The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Sedona, AZ

Sedona, Arizona draws thousands upon thousands of visitors every year. Many arrive to take in the excellent mountain biking, hiking, and stunning scenery that Red Rocks country is famous for….

Sedona, Arizona draws thousands upon thousands of visitors every year. Many arrive to take in the excellent mountain biking, hiking, and stunning scenery that Red Rocks country is famous for. However, what many visitors don’t know is that there are tons of free, dispersed camping opportunities near Sedona!

You can wake up in your tent or RV from the comfort of you campsite and be on a trail or strolling downtown Sedona in less than 20 minutes from many of these excellent campsites.

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

Sedona, Arizona Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

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

This is the essential info before you head out!

When to Camp Near Sedona

Sedona is canyon-country and as such its climate varies dramatically depending on your altitude. Generally speaking, the best time to visit Sedona is during the spring months from March to May.

Camping is no different, and the spring and fall will be your best bets to plan a successful trip. You’ll avoid the scorching summer temperatures while avoiding the cold that comes in the winter. In general, we recommend between February – May as well as September – November for your Sedona camping trip.

On the edge of those seasons we recommend being prepared for very cold nights and even the potential for snow!

 

What to Bring

The canyon, desert, and mountains surrounding Sedona require that you come prepared for your camping trip. This is especially true for dispersed camping, since 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 near Sedona:

  • 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 Sedona area.
  • 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, particularly in Sedona’s climate. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

Night sky while dispersed camping near Sedona

 

Permits and Fees

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 Sedona 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.

It is also worth noting that many of the day use areas near Sedona require visitors to purchase a Red Rocks Pass. The Pass helps to fund conservation, maintenance, and general upkeep of the heavily used wilderness in the Sedona area.

You can learn more about the Red Rocks Pass here.

For the most up to date information on camping in the Sedona area, your best bet is to contact the Red Rock Ranger District.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in the areas surrounding Sedona. 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.

Keep in mind there are permanent fire bans in place at:

  • Oak Creek Canyon
  • Pumphouse Wash
  • Fossil Creek
  • Wet Beaver Creek

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 Sedona’s extreme temperatures.

 

Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: The Sedona 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.
  • 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 of the campsites included in this guide require 4WD and high-clearance to reach them. Additionally, road conditions can deteriorate quickly after heavy rain so avoid traveling on difficult roads after rainfall.
  • 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.
  • 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 Sedona, Arizona

The following list contains the 11 best dispersed camping areas surrounding Sedona, Arizona.

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

For other nearby dispersed camping guides, check out our other posts:

Schnebly Hill Road

Distance to Sedona: 9 miles (via Schnebly Hill Rd) // 40 miles via I-17 & AZ-179
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

One of the most popular dispersed camping areas near Sedona is Schnebly Hill Rd. The road connects Sedona with Interstate 17 to the east via a rough and rugged 4WD road. Along the route you’ll find some excellent dispersed camping options, with most of the good sites located closer to I-17.

Access from I-17 is easy, with campsites appearing almost immediately off the highway. If you’re coming from the Sedona side you’ll need to drive quite a ways along the road before reaching the area where camping is permitted. The road on the Sedona side is also much more rugged, so only those with 4WD, high-clearance, and some experience driving rocky roads should come from this way.

Regardless of which side you enter from, the campsites here have beautiful views, are well spaced, and make an excellent free place to spend the night.

Don’t forget to bring water, as there are no sources along the road.

View from Schnebly Hill dispersed camping area near Sedona

 

Pumphouse Wash (FR 237)

Distance to Sedona: 18 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Pumphouse Wash is an designated dispersed camping area located approximately halfway between Flagstaff and Sedona just off Highway 89A. This is an excellent option for dispersed camping as you’ll be able to get a designated site and have great access to Oak Creek Canyon as well as Sedona. The campsites here are organized in four loops and can all be accessed by passenger vehicles.

Although these are designated sites, don’t expect any water or restroom facilities.

To get here, head north from Sedona along 89A before turning east on FR 237. You’ll then see signs for the designated campsites.

Be sure not to set-up camp outside of these areas as you are likely to be ticketed!

If you’re heading towards Flagstaff from Pumphouse Wash, don’t forget to check out our guide to the best dispersed camping near Flagstaff!

Dispersed campsite at Pumphouse Wash near Sedona

 

Forest Service Road 535

Distance to Sedona: 17 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Forest Service Road 535 is located north of Sedona on Highway 89A, opposite of the Pumphouse Wash dispersed camping area. Camping is permitted along the road once off the highway for several miles. For more peace and quiet head a bit further back before setting up camp.

This area is noted for often having a lot of trash and some loud, partying campers, so it is not our first recommendation for dispersed camping near Sedona. If you do opt to camp here, please be sure to be respectful of other campers and pack out all your trash.

This is a dry site, so you’ll need to bring your own water.

 

Loy Butte Road / Forest Service Road 525

Distance to Sedona: 10 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Loy Butte Road (aka FR 525)is one of the most popular and easiest to access dispersed camping areas around Sedona. Located southwest of town, camping is permitted for several miles along this beautiful dirt road as it winds its way through Red Rocks country.

The area is very popular with ATVs and dirt bikes so you can expect a bit of noise, especially the closer you are to the highway. The road starts off very smooth, so the sites you see after turning off are best for RVs and larger trailers. If you’re in a vehicle with decent clearance, head back a ways to find some of the better sites.

Loy Butte Road does not have water or restrooms, so be prepared to be self-sufficient camping here.

If you decide to camp here we highly recommend hiking the Loy Canyon trail as the trailhead is located near the end of the road.

 

Angel Valley Road

Distance to Sedona: 11 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Angel Valley Rd is directly south of Loy Butte Rd on the other side of Highway 89A southwest of Sedona. This is another good dispersed camping option in the area, although we recommend trying Loy Butte Rd first. The campsites here begin approximately 1 mile after turning off 89A, past the Deer Pass trailhead, and are generally flat. However, they tend to be grouped together, so privacy is at a premium.

All in all, Angel Valley Rd presents good dispersed campsites near Sedona, especially if some of the other options in this guide are full.

There is no water or facilities at Angel Valley Rd, so you’ll want to come prepared. The road in can be fairly bumpy but should be navigable for most vehicles.

 

Forest Service Road 9845B

Distance to Sedona: 9 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 9845B is located close to the popular Loy Butte Road and Angel Valley dispersed camping areas near Sedona. This camping area is known to be a bit quieter than Loy Butte Road, although the road is also much rougher to navigate. You’ll have great access to Red Rock State Park from here as well as all of Sedona’s main attractions.

We recommend you have 4WD or at minimum a high-clearance vehicle to came along FR 9845B given the road conditions.

To get here, head west from Sedona along Highway 89A for approximately 8.5 miles. Turn south off the main highway on the dirt road opposite the Sedona Wetlands Preserve and wastewater treatment plant.

 

Coffee Creek

Distance to Sedona: 12 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

The Coffee Creek dispersed camping area is located along highway 89A southwest of Sedona, about halfway to Cottonwood, AZ. This is a large, open area that can accommodate quite a few campers. Don’t expect any shade here, as this is definitely the desert.

Coffee Creek is hit or miss with crowds, often times you can find some peace and quiet here while other times you’ll have noisy neighbors. Much of that is dependent on the season and whether or not you’re camping on the weekend.

To get here, head south on 89A until Forest Service Rd 9571, just before Page Springs Rd. Campsites appear almost immediately after turning onto FR 9571.

 

Forest Service Road 618/689

Distance to Sedona: 9 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Located just east of where Highway 179 meets Interstate 17 southwest of Sedona is the Forest Service Rd 618 dispersed camping area. The campsites here are well spaced out giving you a bit of privacy from your neighbors. This is a convenient place to camp if you’re interested in exploring Montezuma Castle National Monument, which is just up the road.

The sites here are not much more than a dusty pull off from the main road, but they are easy to access and much less crowded than some of the other sites in and around Sedona. As you might expect, there is no water source in the area so you’ll need to bring everything you need.

 

Childs Dispersed Camping (Closed due to Fire)

Distance to Sedona: 80 miles
Restrooms: 
Vault toilets
Water: 
No, but may be able to get water from adjacent creek.
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Although a bit of trek from Sedona, the Childs Dispersed Camping Area remains a very popular option in the region. These are designed dispersed campsites situated right along the Verde River and close to Verde Hot Springs. A soak there is highly recommended! These aren’t private site and you should expect many other campers will be close by. For that reason, please keep noise down and take care to pack out all of your trash.

To get here from Sedona take I-17 south to Dugas Rd. Follow the road for ~35 miles to reach the camping area. Note that the last mile or so of the road is pretty rouge. For this reason we recommend 4WD or a high-clearance vehicle.

***Note: The Childs Dispersed Camping Area is currently closed due to the Backbone Fire. Please check the USFS website here for current status***

 

Lawrence Crossing

Distance to Sedona: 19 miles
Restrooms: 
Vault toilets
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Lawrence Crossing is a free USFS designated campground southwest of Sedona. Located right on Wet Beaver Creek this is a good option for those with small set-ups or tents. There is no water at the campground, but there are basic vault toilets as well as fire rings.

The campsites here are all quite close together, so if privacy and seclusion is what you’re after you might want to look for a different campsite. That being said, Lawrence Crossing provides a good free camping option in the Sedona area and its creek-side location is quite pleasant.

 

Edge of the World (East Pocket)

Distance to Sedona: 39 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Edge of the World is a true gem for dispersed camping near Sedona. The drive is long and arduous to get here, but you’ll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views in the area. And all from a free dispersed campsite! Also known as East Pocket, this dispersed camping area is accessed by either taking FR 535 to FR231, or for those coming from Flagstaff by taking Woody Mountain Road.

Although it is a rough road to get here, there is always someone who made it in a sedan or other low-clearance vehicle. While we would recommend 4WD, it clearly isn’t 100% necessary.

Edge of the World is a popular camping destination in the area, so be sure to arrive early if you’re hoping to claim a spot on the weekend. Those who can will be rewarded with some of the best dispersed camping in the Sedona area!

Devil's Bridge in Sedona

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Sedona 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!

 

2 Comments on The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Sedona, AZ

The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Flagstaff

Flagstaff, Arizona is a camper’s dream. Thousands of acres of National Forest, the San Francisco Peaks, and close proximity to both National Parks and National Monuments make this the perfect…

Flagstaff, Arizona is a camper’s dream. Thousands of acres of National Forest, the San Francisco Peaks, and close proximity to both National Parks and National Monuments make this the perfect destination for your next trip. All this public land means you should definitely consider doing some free, dispersed camping near Flagstaff.

Easy access means you can wake up in your tent and easily explore the thriving downtown, hop on some world class mountain bike trails, or even hike Arizona’s highest mountain, Humphreys Peak.

To make your Flagstaff trip planning a bit easier, we’ve compiled this handy guide of the best dispersed camping areas near Flagstaff. Check out all your options below.

 

Flagstaff, Arizona Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Flagstaff, AZ. Everything from when to camp, what to bring, and even some information on recent closures to popular camping areas.

This is the essential info before you head out!

When to Camp Near Flagstaff

Flagstaff’s unique geographical location has it sitting with one foot in the desert and one foot in the mountains. Located at the base of Arizona’s tallest mountain, Humphreys Peak, means that you will likely be camping at high-altitude here. Flagstaff itself sits at nearly 7,000′ above sea-level.

