The Best Dispersed Camping Near Lake City, Colorado

Set in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, Lake City is a gem of a mountain town. From driving the famous Alpine Loop, to hiking a fourteener, to a relaxing fishing trip,…

Set in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, Lake City is a gem of a mountain town. From driving the famous Alpine Loop, to hiking a fourteener, to a relaxing fishing trip, you’re sure to find the perfect outdoor activity here. However, given its remote location and small town vibes, accommodation can be tricky to find in Lake City. Luckily for you, it is easy to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Lake City, Colorado.

We’ve created this Lake City dispersed camping guide to help you find the perfect campsite for your next visit. You’ll find all the must know information on dispersed camping, maps, and detailed campsite descriptions, all designed to help you plan the perfect Lake City getaway.

 

Lake City, Colorado Dispersed Camping Guide

The Basics

The following sections contain all the must know information you need to plan a successful dispersed camping trip near Lake City, Colorado. This includes everything from when to camp to what to bring.

This is the essential info before you head out!

When to Dispersed Camp Near Lake City, Colorado

Lake City and the surrounding mountains are truly the “High Country”. Lake City itself sits at an elevation of 8,600′, and much of the surrounding area is well above 10,000′ above sea level. That means that camping season here starts a bit later and ends a bit earlier than some other parts of the State.

We recommend planning your dispersed camping trip between mid-June and late-September to get the best weather and limit your chances of encountering snow. Those in RVs or trailers will be able to expand this season a bit, but you should certainly be prepared for colder temps and snow during the shoulder season.

 

What to Bring

Dispersed camping near Lake City can be a remote and rugged experience. Many of the roads are quite rough, and you won’t find many people sharing the campsites with you.

Given that, it is important that you come prepared to be self-sufficient, and while we’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairsbelow are some of our favorite items specifically for dispersed camping near Lake City, Colorado:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic version for a good overview of the Lake City region.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – Most of the camping areas included in this guide do not have dependable water access. As such, a portable water container is essential.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

 

Permits and Fees

One of our favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of need for any permits or fees to be paid. Dispersed camping near Lake City is no different, and none of the dispersed camping areas in this guide require a permit or have any associated fees.

For the most up to date information on camping in the Lake City area, your best bet is to contact the Gunnison Ranger District office.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions are becoming more and more common in the Lake City area. The San Juans have been in a deep drought for several years, so it is critical that you obey all fire restrictions.

You can check fire restrictions at this website before heading out.

If you are able to have a campfire, be sure to completely put it out prior to going to sleep or leaving you campground for any amount of time!

 

Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: The Lake City area is incredibly popular for dispersed camping. As such, it is important to leave your campsite in better condition than you found it. Please always practice Leave No Trace camping.
  • Access: We’ve done our best to describe the road conditions you can expect when heading to each of the areas described in this post. Many, though not all, of the campsites included in this guide require 4WD reach them.

 

Dispersed Camping Near Lake City, Colorado

The following list contains the 8 best dispersed camping areas near Lake City, Colorado.

Our Lake City dispersed camping map below gives an overview of each site’s location with a full description included in the following section. If you’re looking for other dispersed camping opportunities in the San Juans, check out our additional guides below:

 

Engineer Pass Dispersed Camping

Distance to Lake City: 5.5 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but may be able to get water from Henson Creek
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Engineer Pass connects Lake City with the Ouray, Colorado. This is a famous drive that makes up part of the popular Alpine Loop. Luckily for those looking for dispersed camping near Lake City, the east side of the pass offers ample opportunities for camping right along Henson Creek. Although the entire route requires a high-clearance 4WD vehicle, you’ll be able to reach several of the dispersed sites on the Lake City side of the pass in lower clearance vehicles.

Dispersed campsites begin to appear about 5 miles from Lake City along County Road 20. Many of the sites are quite private and even have direct river access, perfect for pulling water or doing some fishing. Keep in mind that as you get further from town the road gets much rougher and will require 4WD.

Disperse camping near LAke City on engineer pass

 

Nellie Creek Trailhead Dispersed Camping

Distance to Lake City: 10 miles
Restrooms: 
Vault toilet available at trailhead
Water: 
No, but may be able to get water from Nellie Creek
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

For those with 4WD and a high-clearance vehicle the road to the Nellie Creek trailhead offers ample opporutnities for dispersed camping near Lake City, Colorado. The roads in this area are rugged, but the views are truly spectacular, making this a rewarding place to spend the night. There are several excellent hikes in the area as well, including Uncompahgre Peak, a 14er.

To get here, head west out of Lake City along CR20 (Engineer Pass) before turning right onto CR23, Nellie Creek Road. Continue on Nellie Creek Road for a few miles before you’ll begin to see some great dispersed campsites appear. You can camp all the way up to the trailhead, where there is a vault toilet available.

Water may be able to be taken from Nellie Creek, but it is best to come prepared with everything you need. The campsites here don’t typically fill up, so you have a good chance of securing a site.

 

Cebolla Creek Road

Distance to Lake City: 10.5 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Light
Map

Cebolla Creek Road is an excellent dispersed camping area located southeast of Lake City. Also known as Forest Service Road 788 or CR50, this well-graded road has miles of dispersed campsites as well as several free USFS run campgrounds. There isn’t much shade along the road and water can be hard to come by, but you’ll enjoy a relatively quiet area with great views.

Getting here is straightforward from Lake City. Simply head south along Highway 149 before turning onto FR 788/Cebolla Creek Road at the Slumgullion Campground. Once past the campground, dispersed camping is allowed for the length of the road.

The road here is passable by most vehicles.

 

Hidden Valley Tent Campground

Distance to Lake City: 17 miles
Restrooms: 
Vault toilet
Water: 
No, but water may be taken from Cebolla Creek
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

The Hidden Valley Tent Campground is a small, primitive camping area maintained by the USFS that makes for good free camping near Lake City. The campground itself isn’t much more than a large pull out off of Highway 50, but it does provide a vault toilet and water can be taken from the adjacent Cebolla Creek.

This is a wonderful area to camp in as you’ll be close to several excellent trails, including the Cannibal Plateau Trail, known for its beautiful wildflowers.

To get here from Lake City, take Highway 149 south to CR5, which quickly turns into County Road 50. It’s another 7 miles along CR50/FR 788 to reach the Hidden Valley Tent Campground.

 

Spruce Campground

Distance to Lake City: 18 miles
Restrooms: 
Vault toilet
Water: 
No, but water may be taken from Cebolla Creek
Crowds:
Light
Map

Another excellent free campground near Lake City is the Spruce Campground, located just up the road from Hidden Valley. This primitive site has a simple vault toilet and several sites designed to accommodate tents and smaller vehicles. Those with RVs or larger rigs will want to look elsewhere.

The Spruce Campground is lightly used so you’ll have a good chance of getting a site, even on busy weekends. Cebolla Creek is adjacent to the campground providing a water source and great fishing.

To get here, follow the directions to Hidden Valley Tent Campground described above and continue along CR50/FR 788 for a few more miles before reaching the Spruce Campground.

Dispersed campsite near lake city colorado

 

Forest Service Road 735

Distance to Lake City: 16 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Light
Map

Forest Service Road 735 offers basic, dispersed camping just 16 miles from Lake City, Colorado. This is a uncrowded area that is popular with hunters in the fall and provides access to some beautiful National Forest. The campsite is just a short distance from the highway, just before you enter the trees. It has room for one or two groups at most.

There is no water or services here, and Forest Service Road 735 is best for a quick overnight or basecamp for exploring other areas.

To get here from Lake City, head south along Highway 149 for just under 16 miles. FR 735 will be on the west side of the road and you can camp anywhere along its length.

 

Rito Hondo Reservoir Dispersed Camping

Distance to Lake City: 27 miles
Restrooms: 
Yes
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Light
Map

Rito Hondo Reservoir is a small lake located 27 miles south of Lake City. Free, dispersed camping is permitted near the reservoir, just not directly on the shores. You’ll have access to a bathroom here and may be able to get water from the reservoir – just be sure to filter it!

This is a very quiet area that doesn’t see a ton of campers, so you’re likely to experience some solitude at Rito Hondo. To get here from Lake City, head south out of town on Highway 149 for approximately 24 miles. Turn right onto FR 513 and stay on that for another two miles to the reservoir.

 

Big Blue Campground

Distance to Lake City: 22 miles
Restrooms: 
Vault toilet
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Light
Map

Although not technically a dispersed camping area, the Big Blue Campground offers a free, US Forest Service run campground near Lake City. This remote and seculed campground has approximately 12 campsites that are all available on a first-come, first served basis. There is a vault toilet here, one of the benefits of this being as established campground.

Getting here from Lake City is fairly straightforward, although a high-clearance vehicle in recommended. Head north out of town along Highway 149 until you reach Forest Service Road 868. Once on FR 868 it is approximately 9 miles until you reach the Big Blue Campground.

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan a dispersed camping trip near Lake City, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!

Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

Looking for other great dispersed camping in Colorado? Be sure to check out our other guides below:

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Laugavegur Huts & Accommodation Guide

There are so many reasons to love Iceland’s acclaimed Laugavegur Trail. Not only is the scenery stunning and the trail approachable, it also boasts a fantastic hut system running its…

There are so many reasons to love Iceland’s acclaimed Laugavegur Trail. Not only is the scenery stunning and the trail approachable, it also boasts a fantastic hut system running its entire length. Campers can pitch a tent outside all of the huts, while those seeking warmth and a soft mattress can sleep indoors. Given that the huts are the only accommodation option along the Laugavegur, you might be thinking that no advance planning is needed. However, there’s a lot of important information you need to know about your accommodation before you head to Iceland, such as how to reserve your beds, what the facilities are like, and which huts to stay in (and which avoid).

This guide covers all that and more, so you can start your trek prepared and confident! We’ve also included an accommodation directory with recommendations for where to stay before and after your trek.

 

In This Post

 

A river with mountains in the background on the first stage of the Laugavegur Trail.

The Laugavegur Trail boasts magnificent scenery every step of the way.

 

Types of Laugavegur Accommodation

The only accommodation options along the Laugavegur Trail are mountain huts and camping.  You’ll also have the option of staying in hostels or hotels before or after your trek. We’ve provided an overview of each option below.

Mountain Huts

There are three different organizations that operate huts along the Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trails. We’ve provided a brief overview of each below:

Ferðafélag Íslands (FI) Huts

FI, the Icelandic Touring Association, operates nearly all of the huts along the Laugavegur Trail.  The huts are well-maintained and staffed by a warden. All of the huts provide basic dormitory-style sleeping quarters, communal kitchens, and bathrooms or outhouses. All huts except for Hrafntinnusker and Baldvinsskáli provide showers for an extra fee.  The FI-run huts along the Laugavegur Route are:

 

Volcano Huts (Þórsmörk)

Þórsmörk is the southern endpoint of the Laugavegur Trail and offers several options for hut accommodation. In addition to the FI-run hut, Volcano Huts offers more upscale options for those seeking a bit of luxury at the end of their trek. There are cottages, private rooms, and dormitories available, and there is a bar/restaurant onsite.

 

Útivist Huts (Þórsmörk/Básar)

While the Útivist-run Básar Hut is not directly on the Laugavegur Trail, it is a convenient option for some hikers nonetheless. Those tacking on  the Fimmvörðuháls Trail can get a bit of a head start by continuing to Básar instead of stopping at Þórsmörk. Additionally, if accommodation at Þórsmörk is sold out, the Básar Hut is a good backup.

 

Thorsmork Hut Laugavegur Trail

The huts along the Laugavegur vary in size, but all provide comfortable and rustic accommodations.

 

 

Camping

Camping is permitted at all of the huts along the Laugavegur Trail and typically costs ISK 2,000 per person.  Campers have access to drinking water and toilets, but are not allowed to enter the huts or use the cooking facilities.

This post provides in-depth information about camping on the Laugavegur Trail.

 

Hotels & Hostels

There are no hotels or hostels located directly on the Laugavegur Trail. However, those completing the Fimmvörðuháls Trail will have access both hotel and hostel accommodations upon finishing in Skogar. Additionally, there are many excellent hotels and hostels in Reykjavik that are perfect for before and after your trek. Check out the accommodation directory for our top picks.

 

Laugavegur Trail Camping

Camping along the Laugavegur is a flexible and budget-friendly option.

 

 

Hut Reservations

It is essential that you book your Laugavegur Huts ahead of your trek. Due to the popularity of the Laugavegur Trail and the limited number of beds, huts typically sell out every night of the peak season. It’s ideal if you can make your reservations a few months prior to your trek, but even a few weeks in advance will help. If you do not book ahead of time, you can try your luck out on the trail. Try to arrive at the huts early in the day for the best chance of finding an available bed.

FI Hut Reservations

Click here to reserve all FI huts.

You’ll be asked to submit an inquiry form. Be sure to include the huts you wish to stay at, your hiking dates, and the number of people in your group. It is necessary to pay for your huts online in advance. Once you’ve booked and paid for your huts, you will receive a confirmation voucher via email. Be sure to print these vouchers and bring them with you on your trek. Refunds are issued based on how close your cancellation is to your travel date. Details on refunds can be found here.

Other Huts

Note: Advance reservations are not needed for camping. Campers should check in and pay with the warden prior to pitching their tents. Cash (ISK) and credit cards are accepted.

 

An overhead view of the Landmannalaugar Hut

A busy summer day at the Landmannalaugar Hut.

 

 

Laugavegur Accommodation Cost

Generally speaking, Iceland is an expensive destination. Fortunately, camping or sleeping in huts is a great way to keep your costs relatively low. Here’s what you can expect to pay for accommodation before, during, and after your Laugavegur Trek:

  • Average Hut Price: 9,500 ISK (per person)
  • Average Camping Price: 2,000 ISK (per person)
  • Shower at huts: 500 ISK (5 minutes)
  • Hostel in Skogar: 6,500 ISK (per person for dorm bed)
  • Average mid-range hotel in Reykjavik: 18,000 ISK

Cash (ISK) and major credit cards are accepted widely, including at the huts.

