Home Camping Adventures 21 Epic Colorado Camping Trips
21 Epic Colorado Camping Trips

5 min

September 8, 2023

Are you a nature lover? Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains, is a fantastic place with huge mountains, quiet lakes, dense forests, and fields full of colorful wildflowers. It’s a dream destination for camping and enjoying the outdoors.

In this guide, we’ll tell you about the top camping spots in Colorado and the exciting things you can do there. Let’s get started!

21 Best Camping Destinations & Adventures in Colorado

Discover the beauty of Colorado’s wilderness with our list of 21 must-visit camping destinations and adventures. From majestic mountains to peaceful lakes, prepare for unforgettable outdoor experiences in the Centennial State.

1. Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado has giant mountains and calm lakes. The park has many big peaks, making it a must-see for people who love mountains.

Whether you love hiking or want to enjoy the pretty views, this park is for you.

Exciting things here include hiking on trails that lead to hidden places like green lakes and waterfalls. You might also see some animals like elk, deer, and sometimes black bears. For a super special experience, go on a hike in the morning to see the mountains all golden from the sun.

Pro Tip: The weather can change fast in the mountains, so bring layers of clothes and important stuff for a safe trip.

2. Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods is near Colorado Springs and has gigantic red rock formations that look like giants made them. It’s a must-visit if you’re into exploring Colorado’s cool natural places.

You can do exciting things like hiking and climbing on these big red rocks. For the best view, go in the morning or evening when the rocks turn golden, and it’s super pretty.

Pro Tip: Get there early to find a parking spot because it gets crowded. Don’t forget your camera to take pictures of the awesome rocks.

3. Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is in the southwest of Colorado and has old Native American houses. They’re over 1,000 years old and built on cliffs and top of mesas.

The best part is the guided tours where they tell you about the people who used to live there. You can also explore the old houses, carvings, and cool rooms.

Pro Tip: Plan and book tours early because they fill up fast. Wear comfy shoes for walking and climbing.

4. Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado has the biggest dunes in North America, some as tall as 750 feet! It looks like a dreamy desert.

You can do fun things like sliding down the dunes on boards and hiking up to see the dunes in the morning when they glow in the sunlight. There’s also a creek and cool nature to explore.

Pro Tip: Rent or bring sandboards or sleds to slide down the dunes. In hot weather, visit in the morning or evening to avoid the scorching sand.

5. Aspen’s Maroon Bells

Aspen’s Maroon Bells, surrounded by lovely meadows and clear lakes, is a super pretty place in the Rocky Mountains. They’re also called the “Deadly Bells” because they’re tough to climb.

You’ll love it if you enjoy being in nature. You can take easy walks in the meadows full of colorful flowers, especially in the summer.

Pro Tip: Go early or on weekdays to avoid the crowds. Bring a camera to take photos of the pretty peaks reflecting in the lake.

6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is in western Colorado and is cool. It’s a deep canyon with dark cliffs that drop into the Gunnison River. It’s perfect for adventurous folks and nature lovers.

You can watch birds like eagles and falcons flying over the canyon. Joining guided tours is a great way to learn about the canyon’s history and animals.

Pro Tip: Bring binoculars and sturdy shoes to explore the rough terrain and see the birds.

7. San Juan National Forest

San Juan National Forest is in the southwest of Colorado and is a quiet place with tall trees and pretty meadows. It’s a great place for walking and biking in nature.

You can hike and bike on nice trails that go through the forest. You might see deer, elk, and lots of birds.

Pro Tip: Check the trail conditions and fire rules before you go. Bring water and snacks for your adventure.

8. Steamboat Lake State Park

Steamboat Lake State Park in northern Colorado is calm by a lake with mountains in the background. It’s a perfect spot for camping by the lake.

You can have fun by kayaking or fishing in the clear water. Make a campfire, roast marshmallows, and tell stories under the stars at night.

Pro Tip: Reserve your campsite early, especially in the summer. Don’t forget bug spray for a bug-free time.

9. Rifle Falls State Park

Rifle Falls State Park in western Colorado is a hidden gem known for stunning waterfalls falling over rocks. It’s a great place for nature lovers and photographers.

