Refuel for more days of hiking at Pure Kitchen, which opened earlier this year, with colorful power bowls, sandwiches, and flatbreads. There isn’t much shade, but the views and accessibility (with stops for a free shuttle to trailheads like Sprague Lake) are stellar. Go there to river surf, tube, or rock climb, then head somewhere like Simple Eatery, inside The Trailhead gear shop, or Deerhammer Distilling. The Lincoln Creek dispersed camping area has 22 campsites for car camping along the Lincoln Creek road. Home to thousands of weekend warriors, Denver is loaded with outdoor retailers. Tent. If you plan to linger, Morrow Point Boat Tours offers a 1.5-hour ride through the canyon for a different perspective. The red rock canyon in this area offers spectacular views and opportunities for hiking, cycling, and climbing. The facility offers 25 campsites that can accommodate both RVs and trailers, but its small size makes for a rich and uncrowded-feeling camping experience. Take the new (opened last year) Dixon Trail, a grueling 15-mile, round-trip hike with big aspen groves at the top. Check. Just 10 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, Cheyenne Mountain stretches out over 2,701 acres. Alpine lake camping is an absolute must-do when visiting Colorado, and it would be tough to beat one place in particular, Snowmass Lake. Get fresh recipes, wine pairings, weekend getaway ideas, regional gardening tips, home design inspiration, and more. And, you can go to the flagship of the outworld-favorite Topo Designs, in RiNo—they have a repair program to rehab your Topo gear when it gets worn out. Set up camp at the reservable Moraine Park, which has more than 200 campsites scattered around the forest. It’s only a 15 minute drive from Fruita. Near Boulder Canyon. There’s a large meadow near the Winfield ghost town if other sites are full, or if you have a high-clearance vehicle, you can continue on for more remote camping. has the capacity to cook you camp worthy meals night after night so you’ll never want to leave the comforts of your campsite! Plan for a brewery lunch in outdoor-loving Boulder. Baby Doe offers 51 family sites that include a picnic table and fire ring. Lost Park is Colorado car camping at its smallest, as each site is set evenly throughout a large area, and can accommodate a max RV length of 22 feet. And if you're looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush while you're there, you can even go sandboarding while staying inside the park. If you have pups in tow, go for the 7-mile Twin Sisters trail, off Highway 7, or Lily Lake, where you can picnic on boulders overlooking Estes Park. One of the best fall color spots in Colorado, Rocky delivers on the foliage. Baby Doe Campground is located on the eastern shore of the lake, and is walking distance from the shoreline as well as the popular Turquoise Lake Nature Trail. The campground offers 50 campsites, and includes restrooms with flush toilets. Look to River Runners and Absolute Bikes for gear rentals. “Beautiful drive [to get] there over Kenosha Pass, [especially] during Aspen Yellow season. The host greets you with a bundle of wood and may schedule a guided walk around the property. Copyright © 2020 Sunset Publishing Corporation. Some are just suitable for car camping with tents, other can fit a full fledge travel trailer. You’ll cross one of the highest paved roads in the country (and likely spot elk and moose), then head south toward Frisco, before kicking west to Carbondale. Of the 134, 99 offer electricity as well as tent pads. Plus, it has electricity and showers. There’s no shame in car camping. The area is located within 30 minutes of the beautiful Buena Vista, Colorado. Car Camping Checklist. A small lake on a mountainside flush with gorgeous Aspen trees, Cottonwood Lake campground is a super popular summer destination for Colorado car camping enthusiasts, and particularly for anglers on the hunt for some high altitude trout. Drinking water is provided throughout the campground and each site comes with a picnic table and fire ring. Buena Vista is the nearest town and is home to some of the best white water rafting in all of Colorado. That said, the activities here are abundant, and include fishing, hunting, and hiking throughout the recreation area, and even into the popular and scenic Indian Peaks Wilderness. The Roaring Fork Valley is gorgeous with its towns of Glenwood Springs, Aspen, and Carbondale. Other family-friendly activities include hiking, wildlife viewing, and fishing in