Read More: How Much It Cost Us to Hike the Laugavegur Trail

 

Laugavegur Trail Huts: What You Need to Know

 

Facilities

The huts along the Laugavegur Trail are set in stunning and remote locations. It is an unforgettable experience to spend a night in one of these cozy outposts. Due to their off-the-grid nature, accommodations are quite basic. Expect communal sleeping arrangements either in bunk beds or mattresses placed close together on the floor. Guests may be required to share a double mattress in some situations. There is no electricity in any of the huts, but they are heated by gas or geothermal. Gas heaters are turned off each night, so some huts can get a bit chilly at times.

Every hut has a communal kitchen with cookware and a gas stove. There is also a sink with running water for drinking and washing up. Flush toilets with toilet paper and hand soap are available at most of the huts (a few only have latrines). Toilets are typically in a separate building from the main hut. Warm showers (500 ISK/5 min) are also available at most huts.

There is no WIFI available at any of the Laugavegur huts, and cell phone service is very unreliable along the route.

 

The entryway at a hut along the Laugavegur Trail

You’ll need to remove your hiking boots before entering the huts.

 

Food & Drink

Meals are not served at any of the huts along the Laugavegur, although can purchase a small selection of snacks and drinks. There is a restaurant at Álftavatn that serves snacks, drinks, lunch, and dinner from 11:30-23:00 each day. Meals can be booked in advance and vegetarian/vegan options are available. Expect very high prices for all of the food and drinks you purchase on your trek.

With the exception of the options described above, you’ll need to pack all of the food you’ll need on your trek. Many hikers bring snacks and freeze-dried meals from home, but you can also find a decent selection of hiking foods in the grocery stores in Reykjavik. If you are staying in the huts, stoves and cooking equipment will be provided for your use.

Water is widely available along the Laugavegur Trail. You can find drinking water at all of the huts on the route, and you can also drink water directly from the rivers and streams.

 

Alftavatn Restaurant

The restaurant at Alftavatn.

 

What to Pack

You are required to bring your own sleeping bag for all of the Laugavegur huts. If you plan on sleeping indoors, you do not need a super warm bag, as the huts do not get very cold. Campers, on the other hand, should plan to bring a sleeping bag rated for 0 ° celsius or lower.

Bring your own pillow and towel if you want either of these items, as the huts do not provide them.

There are nearly 24 hours of daylight in Iceland during the summer months. Many people appreciate having a sleeping mask for this reason. Additionally, those sleeping in the tightly packed dormitories might also find that earplugs can come in handy.

You cannot charge devices at any of the FI huts along the Laugavegur Trail, so it’s a good idea to bring a power bank if you will need to charge a phone, watch, or camera.

Want more packing tips? Check out our complete Laugavegur Packing List

 

Hiker with backpack on the Laugavegur Trail.

The size of your pack will depend on many factors, including your accommodation and food preferences.

 

 

Laugavegur Trail Accommodation Directory

This directory follows the typical north to south hiking direction, and includes all of the accommodation available along the route. We’ve also included recommendations in Reykjavik and Skogar for before and after your trek.

For more information on itineraries and routes, be sure to check out our Complete Guide to the Laugavegur Trail, which includes four different itinerary options and lots of other helpful tips.

Included in this directory:

 

Reykjavik

High-End: Hilton Reykjavik Nordica

For those looking for a more traditional hotel, we highly recommend the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica. Located on the edge of central Reykjavik, the hotel offers nice rooms and a fantastic breakfast. It is just a short walk from the campsite where you can catch the bus to Landmannalaugar.

Mid-Range: Dalur- HI Hostel

The most convenient hostel for those planning to walk the Laugavegur, the Dalur HI Hostel is located adjacent to the campsite as well as the bus pick up for Landmannalaugar. It’s a bit far from the city center, but the public bus makes getting around Reykjavik easy from the hostel. The large kitchen and laundry facilities are convenient features for before and after your trek.

Budget: Reykjavik Campsite 

The most economical option in town is to simply camp at the lovely Reykjavik Campsite. Located approximately 20-30 minutes to central Reykjavik by walking (and even less on the convenient public bus), the campground provides great facilities at a fraction of the cost of a hotel room. The large indoor lounge space is a great place to escape Iceland’s temperamental weather.  As a bonus, the bus to Landmannalaugar picks up directly from the campsite.

Want more options? Use the map below to check out all accommodation in Reykjavik. 



Booking.com

 

Landmannalaugar

Number of beds: 78
Price per person: 9500 ISK
More information

Nearly all Laugavegur hikers will spend a night at Landmannalaugar at the beginning or end of their trek. The hut is spacious and comfortable, with four sleeping rooms situated on two floors. The kitchen features multiple gas stoves and hot and cold running water. There is a bathroom building with flush toilets and hot showers. The hut sells snacks, drinks, and some hiking essentials.

The “Mountain Mall” is also located at Landmannalaugar. This eccentric shop is housed within a ring of retro school buses. They sell snacks, hiker meals, warm drinks, beer/wine, and hiking necessities. They also have some nice indoor and outdoor seating areas.

The beautiful nearby hot springs should not be missed. A soak in these scenic pools is the perfect start or end to your Laugavegur adventure.

 

The Mountain Mall at Landmannalaugar.

 

 

Hrafntinnusker

Number of beds: 52
Price: 9500 ISK
More information

The Hrafntinnusker Hut is located in one of the highest and most rugged areas along the Laugavegur Trail. This is the first stop for some hikers, while many others choose to continue onward, depending on their itinerary and pace. Due to its remote setting, the facilities are quite basic, but certainly cozy. The sleeping loft has mattresses set on the floor and can feel a bit cramped. There is also a dormitory with double and single bunk beds. The kitchen has cookware, stoves, and cold, running water. There are outdoor latrines, but no showers. As long as you’re not expecting luxury, this is a great place to appreciate Iceland’s rugged heartland.

 

Hrafntinnusker Hut Laugavegur Trail

The Hrafntinnusker Hut.

 

Álftavatn

Number of beds: 72
Price: 9500 ISK
More information

Many hikers will stop at Álftavatn either on their first or second night on the trail. The area houses two large huts, a spacious campground, and a restaurant, all along the dramatic shoreline of Lake Álftavatn. The sleeping quarters are divided between the two huts. The larger hut sleeps 38 people across six bedrooms, while the smaller building houses 36 people in a large dorm room. Both huts have fully equipped kitchens with running water. There is a bathhouse with showers and flush toilets, as well as a latrine near the camping area. The nice facilities, beautiful surroundings, and restaurant/bar make Álftavatn a highlight for many Laugavegur hikers.

 

Alftavatn Hut Laugavegur Trail

The Alftavatn Hut.

 

Hvanngil

Number of beds: 60
Price: 9500 ISK
More information

Located just 3.8km past Álftavatn, Hvanngil is a good alternative stop for this stage of the trek as well as a good option for those hiking shorter distances each day. The accommodations at Hvanngil are certainly more rustic than those at Álftavatn, but it is a scenic and cozy option nonetheless. The main hut consists of a small kitchen, two dormitories, and a tightly packed sleeping loft. If more beds are needed, there is a stable nearby with a sleeping loft and kitchen. There is a small bathroom building with flush toilets and showers next to the hut, and additional toilets near the stables.

 

Hvanngil Hut Laugavegur Trail

The Hvanngil Hut.

 

 

Emstrur

Number of beds: 60
Price: 9500 ISK
More information

The Emstrur Huts are set in a high valley with sweeping views in all directions. The accommodations are spread across three buildings, each with a fully equipped kitchen and a bunk room that sleeps 20 people in 10 double bunks. There is a bathroom building next near the huts with flush toilets and showers. The spacious patio areas are perfect for relaxing after a long day on your feet. The camping area is located below the huts, down a very long and steep staircase. The camping area is set next to a peaceful stream and is quite pretty- it’s worth checking out even if you’re staying in the huts.

 

Emstrur Hut Laugavegur Trail

The Emstrur Huts.

 

Þórsmörk

There are three accommodation options in the Þórsmörk area, each with slightly different offerings to suit a variety of preferences. We’ve provided details for each option so that you can choose the right accommodation for your needs.

Þórsmörk/Langidalur (FI)

Number of beds: 75
Price: 9500 ISK
More information

Those wishing to stick with FI-operated huts can celebrate their final night on the Laugavegur Trail at the Þórsmörk/Langidalur Hut. In addition to the consistent quality that can be expected from FI, this hut has a lot of great amenities. The spacious main floor has two fully stocked kitchens, a large dining area, and two bunk rooms. Upstairs, there are three more bunk rooms. A bathhouse and small shop are conveniently located nearby. There are many lovely outdoor spaces, including a large patio and a separate covered grilling area with picnic tables and nice views. This hut is in the center of the Þórsmörk area, meaning it provides easy connections to the Fimmvörðuháls Trail, as well as transport back to Reykjavik.

 

Volcano Huts Þórsmörk

Number of beds: Varies
Price: 8400-29,000 ISK
More information

If you’re looking for a bit of luxury at the beginning or end of your Laugavegur trek, Volcano Huts is your best option. In addition to standard dorm beds, hikers can also choose from glamping tents, cabins, and cottages. All guests have access to showers, a sauna, and a sitting pool. There is also a restaurant/bar on site that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While you’ll need to take a short detour from the main trail to reach the Volcano Huts, those leaving the trail can access transport right outside their accommodation.

 

Básar Hut

Number of beds: 83
Price: 7600 ISK
More information

This hut, located a few kilometers past Þórsmörk, is a good option for hikers continuing onwards to complete the Fimmvörðuháls Trail. The large facilities include dormitories, a kitchen with gas stove and cookware, showers, and toilets. The toilets are in the same building as the dormitories, which may come as a welcome luxury for hikers weary of venturing out into the elements when duty calls. There is also a big, comfortable campground adjacent to the hut. Cell phone charging is available for 500 ISK.

 

Thorsmork FI Hut Laugavegur Trail

The FI Hut at Thórsmörk.

 

Baldvinsskáli Hut (Fimmvörðuháls Trail)

Number of beds: 20
Price: 9000 ISK
More information

Those looking to tackle the Fimmvörðuháls Trail over two days of hiking will need to spend a night at the Baldvinsskáli Hut. This is a very small and rustic accommodation, located at roughly the halfway point (and near the highest point) of the trail. The hut consists of a cozy kitchen and dining area on the main level, with a dormitory upstairs. There is an outhouse behind the main hut building. Be advised that there is no running water at this location, so hikers should bring enough to cover all of their needs until reaching a resupply point further down the trail the next day.

 

Fimmvorduhals Baldvinsskali Hut

The Baldvinsskali Hut.

 

Skogar

Upon reaching Skogar, hikers will have a number of accommodation options, ranging from basic camping to luxury hotel rooms. We’ve provided details on all of the options below.

High-End: Hótel Skógafoss

Whether you’ve just finished your trek or are getting ready to begin, you’ll surely benefit from a bit of pampering at the Hótel Skógafoss. This B&B style hotel offers a variety of room types, including doubles, family rooms, and apartments. All rooms feature cable TV and WIFI. The hotel has a restaurant/bar on site.

Mid-Range: Skogar HI Hostel

This unique and comfortable hostel is set inside a renovated school building, giving it plenty of cozy charm. Beds are spread across several smaller rooms instead of one large dormitory, affording guests more quiet and privacy. All rooms feature desks and WIFI. The hostel has shared bathrooms, laundry facilities, and a communal kitchen and sitting area. Hostel guests can visit the restaurant in the adjacent hotel for meals. including the buffet breakfast. There is also a more casual cafe and shop close by.

Budget: Skogar Campground

This large, grassy campground enjoys close-up views of the impressive Skógafoss waterfall. Campers have access to indoor toilets, hot and cold water (safe for drinking), sinks for washing up, and warm showers (300 ISK for 5 minutes). The campground warden will typically allow you to charge electronics for free if you ask. There are restaurants, a small shop, and a bus stop within a few minutes’ walk of the campground.

Camping with views of the waterfall at Skogar.

Camping with views at Skogar.

 

Want more?

Whether you prefer mountain huts or tents, fastpacking or meandering, we’ve got you covered. Our downloadable Guide to Trekking the Laugavegur Trail is ultimate resource to help you plan your perfect trip. Get your digital guide for under $20 below:

Laugavegur Trail Guide

LEARN MORE

The 50+ page guide contains resources you won’t find anywhere else, including:

  • Custom GPS files for the entire trek
  • Three unique stage-by-stage itineraries
  • Complete packing list for campers and those staying in huts
  • Detailed information on getting to/from the Laugavegur
  • A 15-week training plan to ensure you’re prepared for your hike

 

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The Best Dispersed Camping Near Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon has inspired countless visitors over the years. This incredible natural landscape is one of America’s most visited and most treasured National Parks. However, it is also known…

The Grand Canyon has inspired countless visitors over the years. This incredible natural landscape is one of America’s most visited and most treasured National Parks. However, it is also known for being a difficult and expensive place to visit. For those camping, you can have a truly unique experience during your visit by planning a free, dispersed camping trip near the Grand Canyon.

There are thousands of acres of National Forest surrounding the park, making it a perfect destination for those with a sense of adventure and willingness to look for great campsites.

We’ve created this Grand Canyon dispersed camping guide to help you filter through the countless options and find the perfect campsite for your next trip. You’ll find everything you need to know including maps, campsite descriptions, when to go, and more, all designed to help you plan your perfect Grand Canyon trip.

Let’s get started.

 

Grand Canyon Dispersed Camping Guide

The Basics

The following sections contain all the must know information you need to plan a successful dispersed camping trip near Grand Canyon National Park. This includes everything from when to camp to what to bring.

This is the essential info before you head out!

 

When to Dispersed Camp Near Grand Canyon National Park

You can camp year-round at the Grand Canyon provided you come prepared for the weather conditions. 

However, the best time to camp at the Grand Canyon tends to be during the Spring and Fall shoulder seasons. You’ll avoid the crowds and hot temperatures of the summer months, but will still get to enjoy some beautiful, warm days.