You can explore caves near the falls and hike on nice trails. Spring is the prime season for a visit, as the waterfalls gain significant strength.

Pro Tip: Wear comfy shoes for exploring caves and bring a camera for pictures of the amazing waterfalls.

10. Eleven Mile State Park

Eleven Mile State Park is a paradise for people who love water near Colorado Springs. It’s all about fishing at Eleven Mile Reservoir with Pikes Peak in the background.

The calm water is great for boating, canoeing, and kayaking. It’s a wonderful place for outdoor fun.

Pro Tip: Check the fishing rules and get a fishing license. Don’t forget sunscreen and water for a comfy time on the water.

11. Lost Creek Wilderness

Lost Creek Wilderness is in central Colorado and offers a real adventure in the wild. It’s a place to escape the modern world and enjoy nature.

You can explore cool rocks and granite domes on the trails. There’s a wide range of trails to find hidden places and wild areas.

Pro Tip: Get ready with hiking gear, maps, and food. There’s no cell phone signal, so let someone know your plans.

12. Trinidad Lake State Park

Trinidad Lake State Park is a quiet place in southern Colorado with a peaceful lake and different animals. It’s excellent for boating, fishing, and birdwatching. You can have fun boating on the calm lake and trying to catch some fish or watch birds.

Pro Tip: Bring your fishing gear and a license. You can rent a kayak or canoe for a nice time on the lake. Don’t forget binoculars for birdwatching.

13. Telluride

Telluride is a beautiful town in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. It’s perfect if you want a relaxing mountain vacation.

You can do fun things like bike riding, hiking, and attending festivals. The town is surrounded by amazing nature, and there’s always something happening.

Pro Tip: Check the festival schedule when you plan your visit. If you want to hike or bike, take it easy at first to avoid getting tired from the high altitude.

14. Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a peaceful place near Denver where you can escape the hustle and bustle. It’s a great spot to enjoy the outdoors.

You can spot wildlife like elk and deer while hiking on good trails. The park has forests, meadows, and streams, perfect for nature lovers.

Pro Tip: Watch for animals during your hikes and prepare for changing weather, especially at higher places.

15. Highline State Park

Highline State Park is near Grand Junction in western Colorado and is all about water fun. The main attraction is a big lake where you can do many water activities.

Must-try things at Highline State Park include fishing, boating, and birdwatching. You’ll find plenty of fish to catch, and the calm water is great for paddling and enjoying nature.

Pro Tip: Bring your fishing gear and water equipment, or rent them at the park. Don’t forget your binoculars for birdwatching by the shore.

16. Mueller State Park

Mueller State Park, not far from Colorado Springs, offers amazing views of the mountains and tons of wildflowers. It’s a must-visit for nature lovers.

You can adventure by hiking and even riding horses in the beautiful landscapes. The park has many trails to explore and enjoy the wilderness.

Pro Tip: Take binoculars to spot animals and capture the beautiful views. Check the trail conditions before you go.

17. Chatfield State Park

Chatfield State Park is a calm place for camping near Denver, right by Chatfield Reservoir. It’s perfect if you want to relax in nature without driving far.

You can do fun things like paddleboarding on the quiet water, watching birds by the lake, and hiking in the pretty surroundings. It’s a peaceful spot to unwind.

Pro Tip: Consider reserving a campsite near the lake for the best views. Bring your paddleboard or rent one at the park for a chill day on the water.

18. Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Cheyenne Mountain State Park, near Colorado Springs, has different nature areas. It’s a great spot for guided nature walks and wildlife watching.

You’ll find many trails through the forests and fields. Watch for deer, wild turkeys, and lots of bird types. Ranger-led activities can teach you more about plants and animals.

Pro Tip: Check the park’s schedule for ranger-led activities and guided nature walks. Bring binoculars and a camera to capture the wildlife and beautiful scenery.

19. Jackson Lake State Park

Jackson Lake State Park is a dream for water lovers on the eastern plains of Colorado. It’s a must-visit for boating, fishing, and birdwatching by a calm lake.

You can go boating with sailboats or motorboats or try kayaking and fishing for different kinds of fish. Bird lovers will enjoy watching waterfowl and other birds by the lake and wetlands.

