12 Best Places to Go Camping in Colorado for an Incredible Outdoor Adventure in the Centennial State

Here's what you need to know about camping in Colorado, including the best campgrounds and helpful tips.

View of woman relaxing in a hammock in San Isabel National Forest in the Angel of Shavano campground

Cavan Images/Getty Images

Whether you’re embarking on an upscale glamping getaway or pitching a tent in a national park, camping is a rewarding way to experience Colorado’s vast landscapes — so long as you do it right. Overnight adventures in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain wilderness and beyond require at least a bit of foreknowledge. First, ask a few questions: When is the Colorado camping season? When should you make campsite reservations? Is it legal to camp anywhere? And, importantly, what are Colorado’s best camping destinations? Here’s what you need to know about camping in Colorado, starting with the basics. 

What to Know About Camping in Colorado

To answer those questions quickly: June, July, and August offer the best weather for camping. Those clement days are desirable, so campgrounds fill up fast — which means you’ll need to make campsite reservations as soon as you can. Most campgrounds allow you to reserve six months out; all state parks require reservations. You can’t legally camp wherever you want beyond designated lands, though some parks allow dispersed camping (camping in undeveloped areas). No matter if you car camp, RV or van camp, backpack, or glamp, Colorado has a campsite for you. Just remember to follow the Leave No Trace rules so others can enjoy these campgrounds, too.

Best Campgrounds in Colorado

Moraine Park Campground, Rocky Mountain National Park

bear box at Moraine campground
Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Moraine Park Campground, located in one of the state’s most famous national parks, is a fantastic home base for classic Colorado activities such as fishing, horseback riding, and hiking. The park has 355 miles of trails that range from entry-level lakeside walks to steep rocky summits, all easily accessible from the single-family, tent-only, and walk-to campsites. The campgrounds also contain RV sites without hookups and many chipmunk neighbors. 

South Rim Campground, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

tent set up at South Rim Campground
Courtesy of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Spectacular canyon views? Check. Year-round campsites? You bet. South Rim Campground is the only campground in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park that’s open in any season, which means you can explore the dramatic gorge when the mood strikes. Just know that potable water is only available in the summer months, as is the ability to reserve sites and electric hookups for RVs in advance. 

Piñon Flats Campground, Great Sand Dunes National Park

Deer grazing in foreground at Pinon Flats campground with mountains in the distance
NPS/Patrick Myers.

There are a few reasons why Piñon Flats Campground is the best place to camp in the state, including a dishwashing sink, toilets that flush, restrooms with sinks, and plenty of potable water spigots. Each site has a picnic table and a fire grate; many boast stunning dune views. With so many creature comforts, a stay here almost tips into glamping territory, depending on your disposition toward roughing it. 

Comanche National Grassland

A beautiful drone photo of Comanche National Grassland. A vast canyon filled with prehistoric artifacts

nick1803/Getty Images

These flat southeastern grasslands showcase unexpected topography in a state known for its mountains. The area offers dispersed camping, so set up wherever you feel called, as long as your campsite is at least 100 feet from any water source. Follow the 17.6-mile Picket Wire Canyon Trail to see 150 million-year-old dinosaur footprints.

Fisherman’s Paradise Campground, Sylvan Lake State Park

There are several prime spots to camp in this relatively tiny, remote state park, but few can beat Fisheman’s Paradise’s lake views. Plus, sites here are open year-round and are big enough to accommodate RVs. Ice fish, nordic ski, and snowmobile from your home base in cold temperatures; canoe, kayak, and hike when the weather’s warm. 

Silver Bell Campground, Maroon Bells Scenic Area

Maroon Bells sign for Silver Bell Campground site and white river national forest in Aspen, Colorado rocky mountain in autumn fall colorful season

ablokhin/Getty Images

At 8,460 feet, amid aspen groves and subalpine forest, Silver Bell Campground might only be 20 minutes from Aspen, but it can feel a world away. The sites have campfire rings and picnic tables, proffering a classic landing spot after a day spent hiking around mountain lakes and wildflower meadows. 

Morefield Campground, Mesa Verde National Park

View from the Moraine campground
Courtesy of Aramark Destinations.

Southwest Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park is an archeological wonder, as over 600 cliff dwellings built by Ancestral Puebloans exist across the park’s 52,000-plus acres. Add the fact that it’s one of the best places in the U.S. for stargazing, and you’ll be surprised to learn that Morefield rarely fills up, even during peak seasons. The whopping 267 sites might have something to do with that.

Chatfield State Park Campground

A Summer sunset view of a quiet picnic area at top of Chatfield Dam, Chatfield State Park, Denver-Littleton, Colorado, USA.
SeanXu/Getty Images.

You don’t need to venture far from Denver for first-rate camping, hiking, and fishing. Chatfield is an urban park on steroids and a fantastic place for entry-level campers to escape the city and get their bearings without roughing it too much. 

Angel of Shavano Campground, San Isabel National Forest

View of woman relaxing in a hammock in San Isabel National Forest in the Angel of Shavano campground

Cavan Images/Getty Images

Fun fact: Colorado has 53 fourteeners (peaks over 14,000 feet high), and 19 are in San Isabel National Forest. Camp at first-come, first-served Angel of Shavano Campground to get acquainted with Salida’s trails, including portions of the Colorado Trail.

Mueller State Park Campground

A truck unloading equipment at Mueller State Park Campground
Courtesy of Mueller State Park.

Some campgrounds stand alone because of their amenities; others are perfectly fine in the facility department (clean pit toilets, electric sites, fire rings, etc.), but their locations are what really make them stand out. Mueller State Park Campground is the latter. Simply put, this state park west of Colorado Springs is a beauty. Think stunning mountain and meadow views, gorgeous woodlands, and quiet seclusion. 

Oasis RV Resort & Cottages, Curecanti National Recreation Area

bench and cabin at Oasis RV park in Durango, CO
Courtesy of Oasis Durango.

Sure, this RV resort next to the Blue Mesa Reservoir (Colorado’s largest body of water) might not be a traditional campsite, but the beauty of Colorado camping is that there’s no one way to do it. Park your RV or rent a tent site and get access to unconventional amenities like a dog park, basic Wi-Fi, bingo, movies, and karaoke nights. 

Twin Peaks Campground, Twin Lakes

Bench surrounded by cacti in the Twin Peaks campground
Courtesy of National Park Service.

Stay at the quiet Twin Peaks Campground, between Twin Lake Reservoir and Independence Pass, if you’re into fly fishing, fantastic views, and large campsites with plentiful privacy. If you’re collecting 14ers, Mt. Elbert, the Rocky Mountains’ highest summit, is close by.

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