Winter camping at the Grand Canyon is popular with those hoping to avoid crowds and find the canyon at its most serene. Come prepared for snow, cold, and difficult road conditions if you plan to camp here in the winter. It is also important to note that the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is only open from May 15th – October 15th each year.

For the summer months, you can expect hot days and more crowds. However, the beauty of planning a dispersed camping trip is that you’ll avoid some of the crowded designated campgrounds and have an overall quieter experience.

Winter in the Grand Canyon

 

South Rim or North Rim?

This is the classic question for those planning a visit to the Grand Canyon. Here are a few key points to help you make your decision of which rim to visit:

  • The South Rim receives approximately 90% of all visitors to the Grand Canyon
  • The North Rim sits over 1,000′ higher than the South Rim, making it difficult to access and only open from May 15th – October 15th
  • Transportation, services, and amenities are all easier when visiting the South Rim.
  • The North Rim is more remote and difficult to reach. This also means you’re much more likely to find solitude and avoid the crowds.

For more information, visit the Plan Your Trip section of the National Park Service website.

We’ve included dispersed campsites on both the South and North Rim in this guide.

 

What to Bring

As you’ll read below, many of the dispersed campsites near the Grand Canyon are remote and lack services. As such, you’ll need to come prepared to be self-sufficient and not rely on the amenities often found at developed campgrounds.

While we’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs,  below are some of our favorite items specifically for dispersed camping near Grand Canyon National Park:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic version for a good overview of the both the North and South Rims.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – Most of the camping areas included in this guide do not have dependable water access. As such, a portable water container is essential.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

 

Permits and Fees

One of our favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of need for any permits or fees to be paid. Dispersed camping near the Grand Canyon is no different, and only the Point Sublime camping area requires a permit.

For that, check out this helpful resource on backcountry permits provided by the National Park Service. 

For the other campsites in this guide we still recommend contacting either the Grand Canyon visitor center or the USFS Kaibab National Forest office for the most up to date information on current conditions and camping options.

 

Pets

Pets are generally welcome at most of the dispersed camping areas included in this guide. However, it is important to note that there are strict pet regulations inside Grand Canyon National Park:

  • Pets are not permitted below the Canyon rim
  • Pets are only permitted in specific sections of the National Park

Find the complete pet regulations for Grand Canyon National Park here.

Keep in mind that the Point Sublime dispersed campsite included in this guide is located within the National Park. As such, the NPS pet regulations apply.

 

Dispersed Camping Near Grand Canyon National Park

The following section includes our top sites for dispersed camping near the Grand Canyon. We’ve organized the camping areas geographically based on whether they are located near the South Rim or North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

In addition, our Grand Canyon dispersed camping map below gives an overview of each site’s location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!

Dispersed Camping near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

The following are our top six dispersed campsites near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. If you’re Arizona road trip has you exploring more of the state, don’t forget to check out our Flagstaff and Sedona Dispersed Camping Guides.

Forest Service Road 688

Distance to Grand Canyon South Entrance: 5.4 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

The most popular dispersed camping area near the Grand Canyon is Forest Service Road 688, located just 10 miles south of Grand Canyon Village. This is a wonderful place to camp with approximately 20 campsites located on a well-graded road. Everything from larger rigs to tent campers can be accommodated on FR 688, so this is a great option for just about anyone.

Although there are no services here, you are a short drive from Grand Canyon Village which has tons of amenities. For those hoping to camp close to the park, FR 688 should be your first stop. You’ll be close to some of the most popular parts of the Park, including the South Rim Trail and Mather Point.

As you’d expect, FR 688 can get a bit crowded during the peak season, so be sure to arrive early if you’re hoping to secure a spot.

Mather Point overlook in Grand Canyon National Park

Dispersed camping along FR 688 is perfect for visiting Mather Point.

 

Coconino Rim Road

Distance to Grand Canyon South Entrance: 15.5 miles
Restrooms: 
No, but pit toilets available at Grandview Lookout Tower
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

The Coconino Rim Road dispersed camping is as close to camping within the park as you can get. In fact, you can only access this dispersed camping area from within Grand Canyon National Park. Located a short distance off of East Rim Drive, you’ll be perfectly located to visit the Grandview Lookout Tower, hike the Grandview Trail, or take in any of the other sights along the South Rim.

Keep in mind that there are no services here other than the vault toilet at the base of the Lookout Tower. You’ll want to come prepared with as much food and water as you can, since it is a bit of a drive to the closest services in Grand Canyon Village.

You can access the Coconino Rim Road dispersed camping area by either coming from Grand Canyon Village to the west, or from the town of Cameron to the east.

 

Forest Service Road 302

Distance to Grand Canyon South Entrance: 3 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Located just three miles from the South Entrance Station, Forest Service Road 302 offers great dispersed camping near Grand Canyon National Park. Situated on the edge of the town of Tusayan, you’ll enjoy easy access to services in town and even be able to walk to the Grand Canyon shuttle if you’d like.

The main downside to camping along FR 302 is that you’ll find yourself directly under many flight paths from the nearby airport. This will include a steady stream of helicopters and planes out on sight seeing tours during most days. However, if you plan to be out exploring during the day, it shouldn’t have too large of an impact.

To get here, turn off of Highway 64 on the south end of Tusayan onto FR 302. Continue until campsites start to appear, about a 1/4 mile from the highway. The road is passable by most vehicles.

 

Forest Service Road 306

Distance to Grand Canyon South Entrance: 5.1 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Located on the opposite side of the Highway 64 from FR 688 is the Forest Service Road 306 dispersed camping area. This is a great option if you find that FR 688 is full, or if you’re looking for a slightly quieter experience. The road can be a bit washboard at times, but generally speaking can accommodate most rigs.

As with most of the dispersed camping near the Grand Canyon, the further back along the road you head the more likely you are to find a bit of seclusion. You’ll still have an easy time heading into the park from here as well as accessing the services in Tusayan.

Dispersed Camping near Grand Canyon National Park

 

Long Jim Loop

Distance to Grand Canyon South Entrance: 1.4 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Long Jim Loop is a popular dispersed camping area near the Grand Canyon tucked behind the small town of Tusayan. Although these sites aren’t the most private, you’d be hard pressed to find a more convenient location for exploring the South Rim. You can even walk to the Grand Canyon Shuttle Park and Ride from your campsite.

The road is passable for most vehicles and some of the sites can accommodate larger RVs. Given the location of Long Jim Loop, you should try to arrive as early as possible since the sites do tend to fill up. The town of Tusayan is the southern gateway to the Grand Canyon. Although you can pick up any last minute supplies here, you’ll be better served by stocking up in advance given the high prices in this tourist town.

There is no water source at Long Jim Loop, so come prepared with everything you need.

 

Forest Service Road 328

Distance to Grand Canyon South Entrance: 1.3 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 328 is located immediately south of the Grand Canyon’s South Entrance Station. You’ll turn west off of Highway 64 onto FR 328 and continue for approximately 1/2 mile past the ‘No Camping’ signs before you’ll start to see sites appear.

Parking can be a bit difficult here, so this is best for tent campers or those with smaller vehicles. Expect quite a bit of traffic here given the proximity to the park, but it is hard to complain given the location.

The road here is dusty but passable for most vehicles. As with most of the dispersed campsites near the Grand Canyon, don’t expect any water or services along FR 328.

 

Dispersed Camping near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

The following are our top six dispersed campsites near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Saddle Mountain Overlook

Distance to North Rim Entrance Station: 18 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

The Saddle Mountain Overlook dispersed camping area has some of the most spectacular views you’ll find in the area. Situated on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, this dispersed camping area has room for approximately five campsites and is about a 1 hour drive from the North Rim Entrance Station.

The road in is made up of large gravel, so you’ll want to take it pretty slow. The drive is well worth it though as you’ll enjoy beautiful views out over the Grand Canyon from here. The sites are all clustered together, so you won’t get much privacy but that is an okay tradeoff in our mind!

This is a remote area with no water or other facilities so you’ll need to come prepared to be fully self sufficient.

Saddle Mountain Overlook dispersed camping near Grand Canyon National Park

 

Marble View Dispersed Camping

Distance to North Rim Entrance Station: 17 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

The Marble View dispersed camping area is a secluded and spectacular place to dispersed camp near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. You’ll follow a Forest Service Road for over 15 miles before emerging from the forest to a stunning view and campsite.  The area can accommodate around five groups, but given the long drive it is rarely full.

There are no services at Marble View and you are quite a distance from civilization here so come prepared and enjoy some of the best dispersed camping in the area.

Although you’re only 17 miles from the North Entrance Station to the Grand Canyon, the drive will take you about 1 hour given the narrow road to get there.

 

Forest Service Road 22

Distance to North Rim Entrance Station: 5 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

A good option for dispersed camping near the North Rim is Forest Service Road 22. You’ll be just five miles from the entrance station here, making this one of the most convenient options for dispersed camping in the area. Although not the most scenic or secluded, you’re right off the main highway making it easier to get services and enter the park here.

This is a popular access road for the National Forest, so do expect some traffic to pass your site throughout the day. However, this also means that the road is generally passable by most vehicles.

There are no services here, so come prepared to be self sufficient.

 

Forest Service Road 611

Distance to North Rim Entrance Station: 6 miles
Restrooms: 
No, but pit toilets available at East Rim Viewpoint trailhead.
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 611 is a popular dispersed camping that is convenient for exploring the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Located just off Highway 67, you will have easy access to the North Rim Visitor Center and also be close to the popular East Rim Viewpoint trail.

Getting here couldn’t be easier, as you’ll simply take Highway 67 south towards the Grand Canyon before turning off onto FR 611. Follow that until a junction, where you’ll want to stay on FR 611 heading east. Campsites soon begin and continue for several miles along the road.

 

Forest Service Road 294/Locust Point

Distance to North Rim Entrance Station: 32 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Light
Map

For the adventurous, FR 294/Locust Point offers some of the most spectacular dispersed camping near the Grand Canyon. You’ll have to navigate over 25 miles of dirt roads to get here, but the rewards are well worth it. You’ll find a quiet and rarely visited section of National Forest with amazing views looking out over the Grand Canyon. You’ll also be close to the Rainbow Rim Trail, which connects five spectacular viewpoints, including the nearby Locust Point.

Given the very remote location of this area we can’t stress enough how important it is to come prepared. There is no water or facilities in the area, so plan to bring all of the food and water you need. Additionally, given the length of the drive on remote Forest Service Roads it is very important to have a map or GPS and to be prepared should you encounter a flat tire. Preparedness will pay off for this remote camp site!

 

Point Sublime

Distance to North Rim Entrance Station: 20 miles
Restrooms: 
Yes.
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

The final, and most unique, option for dispersed camping on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is at Point Sublime. There are only two campsites here and you’ll need to obtain a backcountry user permit to camp here, but the views are the most spectacular you’ll find from any of the camping areas in this guide!

The road here is incredibly rough so you’ll need a 4WD vehicle with high-clearance to reach the campsite.

For those hoping to camp here we recommend calling ahead to the North Rim Visitor Center to discuss you plans with a Ranger. They’ll be able to give you the best intel on how to reach the campsites, the backcountry permit process, and other must know information.

Although there is no water here, amazingly there is a basic bathroom for campers to use!

 

Point Sublime

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan a dispersed camping trip near Grand Canyon National Park, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!

Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

Looking for other great dispersed camping in Arizona? Be sure to check out our other guides below:

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The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Steamboat Springs, CO

Known as one of Colorado’s most authentic mountain towns, Steamboat Springs is always high our list of places to camp. From a soak in the Strawberry Park hot springs, to…

Known as one of Colorado’s most authentic mountain towns, Steamboat Springs is always high our list of places to camp. From a soak in the Strawberry Park hot springs, to a hike in the nearby wilderness, to strolling downtown Steamboat, there is truly something for everyone here. Luckily for those hoping to camp on their visit, there is tons of free, dispersed camping near Steamboat Springs.

We’ve created this Steamboat Springs dispersed camping guide to help you find the perfect campsite for your next visit to Steamboat. You’ll find all the must know information on dispersed camping, maps, and detailed campsite descriptions, all designed to help you plan the perfect trip.

Let’s get started.

 

Steamboat Springs Dispersed Camping Guide

The Basics

The following sections contain all the must know information you need to plan a successful dispersed camping trip near Steamboat Springs, CO. This includes everything from when to camp to what to bring.

This is the essential info before you head out!

When to Dispersed Camp Near Steamboat Springs

Camping season in the Steamboat Springs area generally runs from late-May through early-October. Steamboat sits at an elevation of 6,700′ above sea-level, which is quite a bit lower than many of Colorado’s other mountain towns. As a result, the snow and cold doesn’t typically show up here as early or stay as late as Steamboat’s higher elevation brethren.

For those who are tent camping, you can expect cold nights on the edges of the season and should also be prepared to still encounter snow in some areas. If you’re camping in a trailer or RV you can likely extend the season a bit longer, although that is highly variable depending on the year.

You’ll find the campsites included in this guide are busiest from June – August, so if you’re after more seclusion it is best to plan your trip outside of the peak summer season.

View of Steamboat Springs, CO in the fall.

Fall is a beautiful time to dispersed camp near Steamboat Springs.

 

What to Bring

Much of the wilderness surrounding Steamboat Springs is remote and difficult to access. Often times this is also where the best dispersed campsites are located!

Given that, it is important that you come prepared to be self-sufficient, and while we’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairsbelow are some of our favorite items specifically for dispersed camping near Steamboat Springs:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic version for a good overview of the Steamboat Springs/Rabbit Ears Pass area.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – Most of the camping areas included in this guide do not have dependable water access. As such, a portable water container is essential.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

 

Permits and Fees

One of our favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of need for any permits or fees to be paid. Dispersed camping near Steamboat Springs is no different, and none of the dispersed camping areas in this guide require a permit or have any associated fees.

However, it is always a good idea to do a quick internet search or check with the local field office before setting out.

