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 Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Winter Park
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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 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.
- 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.
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
Water: No, but may be pulled from Vasquez Creek
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
Water: No, but may be pulled from Meadow Creek/Meadow Creek Reservoir
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
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.
County Road 50/Forest Service Road 139
Distance to Winter Park: 14 miles
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
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.
Forest Service Road 128
Distance to Winter Park: 2 miles
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.
Distance to Winter Park: 20 miles
Water: No, although you may be able to pull water from the nearby creek.
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!
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: