campground’s proximity to hiking trails and scenic drives in the San Juan Mountains. The town of Telluride is known for its world-class skiing in the winter months. Other popular activities include visiting the Telluride Historical Museum, the Telluride Ski Resort, and exploring the San Miguel River Trail. Additionally, there are several festivals and events held in Telluride throughout the year, including the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the Telluride Jazz Festival.
7. San Juan National Park
San Juan National Forest is a beautiful natural wonderland located in southwestern Colorado. It encompasses over 1.8 million acres of land and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts who love to explore nature, hike, fish, camp, and more.
The forest is home to a diverse range of ecosystems, including high alpine peaks, deep canyons, and lush forests. Visitors to San Juan National Forest can enjoy breathtaking scenery and a wide variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, boating, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Here are some of the best campsites with stunning views in San Juan National Forest:
- Haviland Lake Campground – Located near the lake, this campground offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests. There are plenty of hiking trails in the area, including the Animas River Trail and the Hermosa Creek Trail.
- Molas Lake Campground – This picturesque campground is situated on the shores of Molas Lake, offering stunning views of the water and the surrounding mountains. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails nearby, including the Colorado Trail and the Ice Lake Basin Trail.
- South Mineral Campground – This popular campground is located near the South Mineral Creek, offering stunning views of the creek and the surrounding forests. There are plenty of hiking trails nearby, including the Ice Lakes Trail and the Highland Mary Lakes Trail.
Some of the best activities and attractions in San Juan National Forest include:
- Hiking – San Juan National Forest is home to a wide variety of hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry hikes. Some of the most popular trails include the Ice Lakes Basin Trail, the Colorado Trail, and the Weminuche Wilderness.
- Fishing – San Juan National Forest is home to some of the best fishing in Colorado, with plenty of rivers, lakes, and streams teeming with trout and other fish. Some popular spots include the Animas River, the Dolores River, and the Piedra River.
- Scenic drives – San Juan National Forest is home to several scenic drives, including the Million Dollar Highway, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
- Wildlife viewing – San Juan National Forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, black bears, mountain lions, and more. Visitors can spot wildlife while hiking, camping, or driving through the forest.
- Historic sites – San Juan National Forest is home to several historic sites, including the ghost town of Animas Forks and the old mining town of Silverton. Visitors can explore these historic sites and learn about the region’s mining history.
8. The Great Divide Basin
The Great Divide Basin is a unique geographic feature located in south-central Wyoming, United States. The basin is a part of the Continental Divide and is a closed drainage system, meaning that water does not flow out of it. Instead, the water collects in small lakes, ponds, and salt flats, forming a unique and fascinating landscape.
Here are some of the best campsites with stunning views in the Great Divide Basin:
- Boar’s Tusk Campground – Located at the base of Boar’s Tusk, a prominent volcanic plug, this campground offers stunning views of the surrounding basin. Visitors can also explore the nearby Boar’s Tusk hiking trail.
- Oregon Buttes Campground – This remote campground offers stunning views of the surrounding buttes and rock formations. Visitors can explore the nearby Oregon Buttes hiking trail, which offers incredible panoramic views of the basin.
- Sweetwater River – There are several dispersed campsites along the Sweetwater River, offering stunning views of the river and the surrounding basin. Visitors can enjoy fishing and hiking in the area.
Some of the best activities and attractions in the Great Divide Basin include:
- Hiking – The Great Divide Basin is home to several hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry hikes. Some of the most popular trails include the Oregon Buttes Trail, the Boar’s Tusk Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.
- Wildlife viewing – The Great Divide Basin is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including pronghorn antelope, coyotes, sage grouse, and more. Visitors can spot wildlife while hiking or driving through the basin.
- Stargazing – The Great Divide Basin is a remote and isolated area, making it an ideal destination for stargazing. Visitors can enjoy clear and unobstructed views of the night sky, free from light pollution.
- Rock climbing – The Great Divide Basin is home to several prominent rock formations, including Boar’s Tusk and the Oregon Buttes. Visitors can enjoy rock climbing and bouldering in the area.
- Historical sites – The Great Divide Basin has a rich history, with several historic sites in the area. Visitors can explore the nearby South Pass City historic site, which was a major stop on the Oregon Trail, and learn about the region’s pioneer history.
9. Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is a unique and fascinating destination located in southwestern Colorado, United States. The park is home to over 5,000 archeological sites, including well-preserved cliff dwellings and ancient ruins. It was established in 1906 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
Here are some of the best campsites with stunning views in Mesa Verde National Park:
- Morefield Campground – This campground is located near the park entrance and offers stunning views of the surrounding mesa. There are plenty of hiking trails in the area, including the Prater Ridge Trail and the Knife Edge Trail.
- Far View Campground – Located on top of the mesa, this campground offers stunning views of the park and the surrounding mountains. Visitors can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, and stargazing in the area.
- Mesa Verde RV Resort – This private campground is located just outside the park and offers stunning views of the surrounding mesa. It has full hookup RV sites, tent sites, and cabins available.
Some of the best activities and attractions in Mesa Verde National Park include:
- Cliff dwellings – Mesa Verde National Park is home to over 600 cliff dwellings, including the famous Cliff Palace and Balcony House. Visitors can explore these ancient ruins and learn about the history and culture of the ancestral Pueblo people.
- Scenic drives – Mesa Verde National Park is home to several scenic drives, including the Mesa Top Loop Road and the Wetherill Mesa Road. These drives offer stunning views of the park and the surrounding landscape.
- Hiking – Mesa Verde National Park is home to several hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry hikes. Some of the most popular trails include the Spruce Canyon Trail, the Petroglyph Point Trail, and the Prater Ridge Trail.
- Cultural demonstrations – Mesa Verde National Park offers cultural demonstrations throughout the year, including traditional dances, storytelling, and pottery making. Visitors can learn about the culture and traditions of the ancestral Pueblo people.
- Museum exhibits – Mesa Verde National Park has several museum exhibits, including the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum and the Far View Visitor Center. These exhibits offer a glimpse into the history and culture of the ancestral Pueblo people.
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In summary, Colorado is a paradise for camping enthusiasts, offering a wide range of beautiful and scenic spots to pitch a tent or park an RV.
All of these camping spots offer stunning views and unique outdoor experiences. Whether you’re looking for mountain views, sand dunes, ancient ruins, or rugged wilderness, Colorado has it all.
In terms of recommendations, be sure to plan ahead and make reservations early, as many of these camping spots can fill up quickly. Additionally, be prepared for changing weather conditions, as Colorado’s weather can be unpredictable. Finally, always practice Leave No Trace principles and be respectful of the natural environment.
Overall, camping in Colorado is a must-do for any outdoor enthusiast. With so many beautiful and breathtaking spots to choose from, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.
Thanks for reading, If you think I forgot something or if you simply have a story or some advice to share, feel free to leave your comment below, but for now…Be safe and Have fun.