Category: Colorado

The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Winter Park

Winter Park is one of our favorite Colorado mountain destinations. A low-key alternative to many of the more glamorous and touristy towns in the area, Winter Park offers top notch…

Winter Park is one of our favorite Colorado mountain destinations. A low-key alternative to many of the more glamorous and touristy towns in the area, Winter Park offers top notch mountain biking, a relaxed atmosphere, and tons to do for the outdoor enthusiast. Luckily, you should have no problem finding some excellent dispersed camping near Winter Park.

We’ve put together the following dispersed camping guide in hopes of helping you navigate the often confusing process of finding a free campsite in the area.

Keep reading to learn about our seven favorite dispersed campsites near Winter Park!

 

Winter Park Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Winter Park, Colorado. Everything from when to camp, what to bring, and how to get there.

This is the essential info before you head out!

When to Camp Near Winter Park

Winter Park is located at an elevation of over 9,000′ above sea-level. This means that the prime camping season will be over the summer months from May-September. As always, if you’re pulling a trailer, camping in a van, or have a heated RV, you can certainly extend this season by a month or two. It is always important to check current snow conditions, especially in the Spring.

Snow tends to linger in many areas surrounding Winter Park through mid-June and the flurries can begin as early as September at many of the camping areas included in this guide.

Sunset from Winter Park

 

What to Bring

Although several of the dispersed camping areas near Winter Park in this guide are very close to town, you’ll still want to come prepared to be self-sufficient.

While 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 Winter 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 two map pack for the area surrounding Winter Park and Rollins Pass.
  • 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. 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 Winter Park is no different, and none of the dispersed camping areas in this guide require a permit or have any associated fees.

However, be aware that regulations often change, campsites close, and the Forest Services makes changes to camping rules. As such, it is best to check with the local National Forest Ranger District to confirm your plans.

For the Winter Park area we recommend contacting the Sulphur Ranger District, which oversees the wilderness surrounding Granby and Winter Park.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in the wilderness areas surrounding Winter Park. It is critical that you check and obey any and 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!

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.

 

Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: Dispersed camping near Winter Park has become very popular over the years. We’ve seen some very popular camping areas such as Vasquez Creek closed to dispersed camping as a result of overuse. That makes it essential to minimize your impact, practice Leave No Trace principles, and always leave your 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. There are camping areas for both low-clearance as well as high-clearance vehicles included in this guide, so be sure to choose one that meets your needs!
  • 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 Winter Park

The following list contains the 7 best dispersed camping areas surrounding Winter Park, Colorado.

For more ideas, we recommend checking out the Motor Vehicle Use Maps for the Sulphur Ranger District in Arapaho National Forest. These helpful maps show all of the Forest Service Roads that permit dispersed camping, including a few we chose not to include.

Check out the Motor Vehicle Use Maps here.

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

Vasquez Creek Dispersed Camping (CLOSED)

Distance to Winter Park: 5 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but may be pulled from Vasquez Creek
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Vasquez Creek is a perennial favorite for dispersed camping near Winter Park. Unfortunately, due to heavy use, multiple new campsites being created, and increasing impacts from trash and human waste, the National Forest Service has prohibited camping in the area.

This is a good reminder for anyone considering a dispersed camping trip that it is essential to practice Leave No Trace camping and always leave an area better than you found it.

Until at least May of 2022, Vasquez Creek will remain closed to dispersed camping. Please respect this closure, and make sure to minimize your impact while camping at any of the other sites included in this guide.

 

Meadow Creek Reservoir Camping

Distance to Winter Park: 16 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but may be pulled from Meadow Creek/Meadow Creek Reservoir
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Meadow Creek Reservoir is located northeast of Winter Park, and offers some excellent dispersed camping for those willing to make the trek. Forest Service Road 129 leads to the reservoir, and dispersed camping is permitted on it as it winds its way to the reservoir.

You’ll also find some good sites close to the water, but be sure to consult the MVUM to be sure camping is permitted before setting up. If you find all of the sites on the way up occupied, keep driving past the reservoir as you’ll find more sites along FR 129 further up.

The road here is generally passable by most vehicles, although the further in you get the more difficult the road gets. Given the reservoir and creek, it is important to follow Leave No Trace camping principles and be sure you are not impacting this fragile environment.

 

Road 72 Dispersed Camping

Distance to Winter Park: 8 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Road 72 offer mile upon mile of dispersed camping near Winter Park, just southwest of the town of Fraser. This is a popular dispersed camping area that is accessible for most vehicles, including small RVs and those pulling a trailer. In addition to the campsites along the main road, you can find a quieter site on one of the many spur roads that lead south off of 72.

Keep in mind that many folk will also look to camp along Road 73, north of here, although that is not officially permitted per the Arapaho National Forest MVUM.

Road 72 is a good option if you prefer to be close to services, as its an easy drive into Fraser or Winter Park from here. For that convenience, you’ll give up a certain amount of privacy, although that is an easy trade off for many campers looking for convenient campsite.

Dispersed camping near Winter Park

 

County Road 50/Forest Service Road 139

Distance to Winter Park: 14 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

For those looking for more solitude and a quieter dispersed camping area near Winter Park/Fraser, look no further than Country Road 50. Also known as FR 139, this dispersed camping area northwest of Winter Park offer miles of Forest Service roads with dozens of dispersed campsites.

You’ll be close to the Tipperary Creek trailhead here and also have relatively easy access to all of the services available in Fraser. The road is also passable by most vehicles, although those with low-clearance cars should look to secure a site closer to town before the road gets rougher.

To get here from Winter Park, head north to the town of Fraser before turning west onto County Road 50. Head along Road 50 for a few miles until you enter the National Forest, just past Tipperary Creek. Sites begin to appear almost immediately, although continue further back for more solitude.