Given that, the best time to camp near Flagstaff is typically from April – October. For the higher up campsites in the San Francisco peaks this might be shorter by a month on either end, and at the lower elevations you can likely extend that season by a month or two.

Those in campers or RVs will also be able to comfortably camp for a longer season.

Mormon Lake, AZ

 

What to Bring

The wilderness surrounding Flagstaff can be a harsh place. This is where the desert meets the mountains so coming prepared for your camping trip is essential. This is especially true for dispersed camping, since 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 near Flagstaff:

  • 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 Flagstaff and Sedona area.
  • 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, particularly in Flagstaff’s climate. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

 

Permits and Fees

One of many camper’s favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of need for any permits or fees to be paid. Camping near Flagstaff 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.

Your best bet is to contact the Flagstaff Ranger District for the most up to date information.

Recently closed areas for dispersed camping near Flagstaff

It is important to note that as of the publication date of this article several popular dispersed camping areas near Flagstaff have been closed. This was primarily done through Forest Service Order 03-04-20-5-F. Popular dispersed camping areas that are no longer open include:

  • Schultz Pass Road
  • Fort Valley Dispersed Camping

Please observe these closures and do not camp in these areas. There is the potential that they will reopen in the future.

Fires

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

Keep in mind there are permanent fire bans in place at:

  • Oak Creek Canyon
  • Pumphouse Wash

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: Dispersed camping near Flagstaff seems to get more popular every year. As a result, there is an ever increasing impact on the fragile environment. 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, 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. Luckily many of the dispersed camping near Flagstaff is accessible by most passenger vehicles. However, several campsite required 4WD or high-clearance vehicles.
  • 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.
  • 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 Flagstaff, Arizona

The following list contains the 11 best dispersed camping areas surrounding Flagstaff, Arizona.

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

For other nearby dispersed camping guides, check out our other posts:

Forest Service Road 222 (Wing Mountain)

Distance to Flagstaff: 9 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 222 is located northwest of Flagstaff, just off Highway 180. This is an excellent place for dispersed camping as you’ll be just 15 minutes from Flagstaff and the road is passable by almost all vehicles. This is a popular camping destination and offers easy access to the San Francisco Peaks as well as Highway 180 if you’re heading north to explore the Grand Canyon.

Getting here is straightforward. Simply head north out of Flagstaff along Highway 180 for approximately 8 miles. Forest Service Road 222 will be on the left hand side of the road. Campsites start almost immediately after turning off the highway and continue for the length of the road.

Keep in mind there is no water here so you’ll want to be sure to bring all that you’ll need.

Wing Mountain dispersed campsite near Flagstaff

Forest Service Road 222 near Wing Mountain offers great dispersed camping near Flagstaff.

 

Forest Service Road 171 (Wing Mountain)

Distance to Flagstaff: 13 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Located on the opposite side of Wing Mountain from FR222 and accessed from Interstate 40 is the Forest Service Road 171 dispersed camping area. Another great dispersed camping option near Flagstaff that consists of large campsites and relatively smooth roads. You’re only 20 minutes from central Flagstaff here and you’ll have tons of campsites to choose from.

To get here take Interstate 40 west from Flagstaff for about 11 miles before turning north onto FR 171. Head up the road for about 1 mile and then you’ll have your pick of campsites. There are also lots of good sites up FR 222A, which you’ll reach about a mile from the highway.

There is no water here so come prepared!

Dispersed camping near Flagstaff along Forest Service Road 171

There are tons of great dispersed campsites along FR 171 and 222.

 

Forest Service Road 151

Distance to Flagstaff: 11 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

The Forest Service Road 151 dispersed camping area is located just up the road from Wing Mountain sites, but is often much less crowded. With easy access to Highway 180 and a smooth road to get to the campsites, this is a great option near Flagstaff. You can expect some traffic noise from the highway, but that is a small price to pay for being less than 20 minutes from Flagstaff.

This is a dry site, so bring all of your own water.

Campsites appear almost immediately after turning off of the main highway and continue for quite a ways, so you’re almost assured of finding something that will work here!

 

Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping

Distance to Flagstaff: 10 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

The Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area offers free camping in 14 designated dispersed campsites. The area was established for dispersed camping given the high-impact camping has had in the surrounding wilderness. The result is an excellent place to camp in a USFS designed area that is very close to Flagstaff. This is the perfect dispersed campsite for hiking Humphreys Peak, as you’ll be very close to the main trailhead.

Each of the designated campsites here are marked, feature a fire ring, and have a place for at least one tent. Given the size of the campsites, RVs are not recommended.

There are no services here so you’ll need to pack out all of your own trash and be self-sufficient in terms of water.

To get here from Flagstaff head north of Highway 180 before turning onto Snowbowl Road. After 2.4 miles take a right onto FR 522 and be on the lookout for the campsites. Most are located on the south side of the road.

 

Map of Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping near Flagstaff

The Freidlein Prairie camping area has 14 dispersed sites near Flagstaff. Map credit USFS.

 

Cinder Hills OHV Area

Distance to Flagstaff: 15 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Cinder Hills Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area is one of Flagstaff’s most popular dispersed camping areas. Located northeast of town, this is a great destination for those hoping to do some off-roading or ATV driving in the Cinder Hills area. These are dry sites, so no water or bathroom facilities are available.

Keep in mind that given how popular with off-roaders the area is you should expect some noise and dust. Most campers set-up right on FR 776, but keep in mind that if you keep driving back from the highway there are more spots along FR 244 that tend to be a bit quieter.

To get to Cinder Hills OHV head north from Flagstaff on Highway 89 for approximately 8 miles. Turn right on FR 776 and drive for about 1.5 miles before looking for a campsite.

 

Walnut Canyon (FR 303)

Distance to Flagstaff: 11 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

The Walnut Canyon dispersed camping area near Flagstaff sits adjacent to Walnut Canyon National Monument. This is an excellent place to camp if you’re looking to explore the National Monument, or if you’re looking to camp east of Flagstaff. The road to get here is also in good shape, so this is a great option for rigs that can’t handle some of the rougher roads.

A visit to Walnut Canyon is well worth it in our opinion as the ancient cliff dwelling and stunning canyon walls are a sight to behold. All the better given the option for free, dispersed camping right next door!

As with many of the dispersed campgrounds near Flagstaff you won’t find any water or restrooms here, so be sure to pack out all your waste.

To get here, head south along Walnut Canyon Road from I-40. Just before reaching Walnut Canyon Monument turn east along FR 303 where campsites will appear almost immediately. Keep in mind camping is not permitted along Walnut Canyon Road.

 

Marshall Lake

Distance to Flagstaff: 15 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

The Marshall Lake area offers excellent dispersed camping southeast of Flagstaff. This is a large camping area so don’t expect solitude, but you will be well located to explore the southern reaches of Coconino National Forest. In addition, the Arizona Trail passes right through the campground so is perfect if you’re looking to do some hiking or mountain biking.

Don’t be fooled by the ‘lake’ name as Marshall Lake is more of a marshy depression than an actual lake. There are no facilities at the lake either, so come prepared to be self-sufficient.

To get there, head south from Flagstaff to Mary Lake Road. Take that for approximately 3 miles before turning onto FR 128, which is signed for Marshall Lake. Camping is permitted after driving just over 1 mile along FR 128.

Dispersed camping at Marshall Lake near Flagstaff

Marshall Lake offers great dispersed camping south of Flagstaff.

 

Ashurst Lake

Distance to Flagstaff: 20 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Ashurst Lake sits about 30 minutes southeast of Flagstaff and features two developed campgrounds. However, there are also some excellent dispersed sites before you reach the lake itself that make for a great free option. You’re right on the Arizona Trail here and also have easy access to the surrounding wilderness.

This is a good option if you find the sites at Marshall Lake full or if you’re looking for a quieter place to camp.

The road is serviceable and many folks report getting trailers here without any issues.

To get here, take Lake Mary Rd past Upper Lake Mary before turning left on 82E, just opposite the Pine Grove Campground. Look for campsites on the right-hand side of the road starting opposite of the Horse Lake trailhead.

 

Pumphouse Wash (FR 237)

Distance to Flagstaff: 13 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Pumphouse Wash is an designated dispersed camping area located approximately halfway between Flagstaff and Sedona just off Highway 89A. This is an excellent option for dispersed camping as you’ll be able to get a designated site and have great access to Oak Creek Canyon as well as Sedona. The campsites here are organized in four loops and can all be accessed by passenger vehicles.

Although these are designated sites, don’t expect any water or restroom facilities.

To get here, head south from Flagstaff along 89A before turning east on FR 237. You’ll then see signs for the designated campsites.

Be sure not to set-up camp outside of these areas as you are likely to be ticketed!

If you’re heading towards Sedona from Pumphouse Wash, don’t forget to check out our guide to the best dispersed camping near Sedona!

 

Dispersed camping at Pumphouse Wash

 

Willard Springs Road

Distance to Flagstaff: 18 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

Willow Springs Road dispersed camping is straight south of Flagstaff just off Highway 17. This camping area is right off the highway so is convenient for those arriving late or looking for an easy campsite to access. For those looking for more peace and quiet, simply head a bit further back along the Forest Service Road as there are several good sites tucked into the trees.

Getting here is straightforward by heading south along Interstate 17 to exit 326 for Willard Springs Road. Once off the highway it is approximately 1.5 miles on Willard Springs Rd before the first campsites appear.

 

Schnebly Hill Road

Distance to Flagstaff: 22 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Although a bit further from Flagstaff compared to your other options, Schnebly Hill Rd still makes for some great dispersed camping. This is especially true for those venturing south to explore Sedona you’ll be conveniently positioned to explore both towns. For the adventurous, you can even take Schnebly Hill Rd all the way to Sedona, although you’ll want to take your time given how rough the road can be.

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Flagstaff 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!

 

2 Comments on The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Flagstaff

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

The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Leadville, CO

Historic Leadville, Colorado is a true mountain town gem. Known as the highest incorporated city in North America, Leadville is situated at a stunning 10,200 feet above sea-level. All that…

Historic Leadville, Colorado is a true mountain town gem. Known as the highest incorporated city in North America, Leadville is situated at a stunning 10,200 feet above sea-level. All that elevation means you’ll have access to some of Colorado’s best wilderness in the surrounding area. We think one of the best ways to visit is to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Leadville, CO. You’ll get to enjoy some of the area’s highlights, including the State’s highest mountain at Mt. Elbert, the beautiful Turquoise Lake, and miles upon miles of hiking trails.

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 Leadville, CO in one easy to read guide.

Keep reading to find your perfect campsite!

Leadville, CO Dispersed Camping Guide

 

The Basics

When to Camp Near Leadville, CO

Given Leadville’s high altitude, the best time for dispersed camping in the surrounding area is June – September. This will of course depend on the weather and how much snow the winter brought. Depending on conditions, you may be able to camp in the surrounding area as early as May and often as late as October. Should you plan a trip during the shoulder season be prepared for cold and even snow!

 

What to Bring

Preparing for a dispersed camping trip near Leadville 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 of the Leadville area.
  • 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 Leadville Ranger District for the most up to date information.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are common in the wilderness areas surrounding Leadville. 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.

 

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: This is definitely the high-country! Many of the dispersed camping areas near Leadville, CO 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!
  • Cell Phone Service: Don’t plan on getting a cell signal when dispersed camping near Leadville. Some of the areas are quite remote, although options closer to town, Twin Lakes, and Turquoise Lake may have a signal. It is best to sssume you won’t have service and plan accordingly (download maps ahead of time, let other know where you’re going and when you’ll be back, etc).
  • 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. Not all are accessible by 2WD vehicles, and conditions can quickly change due to weather and usage. Use your best judgement when navigating mountain roads, as no campsite is worth jeopardizing your safety for!
  • 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: 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.