one of the man ponds that dot the area. At an altitude of 9,200 feet, Thunder Ridge Campground is the perfect way to get away from the city without having to venture far off the well-traveled road. From Carbondale, you’ll head to Black Canyon of the Gunnison via the West Elk Loop (Highway 133), which follows the Crystal River and a sea of color (especially around McClure Pass, pictured above). And you can always rent an RV near Denver if you’d prefer to glamp it up a level. If you’re less interested in stopping at Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods, camp at Mueller State Park instead. Campers can access water and toilets at … Chilly, windy, panoramic!” — The Dyrt camper Terrie J. The average daily budget for a Colorado road trip is between $150-$200 – this includes gas, a rental car, lodging, food, drink, and entry fees.. Thankfully, Colorado has some of the cheapest gas in the USA, which will help you stretch your dollars. Kelly Dahl Campground offers 46 single-family campsites that are large enough to accommodate both tents and RVs. RV Camping Tips and Tricks for First-Timers, 9 Small Campers You Can Pull with Almost Any Car, 7 Campgrounds in Florida That Campers Can't Get Enough Of, 9 Tips That Make Sleeping in Your Car Way Less Miserable, 14 Wilderness Survival Tools You Should Always Have in the Backcountry, 8 Winter Tent Camping Tips for Keeping Warm, 12 Cars That Can Handle Dirt Roads and Camping, Here’s November 2020’s Campground Review Contest Winners, Explore The Outdoors at These 7 Great Campgrounds Near Columbus, Ohio, The 7 Most Popular Campgrounds Near Portland, Oregon—The Dyrt’s Hometown, 7 Awesome Places to Go Camping Near Amarillo, Texas, Top 7 Recommended Campgrounds Around Rockford, Illinois, Escape The City at These 7 Great Campgrounds Near Dallas, Texas, 7 Superb Campgrounds Near Sunny Santa Barbara, California. Located within White River National Forest, this six-site campground puts you next to one of the major trailheads of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area; 10 minutes from downtown Carbondale; and right next to Avalanche Ranch, a cabin lodging area with three hot springs and showers. There are 21 campsites at Thunder Ridge, 3 of which are fully accessible. The Colorado Trail starts here, too, so the hiking options are plentiful. While there are no electrical hookups available here, the campground does offer water, picnic tables, fire rings, and dump stations. Head out early enough to catch the sunrise and avoid traffic. Nearby Hotels. Kelly Dahl Campground is located just outside of the small mountain town of Nederland, Colorado, and offers some of the best proximity to hiking of all the Colorado car camping destinations on our list. Known as one of the state’s most iconic water destinations, this alpine lake offers campers the chance to boat, fish, hike, and swim throughout the warmer summer months. The area is heavily used for hiking and fishing, and is popular large-in-part for its proximity to Pikes Peak, as it sits along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. On your way out of town, it’s worth taking a small detour to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. You camp under the pine trees beside the lake with beautiful views of Mt. Car camp on this 10-day fall road trip that loops from Denver through some of the state's most stunning landscapes to Colorado Springs. That said, at 10,000 feet in elevation, Lost Park offers its own set of stunning views and excellent high-altitude hiking opportunities in close proximity to the campground. I would highly recommend camping at Mueller State Park and would love to return for another camping experience.” — The Dyrt camper Andrea K. Baby Doe is the best of both worlds when it comes to Colorado car camping, offering direct access to Turquoise Lake without being too far off the beaten path. “Absolutely breathtaking views on your drive up to this site! Regardless, dispersed camping has one major theme: you can arrive at the site with your car! An old mining town, Frisco gets overshadowed by the major ski resorts that surround it (Breck, Vail, Keystone), but that’s what keeps it awesome. For car campers seeking a bit of solitude and a chance to take beautiful drives around some of the most scenic mountain passes in the nation, Lost Park is the place for you. September 8, 2019 Camping along Lincoln Creek is permitted from late May to late September. For the most recreational options, best views, and fewest crowds, drive the extra two miles to