 

Corona Pass Road

Distance to Winter Park: 4 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Corona Pass Road is located east of Winter Park and has tons of great dispersed camping options along its length. This is a good option for those without a high-clearance vehicle, as much of the route is a well-graded gravel road. Dispersed camping is permitted along Corona Pass beginning when you enter the National Forest and continuing for several miles.

Keep in mind that dispersed camping is not permitted towards the top of the road at Rollins Pass.

Campsites range from simple pullouts directly on the road to more secluded stops that branch off the main dirt road. Given the popularity of the area please be sure to leave your campsite in better condition than you found it and always practice Leave No Trace camping.

Dispersed camping on Corona Pass near Winter Park

 

Forest Service Road 128

Distance to Winter Park: 2 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

The closest and most convenient option for dispersed camping near Winter Park is Forest Service Road 128. Located just off Highway 40, this isn’t the most remote or serene campsite in the area. However, there are several large pull outs that can accommodate larger rigs, and you can’t beat the proximity to Winter Park.

You’ll be very close to downtown WP, the Jim Creek trail, as well as Berthoud Pass here. There is also the Midland Campground adjacent to the dispersed camping area should a developed site better suit your needs.

Forest Service Road 128 heads back into the wilderness behind Winter Park for several miles, and there are dispersed campsites along most of its length. As always, be sure to consult the relevant motor vehicle use map before setting up if there is any question as to whether camping is allowed or not.

 

Jones Pass Road Dispersed Camping

Distance to Winter Park: 20 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, although you may be able to pull water from the nearby creek.
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Jones Pass Road is located on the south side of Berthoud Pass and makes for a stunning dispersed camping area near Winter Park. Although you’ll have to travel over the pass to get to Winter Park, we think this location merits serious consideration. You’ll enjoy stunning views and relatively easy access here, making this a great camping option.

You’ll need to drive a bit past the Henderson mine before camping is permitted, but then you’ll find several sites on both sides of the road.

The lower down campsites are reachable by most vehicles, but the further up you travel the higher the need for 4WD. Some of the campsites above treeline are simply spectacular. Nearby you’ll find the Butler Gulch trailhead which features a beautiful hike.

 

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 Winter 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 Colorado? Be sure to check out our other guides below:

No Comments on The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Winter Park

The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs, Colorado makes for a perfect summer getaway. Take a soak in the famous hot springs, explore downtown, or venture off on one of the area’s renowned trails. Regardless…

Glenwood Springs, Colorado makes for a perfect summer getaway. Take a soak in the famous hot springs, explore downtown, or venture off on one of the area’s renowned trails. Regardless of your chosen adventure, you’re sure to have an incredible time in Glenwood Springs. For the campers out there you’ll be pleased to learn that there are several good options for free, dispersed camping near Glenwood Springs.

This Glenwood Springs dispersed camping guide aims to make your life easy, but providing our top picks for dispersed camping in the area. Whether you’re pulling a trailer, roughing it in your Jeep, or just looking for some easy, riverside camping, we’ve got you covered.

So pack up your tent, load your trailer, and get ready to find your perfect Glenwood campsite.

Glenwood 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 Glenwood 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 Glenwood Springs

Located in Colorado’s central mountains, Glenwood Springs experiences cold, snowy winters, and beautiful warm summers. Your best bet for camping will be during the peak summer months from May – September.

This will be highly dependent on the previous season’s snowfall, so be sure to check with the relevant Ranger District for the most up to date conditions before heading out.

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. During May and September, you can expect colder nights and shorter days, so be sure to come prepared.

Hanging Lake, Colorado

Explore beautiful Hanging Lake when dispersed camping near Glenwood Springs.

 

What to Bring

Planning for a dispersed camping trip near Glenwood Springs require more preparation than simply staying in a developed campground. You’ll be setting up in remote wilderness, and will need to be prepared to be self-reliant.

As such, 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 Glenwood Springs:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. Depending on where you plan to camp, there are two excellent maps covering the Glenwood Springs area:
    • Flat Tops South: This covers the southern portion of the Flat Tops, north of Glenwood Springs
    • Carbondale/Basalt: This map cover the area around Carbondale and Basalt, south of Glenwood Springs.
  • 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 Glenwood Springs is no different, and none of the dispersed camping areas in this guide require a permit or have any associated fees.

However, be aware that regulations often change, and it is best to check with the local National Forest Ranger District to confirm your plans. For Glenwood Springs, we recommend contacting the White River National Forest Supervisor’s Office, located in Glenwood Springs.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in the areas surrounding Glenwood Springs. It is critical that you check and obey any and all fire restrictions. The surrounding wilderness has seen several devastating wildfires in recent years, including the Grizzly Creek fire, 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 Glenwood Springs area grows more popular for dispersed camping every year. Several nearby areas have had dispersed campsites closed due to overuse and environmental impact. 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. Luckily, there are a variety of camping areas to suit your needs whether you have 4WD, or simply a small passenger vehicle.
  • 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 Glenwood Springs, CO

The following list contains the 6 best dispersed camping areas near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. If you’re looking for additional camping opportunities in the area, your best bet is to use the White River National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps. They contain detailed maps on where dispersed camping is allowed, notated by two dots along a given road.

Access the White River NF MVUMs here.

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

 

Four Mile Road Dispersed Camping

Distance to Glenwood Springs: 17 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Four Mile Road offers great dispersed camping near Glenwood Springs. Situated southwest of town, and close to the town of Carbondale, you’ll enjoy beautiful, wide open views from this area. Although there aren’t many trailheads directly accessible from the dispersed camping area, you’ll be close to tons of hiking and biking opportunities.

From Glenwood Springs, you’ll head south out of town on Highway 117 – be sure you’re not on Highway 82! Continue on 117 for approximately 14 miles before campsites begin to appear. There are also several small spur roads off of Four Mile Road that offer quieter and more secluded campsites.