View of Leadville, CO

 

 

Dispersed Camping Near Leadville, CO

The following list contains what we consider the nine best dispersed camping areas near Leadville, 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!

Heading over Independence Pass? Check out our Dispersed Camping near Aspen Guide.

County Road 48 near Turquoise Lake

Distance to Leadville: 4 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

County Road 48 just south of Turquoise Lake is the closest dispersed camping area to Leadville. This is a popular camping area, so expect neighbors and be sure to leave no trace if you do camp here. You’ll be well located to explore Turquoise Lake as well as the Mt. Massive Wilderness Area. Views of Mt. Elbert from the camping area are also stunning.

To reach the dispersed camping area here head west on 6th Street from central Leadville until it dead ends into County Road 4. Turn north on County Road 4 and continue until you get to the junction with County Road 48. Proceed a short distance on CR48 to find the dispersed camping area, with sites on both sides of the road.

The road is gravel and should be passable by most vehicles and rigs.

 

Turquoise Lake Dispersed Camping (FR 105A)

Distance to Leadville: 10 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No.
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

Although there is no dispersed camping permitted in the Turquoise Lake Recreation Area, there are ample opportunities to pitch your tent for free in the surrounding wilderness. In addition to County Road 48, described above, there is also excellent dispersed camping available on Forest Service Road 105A above Turquoise Lake.

This area is best suited for those with 4WD and high-clearance as the road up can get quite rough. However, for those who are prepared you’ll enjoy a beautiful hilltop campground overlooking the lake.

To get here take County Road 4 along the southside of Turquoise Lake. Stay on CR4 (also known as Hagerman Pass) until you get to the intersection with Forest Service Road 105A. From here, head up the road until you reach the camping area.

 

Turquoise Lake, Colorado near Leadville

 

West Tennessee Creek

Distance to Leadville: 9 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No. 
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

North of Leadville along Highway 24 is the West Tennessee Creek dispersed camping area. This is a good option for those hoping to camp near the top of Tennessee Pass or who want easy access to the Colorado Trail. Don’t expect any big views here as most of the camping options are located in dense forest. However, that provides a bit of privacy that can be hard to find at other dispersed camping areas.

To get here, simply head up Highway 24 until you reach County Road 19, where you’ll turn west. From here continue on until you reach Forest Road 131 & 100, where you’ll find campsite on both side of the road. The road is well-maintained, so access shouldn’t be a problem for most vehicles.

 

Halfmoon Creek

Distance to Leadville: 9 miles
Restrooms: 
No, although there are vault toilets at nearby trailheads.
Water: 
No, although creek access is possible. 
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

Halfmoon Creek is a popular spot for dispersed camping area in the Leadville area. The road is the main access for those hiking Mt. Elbert, so expect it to be busy on summer weekends. However, if you can tolerate a few people this camping area is convenient with relatively easy access. The road here parallels the Halfmoon Creek and some sites have direct creek access, a major plus.

Getting here is straightforward as well, simply take Highway 24 south from Leadville before turning west on CO-300 towards Turquoise Lake. From here take a right on Halfmoon Rd (CR11) and take it approximately 4 miles into the National Forest. Campgrounds are then located on both sides of the road.

 

Summit of Mt. Elbert

Camp near the base of Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak.

 

Forest Service Road 130

Distance to Leadville: 10 miles
Restrooms: 
No.
Water: 
No.
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

Forest Service Road 130 is located southwest of Leadville in the shadow of Mt. Elbert. This is a convenient option for camping near Leadville, although don’t expect a full wilderness experience given the proximity to Highway 24. There is no water and no restrooms here, so be sure to pack out all of your waste. You’ll have good access to Mt. Elbert and Twin Lakes from here.

To get to the dispersed camping area, head south on Highway 24 from Leadville before turning west on County Road 10 and then shortly after veer right onto FR130. From here, it is a about 1.5 miles to the National Forest where you can camp.

The road can be rough at time, so higher clearance vehicles are recommended.

 

Twin Lakes Area Dispersed Camping

Distance to Leadville: 20 miles
Restrooms: 
No.
Water: 
No. 
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

Often referred to as the Twin Lakes North Area dispersed camping, this is a great option for those looking to camp near the beautiful Twin Lakes outside of Leadville. While there is no dispersed camping permitted directly next to the Twin Lakes, this is about as close as you can get. This is a popular spot for those hiking Mt. Elbert or doing some boating, so be sure to arrive early on summer weekends.

To get here, take Highway 82 towards Independence Pass and turn north on Lake County Road 24. Continue on CR24 for less than a mile before campsites begin to appear on the right-hand side of the road. Be sure to stop before getting to the developed Lakeview Campground.

The road is passable for most vehicles.

Dispersed camping near Twin Lakes, CO

 

 

Willis Gulch

Distance to Leadville: 23 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No. 
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

The Willis Gulch dispersed camping area near Leadville takes you up the start of Independence Pass. This gets you further from town, but also reduces the number of people a bit. The camping area is located right off Highway 82, so expect some traffic noise. However, you’ll also be close to the Willis Gulch trailhead and other hiking trails.

To get here, head up Independence Pass (Highway 82) past Twin Lakes and you’ll find the pull out on the left hand side of the road. Given the area is just off the highway, all vehicles should have no trouble camping here.

If you’re heading to Aspen from here there are also tons of great dispersed camping options there too!

Independence Pass near Willis Gulch dispersed camping

 

Clear Creek Reservoir (CR 390)

Distance to Leadville: 21 miles
Restrooms:
Vault Toilets available near the lake.
Water: 
No, although water may be filtered from Clear Creek. 
Crowds: 
Busy
Map

There are lots of great dispersed campsites near the beautiful Clear Creek Reservoir, which is located about halfway between Leadville and Buena Vista. A primitive campground on the west side of the reservoir has approximately 20 free sites, while those seeking more solitude can find great dispersed sites along Clear Creek.

To get here, head south on Highway 24 toward Buena Vista before turning west on CR390 for Clear Creek Reservoir. You can’t miss the main camping area west of the lake, and to reach the dispersed sites, continue west on County Road 390 past the reservoir for a few more miles. Pay close attention to signage, as some of the area is private property and therefore not suitable for camping.

The area has tons of great hiking, fishing, and 4WD opportunities, plus there are some very cool ghost towns to explore nearby. The road to access the campsites can be a bit rugged at times, but most passenger vehicles should be able to navigate it.

If you’re looking for dispersed camping near Buena Vista, CO, check out our guide here.

 

Homestake Reservoir Road

Distance to Leadville: 20 miles
Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No. 
Crowds: 
Moderate
Map

The road to Homestake Reservoir features several excellent dispersed camping areas near Leadville. Immediately after turning off the highway you’ll find the Blodgett Campground, a free undeveloped campground with 5-6 sites. If you continue on the road a short distance past here you’ll also find more traditional dispersed sites that offer a bit more privacy.

This is a great location up Tennessee Pass and has good access to the Colorado Trail and Camp Hale historic area.

The campsites are located immediately west of Highway 24 on Homestake Road (CR710). Most rigs and cars can reach the Blodgett camping area, although the road gets rougher the further back you travel.

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Leadville, 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!

ooking 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 Telluride, CO

Ah, Telluride. From festivals to fly fishing, there’s always something awesome to do in this iconic mountain town. Tucked into a box canyon in the pristine San Juan Mountains, Telluride…

Ah, Telluride. From festivals to fly fishing, there’s always something awesome to do in this iconic mountain town. Tucked into a box canyon in the pristine San Juan Mountains, Telluride is the perfect place to experience the best of Colorado’s beautiful landscapes. And what better way to savor every minute than sleeping under the stars? Not only will dispersed camping near Telluride save you money and give your greater flexibility, it will allow you to fully immerse yourself in this incredible area. 

In this post, we’ve shared all of the best places for dispersed camping within an hour of Telluride so you can find your perfect campsite.

 

In This Post…

 

 

The Basics

 

When to Camp Near Telluride, CO

The best time for dispersed camping in the Telluride area is from May through October. The higher elevations (above 10,000 feet) can hold snow well into the summer, so it’s best to plan your trip to those areas for June-September. The fall months bring beautiful changing colors, but be prepared for chilly nights and mornings.

 

What to Bring

Preparing for your Telluride camping trip 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 near Telluride, CO:

  • 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!
  • Water Filter– When you’re dispersed camping near a river, lake, or stream, it can be nice to filter your water instead of having to pack it all in.

 

Permits and Fees

There are no permits or fees required to camp in any of the BLM or Forest Service areas described in this post. As some areas gain popularity, they could change over to a permit system in the future, so it’s always best to double-check before setting out.

Some of the camping areas are located within or adjacent to a designated Wilderness Area. Check ahead of time, as each of these areas has specific restrictions that apply. This map shows the boundaries of the Wilderness Areas near Telluride.

 

Overhead view of the Telluride Valley

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are common in the wilderness areas surrounding Telluride. 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.

 

Pets

Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this post. 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 dispersed camping areas near Telluride are at 9,000 feet or higher. Bring warm gear and a sturdy tent to prepare for the extreme weather conditions that are common in these areas.
  • Cell Phone Service: Reception is spotty at best in most of the dispersed camping areas near Telluride. Assume you won’t have service and plan accordingly (download maps ahead of time, let other know where you’re going and when you’ll be back, etc).
  • 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. Not all are accessible by 2WD vehicles, and conditions can quickly change due to weather and usage. Use your best judgement when navigating mountain roads, as no campsite is worth jeopardizing your safety for!
  • 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: Store all food, trash, and other scented items in your car to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife.
  • Leave No Trace so that others can enjoy these beautiful places, too.

 

Yellow aspen trees in front of snowy mountains near Telluride

Fall comes early in the high mountains near Telluride!

 

 

The Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Telluride, CO

 

Alta Lakes

Distance to Telluride: 14 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water: 
No, but can be filtered from the lake. 
Crowds: 
Busy
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

Alta Lakes lives up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful places in Colorado, and a night under the stars here is an unforgettable experience. There are about 20 dispersed campsites in the area surrounding the lakes. Most sites are pretty well spaced out, allowing for privacy and spectacular alpine views. There are some additional sites located along the road up to the lakes. Although it’s just over a dozen miles from Telluride, it takes close to an hour to reach the camping area on the narrow, rugged road. Keep an eye out for historic buildings at the Alta Townsite on the way up. Due to the conditions of the road, it’s best only attempted by 4WD vehicles and not recommended for RVs and trailers.

 

Priest Lake

Distance to Telluride: 14 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water: 
No, but can be filtered from the lake. 
Crowds: 
Busy
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

This small and pretty dispersed camping area is located just half an hour from Telluride. Among the 9 total dispersed sites, a few are walk-in sites. These sites require a bit more effort, but also provide more privacy. Priest Lake, a scenic alpine pond, is the focal point of the area and a popular fishing spot. Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders will enjoy exploring the nearby Galloping Goose Trail. The road to Priest Lake is accessible by most vehicles, although trailers are not permitted at the camping area due to a lack of parking spaces. The developed Matterhorn Campground, just down the road from Priest Lake, has showers and firewood available.