camp along Grizzly. COLORADO.com campgrounds listings, the Colorado Campground and Lodging Owners Association and Colorado KOA Owners Association are just a few places to make reservations and locate campgrounds. “Excellent stay – camp is at Brainard Lake recreation area and one of our all time favs ! If you’re one of them, know that you can car camp at Bear Creek Lake Camp, which has a walking trail that leads to the venue. The site hosts were very welcoming and friendly!” — The Dyrt camper Elizabeth M. While accessible by car, this campground is a tent-only campground with a whopping 6 sites available, making it the smallest Colorado car camping destination on our list. Visitors and residents alike will never tire of pitching a tent, eating their weight in gooey s’mores, and soaking in the natural beauty that is a Colorado campground. “Perfect place for a quiet weekend away near CO Springs. With several different areas to fish and hike, this campground is perfect for families toting their fishing gear along in the car as well as those that want a heavy-duty high-altitude hike to round out their weekend camping adventure. Mueller State Park is a heavily-visited hiking and camping area located within 45 minutes of Colorado Springs. The area is also popular for wildlife viewing, as campers can regularly catch glimpses of Bighorn sheep, Golden Eagles, and a variety of other creatures. Courtesy of Seth K. Hughes; Features; The Guide to Camping in Colorado. The beauty of Mueller is that it’s open year-round, and its native population of Elk and Bighorn Sheep are popular to local visitors and guests. It’s overloaded with aspens. REI has a store in the city, too. Acrophobics can stay closer to land on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad that cruises along the base of the canyon. Expect Trail Ridge to close around the third week of October. The adventure starts in Denver, where you can get supplies before steering west toward Rocky. There’s the suspension bridge, which allows you to cross the 1,270-foot gap on foot; a gondola; skydiving; and the Skycoaster, which starts with a free fall before dangling you over the gorge. Car camping is plentiful, and Angel of Shavano, at the base of Mt. The following checklist for car camping covers all gear necessary for an easy-going camping experience. Best to time your Colorado car-camping trip to arrive in the park mid-week. The springs and shower are accessible with a $16 day pass. Buena Vista’s calling card is still adventure, but the art and restaurant scenes are coming in strong. Hikers, climbers, and well-to-do pro athletes congregate in places like Avery Brewing and Upslope (pictured), which is on the outskirts of the town on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park. It's epic and something you have to see at least once in your life. 9 remote lakeside campgrounds in Colorado where you can embrace serenity without speedboats By Joshua Berman , Special to The Denver Post Jul 9, 2018, 3:33 pm 1.9K Shares All of the campsites are first-come, first-served, and although there’s no water available onsite, there is one restroom as well as firewood for sale. 20 of Kelly Dahl’s 46 sites are first-come, first-served while the others are reservable year-round. We camped on the side of the mountain, so when we woke up we were rewarded with the most beautiful overview of the city and mountains.” — The Dyrt camper Keisha M. This article was brought to you by Primus. Weekends are absurdly busy as everyone from the Front Range and beyond descends upon the country’s third-most visited national park to peek at the fall color. Whether you’re looking for a high-altitude adventure or a simple weekend away from the city, Colorado car camping is tough to beat when it comes to destinations just off the beaten path. Unique to Mueller is their RV camping loop, which includes 11 campsites that can only be reserved as one group — if you’re friends with enough RVers, you can rent the entire loop out for yourselves. The town's Main Street houses artists priced out of Aspen and young entrepreneurs who have come back to invest in their hometown. Campers willing to brave the chillier temps of early Fall can expect to wake up to the unique yet piercing Elk bugling call. It’s no secret that one of the most beloved pastimes in Colorado is camping. It’s ideal for families who want an easy drive into a campground that offers a classic car camping experience, complete with easy access to the lake and stunning views directly from the campsites. Colorado