The road is generally passable by most vehicles, although the further back you head the rougher the road gets. There are no toilets or water available in this area, so you’ll need to come prepared to be self-sufficient and be sure to pack out all of your trash.

 

Forest Service Road 602/Transfer Trail Dispersed Camping

Distance to Glenwood Springs: 6 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

FR602, also known as the Transfer Trail is a 4WD road that runs north of Glenwood Springs into the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. Dispersed camping is allowed along the length of the road once you enter the National Forest. Keep in mind that this is a very rough road, so is really only suitable for high-clearance 4WD vehicles. It is very popular with the ATV crowd as well.

There are tons of off-shoots from FR602 that allow you to find a quieter campsite, and there are even a few lakes that you can camp near. Be sure to come prepared, as access to this wilderness if difficult and you won’t want to be driving back to town for something you forgot!

To get here from downtown Glenwood Springs take 6th Street north out of town, where it will eventually turn into the Transfer Trail. Continue on until you cross into the National Forest and campsites begin appearing. The snapshot from the Flat Top Motor Vehicle Use Map below gives you a sense of how many possibilities exist for dispersed camping in this area, notated by two dots adjacent to the road.

 

Map of dispersed camping near Glenwood Springs

The Flat Top area north of Glenwood Springs offers tons of dispersed camping opportunities! Click to enlarge.

 

Coffee Pot Road Dispersed Camping

Distance to Glenwood Springs: 33 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Coffee Pot Road offers stunning views and great dispersed camping near Glenwood Springs. You’ll be on the other end of Glenwood Canyon here, but still just 30 some miles from town. Coffee Pot road leads into the Flat Tops and ultimately connects with the same road system that the Transfer Trail, described above, leads to. Be sure to check out the Deep Creek Overlook for some incredible views!

This is a good option for those coming from the east, as you’ll get off I-70 a bit sooner and avoid having to drive through the Canyon.

Although the road is passable for most trucks/SUVs, it can get very windy and exposed in places. Be sure to drive carefully and take your time as you make your way up. Also of note is that there are several pullouts along the route that have been used as campsites, but are not within the National Forest boundary. Please be sure to consult the MVUM to ensure you are legally camped!

There are no services along Coffee Pot Road, so be prepared to bring everything you need and always practice Leave No Trace camping.

 

Lyons Gulch Boat Launch Camping

Distance to Glenwood Springs: 22 miles
Restrooms: 
Yes
Water: 
No, but may be able to pull from the Colorado River
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Although not a formal dispersed camping area, the Lyons Gulch Boat Launch/Campground offers an excellent free camping option near Glenwood Springs. This BLM campground has five campsites situated right along the Colorado River with access to a vault toilet from May 15th – November 15th.

Campers love this location for the easy river access and shady sites. However, this is a very popular spot during the summer so be sure to arrive early if you’re hoping to grab a campsite!

Lyons Gulch is located east of Glenwood Springs, north of the Dotsero exit along I-70. Simply exit the highway at Dotsero and then head north along Colorado River Road until you see the camping area on your right.

 

Lyons Gulch Camping near Glenwood Springs

Lyons Gulch sits right along the Colorado River. Photo credit BLM.

 

Coal Creek Road

Distance to Glenwood Springs: 30 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, put may be able to pull from Coal Creek
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Coal Creek Road offers some beautiful creek-side dispersed camping near Glenwood Springs. Although closer to the town of Carbondale, you’re still less than 30 miles from Glenwood and these sites are well worth the drive. Situated along a well-graded gravel road, there are 4-5 pullouts where camping is permitted in close proximity to Coal Creek.

This area is also less crowded compared to many of the other dispersed campsites in the area, so you have a better shot at securing a quiet site. Be sure to check out the historic town of Redstone when you’re in the area!

There are no services along Coal Creek Road, so be prepared to pack out all of your trash. Given the riverside location of these campsites, it is essential to practice leave no trace camping here.

 

Buford-New Castle Road

Distance to Glenwood Springs: 30 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Another option that is less than 30 miles from Glenwood Springs for dispersed camping is Buford-New Castle Road. The main road that traverses the Flat Tops, you’ll find tons of dispersed camping opportunities along its length. The road is only for 4WD vehicles with high clearance, so no RVs or sedans!

The beauty of Buford-New Castle Road is that it gives you an opportunity to explore a vast wilderness area and find the perfect campsite for your needs. This is a remote part of the State, so please be sure you come prepared!

Access from Glenwood Springs is straightforward. Simply take I-70 to the New Castle exit and head north on Highway 245. Take a right at the fork signed for West Elk and Buford, which will put you on Buford-New Castle Road. Continue until you enter National Forest, where dispersed camping is permitted.

Dispersed camping near Glenwood Springs

 

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 Glenwood 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:

No Comments on The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Glenwood Springs

The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Estes Park

The gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, is wonderful place to explore the outdoors while also relishing in a historic and character filled town. From here you can…

The gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, is wonderful place to explore the outdoors while also relishing in a historic and character filled town. From here you can explore the park, stroll the quaint shops on Elkhorn Ave, and enjoy any number of activities in the surrounding wilderness.  Given all of this, we think the best way to explore the area is to do some free, dispersed camping near Estes Park.

There is ample public land around Estes, although the camping regulations can vary quite a bit. We’ve created this guide of the best dispersed camping near Estes Park to make your trip planning a bit easier.

Read on to learn about our eight favorite dispersed campsites in the area and how you can plan your perfect trip!

 

Estes Park Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Estes Park, Colorado. Everything from when to camp, what to bring, and how to get there.

This is the essential info before you head out!

When to Camp Near Estes Park

Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the surrounding wilderness is all situated at elevations ranging from 8,000′ – 14,000′ above sea-level. For dispersed campers this means you’ll want to plan your trip during the peak summer season of May – September.