 

Caddis Flats

Distance to Telluride: 18 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water: 
No, but can be filtered from the river. 
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: BLM (Uncompahgre Field Office)
Map

This free BLM campground has just three “official” sites, but there is plenty of room for additional campers in the large gravel lot and tucked into the adjacent woods. It is located right along the San Miguel River, and even those camping in the parking lot can score a lovely spot along the water. There is a hand-carry boat launch on site. Caddis Flats is located just off CO 145, which makes it convenient to access but also means that there is some road noise during the daytime hours. The area can accommodate rigs and trailers of all sizes, provided its not too crowded.

 

Alta Lake at sunrise, Telluride

A chilly morning at Alta Lakes.

 

 

Fall Creek Recreation Site

Distance to Telluride: 15 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: BLM (Uncompahgre Field Office)
Map

Located less than 30 minutes from Telluride on easy paved roads, this is a nice and convenient camping area. There are a handful of sites- most are small and suited for tent campers, but there is one large area that can accommodate RVs and trailers. There are fire rings and a covered picnic area, and the lovely Fall Creek is just across the road from the campsites. Limited cell phone service may be available.

 

Lizard Head Pass

Distance to Telluride: 15 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Busy
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

Lizard Head Pass is a popular dispersed camping area just 25 minutes from Telluride. There are about a dozen sites spread out in a open meadow with incredible views of the surrounding mountains. The Lizard Head Wilderness Area is one of the most beautiful and rugged in this part of Colorado, and it has several great hiking trails and three 14’ers within its boundaries. The dirt road to the pass is a bit rough and may pose difficulties for large RVs or low-clearance vehicles. There is no cell phone service in the area.

 

Last Dollar Road

Distance to Telluride: 14 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

If you can make it up the rugged road to this gorgeous dispersed camping area, you’ll be rewarded with views of aspen forests and iconic peaks. Last Dollar Road has lots of great dispersed campsites dotted along both sides of the road. There’s also parking lot lower down on the road (closer to Telluride) that may be more suitable for RVs. The Alder Creek Trail connects to Last Dollar Road. This is a challenging hike that provides access to the pristine Mount Sneffels Wilderness Area.

Last Dollar Road, Telluride dispersed camping

Big views from Last Dollar Road.

 

 

Silver Pick Road

Distance to Telluride: 10 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No, but can filter from the river. 
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

This camping area is really just a small dirt parking area right off Highway 145. It can accommodate a few class B or C motorhomes and/or tent campers. It is located right along the San Miguel River, making for a pretty setting and easy water access. The Silver Pick Road camping area is less than half an hour’s drive from Telluride and accessible by all vehicle types. It is close to lots of great hiking opportunities, including the Rock of the Ages Trailhead.

 

Elk Creek Road (FR 645)

Distance to Telluride: 17 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Map

If you continue past the small camping area on Silver Pick Road to Forest Road 645 (Elk Creek Road), you’ll find several more dispersed campsites located on both sides of the road. These are ideal for those climbing one of the peaks accessible from the Rock of the Ages Trail- Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak, and El Diente Peak. This handy map shows all of the dispersed campsites along Elk Creek Road. Keep in mind that camping is prohibited at the trailhead.

 

Lower Beaver Recreation Site

Distance to Telluride: 27 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water:
Yes
Crowds:
Busy
Managed by: BLM (Uncompahgre Field Office)
Map

This is a free BLM-run camping area located right along the San Miguel River. Since there are just a handful of sites and room for a few RVs in the main parking lot, the campground fills up quickly during the peak season. It’s a great option for those seeking a few luxuries, like toilets, picnic tables, and drinking water, while still enjoying a free and simple camping experience. There’s a hand-carry boat launch on site.

 

Road with mountains and fall colors in the background, Telluride, CO

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Telluride, 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!

And if you’re looking to explore more of this beautiful region, be sure to check out these other dispersed camping posts:

The 10 Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Silverton

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Buena Vista, CO

The BEST Dispersed Camping Near Steamboat Springs

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Lake City, Colorado

 

 

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Wicklow Way Accommodation Guide

The Wicklow Way is Ireland’s quintessential long-distance walk. Beginning on the outskirts of Dublin and making its way through the famous Wicklow Mountains, the route is truly spectacular. You’ll pass…

The Wicklow Way is Ireland’s quintessential long-distance walk. Beginning on the outskirts of Dublin and making its way through the famous Wicklow Mountains, the route is truly spectacular. You’ll pass through beautiful villages, take in stunning vistas, and enjoy excellent food and drink. All the while staying at some fabulous accommodation.

Wicklow Way accommodation options include small B&Bs, boutique hotels, small farms, and even a great hostel or two. Best of all, there are plenty of options for every budget.

To help you sort through all of your choices we’ve created this Wicklow Way Accommodation Guide. The guide is organized to include a variety of options at each of the traditional stopping points along the Wicklow Way and will help you select the best accommodation for your specific trip.

Let’s get started.

In This Wicklow Way Accommodation Guide

 

Should I reserve my Wicklow Way accommodation in advance?

The simplest answer to this question is yes, you should reserve your Wicklow Way accommodation in advance. This is the most popular long-distance walk in Ireland, and while there is ample accommodation, it does tend to be fully booked during peak months.

Practically, this means that for a Wicklow Way walk between May – September you should book as much accommodation in advance as possible.

In terms of how far in advance to book, we generally recommend reserving your accommodation between 3 – 6 months in advance for walks during the summer season. For those walking outside of the peak time, you can get away with only 1 – 2 months in advance, and even have the possibility of finding a room without a reservation.

 

Pint of Guinness

Be sure to enjoy a pint of Guinness at your accommodation after a long day’s walk on the Wicklow Way.

 

Wicklow Way Accommodation Cost

The Wicklow Way features accommodation options to suit nearly any budget along the walk. There are hostels and bunkhouses for those pinching pennies, small B&Bs for those on a modest budget, and boutique hotels for those looking to splurge a bit. Although not every stop along the way will have an option for every budget, you’ll still be able to find something reasonable to suit your needs.

Prices can vary greatly from place to place, and expect accommodation costs to increase during summer months when the area is filled with visitors. Generally speaking, here’s what you can expect to pay for accommodation along the Wicklow Way:

  • Hotel: €75+ (per person/per night)
  • B&B/Guesthouse: €50 (per person/per night)
  • Bunkhouse/Hostel: €20 – €40 (per person/per night)

In the accommodation directory below we’ve provided our recommendations for high-end, mid-range, and budget options at all of the common stopping points along the Wicklow Way. We’ve defined those categories as follows:

  • High-End: €75+ (per person/per night)
  • Mid-Range: €50-75 (per person/per night)
  • Budget: <€50 (per person/per night)

Note that not every stop included in this guide will have an option at each budget level. You should also be prepared for the fact that many of the lodging options are not directly on the Wicklow Way. Be prepared for a short walk off the route, or inquire about a pick-up from the walk when booking.

 

Wicklow Way Accommodation Directory & Map

Use the directory below to help find your perfect accommodation on the Wicklow Way. In the guide you’ll find key details and descriptions for our top choices as well as links to book your stay.

We’ve organized our list to follow the traditional north to south direction on the Wicklow Way. You can also view all of the accommodation providers in this directory on the map below. Enjoy!

 

Dublin/Marlay Park

High-End: The Devlin Dublin

Located in the southern section of Dublin, The Devlin is a convenient option for those looking for a well appointed hotel before walking the Wicklow Way. The rooms are both functional and stylish and the on-site restaurant gets great reviews. However, it is the friendly staff that makes all the difference here.

Mid-Range: St. Aiden’s Guesthouse

Situated in the village of Rathgar, approximately halfway between Marlay Park and central Dublin, St. Aiden’s Guesthouse is a great mid-range option. This family run establishment is set in a lovely building with cozy and clean rooms. The hosts are very welcoming and always happy to assist.

Budget: Moxy Dublin City

For those looking for a budget hotel with a little bit of flair, look no further than the Moxy Dublin City. This hip hotel is centrally located and has a stylish lounge to hang out in while you plan out any last minute details. The rooms are stylish and all guest receive a welcome cocktail upon arrival.

River Liffey flows through Dublin

 

Knockree/Enniskerry

High-End: Powerscourt Hotel

Just a short ways from the Wicklow Way, the Powerscourt Hotel provides stunning accommodation adjacent to the famous Powerscourt House & Gardens. This luxury hotel features elegant rooms and stately grounds that are sure to impress. The perfect option for those looking for a bit of luxury on their walk.

Mid-Range: The Enniskerry Inn

The Enniskerry Inn is an excellent mid-range hotel that happily serves Wicklow Way walkers. Just a short distance from the trail, the rooms here are basic, comfortable, and very clean. There is also an on-site restaurant for you to enjoy after a long days walk.

Budget: Knockree Hostel

The most convenient and budget friendly option for this stage is to stay at the Knockree Hostel, located immediately adjacent to the Wicklow Way. There are both private as well as dormitory rooms available, as well as great common facilities for your use.

 

Oldbridge (including Roundwood)

Mid-Range: Wicklow Way Lodge

The Wicklow Way Lodge is likely to be your best bet for accommodation in Oldbridge. Located directly on the trail, this B&B has incredible views of the Wicklow Mountains. Guests love the beautiful breakfast, quiet atmosphere, and perfect location. Highly recommended!

Mid-Range: The Coach House (Roundwood)

The Coach House is a well-run B&B in the village of Roundwood, just a short distance off the Wicklow Way. Depending on the weather you can enjoy the cozy on-site pub or sit out at the lovely terrace. The Coach House provides a good value for the money.

Budget: Lus Mór Hostel/B&B

For those not planning on walking all the way to Oldbridge on this stage, the Lus Mor Hostel and B&B makes for a great stopping point. Just a stone’s throw from the Wicklow Way, Lus Mor features a variety of room types to suit all preferences. The great breakfast here is the perfect way to start a big day of walking.

 

Glendalough

Mid-Range: The Glendalough Hotel

The best located option for walkers in Glendalough is the Glendalough Hotel. Here you’ll find a classic hotel featuring clean rooms, very friendly staff, and an excellent pub. Although the rooms are a bit dated, this is still a great mid-range option in Glendalough.

Mid-Range: Lynhams Hotel

Located just up the road from the Wicklow Way in Laragh, Lynhams Hotel is a well-regarded option. The hospitality of the staff really shines here as does the quiet location set right on the beautiful river. Clean rooms, a good restaurant, and a great atmosphere are the icing on the cake here.

 

Glenmalure

Glenmalure features several excellent accommodation options just off the Wicklow Way. Here are your best bets:

Mid-Range: Glenmalure Lodge

The Glenmalure Lodge offers classic pub accommodation right on the Wicklow Way in Glenmalure. The warm atmosphere and lovely grounds are popular among guests, and you can’t beat the comfortable rooms. The staff are friendly and welcoming, perfect for the weary Wicklow Way walker.

Mid-Range: Coolalingo B&B

The Coolalingo B&B is a cozy and warm bed and breakfast that will make you feel right at home. Set in a perfect location for Wicklow Way walkers, the friendly owner goes above and beyond to ensure your comfort. The Irish breakfast gets rave reviews as well.

 

Moyne

Moyne has only a handful of accommodation options for Wicklow Way walkers, so be sure to reserve in advance!

Mid-Range: Kyle Farmhouse

The Kyle Farmhouse is the most convenient option near Moyne, with the Wicklow Way actually passing through the property’s farm. This is a great opportunity to connect with the local culture and meet some of the amazing people who live in this area. The Farmhouse is a working dairy farm and you can expect to be treated to comfortable rooms and amazing food.

