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
- The Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Colorado Springs
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.
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.
- 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.
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 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.
- 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.
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!
Distance to Colorado Springs: 26 miles
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
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
Water: No, but water may be available from Middle Beaver Creek
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
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!
Distance to Colorado Springs: 30 miles
Water: No, but may be able to get water from Trout Creek
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
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
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.
Have a great trip!
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: