Gordon Gulch Dispersed Camping Area Guide

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Gordon Gulch is a designed dispersed camping area located in Roosevelt National Forest and just north of the town of Nederland, Colorado. This is a popular destination for those exploring the Indian Peaks Wilderness, visiting nearby Boulder, or simply looking for a summer escape from Denver and the surrounding region.

We’ve got all the intel you need to plan your next dispersed camping trip at Gordon Gulch in the guide below.

Gordon Gulch Dispersed Camping Area Guide

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Location & Overview

The Gordon Gulch dispersed camping area is located in Roosevelt National Forest, just off the Peak to Peak Highway (Hwy 72). As we’ll discuss below, you are only allowed to dispersed camp in one of the 15 designated dispersed campsites, which are all individually numbered.

The map below shows you the general area of the Gordon Gulch dispersed campsites:

If you zoom in on the satellite map above you’ll be able to see quite a few of the different campsites. The sites further from the main entry road will be more private, while the ones closer to the road are better suited for low-clearance passenger vehicles.

Map of the designated dispersed campsites at Gordon Gulch.

Forest Service Road 226.1 is the main entry to Gordon Gulch and will take you to the turnoffs for most of the designated sites, as well as lead back deeper into the National Forest, where there are more dispersed camping opportunities.

If you show up to find all of the sites at Gordon Gulch full, there are plenty of other dispersed campsites nearby; we recommend consulting the Roosevelt National Forest Boulder Ranger District MVUM for a detailed map on where dispersed camping is permitted.

We’ve highlighted the MVUM to show those additional camping areas below:

Motor Vehicle Use Map for dispersed camping near Gordon Gulch.
Boulder Ranger District MVUM map showing additional dispersed camping areas in yellow.

If you want to learn how to read MVUMs and find your own dispersed campsites, be sure to check out our online mini-course!

What are the dispersed campsites like at Gordon Gulch?

The sites at Gordon Gulch are basic, as you would expect for any dispersed campsites. You won’t find any restrooms facilities or potable water, so you’ll need to come prepared. That means bringing all the water you need, and packing out all trash. We highly recommend packing out your human waste as well, as this area sees a lot of traffic.

There are a few streams near the campsites, but you will want to bring a filter to treat the water. It is also not uncommon for them to be dry, so better to bring you own water.

For a more in-depth look at the campsites at Gordon Gulch, check out the videos below:

One very important piece of information to keep at mind if you’re going to camp at Gordon Gulch is to please pack out all of our trash!

Many of the sites here are often full of trash from the previous occupants, and this really detracts from the experience. Practicing Leave No Trace principles and leaving your campsite better than you found it is essential.

Gordon Gulch Dispersed Camping – Rules & Regulations

Located within Roosevelt National Forest, Gordon Gulch dispersed camping area has specific rules that generally align with the broader dispersed camping regulations you’ll find throughout the National Forest system. You can read the full list on the Roosevelt NF website, but we’ve highlighted the key considerations below:

  • You MUST camp in the designed campsites within the Gordon Gulch area.
  • Camping is limited to 14 consecutive days in a single location.
  • After 14 days, you must move at least three miles from your original campsite if you plan to continue camping in the area.
  • Camping is restricted to 28-days in any 60-day period.
  • Be sure to check the latest campfire & forest restrictions. DO NOT have a fire if there are restrictions in place!
  • Properly dispose of human/pet waste

Other helpful dispersed camping rules that broadly apply include:

  • Keep your campsite small.
  • Use existing fire rings when available.
  • Place tents/park where vegetation is absent.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles – more on that below!

If you’re looking for additional information on dispersed camping in the region, check out our complete guide to dispersed camping in Colorado.

Download Our FREE Dispersed Camping Cheat Sheet

Our free printable cheat sheet outlines how to find the perfect dispersed campsite for your next trip.

Leave No Trace Dispersed Camping

One of the most important considerations when dispersed camping is to follow Leave No Trace principles. The wilderness here is fragile and it is our responsibility to minimize our impact and keep these areas open to future campers.

Here are the seven principles of Leave No Trace camping:

  • Plan Ahead & Prepare: Have an idea of where you’d like to camp and always be sure you are camping in an area that permits dispersed camping.
  • Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces: Never camp on fragile ground or create a new campsite.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Pack out all of your trash and bury human waste away from water sources. Ideally, carry out human waste or use a portable toilet.
  • Leave what you find: Never take anything from your campsite. Other than trash of course!
  • Minimize campfire impacts: Never create new fire rings and only have fires if permitted.
  • Respect Wildlife: Properly store food at all times and be aware of the area’s wildlife.
  • Be considerate of Other Visitors: Pack out your trash, don’t be loud, and leave your campsite in better condition than you found it.

You can read more about the seven principles of Leave No Trace camping here.

Cell Service, Amenities, & More

Gordon Gulch is true dispersed camping, so you won’t find any amenities at your campsite. This means no water, no toilets, and no other services. Please plan accordingly and come prepared to be self-sufficient.

The closest town with services is just up the road in Nederland, Colorado, which has a grocery store, gas stations, several restaurants, and most services you might need. If you need anything more substantial, your best bet will be Boulder, CO, about 45 minutes away.

Cell phone services is hit or miss at Gordon Gulch depending on your carrier. Most of the sites will get at least some sort of signal, but it definitely decreases the further from the Peak to Peak Highway you get.

What to Bring

You shouldn’t expect any amenities when dispersed camping at Gordon Gulch so you’ll need 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,  below are some of our essential items :

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – There isn’t a great water source on Owners River Road, so a good portable water container is a must.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Map – We prefer downloadable GPS maps via the Gaia GPS app. You can get 20% off your annual membership here.
Dispersed Camping Checklist

Our dispersed camping checklist has everything you need.

Want to know the essentials for your next camping trip?

Our dispersed camping checklist has all the camping essentials plus specific items for dispersed camping.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan a great dispersed camping trip at Gordon Gulch Dispersed Camping Area.

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

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