Pro Tip: Make sure to follow the fishing and boating rules for Jackson Lake. Bring binoculars for birdwatching and enjoy the peaceful lake view.

20. Rifle Gap State Park

Rifle Gap State Park in western Colorado is another water paradise. It’s all about fishing, swimming, and kayaking by a clear lake with mountain views.

The park is great for fishing trout and bass, and you can also swim in the lake and have fun kayaking. The sandy beach area is perfect for picnics and sunbathing.

Pro Tip: Bring your fishing gear and get a fishing license. Don’t forget sunscreen and water toys for a day of swimming and fun.

21. Cherry Creek State Park

Cherry Creek State Park, near Denver, is a nice blend of city and nature. It’s a must-visit for outdoor activities by a pretty lake.

You can hike on beautiful trails, rent paddle boats or paddle boards to relax on the lake, and enjoy bike rides in the park. There’s also a lot of different birds to watch.

Pro Tip: Rent a paddleboat or paddleboard for a peaceful day on the calm lake. Bring a picnic for a nice meal by the water.

These amazing places in Colorado offer a wide range of adventures for people who love nature and outdoor activities.

Each spot has a special charm and chance for exploration, making Colorado a perfect place to connect with nature and create lasting memories.

Happy Camping!

Colorado’s camping spots invite you to make lasting memories outdoors.

Whether you love hiking, looking at the stars, or want peace away from the busy city, Colorado’s camping adventures have something special for you.

The state’s amazing natural views and many things to do outside guarantee you’ll have a camping trip you’ll always remember.

So, get your bags ready, bring your excitement, and prepare for a memorable Colorado camping trip!

First off, is Colorado Good for Camping?

Colorado is great for camping because it has lovely natural landscapes like mountains, forests, and deserts. You can find different camping spots here, from the mountains to the plains. Colorado has many campgrounds to set up a tent or park your RV.

These campgrounds usually have things like bathrooms, picnic tables, and fireplaces.

When you camp in Colorado, you can do many outdoor activities like hiking, biking, fishing, and looking at wildlife. In the winter, you can even go camping in the snow.

At night, you can see many stars in the sky because there’s little light to block them. It’s a beautiful sight when you’re camping.

Moreover, camping in Colorado is convenient because you can typically reach most campsites by car. And they’re often located near popular tourist destinations.

The best part? You can go camping in Colorado at different times of the year. Most people go in the summer, but you can also in fall, winter, or early spring.

But remember, the air is thinner in some camping spots because they’re very high up in the mountains. This can make breathing harder if you’re not used to it. So, be ready and take care of yourself.

Overall, before you go camping in Colorado, check the rules, the weather, and if there are any fire restrictions. Things can change, especially because of wildfires. Also, get any permits you need, and clean up after yourself so you don’t harm the environment.

How to Safely Camp in Colorado: 10 Valuable Tips

Camping in Colorado can be fun, but you must stay safe. Here’s a list of simple but helpful tips to help you enjoy your camping trip safely:

1. Check the Weather

Look at the weather forecast before you go camping. Colorado’s weather can change quickly, so be ready for rain, snow, or sudden temperature drops.

2. Watch the Altitude

Some camping spots in Colorado reach high elevations. If you’re not used to it, take it easy and drink water to avoid feeling sick from the thin air.

3. Get Permits and Reservations

Some campgrounds need reservations or permits. Make sure you book your spot in advance, especially during busy times.

4. Campfire Rules

Follow the rules for campfires. Use designated fire rings or camp stoves for cooking. Keep water and a shovel nearby and extinguish the fire before leaving.

5. Be Wildlife Smart

Colorado has lots of wildlife, like bears and mountain lions. Keep your food safe from animals, make noise on the trails, and know what to do if you encounter wildlife.

6. Leave No Trace

Keep nature clean by taking all your trash with you, disposing of waste properly, and not harming the environment.

7. Know Where You’re Going

Carry a map, compass, or GPS device and learn how to use them to avoid getting lost.

8. First Aid Kit

Bring a simple first aid kit for minor injuries, bug bites, or altitude sickness.