For the most up to date information on camping in the Steamboat Springs area, your best bet is to contact the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District office.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in the areas surrounding Steamboat. It is critical that you check and obey any and all fire restrictions. The surrounding wilderness has seen several devastating wildfires in recent years, so please only have a campfire if it is allowed.

You can check fire restrictions at this website before heading out.

If you are able to have a campfire, be sure to completely put it out prior to going to sleep or leaving you campground for any amount of time!

Pets

Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this guide. Pets should be kept under control at all times, especially in areas where wildlife could be present or when you have other campers nearby.

Remember to pack out pet waste.

Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: The Steamboat Springs area is incredibly popular for dispersed camping. As such, it is important to leave your campsite in better condition than you found it. We’ve seen many popular camping areas closed across Colorado as a result of the impacts of a few bad campers. Please always practice Leave No Trace camping.
  • Access: We’ve done our best to describe the road conditions you can expect when heading to each of the areas described in this post. Many, though not all, of the campsites included in this guide require 4WD reach them.
  • All of these dispersed campsites are first-come, first-served. Many fill up quickly on summer weekends- you may need to get there on a Thursday and/or arrive early in the morning to secure a site.

 

Dispersed Camping Near Steamboat Springs, CO

The following list contains the 8 best dispersed camping areas near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. If you’re looking for additional camping opportunities in the area, your best bet is to use the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps. They contain detailed maps on where dispersed camping is allowed.

Access the MVUM for the Steamboat Area here.

Our Steamboat Springs dispersed camping map below gives an overview of each site’s location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!

 

Buffalo Pass

Distance to Steamboat Springs: 7 miles
Restrooms: 
No, although vault toilets are available at Buffalo Pass trailhead
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Buffalo Pass is the closest and most popular dispersed camping area near Steamboat Springs, and for good reason. You’ll have easy access to Steamboat from here, and the sites themselves are secluded and offer beautiful views of the surrounding wilderness. The Buffalo Pass trailhead is nearby and offers access to miles of hiking and biking trails as well.

To get here from Steamboat, head north out of town on Highway 36 before turning right on Routt County Road 38, signed for Buffalo Pass. Continue on 38 as it winds it’s way uphill until you reach the Buffalo Pass parking lot and the developed Dry Lake Campground.

Keep driving another half mile or so before the first dispersed campsites begin to appear along the road. You’ll continue to find great sites for the next several miles, so don’t fret if the first campsites you come across are full.

Keep in mind that the road gets progressively rougher the further back you go, so those with an RV or trailer will need to take one of the first sites or look elsewhere.

Dispersed campsite along Buffalo Pass near Steamboat Springs

Beautiful views from a dispersed campsite along Buffalo Pass. Photo credit USFS.

 

Walton Peak/Highway 40 (FR 287, 289, 290, 292, 294, 295, 298.1A)

Distance to Steamboat Springs: 10 – 12 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

A convenient, albeit not the most private, option for dispersed camping near Steamboat Springs are a series of seven pull outs along Highway 40 (Rabbit Ears Pass) southeast of Steamboat. This area is often referred to as the Walton Peak dispersed camping, but are in actuality short Forest Service roads that allow overnight camping.

These campsites are best for a single night where you just need a convenient camp spot given the highway noise and lack of amenities. However, they are free and you’ll be close to Steamboat Springs so they certainly work for many campers. For those with a detailed map you’ll see the camping areas labeled as FR 287, 289, 290, 292, 294, 298.1A, and 295. You’ll reach the campsites in that order when coming from Steamboat as well.

As you might expect, there is no water or services here so plan to come prepared.

 

Forest Service Road 296 – Rabbit Ears Pass West

Distance to Steamboat Springs: 15 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Continuing up Rabbit Ears Pass from Steamboat will bring you to the FR 296 dispersed camping area. This is a relatively popular spot near the summit of the pass with a variety of sites to choose from. Dispersed camping is permitted along the entire length of the road, so larger rigs should plan to take a site closer to the highway while those with 4WD can head back quite a ways in hopes of find a more private campsite.

Keep in mind that these campsites are all above 9,000′ in elevation so you’ll want to bring plenty of water!

You’re only a 20 minute drive from Steamboat Springs here making this one of our favorite dispersed campsites in the area.

 

Forest Service Road 302

Distance to Steamboat Springs: 20 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 302 is another great dispersed camping area on Rabbit Ears pass near Steamboat. A bit further up Highway 40 from FR 296, Forest Service Road 392 runs for several miles with dispersed camping allowed along the entire length. Some of the best sites are a bit further back from the highway, although there are good sites almost immediately after turning off Highway 40

FR302 tends to be a bit less crowded than other options in the area and the road is not particularly difficult to drive.

Most sites are dry here, so plan to bring plenty of water.

Dispersed camping near Steamboat Springs

 

Forest Service Road 251/Rabbit Ears Pass summit

Distance to Steamboat Springs: 20 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 251 sits opposite the large gravel parking lot near the top of Rabbit Ears Pass. The entire length of FR251 is open to dispersed camping and you’ll find several good sites soon after your turn off the highway. There is more shade here than many of the other dispersed campsites near Steamboat, so this is a good option for peak summer camping.

The road is generally passable by most vehicles, although it does get a bit narrow at times. There is no water or other facilities along Forest Service Road 251, so you’ll need to be self-sufficient while camping here.

To get here from Steamboat simply head up Rabbit Ears Pass until you near the summit. The turn off for FR251 is opposite the large gravel parking lot and is signed with an arrow pointing to Harrison Creek.

 

Forest Service Road 311

Distance to Steamboat Springs: 23 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Tucked behind the developed Dumont Lake Campground near the top of Rabbit Ears Pass is the Forest Service Road 311 dispersed camping area. Not nearly as popular as some of the other areas near Steamboat, FR 311 doesn’t have tons of sites but is well worth checking out.

You’ll drive past the formal campground before turning left onto FR 311 at the official and historic Rabbit Ears Pass marker. Take this for half a mile or so before you start to see some good dispersed campsites appear. There is also the option to branch off onto FR291 which allows dispersed camping, although the sites there are not as flat.

 

Rabbit Ears Pass East/Forest Service Road 100

Distance to Steamboat Springs: 21 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 100 (also known as Country Road 19) is located on the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass, just 21 miles from Steamboat Springs. The road is seemingly endless and there are tons of great dispersed campsites dotted along it starting as soon as your turn off Highway 40. The first several miles are fairly smooth, so this is a good option for larger rigs looking for dispersed camping near Steamboat Springs.

Some of the campsites have access to Muddy Creek, but it isn’t always easy to pull water from. For that reason, we recommend coming prepared if you’re planning to camp along FR100.

The turn off from Highway 40 to get here is signed for Buffalo Park, so keep an eye out once you’re past the summit of the pass when coming from the Steamboat side.

 

Seedhouse Road (Closed due to Morgan Creek Fire)

Distance to Steamboat Springs: 26 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but may be able to get water from the Elk Creek River. 
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Located a bit further afield, Seedhouse Road/FR400 offers some good dispersed camping along Elk Creek near Steamboat Springs. The majority of Seedhouse Road does not allow dispersed camping, but there is one short section along FR400.2C before reaching the formal Seedhouse Campground that does permit camping.

This is a lovely spot right next to the river with room for 4 or 5 groups. Be sure to check out some of the sites tucked back in the trees for the best river access!

***Note that this area is currently closed due to the Morgan Creek Fire. Be sure to check with Hahns Peak/ Bears Ears Ranger District for the most up to date information***

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan a dispersed camping trip near Steamboat Springs, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!

Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

Looking for other great dispersed camping in Colorado? Be sure to check out our other guides below:

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The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Sedona, AZ

Sedona, Arizona draws thousands upon thousands of visitors every year. Many arrive to take in the excellent mountain biking, hiking, and stunning scenery that Red Rocks country is famous for….

Sedona, Arizona draws thousands upon thousands of visitors every year. Many arrive to take in the excellent mountain biking, hiking, and stunning scenery that Red Rocks country is famous for. However, what many visitors don’t know is that there are tons of free, dispersed camping opportunities near Sedona!

You can wake up in your tent or RV from the comfort of you campsite and be on a trail or strolling downtown Sedona in less than 20 minutes from many of these excellent campsites.

To make your trip planning a bit easier, we’ve compiled this handy guide of the best dispersed camping areas near Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona, Arizona Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Sedona, AZ. Everything from when to camp to what to bring.

This is the essential info before you head out!

When to Camp Near Sedona

Sedona is canyon-country and as such its climate varies dramatically depending on your altitude. Generally speaking, the best time to visit Sedona is during the spring months from March to May.

Camping is no different, and the spring and fall will be your best bets to plan a successful trip. You’ll avoid the scorching summer temperatures while avoiding the cold that comes in the winter. In general, we recommend between February – May as well as September – November for your Sedona camping trip.

On the edge of those seasons we recommend being prepared for very cold nights and even the potential for snow!

 

What to Bring

The canyon, desert, and mountains surrounding Sedona require that you come prepared for your camping trip. This is especially true for dispersed camping, since you can’t depend on the amenities of a developed campground.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for dispersed camping near Sedona:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic version for a good overview of the Sedona area.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – None of the camping areas included in this guide have dependable water access. As such, a portable water container is essential.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping, particularly in Sedona’s climate. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

Night sky while dispersed camping near Sedona

 

Permits and Fees

One of many camper’s favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of need for any permits or fees to be paid. Dispersed camping near Sedona is no different, and none of the dispersed camping areas in this guide require a permit or have any associated fees.

However, it is always a good idea to do a quick internet search or check with the local field office before setting out.

It is also worth noting that many of the day use areas near Sedona require visitors to purchase a Red Rocks Pass. The Pass helps to fund conservation, maintenance, and general upkeep of the heavily used wilderness in the Sedona area.

You can learn more about the Red Rocks Pass here.

For the most up to date information on camping in the Sedona area, your best bet is to contact the Red Rock Ranger District.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in the areas surrounding Sedona. It is critical that you check and obey any and all fire restrictions. The surrounding wilderness has seen several devastating wildfires in recent years, so please only have a campfire if it is allowed.

You can check fire restrictions at this website before heading out.

Keep in mind there are permanent fire bans in place at:

  • Oak Creek Canyon
  • Pumphouse Wash
  • Fossil Creek
  • Wet Beaver Creek

If you are able to have a campfire, be sure to completely put it out prior to going to sleep or leaving you campground for any amount of time!

Pets

Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this guide. Pets should be kept under control at all times, especially in areas where wildlife could be present or when you have other campers nearby.

Remember to pack out pet waste and ensure that pets are protected from Sedona’s extreme temperatures.

 

Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: The Sedona area is incredibly popular for dispersed camping. As such, many campsites are often left filled with trash, human waste, broken glass, and other nuisances. Please always practice Leave No Trace camping and leave your campsite in better shape than you found it in.
  • Access: We’ve done our best to describe the road conditions you can expect when heading to each of the areas described in this post. Many of the campsites included in this guide require 4WD and high-clearance to reach them. Additionally, road conditions can deteriorate quickly after heavy rain so avoid traveling on difficult roads after rainfall.
  • Water: None of the dispersed camping areas in this guide have a dependable water source. As such, it is important to bring all the water you’ll need, or have a plan for how you’ll get it.
  • All of these dispersed campsites are first-come, first-served. Many fill up quickly on summer weekends- you may need to get there on a Thursday and/or arrive early in the morning to secure a site.

 

Dispersed Camping Near Sedona, Arizona

The following list contains the 11 best dispersed camping areas surrounding Sedona, Arizona.

The Sedona dispersed camping map below gives an overview of each site’s location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!

For other nearby dispersed camping guides, check out our other posts:

Schnebly Hill Road

Distance to Sedona: 9 miles (via Schnebly Hill Rd) // 40 miles via I-17 & AZ-179
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

One of the most popular dispersed camping areas near Sedona is Schnebly Hill Rd. The road connects Sedona with Interstate 17 to the east via a rough and rugged 4WD road. Along the route you’ll find some excellent dispersed camping options, with most of the good sites located closer to I-17.

Access from I-17 is easy, with campsites appearing almost immediately off the highway. If you’re coming from the Sedona side you’ll need to drive quite a ways along the road before reaching the area where camping is permitted. The road on the Sedona side is also much more rugged, so only those with 4WD, high-clearance, and some experience driving rocky roads should come from this way.

Regardless of which side you enter from, the campsites here have beautiful views, are well spaced, and make an excellent free place to spend the night.

Don’t forget to bring water, as there are no sources along the road.

View from Schnebly Hill dispersed camping area near Sedona

 

Pumphouse Wash (FR 237)

Distance to Sedona: 18 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Pumphouse Wash is an designated dispersed camping area located approximately halfway between Flagstaff and Sedona just off Highway 89A. This is an excellent option for dispersed camping as you’ll be able to get a designated site and have great access to Oak Creek Canyon as well as Sedona. The campsites here are organized in four loops and can all be accessed by passenger vehicles.

Although these are designated sites, don’t expect any water or restroom facilities.

To get here, head north from Sedona along 89A before turning east on FR 237. You’ll then see signs for the designated campsites.

Be sure not to set-up camp outside of these areas as you are likely to be ticketed!

If you’re heading towards Flagstaff from Pumphouse Wash, don’t forget to check out our guide to the best dispersed camping near Flagstaff!

Dispersed campsite at Pumphouse Wash near Sedona

 

Forest Service Road 535

Distance to Sedona: 17 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Forest Service Road 535 is located north of Sedona on Highway 89A, opposite of the Pumphouse Wash dispersed camping area. Camping is permitted along the road once off the highway for several miles. For more peace and quiet head a bit further back before setting up camp.

This area is noted for often having a lot of trash and some loud, partying campers, so it is not our first recommendation for dispersed camping near Sedona. If you do opt to camp here, please be sure to be respectful of other campers and pack out all your trash.

This is a dry site, so you’ll need to bring your own water.