Keep in mind that snow will linger in many areas through mid-June and the flurries can begin as early as September at many of the camping areas included in this guide.

Summer is of course also the busiest time to plan a dispersed camping trip near Estes Park, so consider shoulder season if you can handle the cold temperatures and snow conditions allow.

What to Bring

The wilderness surrounding Estes Park is stunningly rugged. This means without the comforts of a developed campground, you need to come prepared.

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 Estes 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 two map pack for the area surrounding Estes Park.
  • 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. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

 

Permits and Fees

Many campers planning a dispersed camping trip near Estes Park are hoping to explore Rocky Mountain National Park, but were unable to secure a campsite within park boundaries. If that is you, you’re in luck as none of the camping areas in this guide require a permit or have any fees to be paid!

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 Canyon Lakes Ranger District or Boulder Ranger District for the most up to date information.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in the wilderness areas surrounding Estes Park. 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.

 

Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: Dispersed camping near Estes Park seems to get more popular every year, especially as the number of visitors to RMNP increases. As a result, there is an ever increasing impact on the fragile environment. 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. There are camping areas for both low-clearance as well as high-clearance vehicles included in this guide, so be sure to choose one that meets your needs!
  • 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 Estes Park

 

Dispersed Camping Near Estes Park

The following list contains the 7 best dispersed camping areas surrounding Estes Park, Colorado.

For more ideas, we recommend checking out the Motor Vehicle Use Maps for both the Boulder and Canyon Lakes Ranger Districts. They show all of the Forest Service Roads that permit dispersed camping, including a few we chose not to include.

Check out the Motor Vehicle Use Maps here.

Additionally, our Guide to Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park is a great resource for those looking to camp in or near the park.

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

 

Forest Service Road 119

Distance to Estes Park: 6 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 119 is situated just south of Estes Park. The road here is incredible rough, so 4WD and high clearance are essential. While the road used to connect through to County Road 82 E on the south end, this is no longer the case after the road was damaged in the 2013 floods.

FR 199 isn’t the most spectacular, but it does provide very convenient dispersed camping near Estes Park. Given how rough the road gets, FR 119 tends to be a little less crowded than some other options in the area.

You’ll be close to not only Estes Park, but also the Peak to Peak Highway, making this a great option for exploring the area. There is no water or other facilities here, so you’ll need to be self-sufficient.

View of Lakes Estes

You’ll be close to Estes Park when dispersed camping along FR 119.

 

Parachute Hill/Johnny Park Road

Distance to Estes Park: 15 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Located on opposite sides of County Road 82E, Parachute Hill Rd (FR329) and Johnny Park Rd (FR118) offer ample dispersed camping opportunities in close proximity to Estes Park. Parachute Hill Rd, on the north side of 82E, is a short and steep Forest Service Road with a handful of good roadside campsites.

Johnny Park Rd, to the south, offers a rough road that heads back into National Forest for several miles. The further back you head the better your views will get, but be sure your car is equipped for this rugged road! This area is quite popular, so expect to share it with other campers.

These camping areas are convenient if you’re looking to explore Rocky Mountain National Park from the Longs Peak trailhead.

There are no services at either Parachute Hill or Johnny Park Rd, so be prepared to pack out all of your trash and practice Leave No Trace camping.

 

Pole Hill Road

Distance to Estes Park: 6 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Pole Hill Road dispersed camping is only for experienced drives with a high-clearance 4WD vehicle. You’ll only be 6 miles from central Estes Park here, but the road up to the dispersed camping area is incredibly rough. Proceed with caution!

For those who can make the trek up here, you’ll be rewarded with a great campsites in close proximity to RMNP, Estes Park, and the surrounding wilderness. Be cognizant of where you camp here, as there are several homes located along the road and camping in closer proximity to them is prohibited.

You’ll also want to come prepared with everything you need for your stay here as there are no services and the drive back to down is a difficult one!

Jeep on Pole Hill Road near Estes Park

High clearance is essential for camping on Pole Hill Road.

 

Hell Canyon Road

Distance to Estes Park: 7 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Another  dispersed camping area near Estes Park is Hell Canyon Road. Situated south Pole Hill Road along Highway 36 into Estes Park, Hell Canyon Road is slightly easier to navigate, although we still recommend 4WD.

You’re just 7 miles from Estes Park here and also have easy access to the popular Lion Gulch Trailhead if you’re looking for a hike not in the National Park.

Hell Canyon Road is surrounded by private property at its base, so be sure to continue up high enough to be on National Forest land. You’re best bet is to consult the Canyon Lakes Ranger District MVUM before setting up camp.

 

Button Rock Road

Distance to Estes Park: 14 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Located adjacent to the Coulson Gulch Trailhead, Button Rock Road offers several great dispersed campsites near Estes Park. Also known as Forest Service Road 118.1, Button Rock Road can be accessed via US36 from the east, or by continuing along Johnny Park Road from the west. Either way, 4WD is recommended as the road can get quite rocky.

Not only are you just a stone’s throw from Estes Park, but you’ll also be able to explore many of the highlights of the surrounding wilderness from here. Given that there are only a handful of sites here, your best bet is to try and arrive early on summer weekends.

There are no services near Button Rock Road, so please come prepared and pack out all your trash!

 

Allenspark/Ski Road Dispersed Camping

Distance to Estes Park: 18 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but may be drawn from Rock Creek
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Outside of the small town of Allenspark on the Peak to Peak Highway is a lovely dispersed camping area along Ski Rd/CR 107. You’ll be less than 20 miles from Estes Park here and also have easy access to many of the areas popular trailheads, including St. Vrain Mountain.

The road is generally passable for most vehicles at the beginning, so this makes a great place for those hoping to dispersed camp without the hassles of a rough road. Of course, the further back you head, the rougher the road gets and the less busy the campsites get.