Glamping -- … About 40 minutes from the valley's glittering Aspen, Carbondale may just be one of raddest towns in Colorado. A lake for everyone, confessions of a pool crasher, and the BBQ king of California. It may take some of the “roughing it” out of it, but who minds. This area is part of San Isabel National Forest, one of the best areas to camp for free in Colorado. Plan to be out there half the day, then come back for another hot spring soak and shower before retreating to your campsite at night. Among the reliable mom-and-pop lunch spots, new places are starting to move in. If you’re willing to brave the chillier temperatures of the fall, Lost Park is the ideal spot for car campers to camp amongst the iconic Aspens, whose colors transform the mountainous region into a living masterpiece. If it’s summer, check the schedule for the riverside outdoor music venue, BEACH. Known as one of the state’s most iconic water destinations, this alpine lake offers campers the chance to boat, fish, hike, and swim throughout the warmer summer months. People plan entire trips around concerts at Red Rocks. Dispersed camping is the perfect outdoor overnight option for people who want the comforts of car camping but the solitude of backpacking. Shavano (a 9-mile fourteener that climbs 4,600 feet), is one of the best spots. Each site comes with a fire ring and picnic table, and drinking water and trash collection is available at the campground as well. At this adventure park, the founders have figured out every which way to get you to tackle the 1,200-foot gorge. Consider extending your trip if you want to spend time hiking the lesser-visited western side of the park. Hop around between places like Carbondale Arts, Carbondale Clay Center, and Steve’s Guitar, a guitar shop that often hosts live music. As the leaves change, mountain towns host festivals most weekends and locals head out on the trails in droves. Wrap up your Colorado car-camping road trip with a visit to one of the most iconic places in the state. We had an excellent stay here with the exception of the hail and thunderstorm, but there was no planning for that. Massive and Mt. Ours was wonderful and looking around other people’s were too.” — The Dyrt camper Kayla M. Located in the stunning Brainard Lake Recreation Area, Pawnee Campground includes 47 campsites for tents and RVs alike. To get there from Fort Collins, take US Hwy 287 north to Livermore, turn west onto County Road 74E towards Red Feather Lakes. From there, make a stop at Nooch for vegan trail snacks like mushroom jerky and s'mores supplies. This Colorado car-camping road trip is all about spending time outside, and these two burgeoning mountain towns offer a plethora of outdoor recreation. Dispersed camping, which is also referred to as primitive camping, is a term used to describe camping in a national forest outside of a designated campground. Tucked away ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN! The hike is about 4 miles each way. One of the most popular places to camp for residents of Colorado Springs, Thunder Ridge campground at Rampart Range Reservoir is a pristine and well-trafficked campground that overlooks the water. Even if it is cheap, gas will still be one of your greatest expenses because it can be difficult to properly gauge how much you will actually use. A tucked-away car-camping site in a sweeping Colorado valley? Located just an hour from Fort Collins, this area is a labyrinth of forest service roads that offer endless camping opportunities. From there it’s on to Rocky Mountain National Park. Tyler Wildeck is a writer with a passion for all things outdoors. Or, drive a little further east toward Salida and set up camp at Curecanti National Recreation Area, which has three reservoirs, including the state’s largest body of water. Then, spend time wandering the tiny downtown to see the historic buildings, craft drink spots, shops, and galleries—all of which earned it certification as Colorado’s first Creative District. Campsites are fine, but if you’re going to get to truly know Colorado while saving money, you should look into dispersed camping. In late summer and fall, elk take over the park and its basecamp town of Estes Park. As a local of over 11 years, I know all of the secret campsites in the state. The largest urban wildlife refuge in the country is a sight to see with its 15,000 acres and more than 300 species—including bison and eagles—set against the Denver skyline. 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