 

Loy Butte Road / Forest Service Road 525

Distance to Sedona: 10 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Loy Butte Road (aka FR 525)is one of the most popular and easiest to access dispersed camping areas around Sedona. Located southwest of town, camping is permitted for several miles along this beautiful dirt road as it winds its way through Red Rocks country.

The area is very popular with ATVs and dirt bikes so you can expect a bit of noise, especially the closer you are to the highway. The road starts off very smooth, so the sites you see after turning off are best for RVs and larger trailers. If you’re in a vehicle with decent clearance, head back a ways to find some of the better sites.

Loy Butte Road does not have water or restrooms, so be prepared to be self-sufficient camping here.

If you decide to camp here we highly recommend hiking the Loy Canyon trail as the trailhead is located near the end of the road.

 

Angel Valley Road

Distance to Sedona: 11 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Angel Valley Rd is directly south of Loy Butte Rd on the other side of Highway 89A southwest of Sedona. This is another good dispersed camping option in the area, although we recommend trying Loy Butte Rd first. The campsites here begin approximately 1 mile after turning off 89A, past the Deer Pass trailhead, and are generally flat. However, they tend to be grouped together, so privacy is at a premium.

All in all, Angel Valley Rd presents good dispersed campsites near Sedona, especially if some of the other options in this guide are full.

There is no water or facilities at Angel Valley Rd, so you’ll want to come prepared. The road in can be fairly bumpy but should be navigable for most vehicles.

 

Forest Service Road 9845B

Distance to Sedona: 9 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 9845B is located close to the popular Loy Butte Road and Angel Valley dispersed camping areas near Sedona. This camping area is known to be a bit quieter than Loy Butte Road, although the road is also much rougher to navigate. You’ll have great access to Red Rock State Park from here as well as all of Sedona’s main attractions.

We recommend you have 4WD or at minimum a high-clearance vehicle to came along FR 9845B given the road conditions.

To get here, head west from Sedona along Highway 89A for approximately 8.5 miles. Turn south off the main highway on the dirt road opposite the Sedona Wetlands Preserve and wastewater treatment plant.

 

Coffee Creek

Distance to Sedona: 12 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

The Coffee Creek dispersed camping area is located along highway 89A southwest of Sedona, about halfway to Cottonwood, AZ. This is a large, open area that can accommodate quite a few campers. Don’t expect any shade here, as this is definitely the desert.

Coffee Creek is hit or miss with crowds, often times you can find some peace and quiet here while other times you’ll have noisy neighbors. Much of that is dependent on the season and whether or not you’re camping on the weekend.

To get here, head south on 89A until Forest Service Rd 9571, just before Page Springs Rd. Campsites appear almost immediately after turning onto FR 9571.

 

Forest Service Road 618/689

Distance to Sedona: 9 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Located just east of where Highway 179 meets Interstate 17 southwest of Sedona is the Forest Service Rd 618 dispersed camping area. The campsites here are well spaced out giving you a bit of privacy from your neighbors. This is a convenient place to camp if you’re interested in exploring Montezuma Castle National Monument, which is just up the road.

The sites here are not much more than a dusty pull off from the main road, but they are easy to access and much less crowded than some of the other sites in and around Sedona. As you might expect, there is no water source in the area so you’ll need to bring everything you need.

 

Childs Dispersed Camping (Closed due to Fire)

Distance to Sedona: 80 miles
Restrooms: 
Vault toilets
Water: 
No, but may be able to get water from adjacent creek.
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Although a bit of trek from Sedona, the Childs Dispersed Camping Area remains a very popular option in the region. These are designed dispersed campsites situated right along the Verde River and close to Verde Hot Springs. A soak there is highly recommended! These aren’t private site and you should expect many other campers will be close by. For that reason, please keep noise down and take care to pack out all of your trash.

To get here from Sedona take I-17 south to Dugas Rd. Follow the road for ~35 miles to reach the camping area. Note that the last mile or so of the road is pretty rouge. For this reason we recommend 4WD or a high-clearance vehicle.

***Note: The Childs Dispersed Camping Area is currently closed due to the Backbone Fire. Please check the USFS website here for current status***

 

Lawrence Crossing

Distance to Sedona: 19 miles
Restrooms: 
Vault toilets
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Lawrence Crossing is a free USFS designated campground southwest of Sedona. Located right on Wet Beaver Creek this is a good option for those with small set-ups or tents. There is no water at the campground, but there are basic vault toilets as well as fire rings.

The campsites here are all quite close together, so if privacy and seclusion is what you’re after you might want to look for a different campsite. That being said, Lawrence Crossing provides a good free camping option in the Sedona area and its creek-side location is quite pleasant.

 

Edge of the World (East Pocket)

Distance to Sedona: 39 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Edge of the World is a true gem for dispersed camping near Sedona. The drive is long and arduous to get here, but you’ll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views in the area. And all from a free dispersed campsite! Also known as East Pocket, this dispersed camping area is accessed by either taking FR 535 to FR231, or for those coming from Flagstaff by taking Woody Mountain Road.

Although it is a rough road to get here, there is always someone who made it in a sedan or other low-clearance vehicle. While we would recommend 4WD, it clearly isn’t 100% necessary.

Edge of the World is a popular camping destination in the area, so be sure to arrive early if you’re hoping to claim a spot on the weekend. Those who can will be rewarded with some of the best dispersed camping in the Sedona area!

Devil's Bridge in Sedona

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Sedona dispersed camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!

Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

 

2 Comments on The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Sedona, AZ

The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Flagstaff

Flagstaff, Arizona is a camper’s dream. Thousands of acres of National Forest, the San Francisco Peaks, and close proximity to both National Parks and National Monuments make this the perfect…

Flagstaff, Arizona is a camper’s dream. Thousands of acres of National Forest, the San Francisco Peaks, and close proximity to both National Parks and National Monuments make this the perfect destination for your next trip. All this public land means you should definitely consider doing some free, dispersed camping near Flagstaff.

Easy access means you can wake up in your tent and easily explore the thriving downtown, hop on some world class mountain bike trails, or even hike Arizona’s highest mountain, Humphreys Peak.

To make your Flagstaff trip planning a bit easier, we’ve compiled this handy guide of the best dispersed camping areas near Flagstaff. Check out all your options below.

 

Flagstaff, Arizona Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Flagstaff, AZ. Everything from when to camp, what to bring, and even some information on recent closures to popular camping areas.

This is the essential info before you head out!

When to Camp Near Flagstaff

Flagstaff’s unique geographical location has it sitting with one foot in the desert and one foot in the mountains. Located at the base of Arizona’s tallest mountain, Humphreys Peak, means that you will likely be camping at high-altitude here. Flagstaff itself sits at nearly 7,000′ above sea-level.

Given that, the best time to camp near Flagstaff is typically from April – October. For the higher up campsites in the San Francisco peaks this might be shorter by a month on either end, and at the lower elevations you can likely extend that season by a month or two.

Those in campers or RVs will also be able to comfortably camp for a longer season.

Mormon Lake, AZ

 

What to Bring

The wilderness surrounding Flagstaff can be a harsh place. This is where the desert meets the mountains so coming prepared for your camping trip is essential. This is especially true for dispersed camping, since you can’t depend on the amenities of a developed campground.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for dispersed camping near Flagstaff:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic version for a good overview of the Flagstaff and Sedona area.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – None of the camping areas included in this guide have dependable water access. As such, a portable water container is essential.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping, particularly in Flagstaff’s climate. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

 

Permits and Fees

One of many camper’s favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of need for any permits or fees to be paid. Camping near Flagstaff is no different, and none of the dispersed camping areas in this guide require a permit or have any associated fees.

However, it is always a good idea to do a quick internet search or check with the local field office before setting out.

Your best bet is to contact the Flagstaff Ranger District for the most up to date information.

Recently closed areas for dispersed camping near Flagstaff

It is important to note that as of the publication date of this article several popular dispersed camping areas near Flagstaff have been closed. This was primarily done through Forest Service Order 03-04-20-5-F. Popular dispersed camping areas that are no longer open include:

  • Schultz Pass Road
  • Fort Valley Dispersed Camping

Please observe these closures and do not camp in these areas. There is the potential that they will reopen in the future.

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in the wilderness areas surrounding Flagstaff. It is critical that you check and obey any and all fire restrictions. The surrounding wilderness has seen several devastating wildfires in recent years, so please only have a campfire if it is allowed.

You can check fire restrictions at this website before heading out.

Keep in mind there are permanent fire bans in place at:

  • Oak Creek Canyon
  • Pumphouse Wash

If you are able to have a campfire, be sure to completely put it out prior to going to sleep or leaving you campground for any amount of time!

Pets

Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this guide. Pets should be kept under control at all times, especially in areas where wildlife could be present or when you have other campers nearby.

Remember to pack out pet waste and ensure that pets are protected from extreme temperatures.

 

Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: Dispersed camping near Flagstaff seems to get more popular every year. As a result, there is an ever increasing impact on the fragile environment. As such, it is important to be a good neighbor and steward to keep these areas open for dispersed camping. That means carefully observing private property and always practicing Leave No Trace principles, and leaving a campsite in better shape than you found it.
  • Access: We’ve done our best to describe the road conditions you can expect when heading to each of the areas described in this post. Luckily many of the dispersed camping near Flagstaff is accessible by most passenger vehicles. However, several campsite required 4WD or high-clearance vehicles.
  • Water: None of the dispersed camping areas in this guide have a dependable water source. As such, it is important to bring all the water you’ll need, or have a plan for how you’ll get it.
  • All of these dispersed campsites are first-come, first-served. Many fill up quickly on summer weekends- you may need to get there on a Thursday and/or arrive early in the morning to secure a site.

 

Dispersed Camping Near Flagstaff, Arizona

The following list contains the 11 best dispersed camping areas surrounding Flagstaff, Arizona.

The map below gives an overview of each site’s location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!

For other nearby dispersed camping guides, check out our other posts:

Forest Service Road 222 (Wing Mountain)

Distance to Flagstaff: 9 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 222 is located northwest of Flagstaff, just off Highway 180. This is an excellent place for dispersed camping as you’ll be just 15 minutes from Flagstaff and the road is passable by almost all vehicles. This is a popular camping destination and offers easy access to the San Francisco Peaks as well as Highway 180 if you’re heading north to explore the Grand Canyon.

Getting here is straightforward. Simply head north out of Flagstaff along Highway 180 for approximately 8 miles. Forest Service Road 222 will be on the left hand side of the road. Campsites start almost immediately after turning off the highway and continue for the length of the road.

Keep in mind there is no water here so you’ll want to be sure to bring all that you’ll need.

Wing Mountain dispersed campsite near Flagstaff

Forest Service Road 222 near Wing Mountain offers great dispersed camping near Flagstaff.

 

Forest Service Road 171 (Wing Mountain)

Distance to Flagstaff: 13 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Located on the opposite side of Wing Mountain from FR222 and accessed from Interstate 40 is the Forest Service Road 171 dispersed camping area. Another great dispersed camping option near Flagstaff that consists of large campsites and relatively smooth roads. You’re only 20 minutes from central Flagstaff here and you’ll have tons of campsites to choose from.

To get here take Interstate 40 west from Flagstaff for about 11 miles before turning north onto FR 171. Head up the road for about 1 mile and then you’ll have your pick of campsites. There are also lots of good sites up FR 222A, which you’ll reach about a mile from the highway.

There is no water here so come prepared!

Dispersed camping near Flagstaff along Forest Service Road 171

There are tons of great dispersed campsites along FR 171 and 222.

 

Forest Service Road 151

Distance to Flagstaff: 11 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

The Forest Service Road 151 dispersed camping area is located just up the road from Wing Mountain sites, but is often much less crowded. With easy access to Highway 180 and a smooth road to get to the campsites, this is a great option near Flagstaff. You can expect some traffic noise from the highway, but that is a small price to pay for being less than 20 minutes from Flagstaff.

This is a dry site, so bring all of your own water.

Campsites appear almost immediately after turning off of the main highway and continue for quite a ways, so you’re almost assured of finding something that will work here!

 

Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping

Distance to Flagstaff: 10 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

The Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area offers free camping in 14 designated dispersed campsites. The area was established for dispersed camping given the high-impact camping has had in the surrounding wilderness. The result is an excellent place to camp in a USFS designed area that is very close to Flagstaff. This is the perfect dispersed campsite for hiking Humphreys Peak, as you’ll be very close to the main trailhead.

Each of the designated campsites here are marked, feature a fire ring, and have a place for at least one tent. Given the size of the campsites, RVs are not recommended.

There are no services here so you’ll need to pack out all of your own trash and be self-sufficient in terms of water.

To get here from Flagstaff head north of Highway 180 before turning onto Snowbowl Road. After 2.4 miles take a right onto FR 522 and be on the lookout for the campsites. Most are located on the south side of the road.

 

Map of Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping near Flagstaff

The Freidlein Prairie camping area has 14 dispersed sites near Flagstaff. Map credit USFS.

 

Cinder Hills OHV Area

Distance to Flagstaff: 15 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Cinder Hills Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area is one of Flagstaff’s most popular dispersed camping areas. Located northeast of town, this is a great destination for those hoping to do some off-roading or ATV driving in the Cinder Hills area. These are dry sites, so no water or bathroom facilities are available.

Keep in mind that given how popular with off-roaders the area is you should expect some noise and dust. Most campers set-up right on FR 776, but keep in mind that if you keep driving back from the highway there are more spots along FR 244 that tend to be a bit quieter.

To get to Cinder Hills OHV head north from Flagstaff on Highway 89 for approximately 8 miles. Turn right on FR 776 and drive for about 1.5 miles before looking for a campsite.

 

Walnut Canyon (FR 303)

Distance to Flagstaff: 11 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

The Walnut Canyon dispersed camping area near Flagstaff sits adjacent to Walnut Canyon National Monument. This is an excellent place to camp if you’re looking to explore the National Monument, or if you’re looking to camp east of Flagstaff. The road to get here is also in good shape, so this is a great option for rigs that can’t handle some of the rougher roads.