This is one of our favorite places for dispersed camping near Estes Park.

To get here, head to the town of Allenspark and then head west along Ski Road. The road crosses private property for the first few miles before entering Roosevelt National Forest, where dispersed camping is permitted. There are no services here so be sure to practice Leave No Trace camping.

 

Beaver Reservoir Road Dispersed Camping

Distance to Estes Park: 28 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Located a bit further from Estes Park than some other options in this guide, Beaver Reservoir Road offers great dispersed camping if you’re looking to explore the Indian Peaks Wilderness in addition to visiting Estes Park. Just a short distance off the main highway, the road here is well-graded and suitable for most vehicles.

The campsites here are clustered mostly on the right-hand side of the road before reaching the reservoir. Keep in mind that the reservoir is private-property, so don’t try to pull your water from here. The campsite is close to the popular Brainard Lake area and also provides easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park.

There aren’t any facilities here, so be prepared to bring all of your water and pack out your waste.

Mitchell Lake in Indian Peaks Wilderness

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 Estes 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 Colorado? Be sure to check out our other guides below:

 

 

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The Best Dispersed Camping Near Denver

Denver is Colorado’s hub of activity and a must visit on any trip to the area. The backdrop for this great city is the beautiful Rocky Mountains, which offer nearly…

Denver is Colorado’s hub of activity and a must visit on any trip to the area. The backdrop for this great city is the beautiful Rocky Mountains, which offer nearly endless opportunities to explore. One of our favorite ways to experience the area is the plan a free dispersed camping trip near Denver.

Although you won’t find any dispersed camping directly adjacent to Denver, there are tons of camping opportunities within 50 miles of the City. That means that in under 1 hour from downtown, you could be pitching your tent for an unforgettable night of camping.

We’ve created this guide to simply the process of finding dispersed camping near Denver, and have included our seven favorite campsites.

Let’s dive in.

 

Denver, CO Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

The following sections contain all the must know information you need to plan a successful dispersed camping trip near Denver, 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 Denver

Camping season for most of the dispersed camping near Denver generally runs during the peak summer months of June, July, and August. For some of the lower elevation camping areas in this guide (Buffalo Creek, Kenosha Pass) you’ll likely be able to enjoy a camping trip during May and September as well.

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, especially at the higher elevation campsites. 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.

dispersed camping near Denver

 

What to Bring

Coming prepared to your dispersed camping trip is essential. You won’t have any of the amenities of a developed campground to rely on, so be sure you are prepared to be self-sufficient.

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 Denver:

  • 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!
  • 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 things about dispersed camping is the lack of need for any permits or fees to be paid. Dispersed camping in the areas near Denver described below 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 Denver area, your best bet is to contact the following ranger districts:

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in the mountains surrounding Denver. As such, it is critical that you check and obey any and all fire restrictions.

Be sure to check the Colorado Fire Information page before setting 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: Given their close proximity to Denver, many of the camping areas in this guide are extremely popular. 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 Denver, CO

The following list contains the 7 best sites for dispersed camping near Denver, Colorado. If you’re looking for additional camping opportunities in the area, your best bet is to use the  Motor Vehicle Use Maps for the ranger districts in the Denver area. They contain detailed maps on where dispersed camping is allowed.

Access the MVUM for areas near Denver here.

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

 

Guanella Pass Dispersed Camping

Distance to Denver: 60 miles (1 hour)
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, although you may be able to pull water from Geneva Creek.
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Geneva Pass offers a popular place for dispersed camping near Denver. The regulations have changed over the years and you are no longer permitted to camp directly along Guanella Pass, instead having to stay in one of the designated dispersed sites along Geneva Creek Road/FR 119.

There are between 30-40 designated dispersed campsites along the road, and the further back you get the more quiet and secluded you can expect your site to be. This is a great place to camp before climbing Mt. Bierstadt or exploring the beautiful drive along Guanella Pass.

You can get here by either taking I-70 through Georgetown or US-285 through Grant, but either way you’ll want to arrive early to secure a spot.

Given the popularity and proximity to Denver, please be sure to pack out all of your trash and practice Leave No Trace principles here.

View from a dispersed campsite along Guanella Pass

 

Jones Pass Road Dispersed Camping

Distance to Denver: 50 miles (1 hour)
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, although you may be able to pull water from the nearby creek.
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Jones Pass Road sits near the base of Berthoud Pass, just outside of the town of Empire. The stunning views and relatively easy access make this a popular destination for dispersed camping near Denver. You’ll need to drive a bit past the Henderson mine before camping is permitted, but then you’ll find several sites on both sides of the road.

The lower down campsites are reachable by most vehicles, but the further up you travel the higher the need for 4WD. Some of the campsites above treeline are simply spectacular. Nearby you’ll find the Butler Gulch trailhead which features a beautiful hike.

To get to Jones Pass from Denver head up I-70 to the town of Empire. Continue through town to the first hairpin turn along Berthoud Pass where you’ll turn off onto Jones Pass Road. It is several miles past this turnoff that campsites begin to appear.

 

Gordon Gulch Dispersed Camping Area

Distance to Denver: 50 miles (1.25 hours)
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

The Gordon Gulch Dispersed Camping Area offers 15 free campsites just outside the fun and funky town of Nederland, CO and within 1.25 hours of Denver. Situated just east of the famous Peak to Peak Highway, this network of Forest Service roads provides a good option for dispersed camping.

This is a popular area given the proximity to Boulder and Denver, but if you’re able to snag a site you’ll enjoy easy access to Nederland as well as the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.

It is important to remember that there are no services at Gordon Gulch, so not only will you need to be self reliant, but you also have a responsibility to leave your campsite better than you found it when camping here.

Heading from Gordon Gulch up to Rocky Mountain National Park? Check out our guide to dispersed camping near Estes Park for more great campsite options!

