Located about an hour northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado, the Red Feather Lakes area is a perfect place to easily escape the daily grind and relax in some of the Centennial’s State’s best scenery. Surrounded by the 600,000+ acre Roosevelt National Forest and hemmed in on its southern edge by the spectacular Cache la Poudre River, this wilderness area has no shortage of unique and memorable dispersed campsites.
Keep reading to learn more about dispersed camping near Red Feather Lakes and find your next favorite campsite.
- The Basics
- The Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Red Feather Lakes
Find Your Next Dispersed Campsite
Learn how to find the best campsite locations BEFORE you head out. No more showing up to crowded sites with all the good spots taken!
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The following sections contain all the key information you need to plan a camping trip near the charming mountain hamlet of Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. We’ll cover everything from when to camp, what to bring, reservations, and other important considerations.
This map provides a handy overview of all of the dispersed camping areas described in this guide:
When to Camp Near Red Feather Lakes
The town of Red Feather Lakes is at an elevation of over 8,000 feet and many of the nearby dispersed camping areas even higher. The summer season is relatively short at these kinds of elevations, and the best months for camping near Red Feather Lakes are June, July, and August. That being said, both May and September can be lovely times to camp, given you’re prepared for chilly nights and the potential for snow.
It’s possible to camp year round near Red Feather Lakes, but we only recommend winter camping for folks who are hearty, experienced, and well-prepared.
Download Our FREE Dispersed Camping Cheat Sheet
Our free printable cheat sheet outlines how to find the perfect dispersed campsite for your next trip.
What to Bring
- 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 detailed National Geographic version for a good overview of all of the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, and other wilderness areas near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado.
- 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 – We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
- Portable Camping Toilet– A portable toilet is a total game-changer for dispersed camping. This affordable item makes it so much easier and more comfortable to Leave No Trace.
Our dispersed camping checklist has everything you need.
Want to know the essentials for your next camping trip?
Our dispersed camping checklist has all the camping essentials plus specific items for dispersed camping.
Permits, Fees, and Reservations
All of the dispersed camping areas in this guide are located within Roosevelt National Forest’s Canyon Lakes Ranger District. Campers will be delighted to learn that no permits, fees, or reservations are required to camp on these lands.
However, it is important to check local regulations on dispersed camping before setting out. This ensures you are camping in an area that permits dispersed camping. There are almost always restrictions regarding proximity to water and roads, so pay attention to the details in your area.
These resources, provided by the Canyon Lakes Ranger District, are especially helpful for planning your dispersed camping trip:
- Dispersed Camping Overview: This helpful page contains resources on where camping is allowed.
- Motor Vehicle Use Maps: These maps show where dispersed camping is allowed. It is typically designated by dots on either side of a specific road.
- Alerts & Notices: Check here for up to date information on fire restrictions, area closures, and other information that may impact camping availability.
Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in this part of Colorado. 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.
If you are able to have a campfire, be sure to completely put it out prior to going to sleep or leaving your campground for any amount of time!
- Environmental Impact: The Red Feather Lakes 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.
- Wildfire Impacts: The 2020 Cameron Peak fire devastated many of the areas near Red Feather Lakes. Recovery and revegetation is still underway, so be sure to check current regulations before setting out.
- Water: Although many campsites are near the area’s bountiful lakes, 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. If camping near a lake or stream, it is necessary to properly filter your water before consumption.
Find Your Next Dispersed Campsite
Our online video course will teach you everything you need to know to find your next free, dispersed campsite.
Learn how to find the best campsite locations BEFORE you head out. No more showing up to crowded sites with all the spots taken!
In this course, we’ll show you how to research free, public campsites, read USFS maps, locate public land, and plan your next dispersed camping trip.
- How to find areas that allow free, dispersed camping
- How to use public maps to narrow down your search
- How to use online apps to identify where camping is permitted and view the surrounding terrain
- How to view your exact location in relation to camping opportunities when you’re out looking for a site – even without cell phone service!
- Confidently plan your next camping trip
The Best Dispersed Camping Near Red Feather Lakes
Water: No, although you may be able to filter water from Lost Lake.
You’ll need a capable high-clearance vehicle and a hearty sense of adventure to reach these dispersed campsites! Lost Lake is located northeast of Red Feather Lakes and is really more of a pretty pond than a true lake. The rugged access road and distance from town make it a less crowded option than some of the others in the area. In addition to the splendid scenery, campers can enjoy a mellow hike around the lake.