A visit to Walnut Canyon is well worth it in our opinion as the ancient cliff dwelling and stunning canyon walls are a sight to behold. All the better given the option for free, dispersed camping right next door!

As with many of the dispersed campgrounds near Flagstaff you won’t find any water or restrooms here, so be sure to pack out all your waste.

To get here, head south along Walnut Canyon Road from I-40. Just before reaching Walnut Canyon Monument turn east along FR 303 where campsites will appear almost immediately. Keep in mind camping is not permitted along Walnut Canyon Road.

 

Marshall Lake

Distance to Flagstaff: 15 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

The Marshall Lake area offers excellent dispersed camping southeast of Flagstaff. This is a large camping area so don’t expect solitude, but you will be well located to explore the southern reaches of Coconino National Forest. In addition, the Arizona Trail passes right through the campground so is perfect if you’re looking to do some hiking or mountain biking.

Don’t be fooled by the ‘lake’ name as Marshall Lake is more of a marshy depression than an actual lake. There are no facilities at the lake either, so come prepared to be self-sufficient.

To get there, head south from Flagstaff to Mary Lake Road. Take that for approximately 3 miles before turning onto FR 128, which is signed for Marshall Lake. Camping is permitted after driving just over 1 mile along FR 128.

Dispersed camping at Marshall Lake near Flagstaff

Marshall Lake offers great dispersed camping south of Flagstaff.

 

Ashurst Lake

Distance to Flagstaff: 20 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Ashurst Lake sits about 30 minutes southeast of Flagstaff and features two developed campgrounds. However, there are also some excellent dispersed sites before you reach the lake itself that make for a great free option. You’re right on the Arizona Trail here and also have easy access to the surrounding wilderness.

This is a good option if you find the sites at Marshall Lake full or if you’re looking for a quieter place to camp.

The road is serviceable and many folks report getting trailers here without any issues.

To get here, take Lake Mary Rd past Upper Lake Mary before turning left on 82E, just opposite the Pine Grove Campground. Look for campsites on the right-hand side of the road starting opposite of the Horse Lake trailhead.

 

Pumphouse Wash (FR 237)

Distance to Flagstaff: 13 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Pumphouse Wash is an designated dispersed camping area located approximately halfway between Flagstaff and Sedona just off Highway 89A. This is an excellent option for dispersed camping as you’ll be able to get a designated site and have great access to Oak Creek Canyon as well as Sedona. The campsites here are organized in four loops and can all be accessed by passenger vehicles.

Although these are designated sites, don’t expect any water or restroom facilities.

To get here, head south from Flagstaff along 89A before turning east on FR 237. You’ll then see signs for the designated campsites.

Be sure not to set-up camp outside of these areas as you are likely to be ticketed!

If you’re heading towards Sedona from Pumphouse Wash, don’t forget to check out our guide to the best dispersed camping near Sedona!

 

Dispersed camping at Pumphouse Wash

 

Willard Springs Road

Distance to Flagstaff: 18 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Willow Springs Road dispersed camping is straight south of Flagstaff just off Highway 17. This camping area is right off the highway so is convenient for those arriving late or looking for an easy campsite to access. For those looking for more peace and quiet, simply head a bit further back along the Forest Service Road as there are several good sites tucked into the trees.

Getting here is straightforward by heading south along Interstate 17 to exit 326 for Willard Springs Road. Once off the highway it is approximately 1.5 miles on Willard Springs Rd before the first campsites appear.

 

Schnebly Hill Road

Distance to Flagstaff: 22 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Although a bit further from Flagstaff compared to your other options, Schnebly Hill Rd still makes for some great dispersed camping. This is especially true for those venturing south to explore Sedona you’ll be conveniently positioned to explore both towns. For the adventurous, you can even take Schnebly Hill Rd all the way to Sedona, although you’ll want to take your time given how rough the road can be.

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Flagstaff dispersed camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!

Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

 

2 Comments on The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Flagstaff

The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Colorado Springs

As Colorado’s second largest city, Colorado Springs has tons to offer. From climbing Pikes Peak, to exploring the Air Force Academy, to checking out the lovely downtown, there is plenty…

As Colorado’s second largest city, Colorado Springs has tons to offer. From climbing Pikes Peak, to exploring the Air Force Academy, to checking out the lovely downtown, there is plenty to do for all. What may surprise many visitors is that you have the ability to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Colorado Springs.

Although you’ll end up being a little ways from downtown, you can still end up being well located to explore all that the area has to offer from your campsite.

However, finding a great dispersed campsite can often be difficult. To help make it a bit easier for you, we’ve compiled the best dispersed camping near Colorado Springs, CO in to this easy to read guide.

Keep reading to find your perfect campsite!

 

Colorado Springs Dispersed Camping Guide

The Basics

When to Camp Near Colorado Springs, CO

Located along Colorado’s Front Range, Colorado Springs sits at the base of the famous Pikes Peak. Sitting at an elevation of just over 6,000′ means Colorado Springs has a longer camping season than much of the surrounding mountains.

However, many of the dispersed camping options near Colorado Springs are located in the foothills surrounding town. This means you should generally plan your camping trip in the area between April – October. For the sites at higher elevations that may be shortened a bit depending on the previous season’s snow. Of course those in a camper or RV will be able to significantly extend their camping season.

Colorado Springs skyline

 

What to Bring

Planning a dispersed camping trip near Colorado Springs involves more than deciding where you can camp and finding the perfect site. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip. This is especially true for dispersed camping, as you can’t depend on the amenities of a developed campground.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for dispersed camping:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic version for a good overview of the wilderness west of Colorado Springs.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – These portable water containers are a lifesaver, especially as some camping areas do not have water available.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is essential when camping, particularly in the hot afternoon sun. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

 

Permits and Fees

One of our favorite benefits of free dispersed camping is that it almost never requires any specific permits or fees.  

Camping near Colorado Springs is no different, and as of writing there were no permits required to camp at any of the campsites in this guide. However, it is always a good idea to do a quick internet search or check with the local field office before setting out.

Fees are not required to park or camp at any of the BLM or Forest Service lands included in this post.

Your best bet is to contact the Pikes Peak Ranger District for the most up to date information.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are common in the wilderness areas surrounding Colorado Springs. It is very important to check the most up to date fire restrictions before setting out or starting a campfire. This handy website covers fire information across the entire state, and includes USFS and BLM lands.

If you are able to have a campfire, be sure to completely put it out prior to going to sleep or leaving you campground for any amount of time!

Pets

Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this guide. Pets should be kept under control at all times, especially in areas where wildlife could be present or when you have other campers nearby.

Remember to pack out pet waste and ensure that pets are protected from extreme temperatures.

 

Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: Given that all of the campsites included in this guide are close to Colorado Springs, they tend to get more crowded than sites further afield. As such, it is important to be a good neighbor and steward to keep these areas open for dispersed camping. That means carefully observing private property and always practicing Leave No Trace principles.
  • Cell Phone Service: Cell phone service in the mountains surrounding Colorado Springs is spotty as best. While it is certainly better the closer you are to town, don’t plan on getting a cell signal.
  • Access: We’ve done our best to describe the road conditions you can expect when heading to each of the areas described in this post. Luckily many of the dispersed camping near Colorado Springs is accessible by most passanger vehicles. However, several campsite required 4WD or high-clearance vehicles.
  • Water: The majority of the sites included in this guide do not have a water source. Given that, it is important to bring all the water you’ll need, or have a plan for how you’ll get it.
  • All of these dispersed campsites are first-come, first-served. Many fill up quickly on summer weekends- you may need to get there on a Thursday and/or arrive early in the morning to secure a site.

view from a tent dispersed camping near Colorado Springs

 

Dispersed Camping Near Colorado Springs, CO

The following list contains your best bets for dispersed camping near Colorado Springs. Keep in mind that most of these are 20+ miles from the city itself, although you’ll still have easy access to town from most of them. We’ve done our best to include a variety of options in the surrounding area. The map below gives an overview of each site’s location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!

 

Rampart Range Road

Distance to Colorado Springs: 26 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

The Rampart Range Road camping area is located northwest of Colorado Springs and accessed via the town of Woodland Park. It is about a 45 minute drive from downtown Colorado Springs to get to this dispersed camping area, but in our opinion it is well worth it. Most sites along the road enjoy excellent views and there are even a few fire rings available for your use.

To get here, take Highway 24 to Woodland Park and then drive through town until you’re on Rampart Range Road. Take a right on Loy Creek Road before turning right again on Forest Service Road 300. Campsites start just past the Rainbow Gulch trailhead.

The road is rough in places, though there are reports of passenger vehicles making it up here.

 

Mount Herman Road

Distance to Colorado Springs: 26 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

The Mount Herman Road dispersed camping area is located west of the town of Monument, CO and approximately 45 minutes from Colorado Springs. You’ll be perfectly located for a hike up Mt. Herman, which has great views of Pikes Peak and the Front Range. The campsites are located on the windy and narrow Mt Herman Road/Forest Service Road 320 around 7 miles past the point where the pavement ends.

Given the condition of the road, the Mount Herman camping area is not recommended for RVs or those pulling a trailer.

 

Seven Lakes Road/Forest Service Road 376

Distance to Colorado Springs: 52 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but water may be available from Middle Beaver Creek
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

Located in the vast wilderness west of Colorado Springs and in the shadow of Pikes Peak, Seven Lakes Road offers tons of dispersed campsites to choose from. Keep in mind there isn’t a great way to get here from Colorado Springs, so expect the drive to take approximately 1.5 hours.

However, for those willing to make the trek here you’ll enjoy quiet campsites along a nice Forest Service Road. The drive in along Gold Camp Road has tremendous scenery as well, including the Cathedral Park climbing area.

Keep in mind that there isn’t a reliable water source along Seven Lakes Road, so it is best to come prepared. This is a popular area for off-roading, so we think a 4WD vehicle will be best suited to camp here.

 

Manchester Creek Road

Distance to Colorado Springs: 31 miles
Restrooms:
Vault toilets available at Manchester Creek Trailhead
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

The Manchester Creek area is a popular dispersed camping north of the town of Divide, and approximately 30 miles from Colorado Springs. Access is straightforward and the roads here are in good condition, making this an excellent dispersed camping option for those without high-clearance vehicles.

Getting here is straightforward as well, simply head north along Manchester Creek Road from Divide until you reach the junction with County Road 5. Veer left here and campsites start just past the large parking area at the Manchester Creek Trailhead. They appear on and off for approximately the next 2 miles.

Keep in mind that these are dry campsites so you’ll need to pack in all of your own water. The area is also very popular with ATVs and dirt bikes so be prepared for a bit of noise!

 

Rainbow Falls Road

Distance to Colorado Springs: 30 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but may be able to get water from Trout Creek
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

The Rainbow Falls area is incredibly popular with ATVs and other OHVs but also offers the ability for dispersed camping near Colorado Springs. These sites are only about 45 minutes from the Springs, although be warned that they can get a bit loud. This National Forest land is very popular on the weekends as well, so your best bet will be to get their early or try to camp mid-week.

Many campers report a lot of trash here, so please be sure to pack out all of your waste.

To get here, simply take Highway 67 north from Woodland Park before reaching Rainbow Falls Rd. The National Forest and camping area is just a short distance from the turnoff.

 

North Rampart Road

Distance to Colorado Springs: 26 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

Located just north of the Rampart Range Road dispersed camping area discussed earlier, the northern section of the road also features some nice dispersed campsite near Colorado Springs. This section of Rampart Range Road is a bit rougher than what you’ll find on the southern end, so we only recommend it for 4WD vehicles and those with high-clearance.

There is not water or other services here so be sure to leave no trace and pack out all of your trash.

The area is popular with ATVs and dirt bikes as well.

 

Rule Creek Trail

Distance to Colorado Springs: 29 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

The Rule Creek Trail dispersed camping area is located northwest of Woodland Park and an approximate 45 minute drive from Colorado Springs. This is a great option for those in larger rigs or passenger vehicles as some of the first sites you’ll come to can fit a fairly large trailer. The road is manageable for most vehicles as well.

The first campsites are in an old burn area, so don’t expect much shade. However, if you keep heading south along Rule Creek Trail (Forest Service Road 357) you’ll find some additional campsites with some nice tree cover.

Getting here is straightforward by simply heading north on Highway 67 from Woodland Park. Take a left on Painted Rocks Road and then another left onto Rule Creek Trail. The campsites appear almost immediately after getting on FSR 357.

Rock formations in Garden of the Gods

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Colorado Springs dispersed camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!

Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

Looking for other Colorado dispersed camping guides? Check out our other posts below:

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The BEST Dispersed Camping near Aspen, CO

Beautiful Aspen, Colorado is up there as one of Colorado’s best mountain towns. Known for its glitz and glamour as much as its mountainous surroundings it’s a great town for…

Beautiful Aspen, Colorado is up there as one of Colorado’s best mountain towns. Known for its glitz and glamour as much as its mountainous surroundings it’s a great town for a summer getaway. For those looking to maximize their experience, we think dispersed camping near Aspen, CO is the perfect way to see this beautiful area.

You’ll be well located to explore some of Aspen’s highlights including Maroon Bells, the Roaring Fork River, and even explore some of downtown Aspen’s art scene. Not to mention the nearly unlimited options for hiking, biking, and any other type of outdoor activity you can imagine.

However, finding a great dispersed campsite can often be difficult. To help make it a bit easier for you, we’ve compiled the best dispersed camping near Aspen, CO in to this easy to read guide.

Keep reading to find your perfect campsite!

 

Aspen, CO Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

When to Camp Near Aspen, CO

Situated in the Roaring Fork Valley at an elevation of 8,000′, Aspen’s high altitude location means you’ll want to plan you camping trip during the summer months. This generally means late-May through the first half of September for those who plan on tent camping. If you’re in an RV or camper you can likely extend the camping season by a few weeks.

However, outside of those months you’ll likely find the dispersed campsites in this guide full of snow and nightly temperatures too cold to camp.

Aspen trees in the fall near Aspen, CO

Fall is a beautiful time to camp near Aspen.