Kingston Peak Road Camping

Distance to Denver: 48 miles (1.5 hours)
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Kingston Peak Road is situated north of the town of Idaho Springs and offers great dispersed camping near Denver for those with 4WD and a sense of adventure. The road here has spectacular views of several 14ers as well as easy access to James Peak and Kingston Peak.

This is a very rough road, so 4WD and high-clearance is mandatory if your hoping to camp here. Most of the sites along Kingston Peak Road are above treeline, so come prepared for high winds and lots of exposure. There is no water or other facilities in the area.

 

Bill Moore Lake Dispersed Camping

Distance to Denver: 50 miles (1.75 hours)
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but may be drawn from the lake.
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Bill Moore Lake is a popular off roading destination just north of Empire that provides some excellent dispersed camping. The road isn’t for the faint of heart and you’ll definitely need high clearance to make the drive, but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful lakeside camping opportunities.

Expect crowds to be driving through on the weekends, although most are just on day trips and won’t spend the night. There are also ample camping opportunities on the way up to the lake, so if you see something that looks good we recommend snagging a spot.

To get here, head up I-70 from Denver and get off at the Empire exit. Take a right on Main St/North Empire Road and take that all the way to the lake. For the ambitious drivers out there, consider completing the entire Empire Loop as part of your trip.

 

Buffalo Creek Recreation Area Camping

Distance to Denver: 50 miles (1 hours)
Restrooms: 
No, although nearby trailheads have vault toilets.
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

The Buffalo Creek Recreation Area is a very popular dispersed camping location near Denver. You’ll have easy access to the Colorado Trail, Wellington Lake, and tons of other hikes in this area, all within 1 hour of Denver. As such, expect it to be busy on weekends and you’ll need to arrive early to secure a site.

Forest Service Road 550 is where the dispersed campsites are located, and you’ll need to camp in the specifically designated sites. Those are marked with a tent-sign, so you know camping is permitted. Please do not camp outside of these areas as you may end up with a ticket!

Given the popularity of Buffalo Creek it is very important to practice Leave No Trace camping.

 

Kenosha Pass Camping

Distance to Denver: 65 miles (1.25 hours)
Restrooms: 
No, although nearby trailheads have vault toilets.
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Kenosha Pass offer stunning views of the South Park Basin and easy access to the Colorado Trail, making this an excellent destination for dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is permitted on both sides of the pass along Forest Service Roads 126, 126.A, 811, and 811.a.

Camp only at designated dispersed campsites, which will be indicated with a tent symbol. Most of the dispersed campsites at Kenosha Pass require a high clearance vehicle to reach, although there are a few close to the highway that are reachable in a standard vehicle.

The opportunities for hiking and mountain biking are nearly endless here with access to both Lost Creek Wilderness as well as a beautiful section of the Colorado Trail. Be sure to pack out all your trash as the area is very popular and experiences tons of use.

Dispersed camping at Kenosha Pass near Denver

 

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 Denver, 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:

No Comments on The Best Dispersed Camping Near Denver

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Fort Collins

The college town of Fort Collins in northern Colorado offers a classic mix of nearby mountains, beautiful plains, and a thriving downtown. A visit here is almost certain to include…

The college town of Fort Collins in northern Colorado offers a classic mix of nearby mountains, beautiful plains, and a thriving downtown. A visit here is almost certain to include hiking, biking, and a trip to one of the many breweries in town. Doing some dispersed camping near Fort Collins is a great way to explore the area and see some of the beautiful surrounding wilderness.

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

Enjoy!

Fort Collins Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

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

This is the essential info before you head out!

When to Camp Near Fort Collins

Although Fort Collins is firmly located at the base of the foothills, many of the dispersed camping areas are in the mountains west of town. This means that the camping season generally aligns with the summer months of May – September. Some of the higher elevation sites will have a shorter season, while for the lower elevation areas you can add a month on either end.

For Pawnee National Grassland, located to the east of Fort Collins, you’ll be able to camp all summer as well as into April and October. Keep in mind that summer highs can consistently reach over 100 degrees in this area!

 

What to Bring

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 Fort Collins:

  • 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 area west of Fort Collins.
  • 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 – We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

Access & Regulations

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 Fort Collins is no different, and none of the dispersed camping areas in this guide require a permit or have any associated fees.

However, it is important to check local regulations on dispersed camping before setting out. This ensures you are camping in an area that permits dispersed camping.

Most of the campsites included in this guide are in the Canyon Lakes Ranger District, which provides several excellent resources for dispersed camping near Fort Collins:

  • Dispersed Camping Overview: This helpful page contains resources on where camping is allowed.
  • Motor Vehicle Use Maps: These maps show where dispersed camping is allowed. Typically designated by dots on either side of a specific road. The Canyon Lakes Ranger District provides a map for both the north and south sections.
  • Alerts & Notices: Check here for up to date information on fire restrictions, area closures, and other information that may impact camping availability.
Map of dispersed camping near Fort Collins

Map showing dispersed camping regulations near Fort Collins. (Click to enlarge)

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in the mountains west of Fort Collins. 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!

 

Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: The Fort Collins and Red Feather Lakes 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.
  • Wildfire Impacts: The Cameron Peak fire devastated many of the areas west of Fort Collins in 2020. Recovery  and revegetation is still underway, so be sure to check current regulations before setting out.
  • 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.

 

Dispersed Camping Near Fort Collins

The following list contains the 7 best dispersed camping areas surrounding Fort Collins, Colorado.

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

Road tripping up Colorado’s Front Range? Check out our other helpful dispersed camping guides for Denver and Colorado Springs!

Heading up towards Rocky Mountain National Park? Our guide to dispersed camping near Estes Park has all the info you’ll need!