9. Tell Someone Your Plans

Before you go camping, tell a trusted person where you’re going and when you’ll be back in case something goes wrong.

10. Emergency Stuff

Carry a flashlight, extra clothes, matches, and enough food and water just in case. Bring a charged cell phone or device to call for emergency help.

By following these easy tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable camping adventure in Colorado.

Camping in Colorado Packing List

Before heading out on your camping adventure in Colorado, pack the right gear and essentials for a comfortable and enjoyable trip. Here’s a checklist to help you prepare:


  • Tent (with stakes and guylines)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad or air mattress
  • Pillow or stuff sack with clothes
  • Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  • Camping chair or seating pad


  • Weather-appropriate clothing
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Warm hat and gloves (for cooler nights)
  • Extra socks and underwear
  • Sturdy, comfortable hiking shoes or boots
  • Sandals or camp shoes (for relaxing)
  • Sun hat and sunglasses

Cooking and Food:

  • Portable camp stove with fuel
  • Cooking utensils (pot, pan, spatula, etc.)
  • Biodegradable soap and sponge
  • Eating utensils (plate, bowl, utensils, cup/mug)
  • Food and snacks (easy-to-cook meals, trail mix, etc.)
  • Cooler and ice packs (if needed)
  • Water bottles or hydration system
  • A water filter or purification tablets

Personal Items:

  • Personal identification and camping permits
  • First aid kit (bandages, pain relievers, etc.)
  • Prescription medications
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Toilet paper and sanitation supplies
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Towel and washcloth
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Trash bags (for waste and cleanup)

Navigation and Communication:

  • Map, compass, or GPS device
  • Fully charged cell phone or satellite communicator
  • Power bank for recharging electronics

Optional Gear:

  • Campfire supplies (if allowed)
  • Camera and binoculars
  • Campsite entertainment (book, games, etc.)
  • Backpack or daypack for hiking
  • Hammock or camping hammock (if desired)

Adjust this packing list according to the season, location, and specific activities you plan to enjoy during your camping trip in Colorado.

What Are the Best Places to Camp in Colorado?

Colorado has many beautiful camping spots, including iRocky Mountain National Park, Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Garden of the Gods, Mesa Verde National Park, San Juan National Forest, Chatfield State Park, Rifle Fall State Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness, and Pike National Forest. Let’s look closely at each:

Rocky Mountain National Park

This place has beautiful mountain views. You can camp here in different places, from easy spots with bathrooms to more remote places. People who like hiking, animals, and peaceful mountains love coming here.

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

This area has tall mountains called Maroon Bells. It’s a wild and tough place to camp, and people who like tough hikes and natural places like it.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

This park is special because it has giant dunes next to big mountains. You can camp here in a unique way. People can play in the sand, go sandboarding, and look at the stars in this cool place.

Garden of the Gods

This place is near Colorado Springs and has amazing rocks. You can camp here in different places. People who like climbing rocks and cool land formations come here.

Mesa Verde National Park

If you like old history, this is a great place. It has very old houses from a long time ago. You can camp here and learn about these old homes.

San Juan National Forest

This big forest in southern Colorado is perfect to camp in a quiet, wild place. You can find different camping spots and do things like hiking, fishing, and looking for animals.

Chatfield State Park

This park is close to Denver, so it’s easy to get to. Families and people who like water activities love it. There’s a big lake for boating, swimming, and fishing.

Rifle Falls State Park

This is a good choice for a peaceful camping spot with pretty waterfalls. You can hike, fish, or relax by the water.

Indian Peaks Wilderness

This is a great place if you enjoy backpacking and want to see beautiful lakes and mountains. You can hike in the wild Rocky Mountains.

Pike National Forest

This forest is close to Denver and Colorado Springs. Many people camp here because it has different options, from easy ones with families to tough ones in the wild. You can pick what suits you best.

Related Questions

Is it Legal to Camp Anywhere in Colorado?

No, it’s not legal to camp just anywhere in Colorado. You need to camp in designated campgrounds or get permission from landowners. Camping on private property without permission isn’t allowed. Moreover, camping in most public areas is regulated to protect the environment.

How Much is a Campsite in Colorado?