 

What to Bring

Planning a dispersed camping trip near Aspen involves more than deciding which campsite best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip. This is especially true for dispersed camping, as you can’t depend on the amenities of a developed campground.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for dispersed camping:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic version for a good overview Aspen and Independence Pass.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – These portable water containers are a lifesaver, especially as some camping areas do not have water available.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is essential when camping, particularly in the hot afternoon sun. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Bug Spray– The mosquitos can be pretty nasty in the summer months, but good bug repellent makes a huge difference.
  • Portable Toilet– Even if there are vault toilets near your campsite, you might prefer this clean, private, and convenient option. It’s a great way to ensure you leave no trace! Also, don’t forget to pack TP!

 

Permits and Fees

One of our favorite benefits of free dispersed camping is that it almost never requires any specific permits or fees.  

Dispersed camping near Aspen is no different, and as of the time of writing, permits were not required to camp at any of the locations included in this guide. However, it is always a good idea to do a quick internet search or check with the local field office before setting out.

Fees are not required to park or camp at any of the BLM or Forest Service lands included in this post.

Your best bet is to contact the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District for the most up to date information.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are common in the wilderness areas surrounding Aspen. It’s important to check for the latest restrictions before heading out on your camping trip. This website has a comprehensive list of links to all current fire information in the state of Colorado, including USFS and BLM areas. You can also contact the appropriate field office for the area in which you’ll be camping.

If you are able to have a campfire, be sure to completely put it out prior to going to sleep or leaving you campground for any amount of time.

Pets

Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this guide. Pets should be kept leashed and under control at all times, especially in areas where wildlife could be present. Remember to pack out pet waste and ensure that pets are protected from extreme temperatures.

 

Other Considerations

  • Elevation: Many of the peaks around Aspen rise to over 14,000′! While you won’t be camping on the top of them, the surrounding area is situated at a very high elevation. Many of the dispersed camping areas near Aspen, CO are at 9,000 feet or higher. Bring warm gear and a sturdy tent to prepare for the ever changing weather conditions that are common in these areas. Snow can come at any time of year!
  • Cell Phone Service: Don’t plan on getting a cell signal when dispersed camping near Aspen. Some of the areas are quite remote and getting a signal is rare.
  • Access: We’ve done our best to describe the road conditions you can expect when heading to each of the areas described in this post. The majority of camping areas near Aspen will require 4WD and a vehicle with high-clearance.  Use your best judgement as a tow truck on a remote road is not something you want to have to call!
  • Water: The majority of the sites included in this guide do not have a water source. Given that, it is important to bring all the water you’ll need, or have a plan for how you’ll get it.
  • All of these dispersed campsites are first-come, first-served. Many fill up quickly on summer weekends- you may need to get there on a Thursday and/or arrive early in the morning to secure a site.
  • Wildlife: The wilderness around Aspen is bear country. Be sure to store all food, trash, and other scented items in your car to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife.
  • Always Leave No Trace so that others can enjoy these beautiful places, too.

 

Dispersed Camping Near Aspen, CO

The following list contains what we consider the five best dispersed camping areas near Aspen, CO. We’ve done our best to include a variety of options in the surrounding area. The map below gives an overview of each site’s location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!

For other dispersed camping options in the area we recommend reaching out to the White River National Forest & Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. They oversee much of the public land surrounding Aspen and are always a great source of local knowledge for dispersed camping in the Aspen area! We also have dispsered camping guides for these nearby areas:

Dispersed Camping Near Leadville, CO

Dispersed Camping Near Buena Vista, CO

In addition, the USFS publishes a motor-vehicle use map that shows where dispersed camping is allowed. You can find the most up to date version here.

Lincoln Creek Dispersed Camping

Distance to Aspen: 11 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

The Lincoln Creek Dispersed Campground has 22 individual campsites and is just 20 minutes from Aspen. This is a very popular place to camp, so be sure to get there as early as you can, especially on weekends. The campsites are tucked back of Lincoln Creek Road, and a few even have direct creek access. Note that there is a five night limit on camping here that is strictly enforced. Also, be sure not to park/camp on Lincoln Creek Road itself as you are very likely to get a ticket!

To get here, head up Independence Pass from Aspen until you reach Lincoln Creek Road. Turn off here and follow Lincoln Creek Road for a short ways before turning off to your right where the campsites are located.

The road is rough, and 4WD is recommended.

Independence Pass near Aspen

Located at the base of Independence Pass, the Lincoln Creek Dispersed Campground is very close to Aspen.

 

Portal Campground

Distance to Aspen: 17 miles
Restrooms: 
Vault toilets available
Water: 
No, but may be able to filter water from Grizzly Reservoir
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Continuing up Lincoln Creek Road from the Lincoln Creek Dispersed site described above will bring you to the Portal Dispersed Campground. This free, Forest Service campground has five dispersed campsites located right next to Grizzly Reservoir. While there is no drinking water here, there are two vault toilets. You’ll be at a very high altitude camping here, which gives access to some great day hikes, fishing opportunities, and offroading!

The road is rough up to the Portal Campground, so you will definitely want a 4WD vehicle with high-clearance.

Follow the directions described in the section above and stay on Lincoln Creek Road for another 6 miles to reach the Portal Campground.

 

Pearl Pass & Castle Creek Dispersed Camping

Distance to Aspen: 16 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but you may be able to get water from Castle Creek. 
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

Pearl Pass Road offers seven dispersed campsites situated along the beautiful Castle Creek. This is a great camping area for those looking to hike Castle Peak or explore some of the beautiful surrounding wilderness. Although the area is popular, you’ll find it much less crowded than the nearby Maroon Bells Wilderness. Pearl Pass is a popular 4×4 road, and you can even connect all the way to Crested Butte!

The road to the dispersed camping area is rough, and 4WD with high clearance is a must for anyone looking to camp here.

To get to the Pearl Pass dispersed camping area head up Castle Creek Road from the roundabout west of Aspen. Take Castle Creek Road for approximately 14 miles and past the historic ghost town of Ashcroft. Keep right at the junction and on to Pearl Pass Road. Drive a little over a mile up Pearl Pass and be on the lookout for the campsites.

A car drives to Pearl Pass dispersed camping near Aspen

 

 

Woody Creek (Forest Service Road 523 & 534)

Distance to Aspen: 13 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Light
Map

Just west of Aspen you’ll find the small town of Woody Creek and it’s legendary tavern. We highly recommend a visit if you’re in the Aspen area, and even better there are a few good dispersed campsites in close proximity. The camping areas are located north of Highway 82 in the National Forest along Forest Service Roads 534 and 523. You won’t find any amenities such as water or bathrooms, but these sites tend to be much less crowded than any of your other options.

To get there, take Lower River Road (County Road 16) west of Woody Creek and be on the lookout for a sharp right turn that goes steeply up the mountainside. This is Forest Service Road 534 and you’ll need to follow it up toward the Triangle Peak Overlook. Once in the National Forest, dispersed camping is available on Road 534, or a bit further up along Forest Service Road 523.

4WD and high-clearance are recommended for driving these roads.

 

Sayres Gulch

Distance to Aspen: 32 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but water may be available from South Fork Lake Creek
Crowds:
Light
Map

The Sayres Gulch dispersed camping area is quite a trek from Aspen. However, given the limited options for dispersed camping in the area we thought it would be good to include. This is a primitive camping area along Forest Service Road 382. The sites are not typically crowded, so this is a good place to go to escape the hustle and bustle of Aspen.

To get there, head to the top of Independence Pass before turning south on Forest Service Road 391. Take Road 391 for approximately 1.8 miles before turning off onto Forest Service Road 382. You’ll find campsites almost immediately at this point. The road is fairly rough to get here so 4WD is recommended.

You’ll be on the east side of Independence Pass if you camp here and close to Twin Lakes. If you’d like to keep exploring the area you can also find good dispersed camping near Leadville. Nearby Buena Vista also has excellent dispersed camping options.

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Aspen, CO dispersed camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

1 Comment on The BEST Dispersed Camping near Aspen, CO

The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Leadville, CO

Historic Leadville, Colorado is a true mountain town gem. Known as the highest incorporated city in North America, Leadville is situated at a stunning 10,200 feet above sea-level. All that…

Historic Leadville, Colorado is a true mountain town gem. Known as the highest incorporated city in North America, Leadville is situated at a stunning 10,200 feet above sea-level. All that elevation means you’ll have access to some of Colorado’s best wilderness in the surrounding area. We think one of the best ways to visit is to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Leadville, CO. You’ll get to enjoy some of the area’s highlights, including the State’s highest mountain at Mt. Elbert, the beautiful Turquoise Lake, and miles upon miles of hiking trails.

However, finding a great dispersed campsite can often be difficult. To help make it a bit easier for you, we’ve compiled the best dispersed camping near Leadville, CO in one easy to read guide.

Keep reading to find your perfect campsite!

Leadville, CO Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

When to Camp Near Leadville, CO

Given Leadville’s high altitude, the best time for dispersed camping in the surrounding area is June – September. This will of course depend on the weather and how much snow the winter brought. Depending on conditions, you may be able to camp in the surrounding area as early as May and often as late as October. Should you plan a trip during the shoulder season be prepared for cold and even snow!

 

What to Bring

Preparing for a dispersed camping trip near Leadville involves more than deciding which campsite best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip. This is especially true for dispersed camping, as you can’t depend on the amenities of a developed campground

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for dispersed camping:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic version for a good overview of the Leadville area.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – These portable water containers are a lifesaver, especially as some camping areas do not have water available.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is essential when camping, particularly in the hot afternoon sun. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Bug Spray– The mosquitos can be pretty nasty in the summer months, but good bug repellent makes a huge difference.
  • Portable Toilet– Even if there are vault toilets near your campsite, you might prefer this clean, private, and convenient option. It’s a great way to ensure you leave no trace! Also, don’t forget to pack TP!

 

Permits and Fees

One of the major benefits of dispersed camping is that it rarely requires any specific permits or fees.

At of the time of writing, permits were not required to camp at any of the locations included in this guide. However, it is always a good idea to do a quick internet search or check with the local field office before setting out.

Fees are not required to park or camp at any of the BLM or Forest Service lands included in this post.

Your best bet is to contact the Leadville Ranger District for the most up to date information.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are common in the wilderness areas surrounding Leadville. It’s important to check for the latest restrictions before heading out on your camping trip. This website has a comprehensive list of links to all current fire information in the state of Colorado, including USFS and BLM areas. You can also contact the appropriate field office for the area in which you’ll be camping.

 

Pets

Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this guide. Pets should be kept leashed and under control at all times, especially in areas where wildlife could be present. Remember to pack out pet waste and ensure that pets are protected from extreme temperatures.

 

Other Considerations

  • Elevation: This is definitely the high-country! Many of the dispersed camping areas near Leadville, CO are at 10,000 feet or higher. Bring warm gear and a sturdy tent to prepare for the ever changing weather conditions that are common in these areas. Snow can come at any time of year!
  • Cell Phone Service: Don’t plan on getting a cell signal when dispersed camping near Leadville. Some of the areas are quite remote, although options closer to town, Twin Lakes, and Turquoise Lake may have a signal. It is best to sssume you won’t have service and plan accordingly (download maps ahead of time, let other know where you’re going and when you’ll be back, etc).
  • Access: We’ve done our best to describe the road conditions you can expect when heading to each of the areas described in this post. Not all are accessible by 2WD vehicles, and conditions can quickly change due to weather and usage. Use your best judgement when navigating mountain roads, as no campsite is worth jeopardizing your safety for!
  • Water: The majority of the sites included in this guide do not have a water source. Given that, it is important to bring all the water you’ll need, or have a plan for how you’ll get it.
  • All of these dispersed campsites are first-come, first-served. Many fill up quickly on summer weekends- you may need to get there on a Thursday and/or arrive early in the morning to secure a site.
  • Wildlife: Store all food, trash, and other scented items in your car to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife. Bears are highly active is this part of the State!
  • Leave No Trace so that others can enjoy these beautiful places, too.

View of Leadville, CO

 

 

Dispersed Camping Near Leadville, CO

The following list contains what we consider the nine best dispersed camping areas near Leadville, CO. We’ve done our best to include a variety of options in the surrounding area. The map below gives an overview of each site’s location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!

Heading over Independence Pass? Check out our Dispersed Camping near Aspen Guide.

County Road 48 near Turquoise Lake

Distance to Leadville: 4 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

County Road 48 just south of Turquoise Lake is the closest dispersed camping area to Leadville. This is a popular camping area, so expect neighbors and be sure to leave no trace if you do camp here. You’ll be well located to explore Turquoise Lake as well as the Mt. Massive Wilderness Area. Views of Mt. Elbert from the camping area are also stunning.

To reach the dispersed camping area here head west on 6th Street from central Leadville until it dead ends into County Road 4. Turn north on County Road 4 and continue until you get to the junction with County Road 48. Proceed a short distance on CR48 to find the dispersed camping area, with sites on both sides of the road.

The road is gravel and should be passable by most vehicles and rigs.

 

Turquoise Lake Dispersed Camping (FR 105A)

Distance to Leadville: 10 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No.
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

Although there is no dispersed camping permitted in the Turquoise Lake Recreation Area, there are ample opportunities to pitch your tent for free in the surrounding wilderness. In addition to County Road 48, described above, there is also excellent dispersed camping available on Forest Service Road 105A above Turquoise Lake.

This area is best suited for those with 4WD and high-clearance as the road up can get quite rough. However, for those who are prepared you’ll enjoy a beautiful hilltop campground overlooking the lake.

To get here take County Road 4 along the southside of Turquoise Lake. Stay on CR4 (also known as Hagerman Pass) until you get to the intersection with Forest Service Road 105A. From here, head up the road until you reach the camping area.

 

Turquoise Lake, Colorado near Leadville

 

West Tennessee Creek

Distance to Leadville: 9 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No. 
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

North of Leadville along Highway 24 is the West Tennessee Creek dispersed camping area. This is a good option for those hoping to camp near the top of Tennessee Pass or who want easy access to the Colorado Trail. Don’t expect any big views here as most of the camping options are located in dense forest. However, that provides a bit of privacy that can be hard to find at other dispersed camping areas.