Mid-Range: Rath Bán Farm Cottage (Hacketstown)

The Rath Ban Farm Cottage is a self-contained farm house that can be reserved for Wicklow Way walkers. Located a bit further from the trail, this is an excellent option for those looking for a bit more privacy. A warm fireplace, cozy rooms, and friendly hosts make this a great option.

 

Tinahely

Mid-Range: Madeline’s B&B

Tinahely has just one lodging option for Wicklow Way walkers and fortunately it is the lovely Madeline’s B&B. All the rooms here are en suite and there is a lovely breakfast available in the morning.

 

Shillelagh/Boley Bridge

Boley Bridge is a common stopping point on the Wicklow Way, and nearby Shillelagh provides several great accommodation options.

Mid-Range: The Olde Shillelagh

The Olde Shillelagh is a quintessential Wicklow Way experience. In addition to providing a bed & breakfast, the store is known for its beautiful handmade walking sticks. The rooms here are charming and located in a converted out building. They include en suite bathrooms as well as an excellent breakfast. This is a great option in Shillelagh.

Mid-Range: Central House

Central House is a family run pub in Shillelagh that has a single bedroom available for overnight accommodation. This is a cozy spot with very accommodating hosts. They have even been known to offer trailside pick-up and drop-off for Wicklow Way walkers!

Budget: Hunter’s Lodge

The Hunter’s Lodge is a private cabin located south of the main village of Shillelagh. This is a great option for those who are willing to walk a bit further and who want a quaint private home to spend the night in. You’ll enjoy access to a full kitchen as well as a lovely outdoor deck.

 

Clonegal

The end of the Wicklow Way in Clonegal is relatively sparse when it comes to places to stay. However, for those who wish to unwind a bit at the end of their walk, there are a few good options outlined below.

Mid-Range: Carraig Guesthouse

The Carraig House is a small home that can accommodate up to four Wicklow Way walkers. Located very near the finish just outside of Clonegal, this is a lovely place to spend the night after completing the walk.

Mid-Range: Meadowside B&B (Bunclody)

If you’d prefer a B&B upon finishing the Wicklow Way, you’re best bet will be the Meadowside B&B in nearby Bunclody. Set in a beautiful stone building, Meadowside has four rooms available. Breakfast and the exceptionally caring hosts are the highlights here.

 

 

What’s Next?

Check out our other great Wicklow Way Resources:

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The 10 Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Silverton, CO

The rugged San Juan Mountains are home to some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery and best outdoor recreation. Silverton, a historic mining town located between Ouray and Durango along the…

The rugged San Juan Mountains are home to some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery and best outdoor recreation. Silverton, a historic mining town located between Ouray and Durango along the famous Million Dollar Highway, is perfectly positioned for exploring all that this beautiful region has to offer. If you’re planning a visit in the warmer months, dispersed camping near Silverton is an awesome (and free) way to enjoy all of the great activities in town while also experiencing the wilderness that makes this area so special. Keep reading to see all of the best places for dispersed camping near Silverton and find your perfect campsite.

 

In This Post…

 

 

 

The Basics

 

When to Camp Near Silverton, CO

The best time for dispersed camping in the Silverton area is from May through October. The higher elevations (above 10,000 feet) can hold snow well into the summer, so it’s best to plan your trip to those areas for June-September. The fall months bring beautiful changing colors, but be prepared for chilly nights and mornings.

 

What to Bring

Preparing for your Silverton camping trip 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 near Silverton, CO:

  • 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!

 

Camp chairs around a campfire Silverton Colorado

Is there anything better than relaxing around a campfire?

 

Permits and Fees

At of the time of writing, permits were not required to camp at any of the locations included in this post. As some areas grow in popularity, permit systems could be implemented. It’s 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.

 

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are common in the wilderness areas surrounding Silverton. 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.

 

Pets

Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this post. 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 dispersed camping areas near Silverton, CO are at 9,000 feet or higher. Bring warm gear and a sturdy tent to prepare for the extreme weather conditions that are common in these areas.
  • Cell Phone Service: Reception is spotty at best in most of the dispersed camping areas near Silverton. Assume you won’t have service and plan accordingly (download maps ahead of time, let other know where you’re going and when you’ll be back, etc).
  • 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. Not all are accessible by 2WD vehicles, and conditions can quickly change due to weather and usage. Use your best judgement when navigating mountain roads, as no campsite is worth jeopardizing your safety for!
  • Water: The Animas River and surrounding creeks may contain high concentrations of mining byproducts that can’t be removed by standard water purification methods. Use caution when drinking from these sources, or bring your own water supply to be on the safe side.
  • 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: Store all food, trash, and other scented items in your car to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife.
  • Leave No Trace so that others can enjoy these beautiful places, too.

 

Moose near Silverton Colorado

Wildlife, such as moose and bears, are common in the Silverton area.

 

 

The Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Silverton, CO

 

Kendall Camping Area

Distance to Silverton: 3 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Managed by: San Juan National Forest
Map

Located close to town along the famous Million Dollar Highway, this camping area is perfectly positioned for those wanting to explore the greater Silverton area. Tucked in the trees along the banks of Mineral Creek, it is a lovely place to pitch your tent or park your RV. The area feels a bit like a campground, as the sites are pretty close together and there are vault toilets available. Be advised that this is a very popular area, meaning that sites can be hard to come by on summer and fall weekends. It’s advisable to pack in drinking water, as the creek may contain significant concentrations of lead or other byproducts from the mining operations upstream. Sites are large enough to accommodate most rigs, and the road in is bumpy but accessible for all vehicles.

 

 

Sultan & Anvil Camping Areas

Distance to Silverton: 3.5 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Managed by: San Juan National Forest
Map

This camping area is just up the road from Kendall Camping Area and it’s essentially a smaller, more basic version of Kendall.  It is nestled in the shadows of majestic peaks, right alongside Mineral Creek. You’ll pull into the Anvil Camping Area from the road, but you’ll need to cross the creek to get to the Sultan Camping Area. The areas are a bit tight for larger rigs, but smaller RVs and trailers should be fine. Just like the Kendall Camping Area, this area fills up quickly in peak season so get there early! Additionally, it’s advisable to pack in drinking water, as the creek may contain significant concentrations of lead or other byproducts from the mining operations upstream. Campers can use the toilets down the road at the Kendall Camping Area.

 

 

Golden Horn Camping Area

Distance to Silverton: 5 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Managed by: San Juan National Forest
Map

The Golden Horn Camping area is another good option for those seeking something close to town. Located just under 5 miles from Silverton, this large, open area is suitable for RVs and tents alike. There isn’t much privacy, but the views are excellent and it has a peaceful creekside setting. As of Spring 2021, the road towards the Ice Lakes Trailhead was closed just past the campground due to fire damage, so it’s a good idea to check the latest closures before setting out.

 

A small alpine lake with mountains in the background near Little Molas Lake

Views near Little Molas Lake.

 

 

Ophir Pass Dispersed Area (Forest Road 679)

Distance to Silverton: 5 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No
Crowds: 
Busy
Managed by: San Juan National Forest
Map

The Ophir Pass Camping Area is located just off Highway 550 along Mineral Creek. This small area has several flat sites that vary in both privacy and size, with just a handful that are suitable for larger RVs. Ophir Pass has all of the beauty and tranquility of the wilderness, while still being just minutes from Silverton. The road to the camping area is a bit rocky, but should be accessible for most vehicles.

 

 

Sultan Creek Dispersed Area

Distance to Silverton: 5 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: San Juan National Forest
Map

Yet another great dispersed camping option just off the Million Dollar Highway, the Sultan Creek Dispersed Camping Area consists of several nice sites located along a short dirt road pull-off near Sultan Creek. Due to its proximity to Highway 550, campers can expect to hear some road noise throughout the day and into the night. Despite this slight nuisance, this is a clean, peaceful, and scenic place to camp. Plus, it’s conveniently located near Silverton and lots of great hiking areas. The area can accommodate most RVs and trailers.

 

 

Little Molas Lake Campground

Distance to Silverton: 8 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water:
Can be filtered from the lake.
Crowds:
Busy
Managed by: San Juan National Forest
Map

Those willing to travel a bit further from town and brave the high elevation will be richly rewarded at this special place. Little Molas Lake feels more like a campground than true dispersed camping, but it’s hard to believe it’s free to spend the night in such a beautiful place. The camping area is right next to Little Molas Lake and is surrounded by pristine high alpine scenery. There are great hiking options close by, including access to the Colorado Trail. Since sites are on the smaller side, it is better suited to small and medium RVs and trailers.

 

Yellow flowers with snow in the background on Handies Peak

Handies Peak.

 

Hermosa Creek Special Management Area

Distance to Silverton: 25+ miles
Restrooms:
No
Water:
No
Crowds:
Busy
Managed by: San Juan National Forest
Map

This recently-established Special Management Area was created to protect the Hermosa Creek Watershed, and therefore has some additional restrictions and regulations. However, dispersed camping opportunities are plentiful throughout this beautiful swath of wilderness. One good option is the decommissioned Sig Creek Campground, which is no longer maintained but remains open for free camping. The road to the campground is pretty rough, but it’s one of the better options if you’re coming in 2WD vehicle. There is also dispersed camping further up the road from Sig Creek Campground (Forest Road 578), as well as along roads 577, 579, 580, 581, and 550. A high-clearance 4WD vehicle is necessary to navigate most of these roads. Be sure to visit the Hermosa Creek SMA website for more information.

 

 

County Road 26

Distance to Silverton: 12 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water:
No
Crowds:
Moderate
Managed by: BLM (Gunnison Field Office)
Map

There are a handful of campsites located along County Road 26, a short dirt spur road off of County Road 2. The area is generally quiet and peaceful, and you’ll be surrounded by some of the finest peaks in the San Juan’s. The Animas River is also close by, although you should not drink from it due to contamination from mining activities in the area. This is a great basecamp for hiking Handies Peak, one of Colorado’s gorgeous 14’ers. The road in is narrow and rugged at times, and probably not suitable for large rigs or 2WD vehicles.

 

 

Maggie Gulch

Distance to Silverton: 6.5 miles
Restrooms:
Yes
Water:
No
Crowds:
Busy
Managed by: BLM (Gunnison Field Office)
Map

Maggie Gulch is a large open area just off County Road 2, northeast of Silverton. It is accessible for all vehicles, can accommodate big rigs, and is close to lots of great hiking, biking, and OHV trails. Those looking for peace and solitude should camp elsewhere, as this area can be noisy and packed with RV campers and OHV users. However, those looking for convenience, a camp community, and a wide variety of recreational activities will appreciate Maggie Gulch. Although the camping area is adjacent to the Animas River, you should not drink from it due to contamination from mining activities in the area.

 

 

Cunningham Gulch/Highland Mary Lakes TH (County Road 4)

Distance to Silverton: 8 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water:
No
Crowds:
Busy
Managed by: San Juan National Forest
Map

With a sparkling creek running through its center and tall peaks in every direction, Cunningham Gulch is an incredibly scenic area. To reach the best campsites, follow Co Rd 4 past the Old Hundred Mine and into a lovely valley with some good, flat sites. 2WD vehicles should be able to make it this far, but should not attempt to continue any further towards the trailhead, as the road becomes quite steep and rocky. Due to the size and limited number of sites, the area cannot accommodate larger RVs and trailers. Cunningham Gulch and the surrounding area are filled with lots of interesting mining history, and the hike to Highland Mary Lakes is not to be missed!

 

Fall colors seen while dispersed camping near Silverton, CO

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Silverton, 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!

