The BEST Guanella Pass Camping

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Guanella Pass offers stunning views and an incredible alpine drive as it winds its way between Georgetown and Grant, Colorado. This 22-mile scenic byway offers tons of activities including hiking, off-roading, and exceptional scenery. For us, the best way to experience this area is to plan a Guanella Pass camping trip at one of the many campsites along the pass.

We’ve put together this guide to help you decide between one of the four developed campgrounds or even some free, dispersed camping along Guanella Pass.

Let’s get started.


Guanella Pass Camping Guide

The Basics

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to plan a camping trip along Colorado’s famous Guanella Pass. Everything from when to camp, what to bring, and how to get there.

You’ll have tons of options to choose from, including four distinct developed campgrounds as well as free, dispersed camping along Geneva Creek Road. You can see your options on the map below, with each campground described in more detail in the following sections.

When to Camp at Guanella Pass

Camping on Guanella Pass means being prepared for setting up camp at nearly 11,000′. Summer is short here and snow lingers well into June and even July in some areas. As such, we only recommend camping along Guanella Pass during the summer months from May-September.

It is possible to camp outside of those months at the Burning Bear Campground on the Grant side of Guanella Pass. If you plan to do so, you’ll want to be prepared for cold temperatures and the possibility of snow.


What to Bring

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 Guanella Pass 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 map to cover Guanella Pass and the surrounding area.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – A portable water container is a life saver while camping.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!


Permits, Fees, & Reservations

Of the four developed campgrounds on Guanella Pass, only the Clear Lake Campground is first-come, first-served. The other three allow for advance reservations up to six-months in advance via Although there is always the change to secure a site that hasn’t been reserved, we recommend making a reservation if at all possible.

Campsite fees vary depending on the campsite, and generally range from $19 – $24/night.

For Guanella Pass dispersed camping there are no permits or fees required, but we always recommend checking with Clear Creek Ranger District for the most up to date regulations.


Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: Camping along Guanella Pass has become incredibly popular over the past few years.  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.
  • Fire Bans: While fires are generally allowed at all of the campsites in this guide, be sure to comply with any fire bans in place. This is especially true for those who are dispersed camping.
  • Ranger Districts: Guanella Pass straddles two USFS Ranger Districts. The contact information for each can be found below:


Guanella Pass Camping

There are four developed campgrounds along Guanella Pass, with each outlined below. Each campground offers a unique experience and the best option will depend on your camping setup, which side of the pass you prefer, and what you’re hoping to experience.

The campgrounds are best categorized by which side of Guanella Pass they are on, with two campgrounds on either side of the pass:

  • Georgetown side: Clear Creek Ranger District, Arapaho National Forest
    • Clear Lake Campground
    • Guanella Pass Campground
  • Grant side: South Platte Ranger District, Pike National Forest
    • Geneva Park Campground
    • Burning Bear Campground

Each campground is listed below with additional details on amenities, fees, reservations, and more.

Clear Lake Campground

Number of Sites: 8 sites
Fee: $19/night
RVs: Not recommended. Small trailers OK.
Reservations: All sites first-come, first served.
Season: Open seasonally.

The Clear Lake Campground is the smallest campground along Guanella Pass and the only developed campground that offers first-come, first-served camping. For this reason, Clear Lake is one of our favorites for those looking for a quetier experience camping on Guanella Pass. You also won’t find any big RVs here as the campground is primarily for tent campers and those with small trailers.

Clear Lake Campground is located on the north side of Guanella Pass, just 15 minutes from Georgetown. Although the sites are first-come, first-served, we recommend arriving early to secure a spot on summer weekends.

This is a basic campground with a vault toilet as well as drinking water. Each campsite contains a tent pad, picnic table, and small fire grate.


Guanella Pass Campground

Number of Sites: 18 sites
Fee: $21/night
RVs: Yes, 11 sites can accommodate RVs. No hookups.
Reservations: Required. Based on a six-month rolling basis. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally during summer only.

Further up Guanella Pass from Georgetown you’ll find the Guanella Pass Campground. This 18 site campground is exceptionally well located near the Mt. Bierstadt trailhead for those hoping to camp the night before hiking this famous 14er.

Here you’ll find a good variety of sites that can accommodate tents, trailers, and small RVs. The campground has restrooms, potable water, fire grates, and charcoal grills. Keep in mind that the Guanella Pass Campground is located at nearly 11,000′ so come prepared for cold nights and high-altitude camping.

Reservations are recommended at the Guanella Pass campground and can be made via on a rolling six-month basis. This is a popular campground, so be sure to reserve as far ahead as possible for the busy summer camping season.

Guanella Pass Campground
Guanella Pass Campground. Photo credit USFS.


Geneva Park Campground

Number of Sites: 26 sites (19 standard, 7 tent only)
Fee: $24/night
RVs: Yes. No hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally during summer only.

The Geneva Park Campground is located near the top of Guanella Pass on the Grant side. This is the largest campground along Guanella Pass and is the best suited for those with trailers or small RVs. The campground is located along Geneva Creek Road, which continues back in the National Forest and offers ample opportunities for off-roading as well as some great dispersed camping.

Geneva Park Campground is located in fairly dense forest, which won’t afford you many views but does make the campsites a bit more private compared to other options. Geneva Creek runs adjacent to the campground as well.

It is important to keep in mind that as of 2021/22 there is no potable water available at Geneva Park. That means you’ll need to come prepared with all that you’ll need for your stay.

Reservations are highly recommended for the Geneva Park Campground and can be made up to six months in advance on


Burning Bear Campground

Number of Sites: 13 sites
Fee: $24/night
RVs: Yes, up to 30′. No hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally during summer only.

The final developed campground along Guanella Pass is the Burning Bear Campground, which is only a 10-minute drive from Grant. Burning Bear has just 13 campsites, making the the campground a bit quieter than some of the larger options along the road.

The individual campsites can accommodate small RVs and trailers that are less than 30′ in length, although there are no hookups here. In addition, each campsite feature a tent-pad for the car campers out there. Burning Bear also features potable water, vault toilets, picnic tables, and basic charcoal grills.

The trailhead for Abyss Lake is right next to the campground, making this a perfect option for those planning on doing some hiking during their camping trip.

Reservations are available for the Burning Bear Campground via and can be made up to six-months in advance.

Burning Bear Campground along Guanella Pass.
Burning Bear Campground. Photo credit USFS.

Guanella Pass Dispersed Camping

Number of Sites: 30-40 dispersed campsites
No, although you may be able to pull water from Geneva Creek.

Guanella Pass Dispersed Camping

In addition to the four developed campgrounds described above, Guanella Pass offers some excellent free, dispersed camping. The rules and regulations surrounding dispersed camping on Guanella Pass have changed over the years and you are no longer permitted to camp directly along Guanella Pass. Rather, you are now required 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.

Geneva Creek Road/FR 119 is near the top of Guanella Pass so you should come prepared for high-altitude dispersed camping. You can experience snow and below freezing nightly temperatures any time of year here!

In addition, dispersed camping on Guanella Pass carries some additional Leave No Trace responsibilities compared to staying in one of the developed campgrounds. Please always follow these principles when dispersed 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.

If you’re unable to find a dispersed campsite here, but sure to check out our guide to the best dispersed camping near Denver which has some additional options in the area.

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

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

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

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