To get here, simply head up Highway 24 until you reach County Road 19, where you’ll turn west. From here continue on until you reach Forest Road 131 & 100, where you’ll find campsite on both side of the road. The road is well-maintained, so access shouldn’t be a problem for most vehicles.

 

Halfmoon Creek

Distance to Leadville: 9 miles
Restrooms: 
No, although there are vault toilets at nearby trailheads.
Water: 
No, although creek access is possible. 
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

Halfmoon Creek is a popular spot for dispersed camping area in the Leadville area. The road is the main access for those hiking Mt. Elbert, so expect it to be busy on summer weekends. However, if you can tolerate a few people this camping area is convenient with relatively easy access. The road here parallels the Halfmoon Creek and some sites have direct creek access, a major plus.

Getting here is straightforward as well, simply take Highway 24 south from Leadville before turning west on CO-300 towards Turquoise Lake. From here take a right on Halfmoon Rd (CR11) and take it approximately 4 miles into the National Forest. Campgrounds are then located on both sides of the road.

 

Summit of Mt. Elbert

Camp near the base of Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak.

 

Forest Service Road 130

Distance to Leadville: 10 miles
Restrooms: 
No.
Water: 
No.
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 130 is located southwest of Leadville in the shadow of Mt. Elbert. This is a convenient option for camping near Leadville, although don’t expect a full wilderness experience given the proximity to Highway 24. There is no water and no restrooms here, so be sure to pack out all of your waste. You’ll have good access to Mt. Elbert and Twin Lakes from here.

To get to the dispersed camping area, head south on Highway 24 from Leadville before turning west on County Road 10 and then shortly after veer right onto FR130. From here, it is a about 1.5 miles to the National Forest where you can camp.

The road can be rough at time, so higher clearance vehicles are recommended.

 

Twin Lakes Area Dispersed Camping

Distance to Leadville: 20 miles
Restrooms: 
No.
Water: 
No. 
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

Often referred to as the Twin Lakes North Area dispersed camping, this is a great option for those looking to camp near the beautiful Twin Lakes outside of Leadville. While there is no dispersed camping permitted directly next to the Twin Lakes, this is about as close as you can get. This is a popular spot for those hiking Mt. Elbert or doing some boating, so be sure to arrive early on summer weekends.

To get here, take Highway 82 towards Independence Pass and turn north on Lake County Road 24. Continue on CR24 for less than a mile before campsites begin to appear on the right-hand side of the road. Be sure to stop before getting to the developed Lakeview Campground.

The road is passable for most vehicles.

Dispersed camping near Twin Lakes, CO

 

 

Willis Gulch

Distance to Leadville: 23 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No. 
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

The Willis Gulch dispersed camping area near Leadville takes you up the start of Independence Pass. This gets you further from town, but also reduces the number of people a bit. The camping area is located right off Highway 82, so expect some traffic noise. However, you’ll also be close to the Willis Gulch trailhead and other hiking trails.

To get here, head up Independence Pass (Highway 82) past Twin Lakes and you’ll find the pull out on the left hand side of the road. Given the area is just off the highway, all vehicles should have no trouble camping here.

If you’re heading to Aspen from here there are also tons of great dispersed camping options there too!

Independence Pass near Willis Gulch dispersed camping

 

Clear Creek Reservoir (CR 390)

Distance to Leadville: 21 miles
Restrooms:
Vault Toilets available near the lake.
Water: 
No, although water may be filtered from Clear Creek. 
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

There are lots of great dispersed campsites near the beautiful Clear Creek Reservoir, which is located about halfway between Leadville and Buena Vista. A primitive campground on the west side of the reservoir has approximately 20 free sites, while those seeking more solitude can find great dispersed sites along Clear Creek.

To get here, head south on Highway 24 toward Buena Vista before turning west on CR390 for Clear Creek Reservoir. You can’t miss the main camping area west of the lake, and to reach the dispersed sites, continue west on County Road 390 past the reservoir for a few more miles. Pay close attention to signage, as some of the area is private property and therefore not suitable for camping.

The area has tons of great hiking, fishing, and 4WD opportunities, plus there are some very cool ghost towns to explore nearby. The road to access the campsites can be a bit rugged at times, but most passenger vehicles should be able to navigate it.

If you’re looking for dispersed camping near Buena Vista, CO, check out our guide here.

 

Homestake Reservoir Road

Distance to Leadville: 20 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No. 
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

The road to Homestake Reservoir features several excellent dispersed camping areas near Leadville. Immediately after turning off the highway you’ll find the Blodgett Campground, a free undeveloped campground with 5-6 sites. If you continue on the road a short distance past here you’ll also find more traditional dispersed sites that offer a bit more privacy.

This is a great location up Tennessee Pass and has good access to the Colorado Trail and Camp Hale historic area.

The campsites are located immediately west of Highway 24 on Homestake Road (CR710). Most rigs and cars can reach the Blodgett camping area, although the road gets rougher the further back you travel.

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Leadville, CO dispersed camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

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The Best Dispersed Camping Near Telluride, CO

Ah, Telluride. From festivals to fly fishing, there’s always something awesome to do in this iconic mountain town. Tucked into a box canyon in the pristine San Juan Mountains, Telluride…

Ah, Telluride. From festivals to fly fishing, there’s always something awesome to do in this iconic mountain town. Tucked into a box canyon in the pristine San Juan Mountains, Telluride is the perfect place to experience the best of Colorado’s beautiful landscapes. And what better way to savor every minute than sleeping under the stars? Not only will dispersed camping near Telluride save you money and give your greater flexibility, it will allow you to fully immerse yourself in this incredible area. 

In this post, we’ve shared all of the best places for dispersed camping within an hour of Telluride so you can find your perfect campsite.

 

In This Post…

 

 

The Basics

 

When to Camp Near Telluride, CO

The best time for dispersed camping in the Telluride area is from May through October. The higher elevations (above 10,000 feet) can hold snow well into the summer, so it’s best to plan your trip to those areas for June-September. The fall months bring beautiful changing colors, but be prepared for chilly nights and mornings.

 

What to Bring

Preparing for your Telluride camping trip involves more than deciding which campsite best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for dispersed camping near Telluride, CO:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – These portable water containers are a lifesaver, especially as some camping areas do not have water available.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is essential when camping, particularly in the hot afternoon sun. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Bug Spray– The mosquitos can be pretty nasty in the summer months, but good bug repellent makes a huge difference.
  • Portable Toilet– Even if there are vault toilets near your campsite, you might prefer this clean, private, and convenient option. It’s a great way to ensure you leave no trace! Also, don’t forget to pack TP!
  • Water Filter– When you’re dispersed camping near a river, lake, or stream, it can be nice to filter your water instead of having to pack it all in.

 

Permits and Fees

There are no permits or fees required to camp in any of the BLM or Forest Service areas described in this post. As some areas gain popularity, they could change over to a permit system in the future, so it’s always best to double-check before setting out.

Some of the camping areas are located within or adjacent to a designated Wilderness Area. Check ahead of time, as each of these areas has specific restrictions that apply. This map shows the boundaries of the Wilderness Areas near Telluride.

 

Overhead view of the Telluride Valley

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are common in the wilderness areas surrounding Telluride. It’s important to check for the latest restrictions before heading out on your camping trip. This website has a comprehensive list of links to all current fire information in the state of Colorado, including USFS and BLM areas. You can also contact the appropriate field office for the area in which you’ll be camping.

 

Pets

Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this post. Pets should be kept leashed and under control at all times, especially in areas where wildlife could be present. Remember to pack out pet waste and ensure that pets are protected from extreme temperatures.

 

Other Considerations

  • Elevation: Many of the dispersed camping areas near Telluride are at 9,000 feet or higher. Bring warm gear and a sturdy tent to prepare for the extreme weather conditions that are common in these areas.
  • Cell Phone Service: Reception is spotty at best in most of the dispersed camping areas near Telluride. Assume you won’t have service and plan accordingly (download maps ahead of time, let other know where you’re going and when you’ll be back, etc).
  • Access: We’ve done our best to describe the road conditions you can expect when heading to each of the areas described in this post. Not all are accessible by 2WD vehicles, and conditions can quickly change due to weather and usage. Use your best judgement when navigating mountain roads, as no campsite is worth jeopardizing your safety for!
  • All of these dispersed campsites are first-come, first-served. Many fill up quickly on summer weekends- you may need to get there on a Thursday and/or arrive early in the morning to secure a site.
  • Wildlife: Store all food, trash, and other scented items in your car to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife.
  • Leave No Trace so that others can enjoy these beautiful places, too.

 

Yellow aspen trees in front of snowy mountains near Telluride

Fall comes early in the high mountains near Telluride!

 

 

The Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Telluride, CO

 

Alta Lakes

Distance to Telluride: 14 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water: 
No, but can be filtered from the lake. 
Crowds: 
Busy
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

Alta Lakes lives up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful places in Colorado, and a night under the stars here is an unforgettable experience. There are about 20 dispersed campsites in the area surrounding the lakes. Most sites are pretty well spaced out, allowing for privacy and spectacular alpine views. There are some additional sites located along the road up to the lakes. Although it’s just over a dozen miles from Telluride, it takes close to an hour to reach the camping area on the narrow, rugged road. Keep an eye out for historic buildings at the Alta Townsite on the way up. Due to the conditions of the road, it’s best only attempted by 4WD vehicles and not recommended for RVs and trailers.

 

Priest Lake

Distance to Telluride: 14 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water: 
No, but can be filtered from the lake. 
Crowds: 
Busy
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

This small and pretty dispersed camping area is located just half an hour from Telluride. Among the 9 total dispersed sites, a few are walk-in sites. These sites require a bit more effort, but also provide more privacy. Priest Lake, a scenic alpine pond, is the focal point of the area and a popular fishing spot. Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders will enjoy exploring the nearby Galloping Goose Trail. The road to Priest Lake is accessible by most vehicles, although trailers are not permitted at the camping area due to a lack of parking spaces. The developed Matterhorn Campground, just down the road from Priest Lake, has showers and firewood available.

 

Caddis Flats

Distance to Telluride: 18 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water: 
No, but can be filtered from the river. 
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: BLM (Uncompahgre Field Office)
Map

This free BLM campground has just three “official” sites, but there is plenty of room for additional campers in the large gravel lot and tucked into the adjacent woods. It is located right along the San Miguel River, and even those camping in the parking lot can score a lovely spot along the water. There is a hand-carry boat launch on site. Caddis Flats is located just off CO 145, which makes it convenient to access but also means that there is some road noise during the daytime hours. The area can accommodate rigs and trailers of all sizes, provided its not too crowded.

 

Alta Lake at sunrise, Telluride

A chilly morning at Alta Lakes.

 

 

Fall Creek Recreation Site

Distance to Telluride: 15 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: BLM (Uncompahgre Field Office)
Map

Located less than 30 minutes from Telluride on easy paved roads, this is a nice and convenient camping area. There are a handful of sites- most are small and suited for tent campers, but there is one large area that can accommodate RVs and trailers. There are fire rings and a covered picnic area, and the lovely Fall Creek is just across the road from the campsites. Limited cell phone service may be available.

 

Lizard Head Pass

Distance to Telluride: 15 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

Lizard Head Pass is a popular dispersed camping area just 25 minutes from Telluride. There are about a dozen sites spread out in a open meadow with incredible views of the surrounding mountains. The Lizard Head Wilderness Area is one of the most beautiful and rugged in this part of Colorado, and it has several great hiking trails and three 14’ers within its boundaries. The dirt road to the pass is a bit rough and may pose difficulties for large RVs or low-clearance vehicles. There is no cell phone service in the area.

 

Last Dollar Road

Distance to Telluride: 14 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

If you can make it up the rugged road to this gorgeous dispersed camping area, you’ll be rewarded with views of aspen forests and iconic peaks. Last Dollar Road has lots of great dispersed campsites dotted along both sides of the road. There’s also parking lot lower down on the road (closer to Telluride) that may be more suitable for RVs. The Alder Creek Trail connects to Last Dollar Road. This is a challenging hike that provides access to the pristine Mount Sneffels Wilderness Area.

Last Dollar Road, Telluride dispersed camping

Big views from Last Dollar Road.

 

 

Silver Pick Road

Distance to Telluride: 10 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No, but can filter from the river. 
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

This camping area is really just a small dirt parking area right off Highway 145. It can accommodate a few class B or C motorhomes and/or tent campers. It is located right along the San Miguel River, making for a pretty setting and easy water access. The Silver Pick Road camping area is less than half an hour’s drive from Telluride and accessible by all vehicle types. It is close to lots of great hiking opportunities, including the Rock of the Ages Trailhead.

 

Elk Creek Road (FR 645)

Distance to Telluride: 17 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

If you continue past the small camping area on Silver Pick Road to Forest Road 645 (Elk Creek Road), you’ll find several more dispersed campsites located on both sides of the road. These are ideal for those climbing one of the peaks accessible from the Rock of the Ages Trail- Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak, and El Diente Peak. This handy map shows all of the dispersed campsites along Elk Creek Road. Keep in mind that camping is prohibited at the trailhead.

 

Lower Beaver Recreation Site

Distance to Telluride: 27 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water:
Yes
Crowds:
Busy
Managed by: BLM (Uncompahgre Field Office)
Map

This is a free BLM-run camping area located right along the San Miguel River. Since there are just a handful of sites and room for a few RVs in the main parking lot, the campground fills up quickly during the peak season. It’s a great option for those seeking a few luxuries, like toilets, picnic tables, and drinking water, while still enjoying a free and simple camping experience. There’s a hand-carry boat launch on site.

 

Road with mountains and fall colors in the background, Telluride, CO

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Telluride, CO dispersed camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

And if you’re looking to explore more of this beautiful region, be sure to check out these other dispersed camping posts:

The 10 Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Silverton

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Buena Vista, CO

The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Steamboat Springs

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Lake City, Colorado

 

 

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