 

Buckhorn Road Dispersed Camping

Distance to Fort Collins: 41 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Buckhorn Road is located in the foothills west of Fort Collins and offers several opportunities for dispersed camping. You’ll want to consult the Canyon Lake Ranger District Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) as camping is not permitted along the entire length of Buckhorn Road.

The location we’ve included in the map above is a large clearing just south of the road that has easy access and several fire rings. We wouldn’t recommend this road for RVs, as this area is better suited to tent camping. There is no water or other services nearby, so come prepared to be self-sufficient.

To get here from Fort Collins, head southwest out of town towards Horsetooth Reservoir. At Masonville hop on Buckhorn Road and take that for approximately 10.5 miles to the location indicated in the map above.

 

Pingree Road Dispersed Camping

Distance to Fort Collins: 38 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Pingree Roads offers tons of dispersed campsites near Fort Collins. You’ll be close to the Poudre River here as well as several excellent trailheads, making this a great weekend camping option. Dispersed camping is permitted almost immediately after turning off Highway 14, and there are several large camping areas within the first half mile.

For those looking for more solitude, you can continue up Pingree Road and find plenty of great sites. For those venturing further, you’ll want t to have a high clearance vehicle.

Keep in mind that dispersed camping is not permitted once you pass FR127, so if you don’t find a site before then you’ll want to look for other options.

There is no water or other facilities along Pingree Road, so plan to be self-sufficient when camping here.

Poudre River

Pingree Road offers great dispersed camping near the Poudre.

 

Crown Point Road Dispersed Camping – CLOSED

Distance to Fort Collins: 41 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Crown Point Road branches off of Pingree Road and provides miles upon miles of dispersed camping opportunities near Fort Collins. You’ll likely need 4WD to get here given the drive can be a bit rough, but you’ll be rewarded with a decent amount of solitude and beautiful surroundings.

***Unfortunately the Crown Point Road area is closed due to impacts from the Cameron Peak Fire***

Please check the US Forest Service alert page here for the most up to date restrictions. 

 

Bellaire Lake/FR 517 Dispersed Camping

Distance to Fort Collins: 48 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Located just southwest of Bellaire Lake is the Forest Service Road 517 dispersed camping area. You’ll be less than 50 miles from Fort Collins here and also close to Red Feather Lakes. Unfortunately, that means these sites are often crowded, although you’re still likely to find an open site most weekends.

The sites closer to the junction with Manhattan Road will be best suited to larger rigs or those in passenger vehicles. If you have 4WD and higher clearance, we recommend heading a bit further back along the road to get more privacy.

As with the majority of dispersed camping areas in this guide, there is no water or other facilities here. That means you’ll need to be prepared to practice Leave No Trace camping and be sure to leave your site in better condition than you found it!

 

Manhattan Road Designated Dispersed Camping

Distance to Fort Collins: 47 miles
Restrooms: 
No, vault toilets available at nearby trailheads
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

The very popular Red Feather Lakes area has some good dispersed camping options near Fort Collins. One of those is known as the Manhattan Road Designated dispersed area. These are numbered sites located along Manhattan Road, just north of the turnoff for Bellaire Lake.

The campsites here are generally well spaced out, giving you a bit of privacy in an area where camping is very popular. Keep heading up the road to reach Red Feather Lakes, which has an abundant number of recreational possibilities.

Given the popularity of the area, it is imperative to camp only in the designated sites and to pack out all of your trash. There is no water in the immediate area either, so be sure to come prepared.

 

Pawnee National Grassland Dispersed Camping

Distance to Fort Collins: 36 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

For a completely different dispersed camping experience near Fort Collins, check out the Pawnee National Grasslands. Located east of Fort Collins, these National Grasslands are split into two distinct regions: east and west. The western section is closer to Fort Collins, and allows dispersed camping along many of the roads through the grassland.

It is imperative that you bring the Pawnee National Grassland MVUM with you if you’re planning to camp here, as there is a ton of private property in the area. Please carefully consult the map before selecting a campsite to ensure you are not on private property!

There is no water or other services here, so be sure to come prepared and practice Leave No Trace camping.

 

Deadman Road Dispersed Camping

Distance to Fort Collins: 47 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Deadman Road is located west of Red Feather Lakes and permits dispersed camping once you enter the National Forest. Do pay attention to this boundary, as there are several homes that line the road right up to the point that camping is allowed.

In addition to the large pull out sites located on Deadman Road, there are also several spur roads that permit camping. Be sure to check these out if you’re looking for a bit more solitude.

To get here from Fort Collins, head north to the town of Livermore and then west all the way to Red Feather Lakes. Continue past the lakes along Deadman Road until you pass into USFS land and campsites begin to appear.

 

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 Fort Collins, Colorado 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:

 

No Comments on The Best Dispersed Camping Near Fort Collins

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Breckenridge, CO

Set against a backdrop of the stunning Tenmile Range, Breckenridge is a perfect summer getaway. This mining town turned ski resort and outdoor mecca attracts visitors from all over who…

Set against a backdrop of the stunning Tenmile Range, Breckenridge is a perfect summer getaway. This mining town turned ski resort and outdoor mecca attracts visitors from all over who enjoy unrivaled access to the outdoors as well as a quaint and authentic town.

We think one of the best ways to visit is to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Breckenridge, CO. You’ll get to enjoy some of the area’s highlights, including several soaring 14,000′ peaks, excellent shopping and dining, and endless opportunities to explore the great outdoors.

Yet finding a great dispersed campsite can often be difficult with confusing regulations and conflicting information. To help make it a bit easier for you, we’ve compiled the best dispersed camping near Breckenridge, CO in one easy to read guide.

Let’s get started.

Breckenridge, CO Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

When to Camp Near Breckenridge, CO

Situated at an elevation of 9,600′, Breckenridge and the surrounding wilderness have a short camping season. Expect snow to linger well into June and the flurries can often start as early as late August or the first part of September.