And if you’re looking to explore more of this beautiful region, be sure to check out these other dispersed camping posts:

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Telluride, CO

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Buena Vista, CO

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Lake City, Colorado

2 Comments on The 10 Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Silverton, CO

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Buena Vista, CO

Buena Vista is arguably one of Colorado’s best mountain towns. Not only does it have great beer and cool vibes, it is perfectly situated for exploring some of the region’s…

Buena Vista is arguably one of Colorado’s best mountain towns. Not only does it have great beer and cool vibes, it is perfectly situated for exploring some of the region’s most beautiful wilderness, including the spectacular Collegiate Peaks and the pristine Arkansas River. Even better, the area surrounding Buena Vista is teeming with excellent places to camp, especially for those who appreciate the freedom and solitude that comes with dispersed camping. Whether you’re looking for an easy place to pitch your tent close to town or a remote alpine lake campsite, you can find it near BV. Keep reading and check out the map below to find your perfect dispersed campsite near beautiful Buena Vista, Colorado!

In this Post…

 

The Basics

When to Camp Near Buena Vista

The best time for dispersed camping in the Buena Vista area is from June through October. Many of the roads leading to the high elevation camping areas will be impassable due to snow until at least June most years. On the other hand, it is usually possible to camp at the lower elevations throughout most of May. June, July, and August are gorgeous months to camp near Buena Vista, although afternoon thunderstorms are common and can be dangerous in the high mountains. Fall is also a wonderful time, as you’ll enjoy breathtaking foliage and fewer crowds. However, be prepared for very chilly nights and the possibility of snow, especially as you enter late September and October.

What to Bring

Preparing for your Buena Vista camping trip 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 near Buena Vista:

  • 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

At of the time of writing, permits were not required to camp at any of the locations included in this post. As some area grow in popularity, permit systems could be implemented. It’s 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.

Fires

Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are common in the wilderness areas surrounding Buena Vista. 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.

Pets

Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this post. 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 dispersed camping areas near Buena Vista are at 9,000 feet or higher. Stay hydrated and bring a sturdy tent and warm gear to be prepared for the elements.
  • Cell Phone Service: Reception is spotty at best in most of the dispersed camping areas near BV. Assume you won’t have service and plan accordingly (download maps ahead of time, let other know where you’re going and when you’ll be back, etc).
  • Access: Not all of the dispersed campsites described in this post can be accessed with a low-clearance vehicle. Use caution when navigating rugged dirt roads and don’t attempt anything that makes you uncomfortable.
  • 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: Store all food, trash, and other scented items in your car to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife.
  • Leave No Trace so that others can enjoy these beautiful places, too.
An suv drives on a dirt road near Buena Vista Colorado.

Be prepared for rugged roads if you want to reach some of the more remote campsites near Buena Vista.

 

 

The 10 Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Buena Vista, Colorado

Cottonwood Pass (Highway 306)

Distance to Buena Vista: 6-10 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water:
No, although sites on the south side of the road may have creek access. 
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Cottonwood Pass is a favorite dispersed camping destination for locals and visitors alike, due to its proximity to downtown Buena Vista as well as the Cottonwood Hot Springs. If that weren’t enough, the mountain scenery is magnificent. The camping area is close to lots of great hiking, including the Colorado Trail. While many of the sites lack total privacy, the area feels peaceful and remote. To reach Cottonwood Pass, simply follow Main Street west until it becomes State Highway 306. Continue for about 5 miles, and you’ll begin to see campsites on both sides of the road just after passing the hot springs and entering the San Isabel National Forest. There are also sites on the other side of the pass in the Gunnison National Forest. The road is paved and can accommodate most rigs.

 

Clear Creek Reservoir (County Road 390)

Distance to Buena Vista: 17 miles
Restrooms:
Vault toilet near the lake. 
Water:
No potable water, but water can be filtered from Clear Creek. 
Crowds:
Busy
Map

There are lots of great dispersed campsites near the beautiful Clear Creek Reservoir, which is located about halfway between Leadville and Buena Vista. A primitive campground near the lake offers 20 free sites with room for RVs, while those seeking more solitude can find great dispersed sites along Clear Creek. To reach the dispersed sites, continue west on County Road 390 past the reservoir for a few more miles. Pay close attention to signage, as some of the area is private property and therefore not suitable for camping. The area has tons of great hiking, fishing, and 4WD opportunities, plus there are some very cool ghost towns to explore nearby. The road to access the campsites can be a bit rugged at times, but most passenger vehicles should be able to navigate it.

If you’re looking for dispersed camping near Leadville, CO, be sure to check out our guide here.

Turtle Rock & Elephant Rock Campgrounds

Distance to Buena Vista: 3 miles
Restrooms:
Vault toilet at Turtle Rock Campground
Water:
No  
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Both of these primitive campgrounds are located on BLM land just north of Buena Vista. While they offer more of a typical campground experience than true dispersed camping, they are simple, free, and have beautiful views. Elephant Rock Campground is the smaller of the two options, with just 10 campsites. It is situated right next to the Arkansas River, making it a great place for rafters. Turtle Rock Campground is just down the road from Elephant, and it has over two dozen sites to choose from, as well as vault toilets (bring your own TP). Campers may stay up to 14 days at either campground. To reach the Elephant Rock Campground from Buena Vista, simply head north on Colorado Ave (which becomes Co Rd 371) for about three miles past town until you see the camping area on your left. To reach Turtle Rock Campground, take Co Rd 371 north out of town the same way, but then turn right on Co Rd 375 and continue for about a mile. You’ll need to contend with some pretty rugged dirt roads to reach either campsite so it is not recommended for low-clearance vehicles.

Sunset views from Cottonwood Pass

Sunset views from Cottonwood Pass.

 

Baldwin Lake

Distance to Buena Vista: 23 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water:
No potable water, but water can be filtered from the lakes.   
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Baldwin Lake is actually comprised of two alpine lakes that are situated at the base of one of Colorado’s great 14er’s, Mt. Antero.  This is an absolutely beautiful place to camp, but getting there is a serious challenge. The road to the lakes holds snow until at least June most years, and it is extremely rugged. Only ATV’s and well-equipped 4WD vehicles should attempt it! To reach Baldwin Lake, head west on County Road 162 from the town of Nathrop and continue for about 12 miles until you reach Forest Road 277. Take a left and follow the road uphill for a few more miles. Before reaching the lakes, you’ll pass a meadow with a few nice campsites. If you choose to camp at the lakes, make sure to set up at least 100 feet from the shoreline.

 

Brown’s Creek Trail (Forest Road 272)

Distance to Buena Vista: 18 miles
Restrooms:
Yes, at trailhead.
Water:
No  
Crowds:
Busy
Map

The Brown’s Creek Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in the area, featuring pine forests, waterfalls, and wide open views. Camping nearby  gives you easy access to this great trail and also allows you to fully immerse yourself in the incredible landscape. To reach this dispersed camping area from Buena Vista, take Highway 285 south past Nathrop until you see Co Rd 270. Head west on Co Rd 270, which will turn into Forest Road 272. Continue for about 6 miles on a well-maintained dirt road, keeping left when the road forks. You’ll see a few dispersed sites before reaching the trailhead. These are a bit less scenic, but they can be good options for larger rigs, as the road gets a bit narrower and more rugged past the trailhead. To reach the remaining sites, keep heading south past the trailhead. To minimize environmental degradation in this high use area, it’s important to camp only on established sites and park only on bare, compacted areas. Keep in mind that camping is not permitted at the actual trailhead.

 

North Cottonwood Road (County Road 365)

Distance to Buena Vista: 7-10 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water:
No  
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

This dispersed camping area checks nearly all of the “perfect campsite” boxes. It is close to town and trailheads, it’s accessible for most vehicles, and it’s quiet and beautiful. Co Rd 365 makes a great basecamp for hikers. They can hop on the Colorado Trail or enter the stunning Collegiate Peaks Wilderness via the North Cottonwood Trail. To get there from Buena Vista, take Co Rd 306 west for 2.5 miles, then turn right on Co Rd 361. Head north on Co Rd 361 for another 2.5 miles until you see Co Rd 365 on your left. This road extends west for a little under 4 miles until it ends at the North Cottonwood Trailhead. There are several dispersed campsites located along the road leading to the trailhead.

 

Fourmile Travel Management Area

Distance to Buena Vista:  Varies
Restrooms:
No
Water:
No  
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

The Fourmile Travel Management Area is made up of 100,000 acres of Forest Service and BLM lands surrounding Buena Vista. There are many places to camp within the Fourmile area, including developed campgrounds and the Turtle and Elephant Rock camping areas. Additionally, there are plenty of dispersed campsites located throughout the Fourmile Travel Management Area. County Road 376 has good sites, as does 376A (Dorman’s Delight), and 305/305A (Shield’s Gulch). Make sure to look closely at the map ahead of time, as some roads are accessible by 4×4 vehicles only. Most of the dirt roads in the Fourmile TMA are fairly rough, but passable for a majority of vehicles. It can get packed and rowdy at times in this area, but it’s large enough that those seeking peace and quiet can find it if they search a bit. Keep in mind that camping is not permitted at trailheads.

 

Hancock Lakes/Alpine Tunnel

Distance to Buena Vista:  27 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water:
No potable water, but possible to filter from the lake or nearby stream. 
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Both history buffs and nature lovers will find tons to love at these dispersed camping sites. On the way up to Hancock Lakes, you’ll first pass through St. Elmo, one of Colorado’s most storied ghost towns, and then to the site of the since-gone mining town of Hancock. The nearby Alpine Tunnel is a historic vestige of the Denver, South Park, and Pacific railroad. To get there from Buena Vista, head south on Highway 285 for 7 miles. Near Nathrop, look for Co Rd 162 and follow that west for about 15 miles until it intersects with Forest Road 295. Follow FR 295 south for 5 miles to reach the townsite of Hancock. There are some dispersed campsites here, or you can continue up the road towards the Alpine Tunnel trailhead, keeping an eye out for additional campsites along the way. If you want to camp at the lakes, continue for another mile past the trailhead. To camp at the lakes, you’ll need to park in the parking area and carry your gear to a campsite. Additionally, you cannot camp within 100 feet of the shoreline. Be advised that the road gets increasingly rugged as you make your way up to Hancock Lakes, and only 4×4 vehicles should attempt the final stretch. Also keep in mind that this area is at a very high elevation, and campers should be prepared for extreme weather.

 

St. Elmo ghost town in Colorado

Campers headed to Hancock or Pomeroy Lakes will enjoy passing through the historic ghost town of St. Elmo on the way up.

 

Mount Shavano and Tabequache Peak/Blanks Gulch Trailhead (Forest Road 252)

Distance to Buena Vista:  32 miles
Restrooms:
Yes, at trailhead. 
Water:
No potable water, but possible to filter from the nearby stream. 
Crowds:
Busy
Map

Hikers will love this dispersed camping area, as it provides quick access to the Colorado Trail as well two of Colorado’s most beautiful 14er’s. There are numerous camping opportunities along Forest Road 252 ranging from streamside sites to campsites tucked into a cow pasture. To get there, head south from Buena Vista along 285 towards Poncha Springs. Take Co Rd 240 west to reach Co Rd 250. Follow Co Rd 250 until it forks. Take the left fork, which will become Forest Road 252. Once you’re on FR 252, keep an eye out for campsites. If you can’t find an open site before the trailhead, continue past it and look for some additional sites on the left hand side of the road. This area can get quite busy on weekends and the streamside sites fill up very quickly.

