UPDATED NOV 25, 2019
Whether you're a seasoned camper looking for some scenic vistas or just want to escape the city for a bit, Denver has you covered. Check out this list of our favorite camping spots near the city!
What brings people in their masses to Telluride in the summer months? Music festivals, mountain biking, Via Ferrata (famous rock climbing route), and hiking in one of the most scenic places in the country. When Town Park camping gets too crowded, consider taking the road less traveled to Alta Lakes. We advise high clearance for this particular campground, which is only 10 miles outside of town but with a bit more solitude. Did we mention you can fish? And if you're daring enough to swim, it’ll surely take your breath away if the views don’t!
In recent years, Fruita has landed on the map as a camping destination for Front Rangers. What’s all the hype? Mild temperatures in the early months of spring and late into the fall make for perfect early- and late-season camping. Another plus? 18 Road hosts some of the tackiest and thrilling mountain bike laps in Colorado. This spot also offers both established (paid) and free BLM (Bureau of Land Management) camping. For those of you who aren’t so stoked about two wheels, it’s also within a quick drive to Colorado National Monument, perfect for hikers and climbers alike.
To say that there are a few camping options around Salida would be an understatement. There are a lot of great camping options in this valley that host all different kinds of thrill-seekers, from mountain bikers to climbers to rafters. Not sure where to stay? Let us point you in the right direction: Angel of Shavano Campground. If it’s solitude that you’re after, and you’re itching to bag a 14er, then this camping area should surely tick both of those boxes (and more!).
You may catch wind of Kendall Campground’s established neighbor, South Mineral Campground, just a few miles northeast of town. But again, if it’s solitude that you’re after, then take advantage of the disperse camping of Mineral Creek and its adventure-inspiring, mountainous views. Exploration is encouraged, and be sure to bring your swimsuit.
First and foremost, mind the bears — this naturally beautiful scenery is a host for black bears who also enjoy the breathtaking views. If you’re lucky enough to land a spot at this campground (one that is VERY popular during peak summer season), taking in sunsets and sunrise on the rim of the canyon are a must. Black Canyon of the Gunnison has gained quite the reputation for gnarly climbing, too. But for those of you who prefer to enjoy the scenes from a safe distance, there are plenty of short hikes that skirt the rim, and even some that descend into the canyon. Fitt Tip: if you're prone to wander, wear sturdy boots — the steep hike through the canyon has sometimes-questionable footing.
Just eight miles northeast of town, Dry Lake Campground offers a remote feel, while also being in close proximity to the resort and hot springs. Enjoy the perks of a paid site, with tables and fire pit grates for grilling up some dogs after a long day on the mountain.
Looking for a beach getaway? While it might be missing the ocean, this vast pile of sediment just at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Range is pretty spectacular, even without the swell. This is your best option for off-the-grid dispersed camping with access to the sand dunes, as well as some hikes that offer mountainous vistas for a wider scope of the park. The best news? There are no fees associated with this more primitive style of camping. So if you have 4WD and clearance, pack up your snowboard and head up to Medano Pass for some epic sand boarding.
Oh Be Joyful is seriously the name, and it’s fitting — there’s little to fuss about when you’re posted up by the edge of the Slate River, just north of town. The road there is pretty well-maintained but offers a bit of adventure with non-mandatory river crossings. The cooling effect of the river and the shade from neighboring trees are a welcome escape from the heat in the summer months. And the aspen trees, well… they’re not so bad to look at either.
True, it may be a bit cushy in comparison to neighboring dispersed camping, but this established campground is worth the haul from the Front Range. Just a short drive north of Durango, Haviland Lake is a welcome oasis in the hot summer months. Most of the sites are shaded and provide a picnic table and level platform for anyone with mobile camping rigs. Plus, kayaking and fishing are encouraged in this neck of the woods, with close proximity to hiking and mountain biking. Get your feet wet. Relax. Stay awhile!
Want to take it easy and just...dick-around for the weekend? Consider Camp Dick — a soft place to land after a full day of climbing. Skirting Allenspark and just beyond Estes Park limits, it’s the perfect quick retreat from the city. While most campgrounds in the park don’t allow dogs, your fur babies are welcome in this area. Just keep in mind that this is a paid site with limited amenities.
Trying to get out of town for the weekend without joining the I-70 bustle? Consider heading west of Colorado Springs. Just north of Pikes Peak in Divide, CO, The Crags offers a jagged, scenic campground with both established and backcountry access. While this is a popular spot, it's not overrun by RVs, so you’re likely to land a spot on a Friday or Saturday night. Get an early start up Pikes Peak or an afternoon jaunt up The Crags Trail for some incredible views.
Oil Well Flats is the new hot spot for mountain bikers and trail runners who are looking for a weekend getaway, with mild temperatures for year-round ventures. It’s also a stone’s throw away from Shelf Road (a popular climbing area) and close to Royal Gorge. Need more firewood? Oil Well Flats is a quick drive north of Cañon City. Signage makes for an easy discovery, and campsites are free, dispersed, and first-come, first served.