All that means that the primary camping season will run from approximately mid-June through the end of August. If you have an RV or trailer you can certainly extend that a bit, but keep in mind that roads may still be snowed in.

 

What to Bring

Preparing for a dispersed camping trip near Breckenridge 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:

  • 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 Breckenridge region.
  • 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 Dillon Ranger District for the most up to date information.

 

Fires

Fire restrictions are becoming more and more common as Colorado’s summers become warmer and drier. As such, don’t count on being able to have a campfire when dispersed camping near Breckenridge.

It is essential 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.

 

Other Considerations

  • Elevation: This is definitely the high elevation camping! Many of the dispersed camping areas near Breckenridge 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.

 

Dispersed Camping Near Breckenridge, CO

The following list contains what we consider the six best dispersed camping areas near Breckenridge, 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!

 

Lower Crystal Lake

Distance to Breckenridge: 6 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but may be taken from Lower Crystal Lake
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

Lower Crystal Lake is a beautiful alpine lake that has space for a few dispersed campsites. You’re very close to Breck here, just six miles from downtown. However, be warned that the road up is rough and only suitable for 4WD vehicles with high clearance.

From Lower Crystal Lake there are several excellent hiking trails including Upper Crystal Lake and Crystal Peak. Although there are no facilities here, you may be able to pull drinking water from the lake, just be sure to treat it.

This is high-alpine country, so minimizing your impact here is essential. Please be sure to pack out all trash and practice Leave No Trace principles.

Georgia Pass

Distance to Breckenridge: 11.5 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

Georgia Pass is a beautiful mountain pass that connects Breckenridge with Park County. The road is popular for for off-roading, hiking, and mountain biking as the Colorado Trail connects at the top of the pass. Along both the north and south sides of Georgia Pass there are ample dispersed campsites.

When coming from the Breckenridge side of the pass you’ll need to get past American Gulch before camping is permitted. There are several sites tucked into the trees as well as a broad field at the top of the pass. Be warned it can get very windy here!

To get here from Breck head up Tiger Road on the north end of town all the way to a junction signed for Georgia Pass. Stay right at the junction and keep an eye out for signage permitting camping. There is no water on Georgia Pass, so plan to come prepared.

Georgia Pass dispersed camping

 

North Fork Road (Swan River)

Distance to Breckenridge: 10.6 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

North Fork Road is a very popular dispersed camping area near Breckenridge, Colorado. You won’t find much privacy here as the camping areas are two large clearings that can each accommodate multiple groups. The Colorado Trail is very close by, so this is a great location if you’re looking to do some hiking or mountain biking.

North Fork Road is also known as Forest Service Road 354, and branches off from Tiger Road just before reaching Good Time Adventure Tours. Remember that there is no camping permitted along Tiger Rd, and you are likely to receive a ticket if you try. However, once you turn off onto North Fork Road, it is just a short distance to the camping area.

Given the popularity of the area and the lack of water or restrooms it is important to practice Leave No Trace principles when camping here.

 

Boreas Pass Dispersed Camping

Distance to Breckenridge: 3 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

Boreas Pass offers some stunning dispersed camping near Breckenridge. This beautiful mountain pass connects Breckenridge with the town of Como and features some of the best views of the Tenmile Range in the area. You’ll find tons of dispersed campsites all along the route, so don’t be discouraged if the first few sites are taken.

This is also one of the most convenient camping areas for visiting Breckenridge, as you’ll only be a few miles from the downtown.

Getting to Boreas Pass couldn’t be easier. Simply head to the south end of town and then turn left of Boreas Pass Road/County Road 10. Continue for several miles before campsites begin to appear on both sides of the road. There are no facilities along Boreas Pass, so come prepared with everything you need and be sure to practice Leave No Trace camping.

Dispersed camping on Boreas Pass

View from Boreas Pass, a great place to find dispersed camping near Breckenridge.

 

Blue Lakes Dispersed Camping

Distance to Breckenridge: 10.4 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No, but water may be taken from the lakes.
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

Blue Lakes Road is a very popular dispersed camping destination near Breckenridge. Located in the shadow of Quandary Peak, this is a popular campsite for those planning to hike the 14er. There are two lakes here, and dispersed camping is permitted near both of them.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a secluded or private camping area, however there are stunning views and you’ll be close to tons of hiking trails.

To get to Blue Lakes, head south out of Breckenridge on Highway 9 before turning off onto Blue Lakes Road. Continue all the way up to the lakes, being mindful of private property lower down on the road. The road is fairly rough, so we recommend a 4WD vehicle with high-clearance.

 

Hoosier Pass

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

Hoosier Pass, which connects Breckenridge with Fairplay, offers some good roadside dispersed campsites. These aren’t the most secluded and you can expect a bit of road noise, but they are a convenient location with beautiful surroundings.

Keep in mind this area is over 10,000′ in elevation, so you’ll want to come prepared with plenty of water and other necessities for high altitude camping! Hoosier Pass is directly south of Breckenridge along Highway 9, and you’ll find the campsites located at the top of the pass along County Road 2. The sites begin almost immediately off the highway and continue back along the dirt road.

There are no facilities here and the road gets pretty rough away from the highway so be sure to come prepared.

 

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 Breckenridge, Colorado 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:

No Comments on The Best Dispersed Camping Near Breckenridge, CO

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:

2 Comments on The Best Dispersed Camping Near Lake City, Colorado

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:

1 Comment on The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Steamboat Springs, CO

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!

Planning a Front Range Road Trip? Be sure to check out our dispersed camping guides for Denver and Fort Collins!

 

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!

Looking for more camping in the area? Be sure to check out our guide to dispersed camping near Glenwood Springs.

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!

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

1 Comment on The BEST Dispersed Camping near Aspen, CO

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