Campsite prices in Colorado can vary widely. State and national park campgrounds often charge between $20 to $40 per night. Private campgrounds may have different rates. Backcountry camping fees can be lower, but they may require permits.

Does Colorado Have Free Camping?

Yes, some areas in Colorado offer free camping on public lands managed by agencies like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or the United States Forest Service (USFS). These are often called dispersed camping areas. However, amenities are minimal, so you need to be self-sufficient.

What Time of Year is Best to Camp in Colorado?

The best time to camp in Colorado depends on your preferences. Summer is the most popular season due to warm weather, but fall offers beautiful foliage. Winter camping is for those who enjoy snow activities, and spring can be great for wildflower viewing.

How Much Does it Cost to Go Camping in Colorado?

Camping fees in Colorado can fluctuate based on the specific campground and the facilities it offers. State and national park campgrounds typically charge a nightly rate ranging from approximately $20 to $40. These campgrounds often provide restrooms, picnic areas, and potable water, making them more convenient for campers.

On the other hand, backcountry camping permits, which allow you to camp in remote, less-developed areas, can be a more budget-friendly option.

These permits generally come at a lower cost than established campgrounds, making them suitable for those seeking a more rustic camping experience.

However, note that backcountry camping requires self-sufficiency. You may need to bring water and follow strict Leave No Trace principles to protect the environment.

Do I Need a Permit to Camp in Colorado?

Usually, you don’t need a special permit when you camp at regular campgrounds in Colorado, like those in state and national parks. These places ensure easy camping and have things like bathrooms and fire areas.

However, if you want to camp in more remote or wild areas called “backcountry” or “wilderness,” you might have to get a special permit. These permits help protect nature and keep campers safe.

To ensure you follow the rules for where you want to camp, look up and understand the specific rules and permits you might need before you go.

That way, you can enjoy your camping trip while respecting the special rules for each place.

How Long Can You Stay in a Campground in Colorado?

The maximum stay duration in campgrounds varies. It’s typically limited to 14 days in national forests and BLM lands. State parks and private campgrounds may have different rules, so check beforehand.

Is it Safe to Camp in a Tent in Colorado?

Yes, it’s generally safe to camp in a tent in Colorado if you follow safety guidelines. Be prepared for weather changes, wildlife encounters, and high-altitude conditions. Secure your food to prevent wildlife visits, and be cautious in bear country.

Here’s a list of tips for encountering wildlife:

  • Stay Calm: Avoid sudden movements or loud noises if you see wildlife like bears or mountain lions.
  • Give Space: Keep a safe distance and never approach or corner wild animals. Use binoculars or a zoom lens for a closer look.
  • Make Noise: While hiking or moving around your campsite, make noise to alert animals to your presence. This can help prevent surprise encounters.
  • Secure Food: Store food and trash securely in bear-resistant containers or bear bags away from your tent. This prevents wildlife from being attracted to your campsite.
  • Carry Bear Spray: Consider carrying bear spray and know how to use it properly in a close encounter with a bear.
  • Travel in Groups: It’s safer to hike and camp in groups, as wildlife is less likely to approach larger parties.
  • Follow Park Guidelines: In national and state parks, follow safety guidelines.
  • Report Sightings: If you have a close or potentially dangerous wildlife encounter, report it to park rangers or authorities.

What Are the Camping Rules in Colorado?

Common camping rules in Colorado include respecting quiet hours, properly disposing of waste, and following fire regulations. Keep wildlife wild and protect the environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles.

What Are the Rules for Tent Camping in Colorado?

Tent camping rules include setting up your tent in designated areas, using a campfire ring if allowed, and following safety guidelines for campfires. Always adhere to specific campground rules and regulations.

Happy Camping!

Camping in Colorado is full of amazing adventures in beautiful places. You can hike and bike in the summer or camp in the snow during winter, so there’s fun all year round.

But, be careful in high places where the air is thin; it might make you feel strange if you’re not used to it.

Moreover, before you start your Colorado camping trip, learn the local rules, check the weather, and follow the fire rules to stop wildfires.

Also, get any permits you need and clean up so Colorado’s natural beauty stays for the future.

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