 

Pomeroy Lakes (County Road 297)

Distance to Buena Vista:  25 miles
Restrooms:
No
Water:
No potable water, but possible to filter from the lakes. 
Crowds:
Moderate
Map

Those willing to put in a little effort will be richly rewarded at Pomeroy Lakes. This dispersed camping area is not easy to get to- Co Rd 297 is very rugged and only suited for OHV’s and high clearance 4WD vehicles. Additionally, those wanting to camp near the lake will need to walk the final quarter mile from the parking area. However, if you’re looking for the kind of pristine beauty and tranquility that only a high alpine lake can deliver, you’ll find it at Pomeroy Lakes. Anglers will also appreciate the excellent fishing opportunities at this uncrowded and well-stocked lake. To get there from Buena Vista, head south on Highway 285 for 7 miles. Near Nathrop, look for Co Rd 162 (Chalk Creek Dr) and follow that west for about 15 miles until it intersects with Forest Road 295. Turn left/south on FR 295 and continue for a little over 3 miles until it intersects with FR 297. Take another left and follow FR 297 to the Pomeroy Lakes Parking area (you’ll see a few dispersed campsites on the way up). Remember that camping is not permitted within 100 feet of the shoreline and be sure to come prepared for high-elevation weather conditions.

Buena Vista Colorado dispersed camping

 

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Buena Vista 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:

 

2 Comments on The Best Dispersed Camping Near Buena Vista, CO

Lake Havasu Camping Guide

With 400 miles of shoreline and an average of 300 sunny days each year, Lake Havasu is a perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Technically a reservoir on the Colorado River,…

With 400 miles of shoreline and an average of 300 sunny days each year, Lake Havasu is a perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Technically a reservoir on the Colorado River, this desert oasis straddles the border between California and Arizona and is easily accessed from Phoenix or Las Vegas. There are endless ways to enjoy Lake Havasu, including boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and golf. No matter how you choose to spend your days, camping at Lake Havasu is certainly the best way to spend your nights.

There are tons of great camping options on and near Lake Havasu, including developed campgrounds, boat camping, dispersed camping, and RV parks. Read more to find your perfect Lake Havasu campsite!

In This Post…

Kayak on the water with mountains in the background Lake Havasu

There are tons of great ways to enjoy the water on Lake Havasu.

 

Lake Havasu Camping Basics

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping on Lake Havasu. Before we dive in, there are a few important regulations to note:

  • From April-September, there is a two-night minimum for weekend reservations and a three-night minimum for holiday weekend reservations at any of the Arizona State Park campgrounds near Lake Havasu.
  • Only camp in designated campgrounds or backcountry areas.
  • Always store your food so that it cannot be accessed by wildlife.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

Detailed information on fires, pets, and more can be found in the sections below.

When to Camp at Lake Havasu

Spring: This can be a great time to camp at Lake Havasu. The weather in March is typically lovely, although there is definitely a party scene in late March and early April around spring break. By May, daytime temperatures average in the mid-90’s. The springtime wildflowers are spectacular.

Summer: It is extremely hot at Lake Havasu in the summer months. Expect daytime temperatures to soar above 100 degrees on most days between June-September, with nighttime lows in the 80’s. Camping can be difficult in this kind of heat, but it can be possible with proper cooling strategies and hydration. It’s also monsoon season, which brings with it afternoon clouds and occasional thunderstorms.

Fall: It remains quite hot at Lake Havasu until about mid-October, when daytime temperatures finally drop into the low 80’s. October and November are great times to enjoy all of the many activities that Lake Havasu has to offer.

Winter: Daytime highs in the winter tend to stay in the 60’s and 70’s, making this a wonderful time for hiking, biking, and birdwatching. Campers will need to be prepared for chilly nights in the low 40’s. Expect a bit more precipitation from January-March, although the desert climate still keeps most days dry and sunny.

What to Bring

Preparing for your Lake Havasu camping trip involves more than deciding which campground 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 camping at Lake Havasu:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners. Propane stoves are permitted at all camping areas, even the boat-in sites.
  • 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 temps that are common at Lake Havasu. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Shade Structure – The sun can be intense in Lake Havasu’s desert environment, and not all of the campsites have reliable shade. A pop-up canopy like this one is easy to pack and can be moved around to maximize shade at any time of day.
  • Lake Havasu Fish-N-Map: This waterproof map shows detailed underwater contours and habitats. It’s a perfect companion for fisherman and other water enthusiasts.
  • Waterproof phone case: Easily access your device for photos and texts while keeping it protected on the water!
Camp chair on the beach at Lake Havasu

Camp chairs are also great for relaxing on the beach!

 

Reservations and Permits

Permits are not required to camp along Lake Havasu, although you’ll need to purchase a pass to camp at the BLM and State Park shoreline boat camping sites. The one exception is dispersed camping on Arizona State Trust Lands; campers must purchase a permit to overnight in these areas. See the Dispersed Camping section for details.

It is possible to reserve your campsite in advance at all of the state park and private campgrounds near Lake Havasu. The shoreline boat camping sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay an entrance fee in addition to your camping fee to camp in any of the state parks.

In the busy seasons (spring, summer and holiday weekends), it is essential to reserve your campsite as far in advance as possible, as these sites fill up quickly.

Fires

Generally speaking, campfires are permitted at developed campgrounds and in designated fire pits or grills only. However, both Arizona and California are frequently under fire restrictions and may not allow campfires (only gas camping stoves). This website has updates and helpful tools for checking current fire restrictions. Alternatively, check with the ranger or campground host upon arrival.

Fires are never permitted at the Arizona State Park boat-in sites.

Pets

Pets are welcome at Lake Havasu, but keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Be mindful of the heat’s effects on animals and prepare accordingly.
  • Pets are not allowed on most developed beaches, including those at Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove, and River Island State Parks.

Where to Get Supplies

The most convenient place to stock up on camping supplies is the centrally-located Lake Havasu City, AZ. Here you’ll find grocery stores, restaurants, outdoor retailers, gas stations, a medical center, and more.

If camping on the southern end of Lake Havasu, the town of Parker, AZ is a nearby option where you’ll find grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.

Alternatively, Needles, CA is close to the northern edge of Lake Havasu, and it has restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores.

Many of the campgrounds along the shores of Lake Havasu have small shops that provide snacks, souvenirs, and basic goods. There are shops at Buckskin Mountain State Park and Lake Havasu State Park.

Palm trees on the beach at Lake Havasu

You might feel like you’re on a tropical island, but it’s easy to get supplies while you’re camping at Lake Havasu!

 

Developed Campgrounds on Lake Havasu

There are several developed campgrounds along the shoreline of Lake Havasu, nearly all of which are located on the Arizona side of the reservoir. Campers can choose from privately-run campgrounds and RV parks, as well as two Arizona State Parks. Keep reading to see all of the developed camping options and find your perfect site.

State Park Campgrounds

Keep in mind that at all of the state park campgrounds, there’s a two-night minimum stay on weekends from April-September, and a three-night minimum for holiday weekends during this period.

Cattail Cove State Park

Number of sites: 61
Fee: $30-35/night
Capacity: 6 adults, 10 individuals max per site. $15 fee for second vehicle.
Type: Tent and RV (30 and 50 amp hookups available)
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

Located about 15 miles south of Lake Havasu City, Cattail Cove State Park is an excellent place to enjoy the best of what Lake Havasu has to offer. The park boasts a lovely white sand beach, boat ramp, kayak and paddleboard rentals, hiking trails, and shaded picnic areas. The campground is well-equipped for tents or RVs, as some sites can accommodate rigs up to 60 feet long.

Each site includes a picnic table and BBQ/fire pit, and the campground has a bathroom with flush toilets, showers, a dump station, and a fish cleaning station.

In addition to the 61 sites available within the developed campground, there are also several first-come, first-served primitive boat-in sites located along the park’s shoreline. Each site has a picnic table, BBQ, and access to pit toilets. There is a camping fee of $20/night for primitive boat-in sites which can be paid at the ranger station or self-service pay kiosk (known as the “iron ranger”).

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Lake Havasu State Park

Number of sites: 47
Fee: $35/night, $40/night for beachfront sites
Capacity: 6 adults, 12 individuals max per site. $15 fee for second vehicle.
Type: Tent and RV (50 amp hookups available)
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

This popular campground is located in the heart of Lake Havasu City, providing easy access to nearby services as well as great outdoor recreation. Lake Havasu State Park is a great place for fishing, swimming, and boating. The Mohave Sunset Trail and the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden both offer great opportunities for scenic strolls.

The Windsor Beach Campground has 47 sites arranged in a loop, with many sites located along the beach. Each site has a picnic table, BBQ/firepit, potable water access, and 50 amp electrical hookups. Most sites also have a shade structure. Showers and flush toilets are available at the campground, and there’s a dump station nearby.

Click here to view a map of the campground.

Sunset Paddle boarding Lake Havasu State Park

Sunset paddle boarding at Lake Havasu State Park.

 

Private Campgrounds

In addition to the two state park campgrounds described above, there are several more privately-run campgrounds that enjoy a waterfront location on Lake Havasu. This section covers all of the campgrounds that are directly on the lake. For more great options in the surrounding area, check out the Developed Campgrounds Near Lake Havasu section.

Campbell Cove RV Resort

Number of sites: 108
Fee: $43-52/night
Capacity: Fee for extra people
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed (max 2)

One of the best parts about this RV park is its central location. Campbell Cove is located just steps from the beach and boat ramp at Lake Havasu State Park, and also near restaurants, shops, and other services. In addition to its convenient placement, it also offers great amenities at a good value. The deluxe sites have full water views, while the standard sites are a bit tight and have less of a view.

Amenities at the Campbell Cove RV Resort include a clubhouse, restrooms with hot showers, laundry facilities, cable, WIFI, and a convenience store.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Crazy Horse Campgrounds

Number of sites: 812
Fee: $55-100/night
Capacity: Additional fee for more than two people
Type: Tent, RV, Cabins
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

This classic Lake Havasu campground has something for everyone. From deluxe waterfront sites with their own docks, to simple tent camping on grassy pitches, Crazy Horse Campgrounds can accommodate every style of camper. The campground’s location on the island near the London Bridge makes it easy to enjoy all of nearby activities in Lake Havasu City. The onsite beach, pool, and boat launch provide quick access to all sorts of water activities.

Amenities at the Crazy Horse Campgrounds include a pool, hot tub, recreation room, boat launch, bathrooms, showers, and convenience store. All sites have water and electric hookups, and all except for the waterfront sites have sewer hookups (a dump station is provided for waterfront sites).

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Sam’s Beachcomber RV Resort

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $100/night
Capacity: None stated
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Call 928-453-1550 to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

This is a great RV-only option, especially for those seeking plenty of amenities and comfort. The campground is located on the island, giving it easy proximity to Lake Havasu City and the London Bridge. The large waterfront property offers private beaches, boat launches, and docks.

Amenities include a pool, hot tub, billiards room, recreation room, restroom, showers, and laundry facilities.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Islander Resort Lake Havasu

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $52-95/night
Capacity: 6 people per site.
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed (2 max)

The Islander RV Resort boasts over 1.5 miles of spectacular shoreline on Lake Havasu’s island. It is a great place to unwind and enjoy the plentiful beautiful views and well-maintained amenities throughout the park. Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the adjacent course next door.  There are a variety of site types to choose from, including several with lake views, and all sites have 30/50 amp electrical, water, and sewer hookups.