To reach Lost Lake from Red Feather Lakes, head west out of town on CR 74e/Red Feather Lakes Road and then turn right on County Road 67J. Continue onto Prairie Divide Road for about 8 miles until you reach Creedmore Lakes Road. Turn left and then a mile later take another left onto Lost Lake Road. You’ll see dispersed campsites all along this road as well as closer towards the lake on the north side. Be sure to carefully check the Forest Service map before pitching your tent, as the area is bordered by private property. Additionally, camping is not permitted within 100 feet of the lake.
This dispersed camping area requires a bit of effort to reach, but the relative solitude and beautiful scenery will make it worth your while. It is important to note that all sites in this area require a substantial walk from your car, as the access road to the lakes is on private property and typically closed to vehicle traffic.
Take Forest Road 180C to reach Creedmore Lakes. Park in the small dirt lot and proceed on foot from that point onwards. You can walk on the road past the private land to return to USFS land, and dispersed camping is available after that point. Once you reach Creedmore Lakes, there are several lovely campsites near the three small, pretty lakes. Remember that you may not camp within 100 feet of the lakes.
Bellaire Lake/FR 517
Located just southwest of Bellaire Lake is the Forest Service Road 517 dispersed camping area. You’ll be less than 50 miles from Fort Collins here and also close to Red Feather Lakes. Unfortunately, that means these sites are often crowded, although you’re still likely to find an open site most weekends.
The sites closer to the junction with Manhattan Road will be best suited to larger rigs or those in passenger vehicles. If you have 4WD and higher clearance, we recommend heading a bit further back along the road to get more privacy.
Keep in mind that there is no water available in this area. Come prepared and leave no trace!
Restrooms: No, vault toilets available at nearby trailheads
This is a favorite area for dispersed camping near Red Feather Lakes, due to its easy proximity to town (less than 5 miles) and large, flat campsites. It is required that you camp in one of the numbered sites located along Manhattan Road, just north of the turnoff for Bellaire Lake.
The campsites here are generally well spaced out, giving you a bit of privacy in an area where camping is very popular. There are tons of great fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities in nearby Red Feather and Bellaire Lakes.
Given the popularity of the area, it is imperative to camp only in the designated sites and to pack out all of your trash. There is no water in the immediate area either, so be sure to come prepared.
Deadman Road is located west of Red Feather Lakes and permits dispersed camping once you enter the National Forest. Do pay attention to this boundary, as there are several homes that line the road right up to the point that camping is allowed.
In addition to the large pull out sites located on Deadman Road, there are also several spur roads that permit camping. Be sure to check these out if you’re looking for a bit more solitude.
To get here from Fort Collins, head north to the town of Livermore and then west all the way to Red Feather Lakes. Continue past the lakes along Deadman Road until you pass into USFS land and begin to see campsites along the sides of the road.
Pingree Road is located south of the Red Feather Lakes area and can be easily accessed from Red Feather Lakes town and Fort Collins. You’ll be close to the Poudre River here, as well as several excellent trailheads, making this a great weekend camping option. Dispersed camping is permitted almost immediately after turning off Highway 14, and there are several large camping areas within the first half mile.
Those seeking a bit more solitude can continue up Pingree Road and find plenty of great sites. Only high-clearance vehicles should attempt to venture further up the road.
Keep in mind that dispersed camping is not permitted once you pass FR127, so if you don’t find a site before then you’ll want to look for other options.
There is no water or other facilities along Pingree Road, so plan to be self-sufficient when camping here.
Prairie Divide Road
Prairie Divide Road/FR 179 is located just north of Red Feather Lakes and offers another nice option for dispersed camping on USFS lands. This area is comprised of a one-mile stretch of road with ten sites located on the east side of the road through Wildcat Canyon. The lovely little Columbine Creek runs alongside the road and the campsites.
Check your map carefully before pitching your tent, as this small segment of road is sandwiched by private property on either end. The sites are located between (40.82157, -105.56718) and (40.83032, -105.55619).
This is a great place to camp if you want to stay close to town and all of its amenities, as the dispersed campsites along Prairie Divide Road are located less than three miles from Red Feather Lakes. Take Fire House Lane/179 northeast out of town and then turn left to reach Prairie Divide Road.
Forest Road 171B-CLOSED
There are tons of good dispersed campsites along FR 171B (also known as County Road 71B) and the surrounding spur roads in the area. The roads are fairly rough, but typically accessible by all vehicles. With so many beautiful backroads to explore, you’re sure to find a scenic and peaceful place to set up camp.
***Unfortunately this area is closed due to impacts from the Cameron Peak Fire***
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We hope this guide has provided the information and inspiration you need to plan your next Red Feather Lakes dispersed camping trip. Leave us a comment to ask questions or tell us about your trip. Have a great camping adventure and remember to Leave No Trace!