Amenities at the Islander Resort Campground include a pool, marina, boat launch, swim beach, outdoor games, bathhouses, and laundry facilities. Free WIFI is available near the reception.

Click here to view a map of the campground.

Havasu Springs Resort

Number of sites: 136
Fee: $60/night (plus additional resort fee)
Capacity: None stated.
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

This attractive resort is located at the southern edge of Lake Havasu, just a couple miles from the Parker Dam. From the resort, you can drive to the town of Parker, AZ in less than twenty minutes or to Lake Havasu City in about thirty minutes. The location is perfect for boating, swimming, and fishing, as guests can utilize the numerous boat docks and beaches on the property. Each RV site features lake views, full hookups, and close proximity to all of the resort’s great activities.

Amenities at the RV resort include bathrooms, showers, beaches, laundry facilities, a pool, a restaurant/bar, outdoor games, and WIFI.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Black Meadow Landing

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $35/night (tents), $35-70/night (RVs)
Capacity: Extra fee for more than two people
Type: Tent, RV
Reservations: Recommended. Call (800) 742-8278 to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

Black Meadow Landing is located on the southern end of Lake Havasu, near the Parker Dam. This location gives the campground a quieter, more remote feel, although it’s still only a short drive from towns and services. Plus, the onsite water and land gas station, shop, diner, and propane sales make it even more convenient to set up camp on this end of the lake. The campground offers boat slips and a boat launch, making it easy to maximize your time on the water. There are a variety of full hookup RV sites, as well as several grassy tent sites to choose from. All sites have picnic tables. Keep in mind that the road to the campground is a bit rugged and could pose difficulties for certain vehicles.

Amenities at the Black Meadow Landing Campground include bathhouses, laundry facilities, a diner, gas station, marina, shop, boat storage, 5-hole golf course, fish cleaning station, and WIFI (extra charge).

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Havasu Landing Resort and Casino

Number of sites: 180
Fee: $20/night (tents), $45-65/night (RVs)
Capacity: None stated.
Type: Tent, RV
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve. 
Pets: Allowed

The only camping option on the California side of Lake Havasu, Havasu Landing offers tons of activities and campsites to suit every style. The adjacent casino and restaurant are a popular draw for campers here, as are the pool, beach, marina, and arcade. A ferry runs frequently between the campground and London Bridge, making it easy to explore other parts of Lake Havasu from your campsite. A variety of full hookup sites can accommodate RVs of all sizes, and there’s also dry RV and tent camping available on the waterfront.

Amenities include restrooms, showers, a pool, beach, casino, restaurant, grocery store, fuel station, ferry service, laundry facility, marina, and free WIFI.

Click here to view a map of the campground.

Jet ski on Lake Havasu

Camping on the waterfront provides easy access to all of the great activities Lake Havasu has to offer.

 

Boat Camping on Lake Havasu

Boat-in camping is a fantastic way to fully appreciate all of the beauty and recreation opportunities that Lake Havasu has to offer. Simply pack up your camping gear and explore the shoreline by boat until you find an open beach site. Park your vessel, set up your tent, and get ready to enjoy a perfect evening under the stars!

There are nearly 100 primitive beach campsites located along the Arizona shoreline of Lake Havasu. Most of these sites are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), but there are also a couple dozen shoreline sites managed by Arizona State Parks.  It’s important to pay attention to which type of campsite you’ve selected (BLM or state park) so that you can purchase the appropriate pass, as the two are not interchangeable. All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and all include access to pit toilets, picnic tables, and BBQs.

Click here to view a map of all boat-in sites on Lake Havasu

 

BLM Boat-In Sites on Lake Havasu

Number of sites: 73
Fee: $10 for day use + additional $10 for overnight use
Capacity: 6 people ($2 for each additional person after that)
Type: Tent
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Pets: Allowed

Dotted along nearly twenty miles of shoreline on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu, there are plenty of great BLM sites for boat campers to choose from. If you’re visiting on a weekend or holiday, be sure to arrive early to ensure you can find an open site. You can pay for your campsite ahead of time online, or you can deposit cash into the iron ranger self-pay kiosk located near your campsite or at the Lake Havasu BLM field office. Campers can stay at their boat-in site for up to 14 days.

Each site has a picnic table, BBQ grill (check current fire restrictions before using), and trash can. Most sites also have a shade structure and toilet.

Click here to view a map of all BLM boat-in sites on Lake Havasu

Click here for GPS coordinates of all sites and for a .kml file of the area. 

Arizona State Park Boat-In Sites on Lake Havasu

Number of sites: 32
Fee: $20/night
Capacity: None stated
Type: Tent
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Pets: Allowed

In addition to the BLM sites described above, there are 32 shoreline sites located in Cattail Cove State Park. Just like the BLM sites, the state park boat-in sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Upon arriving at an unoccupied site, you can pay the fee by depositing cash or check into the “iron ranger” kiosk located at the campsite. All sites have picnic tables, BBQ grills, and access to pit toilets. Fires are not permitted at any time of year, but propane stoves are allowed. Plan to pack out all of your trash so that you can do your part in leaving no trace.

Click here for GPS coordinates of all sites and for a .kml file of the area. 

Boat camping on Lake Havasu

Boat-in camping is a fantastic way to experience Lake Havasu.

 

Developed Campgrounds Near Lake Havasu

If you’re willing to venture a bit further from the shores of Lake Havasu, there are tons of great camping opportunities in the surrounding area. Below are some of our favorites:

RV Parks Near Lake Havasu

Prospectors RV Resort

Number of sites: 87
Fee: $50/night
Capacity: 2 people (additional fee for extra people)
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Call 928-764-2000 to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

This RV park gets good reviews for being clean, quiet, and well-kept, with nice facilities. It’s located about 15 minutes north of Lake Havasu City, making it easy to get to shops, services, and recreation. Prospectors is especially popular with off-roading enthusiasts, and guests can access miles of trails directly from the campground.

Amenities include a pool, spa, laundry facility, game room, clubhouse, fitness room,  and WIFI. All sites have full hookups.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Havasu Falls RV Resort

Number of sites: 93
Fee: $55/night (winter), $45/night (summer)
Capacity: 2 people (additional fee for extra people)
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Call (928) 764-0050 to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

With beautiful mountain views, excellent facilities, and close proximity to Lake Havasu City and the waterfront, this is a great option for your RV vacation to Lake Havasu. There are lots of fun activities and events for guests, as well as plenty of nice places to unwind and relax throughout the campground.

Amenities include a pool, recreation hall, laundry facility, WIFI, and cable TV. All sites offer full hookups.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

River Lodge Resort

Number of sites: 400+
Fee: $65/night (riverfront), $45/night (all other sites)
Capacity: 4 people
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed with $25 refundable deposit

Those traveling to the southern end of Lake Havasu might consider heading a bit further down the Colorado River to stay at the lovely River Lodge Resort. The campground’s location provides easy access to the Parker Dam, as well as River Island and Buckskin Mountain State Parks. The resort prides itself on maintaining an old-school low key atmosphere, while still providing modern amenities. All of the RV sites offer full hookups, and many are right on the river.

Amenities include a general store, yoga studio, fitness center, clubhouse, 9-hole golf course, boat launches, storage, and WIFI.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

RV Campgrounds near Lake Havasu

There’s no shortage of awesome RV campgrounds near Lake Havasu!

 

State Park Camping Near Lake Havasu

River Island State Park

Number of sites: 37
Fee: $30/night + park entrance fee
Capacity: 6 adults, 10 individuals max per site. $15 fee for second vehicle.
Type: Tent, RV
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

Located on the banks of the Colorado River just south of Lake Havasu, this is an excellent option for campers seeking a peaceful waterfront setting. It’s especially great for tent campers and small trailers, as the eight grassy waterfront sites are not suited for larger RVs. While the remaining sites do not offer as good of views, they do provide water and 20, 30, and 50-amp electrical hookups. The park has a nice beach and connects to the large trail network in Buckskin Mountain State Park.

Amenities at the River Island State Park campground include restrooms, showers, water and electrical hookups, picnic tables, and BBQs.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Buckskin Mountain State Park

Number of sites: 80
Fee: $35-40/night + park entrance fee
Capacity:6 adults, 10 individuals max per site. $15 fee for second vehicle.
Type: Tent, RV
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

Buckskin Mountain State Park is located just down the Colorado River from River Island State Park, and about half an hour’s drive from Lake Havasu City. It offers tons of great campsites to accommodate tents, big rigs, and everyone in between. The are twenty riverfront sites that can accommodate tents or small RVs, while the remainder of the sites can accommodate larger RVs. All sites have water and 30 amp electrical hookups, and 15 sites also have sewer hookups. When choosing a site, keep in mind that a few sites are close to a wastewater treatment plant and may have a strong smell. This is noted in the site information on the online reservation system.

Amenities at Buckskin Mountain State Park Campground include a park store, dump station, restrooms, showers, water and electrical hookups, picnic tables, and BBQs. The park has great hiking, swimming, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Click here to view a map of the campground.

Dispersed Camping near Lake Havasu

Those seeking flexibility and solitude will enjoy dispersed camping near Lake Havasu.

 

Free Dispersed Camping Near Lake Havasu

Lone Tree BLM Campground

This a convenient and scenic dispersed camping area is located about twelve miles north of Lake Havasu City, just off Highway 95. The paved access road means that it can accommodate a variety of vehicle types. While it can get a bit busy in peak season, the area is quite scaious with plenty of flat sites, so it never feels too crowded. Shade is virtually nonexistent in the area, so bring your own shade structure. Water refills are available at the nearby Walmart.

Havasu Heights BLM 

Havasu Heights is a quiet BLM camping area located north of Lake Havasu City, off Highway 95. The road can be a bit rugged at points, although most rigs should be able to access the area if they use caution. The area is known for its flat pitches, great mountain views, and spectacular sunsets.

Craggy Wash BLM

This is one of the closest and most popular dispersed camping areas near Lake Havasu. To reach it, continue north on Highway 95 just past the airport. Turn off the highway onto a dirt road and continue for a few miles. There are tons of spots to choose from, some closer to the highway and busier, while private spots can be found further up the road. Many campers have reported that the area has quite a bit of trash around, but the canyon, desert, and mountain views are still beautiful. Cell service can be spotty.

Havasu Road BLM

Located about 10 miles south of Lake Havasu State Park, this is another good BLM option that provides easy access from Highway 95. Pull off the highway onto Havasu Road (dirt, but not too rugged) and you’ll soon see several good campsites, many with fire rings. The area is very flat and can accommodate rigs of all sizes.

Standard Wash BLM

This large dispersed camping area is located about 12 miles south of Lake Havasu State Park, just off Highway 95. It is popular with ATV’s and can get crowded and noisy during peak times. That being said, the area is quite scenic and there are plenty of private, peaceful sites to choose from. The road to access the camping area is pretty rugged, and therefore not suitable for all vehicles.

“The Steps” Camping Area, Arizona State Trust Land

This camping area near the southern end of Lake Havasu gets its name from the way the landscape is carved into steps or terraces, allowing for privacy and great views at nearly every campsite. It’s important to note that a permit is required to camp on State Trust Lands. Permits are $15 per individual or $20 per family and allow users to camp up to 14 days total in the permit year. You can purchase your permit here. Additionally, those looking for other dispersed camping opportunities near Lake Havasu can refer to this State Trust Lands Map. Due to its proximity to Highway 95, traffic noise can be a bit of an issue.

Hot air balloons over the desert near Lake Havasu

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Lake Havasu 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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